A fashion showcase: Project Headline

A Q&A with student designer Shengjie Li

 Student designer Shengjie Li with her final outfit at Project Headline.

Student designer Shengjie Li with her final outfit at Project Headline.

Micaela Resh

Last month, the Minnesota Daily hosted its first-ever fashion showcase called “Project Headline” in collaboration with University of Minnesota student group FAB: Fashion and Business.

The event in Rapson Hall put the creations of two students, Shengjie Li and Marissa Lynch, against each other. Challenged to meld fashion and news in a literal sense, both designers created garments out of fabric and newspaper.

At the end of the event, apparel design junior Shengjie Li was announced as the challenge’s winner with her edgy metallic dress. The hand-sewn Minnesota Daily logo across the garment’s back shoulder won over the crowd.

A&E sat down with Shengjie, an international student from China, to discuss her work in Project Headline and hopes of breaking into the fashion industry.

What interests you in apparel design?

I feel that I did not fall in love with fashion by chance. My mother used to buy me fashion magazines, which expanded my horizons at a young age. I was also a big fan of dressing Barbie dolls. I remember that I had collected 22 Barbies, and they were running out of clothes to wear, so I decided to start making them clothes.

Why did you enter Project Headline?

I was scanning through Facebook and saw the event’s advertisement. The idea of designing with physical newspapers caught my eye. I was excited to share the challenge with my apparel design major classmates. I thought it would be a fun project to do on the weekends.

What inspired your look?

My look is inspired by outer space. I got this purple metallic textured fabric from SR Harris. It reminded me of the glowing lights in the Milky Way. I didn’t want to be too literal with stars and planets, so I made the newspaper into geometric forms of diamonds, squares and triangles. I glued them onto the dress to create an adventurous, avant-garde vibe. My space influence also comes from the NASA project in my class where we are designing a spacesuit for astronauts.

How did you construct the garment?

I tried multiple ways to drape the dress. It’s different from any work I am used to. I have done a lot of sweet, girly dresses with princess bustlines. But for this dress, I experimented with pointy bust darts and exposed sleeves. I am proud of the new techniques I worked with.

What other fashion world experiences do you have?

I am currently interning at a local bridal boutique, Joynoelle. The owner is very talented and inspiring. Right now, I am helping her develop a spring/summer ready-to-wear collection for her upcoming fashion show in mid-May.

Where do you hope to take your career in the future?

I want to pursue a hands-on job and make physical things instead of sitting in front of a computer all day. I am the most passionate when I am sketching ideas onto paper. I would like to work in the bridal or ready-to-wear industry upon graduating. I hope to be a chief designer or art director. Maybe in 15 years, I will be able to start my own brand. I would love to open boutiques in France and China.

How would you describe your personal style?

Coming from China and studying in the U.S. gave me the chance to explore more about different art and cultures. When I am designing, I often take inspiration from textures, prints and natural forms. I love quirky Japanese street fashion, sugary ancient Rococo costumes and the delicacy of haute couture.

Who is your style icon?

Anna Sui is my style icon. She is also from China, and she established her business in New York. She designs girly clothes with a quirky twist. My magazine clippings are filled with her advertisements. I hope someday I can work for her, or be called ‘the next Anna Sui.’


Editor’s note: The student’s responses have been edited for clarity and accuracy.