Fashionably proud

Amanda Sowards

Two seniors reveal their collections at portfolio fashion show

Senior design major Amanda May sits with wedding dresses she created as part of the senior show “Contradiction” on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. May plans to open her own bridal shop after she graduates in August. AMANDA SOWARDS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Senior fashion design majors Amanda May and Lisa Clark have spent the last year on their senior portfolios and are nearly ready to hit the runway.

The two spent countless hours designing and redesigning and making and cutting patterns, all the while being critiqued and not knowing if they would be used in the Portfolio 2006 Student Fashion Show, the final show.

Clark and May started work on two collections each in April 2005. Working under separate inspirations, the designers spent their first nine months conducting initial fittings, designs and critiques.

After a trip to New York and grading by professionals, four or five of their original 12 garments came back. With only three months until the show, they finally started working with their intended fabrics, May said.

Every two weeks for eight weeks, a new garment was submitted and critiqued. The time was very stressful and full of “all-nighters,” May said.

“I’m sure my neighbors loved the sewing machine going all night,” she said with a laugh.

Spring semester was full of critiques by professional designer Eric Gaskins, who owns his own line out of New York. Students presented their work and quickly explained changes that were made from the last visit. Clark said the critiques can be nerve-wracking but usually go smoothly if the suggested corrections are made.

Though each senior has gone through many of the same experiences in the last year to get to the show, they all have different backgrounds and stories about how they got interested in fashion.

A perfect fit

May started sewing when she joined 4-H at the age of 8, starting with tote bags.

“I was always interested in quilting and dressing up, and sewing is just what fit best,” May said.

She continued designing and making garments through high school, all the while winning state and national titles, including being named as a national finalist for Threads magazine’s “Inspired by Thread Competition.”

Also during high school, May worked at a bridal shop where she said she learned valuable business and design skills.

She recalled an instance in which she sold a very traditional wedding dress, which she thought many brides would not like, to a former Miss Tennessee.

“It has to fit the girl and her personality,” May said.

When it came time for May to choose a college, she said she selected Kent State because it had a suburban location and a four-year rather than a two-year program.

Her previous work with formal wear helped May understand what women look for and what fits them best. May said she applied this to her line of wedding dresses while still trying to do something different. She did this by keeping silhouettes simple and adding splashes of pink and embellishments to each piece.

With an August graduation nearing, May is looking to the future. She said she plans to move to her hometown of Pittsburgh and open Amanda May Bridal, where she will make and design custom dresses.

A chosen path

Like many high school seniors, Clark had to write an essay about what she planned to do after graduation. But her essay ended up changing her path.

The finished assignment detailed her plans to become a zoologist, but her teacher had another path in mind. She reminded Clark she doesn’t like the sight of blood and wouldn’t be able to take care of animals.

“Look at what you’re wearing. You should be a fashion designer,” the teacher said.

After looking into Kent State’s program, Clark said she thought it was something she would be interested in.

While doing an internship with a bridal store, Clark worked with flower girls and quickly became interested in designing girls’ clothing. She said the original inspiration for her line was a picnic and garden but later changed her mind.

“I just played off the embroidery,” Clark said.

Each piece is hand-embroidered with daisies, marching ants and fanciful swirls, all in denim and light-colored material.

Clark said her dream job would take her to Europe, where she says people are more adventurous in fashion. She was able to tour Europe and live in Italy for a semester as part of the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising’s Florence program. She said it was a wonderful experience and has already applied abroad to companies such as Puma.

“I think (the show) is really good,” Clark said. “Everyone worked really hard and deserves to be in it.”

Contact fashion reporter Amanda Sowards at [email protected].