Art on Campus: From sketches to reality

Turning fabrics into garments evokes my middle school memories of painstaking and long-forgotten sewing lessons.

So I hold the utmost respect for those that possess the creative talent to pursue design. It’s no easy feat to accept the impermanence of fashion and design to create a physically representative product of one’s personality.

To learn more about the time, dedication and thought that goes into garment-making, I talked to Jenny Zhao, ArtSci ’15, a student designer whose work has been featured in campus charity fashion shows:

Which fashion or style icon inspires you?

I would … choose Alexa Chung for her effortless style. Her outfits are never overdone, yet she has a distinctly simple and chic look. I draw some of my more mature outfit ideas from her. She always seems so confident in her style, which I believe is a defining characteristic for an inspiring fashion icon.

What are your top two favourite items currently in your wardrobe?

My first favourite piece is a grey jersey knit shift dress from Wilfred Free. It’s one of those wardrobe pieces that is so versatile you can wear it in a spectrum of occasions (not to mention it’s also crazy comfy). If I want to dress it down, I pair it with some black combat boots, a denim vest and a fedora.

My second favourite … are my short black combat boots. They’ve been popular for a while, but I find that the shortness of the boots make them easier to style. It pairs very well with my more laid-back street-style outfits!

What is your favourite thing you’ve created?

I got my hands on this amazing piece of fabric that was black, sheer, and appliqued with a floral print. I wanted to create a gown with an open back … It took a lot of trial and error to manipulate the fabric in the way I wanted it to look. In the end, I was pretty pleased with how it turned out.

When did you realize your passion for fashion?

My mom taught me how to hand sew when I was 10 years old. As soon as I could do it on my own, I went crazy with a needle and thread. I remember making (hideous) outfits for my Barbie dolls out of old socks. Ever since then, I realized I had a passion for fashion and design and started sketching down some of my ideas. It expanded beyond sketches once I learned how to use a sewing machine in high school.

Can you describe a challenge you faced as a young designer?

One of the biggest challenges I faced and still face is being unsatisfied with the final product. It has to do with wanting a design to be perfect. Often times, designs may not translate as well onto fabric. Whether this is due to the inability to find a suitable fabric or design flaws, I’m learning to work with … and tune [material] to my design style … I have learned to be resourceful and creative with what I have to work with. The best person that could sum this up is Tim Gunn: “Make it work!

What advice do you have for those that want to start designing?

The best advice I can give is to just give it a try. Like your fashion style, your designs are often a reflection of your personality. Find an inspiration- whether that is a character, a place or a colour palette. By using the central theme of the inspiration, it gives an easy way to create a cohesive collection.

Interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Those that possess the talent of garment-making are really a master of an always changing craft. Do you know a student designer or artist? Feel free to contact journal_blogs@ams.queensu.ca

Tags: 

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.