St. Johnsbury Academy held its annual Fashion Show April 3. The show featured the work of students from Dyan Wallace's Fashion II and Advanced Art in Design classes and featured a total of 15 designers. Academy students and children from the community acted as models. This year's theme was Wings of Desire 2014.
According to Wallace, "Students used birds, butterflies, even a duck as inspirations for their designs." Wallace said, "The students from Fashion Design II and Advanced Art in Fashion have created their own collections. One special design was selected from each of the student's collections and models were chosen to accompany the designs and their creators through the process of pattern-making, fitting and sewing to the finished 'runway' product. In addition, our Advanced Fashion Art students created children's wear outfits to complement the theme, experimenting with textile print design."
Academy Headmaster Tom Lovett said, "This year's show was a stunning display of so much artistic talent -- Monica Steffey's dance, Christian Dekett's stage presence, the graphic design class's artwork, and of course, the fashion designers' creations! The amount of work that Dyan and her students put into this production really paid off. Once again, I feel fortunate to have professional artists teaching our students how to produce professional-quality works."
SJA senior Emma Guihen from Letter Kenney, Ireland, participated in the show for the third time for her Advanced Art in Design class. She designed one adult and two children's garments for the show. Her designs were based on the glass-winged butterfly. Emma said, "The Glass-winged Butterfly has transparent wings that are like little mirrors which inspired me to work with chiffon. I used the butterfly as my design for the repeat print in my children's designs."
Emma's final drawings depict two children's garments, a dress and a romper, as well as a women's dress. She also drew a detailed picture of the glass-winged butterfly that would be used as a repeat pattern for the fabric of the children's clothes. Once Wallace chose which designs would be used from her illustrations, Emma chose a model that she felt would best highlight her designs. She then made a preliminary muslin version of each design and had her first fitting with her model. The muslin version was fitted properly and any changes were reflected in the pattern. Once she accomplished all of this, sewing began with the fabric planned for the final designs. The designers fit their dresses on their models at least 8-10 times before they are finished, and sometimes more.
Emma's dress for her adult model features a short off-white under-dress, a black chiffon floor-length over-dress and a black corset hand-stitched with black and white sequined and beaded butterflies. Her two children's designs, one a dress and one a romper, are made from fabric using the glass-winged butterfly in a repeated pattern. She worked on her designs for four to five hours per day, during the week for the past month outside class time, and more on the weekends. She likes to work by herself even if there are others in the room working on their designs. She said, "I work on the older sewing machine that I learned on, partly because I know how to use it best, but also because it's off by itself. I don't feel like I can do a proper job when I am distracted. I end up making mistakes and having to start over."
Emma has concrete and impressive plans for herself after she graduates from the Academy in June. She has been accepted to one of the top design colleges in the world, University of the Arts -- Saint Martins, in London. As part of her application, she had to submit a design portfolio of 30-50 pieces in addition to her transcript and an essay. She flew to Chicago to interview with a representative of the college. Emma intends to pursue a bachelor's degree in women's wear design, followed by two master's degrees, one concentrating on the environmental impact of fashion and one in business.
Emma is only one of the many student designers from Dyan Wallace's classes who develop a passion for design that they carry with them beyond the Academy. Each year students enter prestigious design schools all over the world and many continue with successful careers in the fashion industry.