Spring fashion show features seniors’ styles of satin and silk

Ingrid Skjong

Nearly nine months ago, Nicole Delaney flipped through her sketch book full of bridal gown designs and formulated a plan for her senior clothing design project.
Yards of white silk and mountains of voluminous tulle later, she was more than ready to watch her final creations sweep down the aisle.
“It’s exciting to see it take shape,” Delaney said. “You work on it so long you almost get tired of it.”
Delaney, along with 10 other senior clothing design majors, sent her garments down the runway Saturday at the Department of Design, Housing and Apparel’s 31st annual Clothing Design Show in the Northstar Ballroom on the St. Paul campus.
More than 500 people attended the finale marking the completion of the designers’ final project, which show chairwoman Lisa Bushinski likened to a senior paper. From crayon-bright toddler ensembles to futuristic tube tops studded with riveted metal, the show presented an eclectic mix of fashion and personality.
“I think it was great variety,” said Tina Murphy, a friend of one of the designers. “Not every designer was on the same path.”
The students’ design approaches might not have followed the same path, but each began at the same point last fall with little more than rough ideas and a few sketches.
Responsible for every facet of the design process from choosing fabrics to constructing garments, the students got a taste of what comprises a successful clothing line. The designers even chose the models they used, working closely with them to ensure perfect fits. Some models were called in from agencies while others were just friends of the designers.
“It’s not a quick process, and it’s not an easy process,” said Elizabeth Bye, one of the show’s three faculty advisers. “Their five minutes on stage culminates nine months of work.”
Each of the designers’ five to six pieces took more than hard work. All the materials used during the nine-month endeavor were paid for by the students, and the variety of fabrics and techniques made some more expensive than others.
Although Delaney estimated she spent $1,300 on her bridal gowns, Theresa Winge kept her expenses to a minimum by purchasing the majority of her materials at surplus machine part warehouses.
Winge used distressed fabrics, chunky machine parts and zippers to construct decidedly nontraditional combinations of traditional Celtic tartans and deconstructed fabrics. Her line, called Indy Clubwear, reflects the emerging Indy subculture, a youth-oriented urban movement whose look is reminiscent of 1970s punk.
Admittedly “super socially conscious,” Winge said she disagrees with the often-outrageous prices of fashion and has no plans to mass-produce her designs.
“I’m just thrilled to death that a couple of people from the subculture actually want to wear my pieces,” she said.
Faculty adviser Karen La Bat paired each student with a mentor familiar with his or her area of design to give the designers professional guidance. The mentors served as sounding boards and advisers, offering valuable real-world perspectives.
“Sometimes they need a little dose of reality,” said Janet Gronert, a wearable artist who constructs clothing out of nonwearable materials.
Having the opportunity to discuss design technique with her protÇgÇ and watch rough ideas progress into completed garments made the relationship a fun experience, she added.
Organizers said a large part of the show is the public exposure, and they make a point of inviting fashion industry representatives from stores such as Dayton’s and Target.
Although Delaney says New York is the place to be for anyone intent on successfully breaking into the fashion industry, she has no plans to head for the coast. Initially a business major, she would like to start her own business, and said many designers eventually choose to go into merchandising.
For now, her design career is an extension of a sewing hobby she has enjoyed since she was young.
“This is just an opportunity for me to design and actually make the gowns I have in my head,” Delaney said.