For more than 50 years, senior UT textiles and apparel students have showcased their technical and artistic prowess by dazzling audiences with radiant prints and colors through their clothing collections at the annual UT fashion show. This year’s show, titled “Dimension,” will start tonight at 7 p.m. in the Frank Erwin Center.
While the show is a major tradition now, it started off small, attracting only 500 attendees in its first year. Today, the show draws about 5,000 people per year, making it the largest student-run fashion show in the nation.
The 29 student designers for this year’s show not only see it as a tradition, but also a rite of passage they’ve dreamed about since they were freshmen. Collectively, they have created 150 garments, ranging from digital prints, sustainable clothing and formal dresses, that will be featured in the show.
“I’ve spent over 100 hours on my collections and it’s very satisfying to be at that point where I just need a few finishing touches,” said Evelyn Brady, a textiles and apparel senior.
Brady said the 2018 show’s title represents the diversity of the designers involved.
“It’s an expression of how we’re all very different and all have our own specific design ideas making us a multi-dimensional group,” Brady said. “But we’re all united working towards the same goal.”
The student designers have creative freedom for their collections. Taylor Hicks, a textiles and apparel junior, was scared at first but took paintings she made from acrylics hanging in her apartment and turned them into screen printed fabrics.
“I designed backwards,” Hicks said. “It’s really cool to see that I could find a way to make it work, it’s kinda like a puzzle.”
At the end of the show, the judges will announce winners for categories ranging from most innovative collection to most marketable collection and best overall collection.
Ockhee Bego, director of the show and professor, emphasizes that the show isn’t about winning, but rather to celebrate how far the students have come. She said she’s seen some students that started the program not knowing how to use a sewing machine.
“I see them grow over time,” Ockhee said. “By the time the show comes around, they are confident in themselves — that is what my greatest joy is.”
Student designers, such as Michelle Cantu, an alumna of UT’s architecture school and currently a textiles senior, said she saw herself excel in her craft over the course of her four years.
“As a designer, new things inspire you so I had no idea I was going to do the collection I’m working on right now,” Cantu said. “I’m really excited because it (has) exceeded my expectations.”
The show draws in family and friends of designers to Austin just like graduation because of its importance to the designers. Brady is excited to see her family along with her grandmother, who helped her learn to sew.
“Seeing my work on such a big stage will be surreal, but I really want to impress my family and make them proud,” Brady said. For those who may not seem interested in fashion, Hicks emphasized that the show is about more than clothing, about the creativity and all the hard work that goes into the show. She hopes those that attend will leave with an appreciation for what she and her fellow students are doing.
“We may not be doing giant lab reports,” Hicks said, “but we’re still working hard and creating something really interesting.”