By Megan Schaefer
The Textile and Apparel Department and the University Fashion Group at the University of Texas at Austin is expected to hold their annual Spring Fashion Show on April 18. This year’s show, called “Transcend,” is expected to attract over 5,000 students, designers, faculty and sponsors. The main event begins at 7:15 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
The show has shot up in popularity over the last few years, but has been around since at least the 1960s, according to Nicols, who has been the show’s director since 1997, and a University of Texas professor in the Textile and Apparel Department. “The fashion show has been going for many, many decades,” Nicols says. “People in their 50s have told me that they remember photographing it down in the courtyard when they just had a few people, but nobody has really been able to track down exactly when it started.”
Over the past 13 years the show has been located in the Frank Erwin Center and grown from an audience of 500 in 1997 to 5,000 at the 2012 show, according to Nicols.
Inspired by the ability to go beyond limits, push boundaries and follow passions, according to the students, “Transcend,” will showcase over 120 original designs by 23 seniors in the department. Every student who is in their fourth year is able to participate and is judged prior to the show by a panel of local industry professionals with a background in fashion and art. Prizes will be awarded for: Most Innovative Fashion Collection, Most Marketable Collection, Best Technical Collection, Best Evening Gown and Best Bridal Gown.
Meagan Klafehn, a student designer in the show, says preparing for the show is at least a year-long process. “We’ve been getting ready for the show since school started in the fall. We constructed two pieces in the fall semester and started our collections in January.”
The process of designing begins with finding your inspiration, according to Klafehn, who was inspired by the band “The xx” for her collection, which she describes as a contrast between hard and soft and structure and flow. Klafehn says she likes to create a mood board before sketching, which may include pictures of food, jewelry, artwork or colors. “For one garment I may do five sketches,” she says. “After sketching and choosing the garment, I do what’s called a flat drawing, which is less artsy and more technical. After that I start draping and making patterns and once all of that is done, I usually sew a mock up to check that everything works the way I envisioned and do any editing or altering.”
Student designer Alex Born says that he became interested in fashion at the age of 12 by drawing random clothes on people and avidly watching the hit show “Project Runway.” “My collection is inspired from dreams, fantasy movies and the fluid nature of the baroque period,” he says. “I began the [designing] process in January, but I had an idea I was going to use prints and make something funky before that.”
According to Born, the design process includes: collecting inspiration, sketching, finding fabric, making patterns and prototypes and making alterations. Alumni of the show have gone on to internships and jobs with companies such as Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Fossil and Macy’s and have worked on films in NYC and L.A. Nicols says the show allows the students to get a “real-world” experience, develop their problem solving skills, learn to make quick and smart decisions and meet deadlines: “It’s not a good degree for someone that doesn’t like to work. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s really inspiring to see how well the students grow and develop.
At 5:30 p.m., before the main show, exhibits titled: “Immersed in Cotton” and “Fashion Alley” will fill the outer areas of the Erwin Center. The Immersed in Cotton Room, which is presented by Cotton University, will feature student’s research and design projects from their freshmen through senior year. Everything displayed will be made from cotton, including swimming suits, wedding dresses and medical outfits. Fashion Alley will allow retailers from around Austin showcase and sell their items.