Students prepare to show off designs at Rock the Runway

Rabab Al-Sharif

Junior fashion design major Jessica Smith was inspired by the twisted image you get when you first meet someone. Her first of three looks displays the “angelic” or “innocent” image someone may portray. Photo by Jessica Yanesh.

Sophomore fashion design major Kate DeMay works on one of her Rock the Runway pieces on Friday. DeMay and her partner, sophomore fashion design major Ashton Potter, were inspired by Lady Gaga while creating their pieces. Rock the Runway is March 17 at 8 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom. Photo by Jessica Yanesh.

Like most people, Brandi Finley said there are times when she wants to be someone else. That is the inspiration behind her collection for the 2011 Rock the Runway. Finley, senior fashion design student, is just one of 27 designers participating in this year’s Venetian Carnival themed fashion show.

Her collection, called “The Good, The Bad, The Royal,” is based on the story of three women who wish to be someone else. The story includes a poor, good girl, a rich queen and what she described as a “woman of ill repute.” The queen wants to be bad, the good girl wants to be a luxurious queen and the bad girl wants to be good. Each outfit represents them being like the person they want to be.

“They all want to be someone different because that’s what Venetian Carnival is all about,” Finley said. “I was like ‘Well, I’ll do women who would want to be someone else,’ and sometimes I want to be someone else so it wasn’t that big of a stretch to come up with something like that.”

Finley joked that she has never done anything well thought out in her life.

“I’m really a last-minute person,” she said. “That’s where I get the most inspired; I think it’s the pressure.”

A lot of her last-minute pieces are people’s favorite she said, including a coat she made for Rock the Runway in 2009 that was completed the night before the show.

Alexa Bull, sophomore fashion design major, said this is her first time competing in Rock the Runway, and she has stuck to her sketches from the beginning.

Her collection, “The Love Affair,” is inspired by the history of Venetian Carnivals.

While doing research on Venetian Carnival, she found that when love affairs would occur between different social classes they would wear masks to disguise themselves. She built the story for her collection around that.

“It has a romantic feel and plays off the idea of a disguise with a lot of chiffon and see-through fabrics,” she said.

She handmade her black masks with wire twisted into see-through flower petals. It’s like the love affairs, she said.

“You’re disguised, but when you’re in this love affair the real person still shows through.”

Jessica Smith, junior fashion design major, is working with co-designer Joanna Klotz, junior fashion design major. For their collection they have developed the idea of a hidden identity at the carnival. People wear masks to hide who they are and commit sins, Smith said.

One of their looks is innocent and angelic, one has a harder, darker mysterious feel and one combines both.

It’s just like an everyday woman you meet for the first time, she said.

“A guy may meet you and see the really sweet side of you, or he might see something really dark, but I think everyone has a little bit of both inside of them,” she said.

Hair and makeup can make or break a line, Smith said.

Her collection is called “Twisted,” and she is using that theme for the models’ hair styles. She plans to have the hair twisted into a beehive.

“The hair is twisted, and it’s going to go along with the collection where a person’s personality is twisted in a way,” she said.

Kate DeMay, sophomore fashion design major, is working with a partner as well, Ashton Potter, also a sophomore fashion design major.

For their line, “Folie Jolie,” which they roughly translated that into “Beautiful Chaos” in French, they are using a lot of lace and tool because they like the volume.

DeMay estimated that she and Potter bought about 15 yards of tulle and nine yards of lace for their collection. They are going for a voluminous avant-garde, couture look inspired partially by Lady Gaga.

“We do love her over-the-top style that’s also sexy and flirty, “she said. “It’s so artistic it’s almost like a sculpture instead of a dress.”

All of the designers face challenges and creative blocks, but Smith said that when things get hard, you just can’t give up.

When she competed in last year’s Rock the Runway, she had a dress that didn’t look good four days before the show, she said.

“We knew it, and we weren’t going to send it down the runway,” she said.

They remade the dress in just one night.

“Once we got the new idea, we got so excited and went all out on it,” she said. “It looked completely different.”

Smith and Klotz added a rebellious twist to it, and she said people loved it. So did the judges — they won second place.

“You just have to go with your gut and really push yourself,“ she said. “It’s a major show.”

Contact Rabab Al-Sharif at [email protected].