Professional designers assist with fashion students’ projects

Allison Tomei

Edward Walker and Jeff Bergus critique Katie Rubenstahl’s outfits she designed. The senior fashion design students got their work critiqued yesterday in Rockwell Hall by designers from New York City and Dallas, Texas. LESLEY KATZENMEYER | DAILY KENT STAT

Credit: John Proppe

Before students in the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising hit the real world, they are given a dose of reality.

Three fashion designers came to Kent State yesterday to critique garments created by senior fashion design students. The critique is part of Fashion Studio three and four, the final classes fashion design majors must take before graduation. Linda Ohrn-McDaniel, professor of the class, said students will spend two semesters drawing, creating and perfecting their own designs.

Ohrn-McDaniel said students are assigned a critic in the summer prior to their senior year. They are then asked to pick a theme for the line of clothing they will design. They then draw sketches of the designs. Each line consists of approximately eight outfits.

Students send their drawings back to the critic in September, and the critic chooses three or four of the drawings for the student to construct.

Since September, students have been creating garments for the critics, who came yesterday to assess each student’s progress.

“The critics will tell them what’s working and what’s not working, how their sewing is, and they will look at the overall design and make suggestions,” Ohrn-McDaniel said. “There has been times where students are asked to completely redesign a garment.”

The critics this year are R. Scott French, an independent fashion designer who has had garments modeled in New York City’s Fashion Week; Jeff Bergus, who has designed clothing for J.C. Penney stores, Izod and Geoffrey Beene; and Edward Walker from the television series, “Trading Spaces.”

Katrina Campbell, senior fashion design major, said the process of constructing the garments is extremely time consuming and stressful.

“You really have to be willing to give up all of your free time and focus 110 percent on fashion design,” she said.

Campbell had three garments chosen by the critics to design based on her drawings. She said the students pull multiple “all-nighters” while attempting to create the right look and fit for the clothes.

She said the most beneficial aspect of the critiques was receiving “fresh, professional opinions.”

“The critics are in the industry right now,” she said. “Getting their opinions makes all of this seem a little more real.”

After yesterday’s critique, students will continue perfecting their designs. In March, the critics will come back to campus to look at the designs one final time before the spring portfolio show.

On April 20, 2007, the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising will host its annual show, where the designs created by the students will be modeled in front of their peers, professors and fashion professionals, including designer Oscar de la Renta.

Contact School of Fashion Design and Merchandising reporter Allison Tomei at [email protected].