Behind the “Self Reflections” Fashion Exhibit at Lindenwood University
Five graduate students in the fashion design program at Lindenwood University in St. Charles have put their work on display at the J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts in a joint exhibition titled “Self Reflections.” Along with some pretty killer pieces, visitors also get an inside look at the entire creative process, from the first mood board to the last stitch. We chatted with the student designers to find out about where they come from and what they have planned for the next steps in their fashion careers.
Visit the “Self Reflections” exhibit at the J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts (2300 West Clay St., St. Charles, 636.949.4433) through Jan. 18, 2013.
A couple of the students’ interest in fashion began at a very young age, making sure their dolls were always well dressed. Amra Alihodzic, who is originally from Bosnia, started sewing when she was nine years old, making clothes for her dolls. As a tall, skinny girl who always had difficult finding clothes that fit well, she later progressed to altering her own clothes. Ameli Skoglund, hailing from Sweden, began the same way—knitting her own doll clothes. She says she felt especially inspired by her two grandmothers; one knitted and crocheted, the other is an avid loom weaver. Altjin Batkun, who as an undergrad won an award for best evening wear, says that her dad used to sew and make clothes for her.
Not everyone knew so early in their lives that they wanted to go into fashion design. Elizabeth Turner says so didn’t go straight to fashion as a career because she didn’t like sewing. Adima Cope, who took an award for best swimwear at the Lindenwood Fashion Show, actually got his start in engineering. In a way, he says, fashion has some of the same aspects as engineering; after all, the designer is really engineering the clothes for the consumer. Turner takes a similar practical approach to fashion, saying that as a designer, you “have to give the customer what they want, even if it’s ugly. Fashion is practical—people can’t just walk around naked.”
All of the pieces in “Self Reflections” incorporate a variety of colors, textures and styles, some with more obvious influences than others. Cope’s dresses and swimwear, for instance, are obviously Grecian, Egyptian and Roman inspired. He recently took a trip to Greece, but says that his inspiration can come from many different cultures and eras. The more he understands and likes a culture, the more he feels compelled to incorporate it into the pieces he designs. Skoglund and Batkun are both inspired by the textiles they come across. Batkun says that while her local Joanne’s Fabrics is gradually improving its selection, she mostly goes fabric shopping when she goes home to Mongolia. Likewise, Skoglund generally gets her material when she visits home in Sweden; “I go shopping and buy fabric out of bins by the kilo,” she says. Many of the students also named a host of designers and magazines as sources for inspiration. Batkun likes designers Gaultier and Galliano, Alihodzic is inspired by BCBG and Allen B. brands, and Turner loves Rafaella at Macy’s.
Once inspired to create a piece, the process of designing is never exactly the same for everyone—although there can be a lot of common ground, as is evident in this exhibition. A lot of designers, like Turner, begin with a mood board. It answers the question, “What am I feeling?” and incorporates pictures from magazines, pieces of fabric and other odds and ends. She says that even big design houses begin with mood boards to get the creative process started. All of the exhibitors in “Self Reflections” showed the early stages of their design processes to complement the actual pieces, from mood boards to the beginning sketches.
It’s evident that these students have come a long way in their respective journeys through the world of fashion, but they all say they have a ways to go and a lot to look forward to. While Skoglund wants to work for herself and be involved in the entire process of designing and making clothing and accessories, Turner is aiming for corporate mass-produced fashion and Batkun’s dream job would be to work for Alexander McQueen. Alihodzic says she wants to be a part of the creative design process wherever she ends up, and Cope has plans to launch his own company.
These students each have their own story to tell, and, through fashion, their individual selves shine through. In turn, these stories become not only a part of who they are, but also a part of who we, as consumers of fashion, are.