As the semester comes to a close, many fashion students are anxious to see their hard work transform into a final product. For some, this hard work will be flourishing on the runway of Birmingham Fashion Week as part of the Emerging Designers competition.
Mallory Hardiman, a junior majoring in textile design and art and digital media, has enjoyed developing her own style while incorporating new techniques throughout the competition process.
“My line is based off of femininity, and I’ve definitely been able to focus more on the body and the form and how clothing fits on the person so that someone’s wearing the clothes and not the other way around,” she said.
The participants have to be ready to dress their models by Tuesday afternoon in order to have their designs shown for the first time Tuesday evening. Hardiman and the other participants have been busy adding the final touches to their designs over the weekend.
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Ragan Creel, a junior majoring in apparel and textile design, said she is looking forward to seeing the final product after two months of hard work.
“I’m really most excited about just taking all of our designs; we have a lot to offer,” Creel said. “I believe that we as a group are going to surprise a lot of people. And I’m just ready for all of our designs to be out there, and I’m definitely just excited to see them on stage.”
Creel entered the competition to gain more experience and said she is thankful to have the opportunity to grow as a designer despite the stress of the experience.
“It’s a labor of love,” she said. “You love what you do; you want to push yourself and succeed in everything you do in this major. That’s what motivates me, for sure. I want to be successful in this. This is my dream.”
Creel was inspired to enter the competition by Brian Taylor, an instructor at The University of Alabama. Taylor teaches courses in apparel design and encourages students to expand their knowledge experience beyond the classroom.
“Whether it be design competitions, volunteering for fashion shows or completing internships, any extra experience a student can do will make them a better designer and give them experience for when they enter the work force,” Taylor said. “All of the students in the competition have worked extremely hard this semester preparing for [Birmingham Fashion Week]. Balancing this competition on top of their schoolwork says a great deal about their work ethic and time management skills.”
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Elle Darby, a junior majoring in apparel design, said she has been thankful to work in a supportive atmosphere, despite the competitive nature of the fashion industry.
“It’s cool to see us all work in the same room, going in completely different directions with what we’re doing,” Darby said. “Even though the industry is so competitive, here at Alabama we’re really supportive of each other. We’re really friends and want each other to succeed even though it’s a competition, because none of us have ever done anything like this. It’s a big undertaking to do, so we really help each other out.”
Darby initially entered the competition to have more experience in design and to prepare for the senior collection show next year by further developing her own style. However, she said she would be grateful to win the competition. All of the three previous Emerging Designers winners are graduates of the program at the University.
“You have to be strong behind [your look] and be able to explain it and support it,” she said. “I’ve definitely found myself more in my designs through this process because it’s forced me to explain why I’m making this, why I’m choosing this color, doing this silhouette. It’s really made me grow as a designer. It’s a good feeling to know that I feel confident about what will be shown on the runway on Tuesday.”
The winner of the Emerging Designers competition will be announced at the Birmingham Fashion Week’s finale Saturday night.
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