This semester, I am enrolled in an independent study visual merchandising class. This is the first time I have taken an independent study, so it is a very different structure to get used to. Everything is done on my own time, yet I still have to communicate with my classmates because we are completing displays as a team. There are four of us in the class.
There are two windows displays that we work with. For our first challenge, we took a trip to the St. Louis Art Museum as inspiration. In particular, we visited the Nick Cave exhibit. He is an artist that creates pieces out of found objects. Accordingly, we were to do the same and use a very limited budget. We also used the artists Andy Warhol and Alexander McQueen as an inspiration. I worked on the display that combined the Nick Cave and Andy Warhol aesthetic. This was extremely fun to create. I loved having creative freedom to do as many wacky things as I wanted with whatever I could find. Also, I’m a huge fan of bright colors. So, it made me happy using such a diverse color scheme as well.
It can be difficult to see all the elements of this display in the below picture. The materials used are the following. A variety of fabrics in multiple colors are draped and pinned to the entire back of the wall. The side panels consist of poster board covered in buttons, beads, sequins, glitter, and flowers. Suspended from the ceiling are colorful furry pillows, plastic bowling pins, and giant flower petals made out of poster board. One mannequin wears a cape made out of a rug and hat made out of a pillow and yarn. The other mannequin’s dress was made out of flowers stuck into a cage-like structure. Each mannequin then stands on a furry rug. The floor is covered in foil. Then, on top of that, there are layers of beads, buttons, sequins, flowers, and pillow stuffing.
Stop by Anheuser Busch Hall to see these up close and in person, and determine your interpretation of the artwork. They will only be there for a limited time until we put a new display up!
“Art is what you can get away with.” -Andy Warhol
A dream of mine came true this week. I was able to meet a local St. Louis designer featured on the hit show Project Runway! If you have never seen the show, then you must be living under a rock (and obviously not a very fashionable rock). Haha!
In case you haven’t seen the show, it is a chance for up and coming designers to make clothing based on various themes, limitations, and time restrictions in order to keep things interesting. Famous designers, models and fashion icons like Michael Kors and Heidi Klum critique the clothing at the end of each challenge. It is a very fast paced and exciting show.
Remember AJ Thouvenot from Season 8? He was known for his outlandish garments usually equipped with lots of colors, patterns, and various embellishments. Believe it or not, he was a guest speaker in my FAS205.01 Apparel Production and Evaluation course at Fontbonne last week.
I could hardly contain my excitement when AJ flew through the door, carrying five shirts from his men’s collection and a short, gunmetal grey dress covered with intricate embellishments. It was AWESOME! I was eyeing something that was once only an idea and now a tangible piece of wearable art.
AJ spoke about his life, project runway, his inspirations (rock and roll is one of them, which I adore) and his current brand. He said one thing that stood out to me. I nervously raised my hand and asked what advice he would give someone wanting to pursue a career in the fashion industry. He paused for a second and told me to take every opportunity. He answered, “Even if you think you aren’t ready…just do it. Do it even if you have to fake it. Fake it until you make it! You never know when you’ll be able to get that opportunity again if ever.” His words were a definite sign to me. I try to take as many opportunities as I can, but I always question if I’m ready. AJ’s advice inspired me to take every opportunity and jump right in. You never know what you will miss if you only dip your toes in!
Check out AJ’s creative designs at http://www.andyjdesigns.com
Through a connection made at my internship, I was offered a position as the Shoes and Accessories Coordinator for St. Louis Fashion Week this fall. As someone about to graduate with a degree in fashion and wanting to go into event planning, this is absolutely perfect for me. The last couple years, I have helped out backstage for STL Fashion Week as a dresser. It is extremely exciting to now be a part of the back-of-house (BOH) crew throughout the entire planning process. There are some tasks that all of the BOH crew helps out with, but my main role is to pick out shoes and accessories for the designers that will be showcasing their collections. The day of the shows, it will be my responsibility to track all the merchandise and make sure it’s all in the proper order and on the right models. All the information that people need about Fashion Week can be found at saintlouisfashionweek.com. (Look for my picture and biography on there!)
This past Saturday, September 13, the model casting call took place. People that are already signed by modeling agencies came, along with independent models. We had a very good turnout and a lot of talented people come in. I was in charge of measuring and recording all of the model’s bust, waist, and hip sizes. Because there was continuously a long line, this had to be done very quickly, which I feel as if I accomplished. It made me feel very proud when Shannon, the overall producer, told me what great work I did. With all the upcoming Fashion Week meetings, parties, and shows, I will have many more fun stories to tell. Stay tuned!
The check-in process and runway
Earlier this summer, an amazing opportunity came my way. I was asked to help produce a fashion show by the director of the fashion merchandising department at Fontbonne, Mrs. Angie Liljequist. She knows that I want to pursue a career in event planning, so this would be a great way for me to gain more experience. I am so glad that Angie approached me about this. I have helped plan and run many events on campus, but this was my first public one, therefore a way to gain more exposure in the St. Louis area.
Janet Riehl is an artist who creates a lot of work that features women in clothing that celebrates African culture. She wanted a casual fashion show to correlate with her work, and have it run at the opening of her month-long exhibit at the Portfolio Gallery on Delmar Boulevard (the exhibit being titled Women and Wardrobe). This opening would also serve as a fundraiser for the gallery. I met with Janet earlier in the summer to discuss her vision and so that I could see her artwork. I also met with Robert Powell, the creative director of the Portfolio Gallery, in order to see the space I had to work with. The gallery is really neat place, which is a vintage three-story house. After these initial meetings, I proceeded with my work.
Angie let me borrow some clothes that the fashion merchandising department has on hand for the costume history class. They were all garments worn traditionally in African culture by men and women. I gathered additional clothes, shoes, and accessories to style these looks in a more modern way. I recruited four models to wear these looks. I had connections with each of these girls after they modeled for the fashion show this past spring that my fashion promotions class produced. In addition, I reached out to a local fashion designer, Amelia LaSalle. I thought her designs complemented Janet’s work well too. Amelia’s collection was displayed on mannequins (also borrowed from the fashion merchandising department, and somehow all fit inside my small car).
Janet wanted it to be a casual and free-spirited event. So, there was not a formal runway show. The models were each stationed in a different room, and were there to mingle with guests and give them information about the traditional use of the garment they were wearing. I am excited to say that the evening was extremely successful! So many people showed up and had a great time. I received many compliments and recognition. It was all a bit surreal. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and appreciative of all the help from Angie, Janet, Robert, Amelia, and the four models. Great connections were made that I hope to continue building on in the near future. It is thrilling for me to plan an event and see it come to life. More and more I have solidified the fact that event planning is my passion and what I want to do in life.
Myself with the models: Brittany, Alyssa, Latoya, and Quinisha