Seniors bring their sketches to life

Apparel design students will show off their final projects Saturday.
Senior apparel design student Crystal Compton stands in the apparel design studio in McNeal Hall on Monday with a dress she created. Compton calls the dress "Bumpy Feet" because the material is also used for footie pajamas.
February 11, 2014

After four years of college and many hours in the studio, University of Minnesota apparel design seniors will unveil their senior projects Saturday.

Unlike graduating seniors who write a paper or complete a research project, the apparel design students create a collection to be shown at the annual senior fashion show.

For the first time, the Align apparel design fashion show will showcase designs from 20 graduating seniors. Notable work from sophomores and juniors will also be shown.

“It’s pretty exciting,” senior apparel design student Paul Erling said. “All of the designers have been saving up four years of work for this.”

Designing a collection is a time-consuming process. The senior designers begin fall semester by identifying their target market, developing a concept and sketching looks. Eventually, they start making patterns, which are essentially paper templates for each garment; assemble each piece with muslin; attend two faculty critiques; and fit each look on a model.

The 2014 senior class really stepped up its game. They don’t simply put together a look; a lot of designers are taking it to the next level by weaving their own fabrics or hand-dying materials.

“I had a chance to be super creative,” said Erling, whose collection was inspired by video games. “I definitely didn’t want to do anything conventional.”

Each designer created four to five looks in a variety of categories. It’s not just women’s ready-to-wear — there’s also bridal, children’s apparel and menswear.

In addition to creating a collection, the apparel design seniors learned what it takes to produce a fashion show.

“We put on the whole show. The designers are placed into committees who each have different tasks,” apparel design senior Laura Schaefer said. “From event planning to production to promotion, we do everything.”

Although there’s potential for competition between students — especially with shows like “Project Runway” pitting designers against each other — they’re all supportive of one another.

“It’s a very small, tight-knit community. You’re with the same people for all four years,” Schaefer said. “You really get to know them. We have 20 of the most talented people in this year’s show.”

For the senior apparel designers, Align is an opportunity to show friends and family what they’ve been working on for the past six months — and what they’ve learned over the past four years.

“There’s something kind of magical about it,” Erling said. “At the end of the day, it’s good people doing cool things in a creative environment.”

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