UT fashion designer

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series about the textiles and apparel seniors and their fashion show held at the end of the semester.

Fashion masterminds such as Yves Saint Laurent, Cristobal Balenciaga and Gianni Versace have highlighted the history of haute couture and inspired designers for many years, including UT fashion designer and senior
Sophia Albanna.

Her collection, titled Couture Architecture, proves that she shares the grand masters’ devotion to realizing personal vision through cut, cloth, and in Albanna’s case, elaborate ornamentation.

UT’s textiles and apparel senior fashion show, titled “Innovation,” will be held April 21 at the Frank Erwin Center. With nearly 5,000 people expected to attend, the University Fashion Group expects this event to be one of the biggest fashion shows in Texas. Students will debut nearly 100 looks down the runway altogether, with a panel of judges awarding accolades to deserving designers.

Although Albanna had been designing clothes as a hobby since she was a child, she decided to major in education her freshman year, but switched to psychology a semester later. After her freshman year, her parents encouraged her to become serious about her fashion hobby and she transferred to the textiles and apparel department in the School of Natural Sciences.

Summer studies experiences at Parsons New School for Design her sophomore summer and Colombia College in Chicago her junior summer contributed to her current collection. She says her collection is modeled after a world-traveling woman who is a prominent art critic — someone who recognizes not just fine art on a canvas but fine art in clothing as well.

After being criticized by professors early in the semester for “not having each piece speak to each other,” Albanna reworked her looks and began consistently creating pieces that could be interchangeable. She followed the lead of Grande Courtiers such as Chanel and Versace and created intricate weaving of cuts, layers of fabric and ornate
beaded designs.

Working down to the wire to perfect her painstakingly avant-garde collection, Albanna’s work consists of mixed textures such as chains, lace and leather while utilizing four different silks, which create soft, light movements.
“I was inspired by haute couture, and wanted the garments to express the artist within me working through the medium of clothing,” Albanna said.

Sticking with a distinct color palette of porcelain, cream and gold, with the darkest color a chocolate brown seen in leather trim and sheer burlap, some professors said her palette and designs resembled Elie Saab’s spring 2011 couture collection.

Every piece in her collection makes an individual statement and includes three looks followed by an unconventional and urban, cream and golden wedding gown. The gown epitomizes a nouveau-chic New York debutante pushing the limits of practicality and sensationalism.

The gown’s cream bodice is encrusted with gold crystals, stones and beads which add weight and depth to the top, despite being revealingly scissored away at the waist. The side is detailed with cafe-colored silk and features a sheer, fringed shoulder strap. The above-the-knee skirt seen beneath the translucent gown is made from a cream lining, then is massively draped with layers of cafe-colored, sheer dupioni silk and a porcelain ruffled silk burlap. The draping creates a short train that resembles the long feathers of an everglades heron.

Earlier this semester, Albanna’s work received an accolade for creativity in a fashion contest hosted by the University Co-op. When she debuts her collection on April 21, she hopes that it will make a lasting impression on not just the Co-op’s panel of critics, but Austin’s fashion community as well.