Fashioning Forward

Emily Rasinski

With the Kent State fashion show starting tonight, three senior fashion design majors describe what it took for them to get here and where they hope to go

Eric Frank, senior fashion design major, puts the finishing touches on his garments. Frank, one of only two male designers in the show, will have six outfits appearing tonight.

Credit: Andrew popik

Three fashion design seniors’ work is about to take its strut down the catwalk at tonight’s fashion show.

With their final designs completed, these students reflect on their journey through college and into the fast-paced world of fashion.

A man in a woman’s world

Eric Frank, a self-described jeans and T-shirt guy, stands out in his the senior fashion design classes because he is one of two men in a predominately female major.

Frank entered Kent State as a pre-med major and will graduate this August with a degree in fashion design.

While his parents were nervous in the beginning, describing fashion as a “blow-off major,” his friends were excited about his new major, but for different reasons.

“My friends thought it was awesome,” he said. “They knew I was going to be one of the only guys in the classes.”

“All of the students work hard, but there’s always a few that go above and beyond,” said instructor Shelby Keener-Reid. “They push themselves to do more, learn more, try something new. That’s the way I’ve viewed him. He keeps pushing the envelope.”

He entered the program without prior training in sewing or drawing, but in a few years he has designed a line of menswear inspired by the movie, The Talented Mr. Ripley, which takes place in the 1950s. His clothing line, Urban Regatta, reflects a mixture of the movies 1950s jazz and nautical theme with a more modern hip-hop urban attitude.

These clothes will be on display tonight.

His preppy nautical line utilizes luxurious fabrics like satin, silk knits and fine wool, that he estimates would cost more than $3,000 if sold at retail.

He hopes to carry over his success and sense of style to New York City this summer when he interns for menswear designer Joseph Abboud.

Frank says the thing that has kept him going in the program, and he hopes will carry him in the future is the challenge of being a designer.

“It took me three times as long to finish a project,” he said. “But it felt three times better. The challenge keeps me interested in it.”

Her dream career

Jessica Price is so wrapped up in her desire to be a fashion designer she dreams about it — literally.

“I wake up and remember seeing dresses,” she said. “I turn the light on, and draw them out really quick. You really start to think about it all the time.”

Price, whose classic sexy style is evident in her knee-high leather boots and fitted knit top, said being a fashion designer was never something she planned.

“At first, I didn’t think about it” she said. “I liked to draw and sew, and that went hand in hand with fashion design.”

Price started drawing as a child, imitating her older sister and drawing Disney stills. As she got older, her creativity carried over into her wardrobe.

“I started going to thrift stores and buying stuff and cutting it up,” she said. “I made my own clothes throughout high school. It was just something to do.”

Her love for fine art has made it difficult to transition into the stylized fashion industry.

“I’m a perfectionist,” she said. “I like things to be realistic. Here, they just teach fashion drawing. I had a really hard time grasping that at first.”

Even though Price’s line of evening wear will not be seen in the show because of the critics’ cuts, Price will model other students’ garments.

“At first I was upset I wasn’t in it,” she said. “But then I thought about the other girls, and didn’t want to let them down.”

A childhood passion

Unlike Frank and Price, Greer Keeble has known she wanted to be a fashion designer since grade school. That is, after she ruled out a profession as a clown or marine biologist.

“Through high school, I took all the art classes I could take,” she said. “Although, right away it wasn’t like I was drawing fashion figures and clothes. I started out copying stuff.”

Keeble’s artistic style is evident in the clothes she wears and the ink she displays on her body. She has stars and eagles tattooed across her shoulders and arms as well as Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portrait inked on her back. She said this tattoo expresses her appreciation for art and color.

Keeble’s mother Carol Schatzinger agrees.

“Fashion is like an artform for her,” she said. “It’s the perfect career for her as far as her expressing herself.”

Keeble said her style is vintage, using older fabrics, styles and vintage prints in her designs — but she adds in her own personal touch.

“If I didn’t like it personally, I’m not going to put it out there to sell,” she said “You can’t do it if you don’t believe in it.”

For Keeble, designing and creating garments is more than just a profession, its an outlet for her to communicate herself to others.

“I feel it’s a way I can express how I’m feeling without using words or putting feelings into sentences,” she said. “You have to breath, eat, feel, draw fashion. It’s a life style not a job. You have to live it.”

Contact fine and professional arts reporter Emily Rasinski at [email protected].