UT Seniors Make Their Runway Debut [Slideshow]

UT Seniors Transcend Limitations at Fashion Show

After the lights in the Frank Erwin Center abruptly shut off, silence washes over the crowd. All that can be seen is a dark silhouette against a bright blue background. Suddenly, music breaks the silence and light floods the stage. A girl dancing the robot is revealed. She turns around, faces the crowd, and fiercely struts down the runway.

UT’s spring fashion show—organized annually by the University Fashion Group— showcased more than 120 designs by 23 Textile and Apparel UT seniors on Thursday night. Many of the year’s biggest trends were on display: leather, faux fur, and lace. In 1997, the event’s attendance amounted to just 500 people, but the show has evolved into a major event over the years; last year’s show brought in about 5,000 attendees.

Sponsored by Lexus of Austin, the show entitled “Transcend,” was picture-perfect—but the road to the runway wasn’t always an easy one. Eve Nicols, Textiles and Apparel senior lecturer and the show’s director, says even though the students have been preparing for the past year, it was a wild ride as the show neared.

“The weeks leading up to the show consist of 12- to 14-hour days,” Nicols says. “In fact, every day has been like that this past week. We’re very, very busy because there are so many details to cover, and it becomes more intense as we get closer and closer to the deadline.”

From sketching and designing to draping and working with all types of fabric, the seniors experience the entire design process, from concept to catwalk. They move on to creating the pieces, holding model fittings, and continuing the work with hemming and readjusting up until the moment the show begins. In fact, an associate show director, Karen Bravo, remains backstage with a needle and thread in hand just in case a zipper breaks.

This year, each designer had to create activewear in addition to their cohesive three-part collection and evening or bridal gown. Every designer was inspired by something different. Senior designer Helen Febrie says her collection drew from primary colors and Asian culture.

“The fabric I’m using is made in Indonesia—where I’m from,” Febrie says. “I’ve noticed a lot of the other designers have used really dark and somber colors, but mine are bright because I wanted it to be different. I want my collection to make people happy.”

Nickie Temprachanh took a different approach. An illustration class she took at the University a few years ago laid the foundation for her witch-inspired theme.

“I just found that I wanted to explore that more, the dark and feminine look,” Temprachanh says. “The idea was just intriguing because black dresses are always very classy and timeless.”

Some of the other trends featured in the show included cutouts, peplum, metallics, sheer material, and black and white. But the most surprising moments of the night came when the activewear was presented: Two models, one in a tutu and headpiece with flashing lights, rollerskated down the runway.

Among the thousands of attendees were two television stars: Cameron Silver from the Bravo reality show Dukes of Melrose  and current Project Runway contestant Daniel Esquivel. Nicols says the student designers met Esquivel days before the show and were excited to gain insight from him.

Nicols hopes UT has provided a springboard for the designers, allowing them to hone their skills and launch their careers in fashion. She says the University works to prepare every student for the fast-paced nature they’ll experience in the business.

“This is just the beginning for these students,” Nicols says. “If you can multitask at UT—doing business, science, and design—when you go into the industry, there isn’t much that’s going to stop you.”

Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.

Photos by Eden Shapiro.


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