For them, clothing is a personal journey. In two classes this semester, they decided what the rest of us are going to be wearing next fall, and they took their concepts from the sketchpad to an improvised runway in the hallway of the Jere Whitson Memorial Building on TTU’s campus.
“The piece I told everyone to get was a circle skirt,” said Lacey Givens, a TTU student from Cookeville. “Pair that with a sweater and glam it up with sparkly shoes and big jewelry. It’s a 50s flashback but with a more glamorous touch.”
In her fashion forecasting class, Givens predicted that fall 2013 fashions will be a return to the styles of the 1950s. Later that week, to get ready for the fashion show, she rushed between a sewing machine and an ironing board to put the finishing touches on a heather gray sheath dress with a slightly flared skirt, a piece she designed that fit with her forecast.
In both classes, her classmates had widely divergent ideas about where fashion is headed during the next 12 months and what they wanted to design. Some of Givens’ classmates predicted fall fashions will be bohemian with flowing fabrics, while others said the newest styles will blend edgy and girly pieces, like motorcycle boots and leather jackets with floral dresses.
“Students were very interested in predicting the future in fashion,” said Lizabeth Self-Mullens, an associate professor who taught the fashion forecasting class, which was offered for the first time this fall. “Fashion moves so fast now. Fashion forecasting is based on research gathering and looking at what’s hot in the streets, with couture, and in New York, Milan and Paris.”
Surrounded by sewing machines and full-length mirrors in the design class, students were finishing hems and sewing straps on dresses they designed from sketchpad, to paper pattern, to a dress that fit them.
“Usually I have a more feminine taste, but I wanted to do something more structured and try to challenge myself because real designers have to be able to do everything,” said Leslie Dunn, a junior from Oak Ridge, who designed a structured, color-blocked black and black lace dress. “It was really hard. I always went to class three or four hours early to finish on time.”
Before they could cut the fabric, the students made sure each piece of their design lined up perfectly and would fit them. Several students had to alter their entire pattern – as many as a dozen separate pieces of paper – five or six times before everything came together.
“There are so many imperfections that you think won’t matter, but an eighth of an inch here and an eighth of an inch there add up,” said Kathy Whatley, of Winchester, who designed a simple black dress inspired by Jacqueline Kennedy. “If Dr. Bailey wasn’t such a pro, this dress would have been a mess.”
Both courses were fairly non-traditional. For their final exams, students made a fashion prediction in the first class and put together a dress from an original design in the other.
“Most of them are in the merchandising field, so obviously the more they know about garments, the better buyers or merchandisers they will be,” said Sue Bailey, a retired TTU professor who came back to teach the flat pattern design course. “Not all of them will be designers, but some of them have real talent.”