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Student Designers Push Fashion Limits

Watch out, Project Runway! The 2013 Fashion Show, "Transcend," produced by the University Fashion Group, hit the runways Thursday, April 18, at the Frank Erwin Center. The annual event is a showcase for the nearly 120 original garments created by textiles and apparel students nearing completion of the apparel design program. (Watch a teaser of the show, produced by radio-television-film student Andrea Macias. Or check out The Alcalde's slideshow.)

CREATIVITY. Each upper-division textile and apparel student participating in the fashion show is responsible for designing and sewing a three-piece collection that reflects a cohesive aesthetic. In addition, each student must design and construct a bridal or an evening gown.

"I made the wedding dress I would like to have," says apparel design senior Samantha Mitchell. "I don't like traditional things, so I imagined a wedding in the woods and made a dress that is organic, whimsical, woodsy and not white." Her dress is made of Guipure lace, silk dupioni and crushed cotton.

INSPIRATION. Art Deco architecture, Vogue model Jean Patchett, Japanese street culture, the texture of dinosaurs and Dior's New Look are just some of the influences the designers cite as inspiration.

"I want the women who wear my collection to feel sassy and trendy," says senior Alexandra Dieck. "I was really influenced by the 'it' girls, Edie Sedgwick and Twiggy. I love their style and confidence, and I wanted to express that through my collection."

VULNERABILITY. In December and again in April, students present their inspiration boards, technical packets, professional portfolios and their completed garments to a panel of fashion journalists, designers, businesspeople and alumni.

"It was terrifying. My knees were shaking, and my presentation was scattered," says senior Cecillia Vu of her first time addressing the panel. "But I quickly learned to be confident in my own work. I learned how to sell my product. Since then, I have become much better at public speaking. I am a more confident designer."

PERSEVERANCE. What happens when a student's technical skills need to catch up to his or her creativity? A lot of "do-overs" under pressure of intense deadlines.

"I was having a tough battle with my bridal gown. I had to sew the organza and tulle to the bottom half of the gown. It almost swallowed me up," says Vu. Students begin construction of their bridal/evening gown during fall semester and begin work on their collections in spring. "Let's just say there is more sewing than sleeping," says Vu.

MOXIE. Textiles and apparel students are a special blend of pure creativity with business moxie and a liberal dose of technique and dogged determination.

"Just being creative won't get you very far. The fashion industry is immense. People might start in one place and end up in a totally different career," says Mitchell. "Being successful has everything to do with being able to function well in the business world."

Editors note: This story appeared on UT News and was written by Meghan Mullaney.  Collages in the gallery were created by Marsha Miller.  Photographs by Jean Roasa.