Fashion around the globe: Circle of Design

Debut collections with Marina Qualey and Sinead Kelly

Apparel Design sophomore Sinead Kelly prepares her model at The Westin Edina Galleria on Sunday morning. Kelly and other local designers will be showing their spring line on April 3rd.

Apparel Design sophomore Sinead Kelly prepares her model at The Westin Edina Galleria on Sunday morning. Kelly and other local designers will be showing their spring line on April 3rd.

Micaela Resh

Two University of Minnesota students will exhibit their collections at the Circle of Design fashion show on Friday at the Westin Galleria in Edina, Minn.

The students are joining three other designers for the event, which features pieces that are inspired by locations around the world.

“The Circle of Design is about giving new designers a place to be seen. … That is what completes our journey from historical inspiration to new fashion revelation,” the show’s creator and producer Shelly Gensmer  said.

Hosts for this year’s program are Project Runway’s Christopher Straub and Miss Minnesota 2015 Jessica Scheu. Beside the students, the lineup of designers includes Gina Moorhead of House of Gina Marie, Stacie Vanags of Fin Sur Fin and Jess Rodysill of Mien Kielo.

The apparel design sophomores Marina Qualey and Sinead Kelly have battle scars (or sewing scars) that prove their dedication to the craft.

They hopped on board with the project in February, and they have worked tediously since. Even with spring break, the students didn’t take time off.

“Whenever we are pulling all-nighters, we are doing them together. In the studio, we order Jimmy Johns at two in the morning, and then we’ll be sleeping on bolts of fabric for an hour in the morning. I don’t think this is normal — we are just crazy,” Qualey said.

All of the designers were assigned a global destination for the pieces, and they utilized different cultures and histories for each of their eight looks. Qualey received Scotland and Ireland, and Kelly received Latin America.

The students said designing a full-blown collection was a big undertaking, considering they both have jobs and go to school full time.

The upcoming event will be Qualey’s first and Kelly’s second professional show.


Bringing Latin flavor

Kelly’s eight looks burst with bright colors, florals and prints. She said she had the opportunity to incorporate authentic fabrics because her best friend lives in Brazil.

“My line is very ‘Frida Kahlo meets Carmen Miranda.’ There are lots of fruits and bold headpieces,” Kelly said.

Billowy sleeves and bold head wraps from Kelly’s collection open the show. One of her looks is inspired by Baiana women, a revolutionary group of Brazilian slaves.

Legendary designer Betsey Johnson is one of Kelly’s role models.

“She’s perfect; she’s in her ‘70s and still does a cartwheel at the end of every show,” Kelly said.

She said Johnson’s vibrant aesthetic resonates with her as well.

“She is not afraid to push the limits. She brings something out in you. I have struggled with emotional insecurities, but whenever I wore my Betsy Johnson dress, or extravagant little accessories, they always gave me confidence,” Kelly said. “And that is the kind of company I want to work for. I want to make something that lets you feel good.”


Mad for plaid

Scotland and Ireland are a perfect fit for Qualey.

Her line incorporates rich velvets, herringbone and a Prince of Wales check. The line is cohesive with deep greens, grays and blacks.

“I have a plaid fetish,” Qualey said.

Qualey just learned to sew last fall, and since then she’s turned around a full collection. She said her creativity has flourished.

“We both are in love with the process — designing, illustrating, coming up with the ideas — opposed to pattern making and sewing,” Qualey said. “We are more creative minds than technical minds.”

Qualey said she feels at home with the aesthetics of the Loft, which is where she currently works. She also loves the work of designer Vivienne Westwood, who she envisions herself working for — or someone similar — in the future.

Kelly characterizes Qualey’s classic look as a “less conservative Jackie O.”

“Being a personal designer for Kate Middleton would be my dream job,” Qualey said.


Event: The Circle of Design

When: Friday, April 3 at 7 p.m.

Where: The Westin Edina Galleria, 3201 Galleria, Edina MN

Tickets: $30–$60