Apparel design students showcase their final collections

Since last spring, 15 students have been sketching countless ideas, picking out fabrics, and crafting garments for their ultimate test before graduation.

On Feb. 6, seniors in the apparel design major at the University of Minnesota put on their final fashion show, Identity, revealing their hard work on the runway.

Each student created a cohesive line with 4-5 looks to showcase their “identity” as a designer. On top of creating the collections, the designers also planned the show—from developing branding with graphic design students to booking vendors and selling ads in their lookbook.

“[Identity] really speaks to how we have an identity together as a whole, but also to how we are all so different and unique as individuals,” Elizabeth Bischoff, designer and chair of the show, said.

This year’s show has a wider variety of collections than in years past including swimwear, lingerie, everyday clothing, juniors, bridal, and couture.

“I think what’s unique about this year’s group of designers is the expansive diversity that’s present in our design styles. Though we all share the same passion, all of our designs are vastly different from one another,” designer Heidi Woelfle said.

On top of creating the collections, the designers also planned the show—from developing branding with graphic design students to booking vendors and selling ads in their lookbook.

Aly Gates started the senior show incredibly strong with her soft, beachy, boho collection. It was inspired by her travels to the Southwest, exploring canyons and desert sand dunes, she said. The warm colors and the soft lines gave off relaxed, free spirited vibes made to evoke the femininity and effortlessness nature of the laid back California girl, infused with ‘70s-inspired silhouettes.

Sarah Forsynth showed a collection of resort wear for thriving New Yorkers. She said she drew her inspiration from living in the city this past summer for an internship. She wanted to create luxury swimwear that people could relax in, taking a break from their busy lifestyle. Pink and ruby colored, pleated chiffon flowed gracefully behind a number of her pieces, encapsulating extravagance.

Mia Kuroki surprised the audience when children walked out modeling her clothes. Her adorable collection of blues and whites was inspired by embarking on a journey, giving feelings of optimism, hope, and strength, she said. The children stole the show, waving at the audience and radiating happiness with their smiles.

Holly Welwood sourced sustainable, natural materials such as cotton, hemp, silk, and wool for her collection of ready-to-wear clothing. “I wanted my line to inspire a slower pace of life and ultimately connect us back to ourselves, each other, and the environment,” she said. Her sustainability-minded pieces featured simple black and white details and basic accessories.

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Marissa Lynch adores Minneapolis—and it shows in her work. Her line focused on adventuring in your own backyard. Each look was based off a different place in Minneapolis, such as the Stone Arch Bridge, the Guthrie Theater, and late night swing dancing. Her glittery gold and black pieces reflected how the city looks at night, and added some liveliness to the runway with twirly skirts and fun silhouettes.

Catherine Menzel used organic and recycled materials to make her orange-inspired collection. She was influenced by the many dynamic features of the fruit—its variances in color, layers, inner and outer shapes, health benefits, and even the psychological influence of its colors. Menzel hand-dyed fabrics to create a natural feel and applied intricate and witty details with special stitch work and beading. She mainly used pinks and oranges in her line with bold, forest green shoes for a statement.

Heidi Woelfle’s collection was inspired by Italian futurist paintings, derivative of the cubism art style. “I interpreted hard lines and angles into silhouettes, which are long, rectangular, and sleek,” she said. The dark pieces combined structured form with bold textures to make each piece versatile and classic.

Regena Yu showed an all-white, extremely clean and unified line inspired by modern architecture. It focused on the continuation of lines to connect spaces. “The collection exhibits my interest in patternmaking. It’s a unique art that is the foundation of any piece of clothing,” she said. Yu incorporated lines through unique seaming and the use of a deep contrasting color to accentuate harsh edges.

Tabitha Andelin has always loved lingerie because of it’s both delicacy on the outside and complexity on the inside. Her well-crafted lounge lingerie collection was made of laces and silks all in a light champagne color.

Robert Pettys Baker created the only menswear line in the show—a very unified collection focusing on about evolution and growth. The non-traditional clothing was composed of lightly colored, sheer, billowy fabrics contrasting with dark pieces of leather grounding the garments. The primary inspiration for this collection came from the designer’s visceral reaction to the music he listens to, he said.

Grace Chen’s peaceful collection drew inspiration from the components of Japanese Zen Gardens, explored through rich, textured fabrics and a color palette of stark whites, ivories, and creams. “It’s about freedom of confidence and being content with yourself,” she said. “My zen approach to detail and silhouette helps focus on that desired mindfulness.”

XiXi Xu made a statement on the runway with her doll-like models. Her silk dresses in hues of cream and blush had modest yet adorable silhouettes highlighting an ultra-feminine and spunky style. Her inspiration came from her travels to Japan—specifically the cherry blossom trees and the way the wind blew the petals off as if it were snowing.

Shengjie Li created an Asian fusion bridal-wear collection, which included looks inspired by Western and Eastern wedding trends. “The encounter between the two cultures are presented in the traditional Chinese wedding colors of red and gold, as well as intricate embroideries applied on modern, romantic silhouettes,” Li said.

Elizabeth Bischoff has a love of storytelling and created five bridal gowns, each based on different fairytales she wrote. “These aren’t Disney fairytales, they each have a dark twist or something bittersweet about them.” Each look was a different, rich color and had subtle medieval features that interpreted her stories in a fantastical, surreal way.

Lee Tran was inspired by art and the act of making it—the brushstrokes, lines, and blending of colors. He developed his own custom fabric and embellishments, spending time hand dyeing and pleating fabric to reflect paint and its characteristics. This artistic collection of reds and plums was bold and certainly stood out within the rest of the show.