Cincinnati to Host Fashion Competition
Date: April 2, 2002
By Eric Lose
Contact: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos by Colleen Kelley (Runway photo courtesy of Nathalie Doucet)
Archive: General News
If you sew it, they will come.
Fashion from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning went to Paris. Now Paris fashion is coming to DAAP.
Last year, 29 DAAP students entered sketches in an internal round of a fashion competition in hopes of earning a chance to participate in an international competition. The fashion design faculty at DAAP chose the top three sketches. Grace Barhorst received the most votes. In December, she took her award-winning gown "Dirty Snow and Hot Lava" to the Concours International des Jeunes Createurs de Mode in Paris (International Competition for Young Fashion Designers). Barhorst did not win, but according to Margie Volker-Ferrier, coordinator of fashion design at DAAP, officials from the competition were very impressed with the student's work. UC fashion design students have earned a reputation of excellence at the international competition, participating for 14 years and winning in 1998 and 2000.
Nathalie Doucet, DAAP assistant professor of fashion design, accompanied Barhorst on the trip. Doucet felt that most of the U.S. entrants at the competition did not represent the highest caliber of American students. She voiced her opinion to Didier Grumbach, president of the French Federation for Haute Couture and former president of the Yves Saint Laurent USA division.
After lengthy discussion, it was decided that Cincinnati would host the American student competition to select the U.S. candidates for the 2002 competition, and Doucet would be the coordinator. In addition, Doucet was able to enlist Grumbach and a professional jury to attend the event in November 2002 and give lectures for DAAP students.
"Next year is the 20th anniversary of the competition," said Doucet. "It is a real honor to hold the American event here in Cincinnati." Doucet hopes that the planned improvements in the U.S. selection process will showcase the high quality of designs coming from American students.
Doucet worked first as a designer in her native Paris, developed her own children's wear and then worked as a style coordinator during the last five years before coming to America. Doucet and her husband came to America in June 1999. "We were thinking that the time was right to make the jump to the United States and develop a feeling for the market," she said.
"I came to UC because it has a very unique program," said Doucet. "I was impressed by the students, the quality of their work and the mix of co-op and education."
Margie Voelker-Ferrier helped Barhorst prepare for the event. "It's quite an honor to get the chance to compete at the International Competition," said Voelker-Ferrier. "It's a wonderful experience for a student to watch their gown go down the famous runways of Paris." Students use professional Paris models in the competition. According to Voelker-Ferrier, certain models seem to win each year, "All the designs are wonderful, and it's how the models present the gown that seems to clinch the competition."
Voelker-Ferrier said that after acceptance of their sketches, students have about five weeks time to produce the finished gown. "Grace was working with it every night all quarter to be ready."
Because the standard Paris models are 5-foot-9-inches and size six, students can prepare their designs in one size, and make minor adjustments to adapt the gown to the model.
There is always an ever-increasing flurry of activity as the opening nears. "It's all very exciting," said Voelker-Ferrier. "One year students were sewing in the back seat of my car as we drove to the airport for the New York semi-final."
The 2002 American semi-finals will be held in Cincinnati at the Omni Netherland Plaza Hotel. Thirty-five schools will be invited to participate and 10 student designs will be chosen to represent the United States at the Concours International in Paris in December.
More information on the 2002 American semi-final competition can be found by clicking here.