Young Designers' Winning Garments on Parade in Paris

It “seams” almost a certainty anymore that University of Cincinnati students will routinely head to Paris each December.  That’s because this year, as in the past, UC’s young designers are counted among the country’s best and chosen to represent the U.S.  when students from around the globe compete at Paris’ International Competition of Young Fashion Designers each year.

Most recently, in the competition’s national finals, students from 22 U.S. universities and colleges vied to be among the handful of finalists heading for Paris.  U.S. and European  judges chose the national finalists at the end of November.  Now, a total of ten North American fashion finalists and five accessory finalists are Paris-bound, where their designs will be professionally modeled at the Louvre in a competition with their peers from Europe, South America and Asia.

Helping to represent the country and UC will be junior Jessica Wagner of Madeira in the accessory category and pre-junior Dong Eun Kim of Daegu, Korea, in the fashion category.  Wagner created a dramatic, asymmetrical neckpiece of about 80 semi-precious stones, cutting the stones – mostly jaspers and agates – herself, boring gold rings into each and then completing the connection process using caulk and glue.  “I was on co-op (cooperative education) last summer at Limited II in Columbus.  I came home almost every weekend to work on the project with my grandpa, who showed me how to cut the stones and connect them.  It was a lot of work.  I would try different stone.  They’d break.  I’d have to redo them,” she explained, adding that the hard work was well worth it:  “I’m inspired and challenged by the other students’ work, and… I’m going to Paris.”

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Kim will send to Paris his winning garment that integrates silk, satin, leather and organza.  The bodice of sheer organza is dotted with doe-leather flowerets and is pleated asymmetrically at the waist that tapers into both skirt and pants.  Kim said that the most challenging part of making the garment was making the pattern and the initial drapings.  The best part is making an “exciting, spectacular” garment of curves that contrasts leather, which is thick, against a very fine organza.  Said Kim, “Organza and leather are a combination that’s hard to sew, but they make a good contrast.  I’m also learning that it takes time, but I can really make a great garment.  I’m achieving confidence in my skill.”

That confidence should only increase as this is the most prestigious undergraduate competition in the U.S. and internationally, according to Nathalie Doucet, UC assistant professor of fashion design and founder of the Arts of Fashion Foundation, which organized the U.S. finals.  She added that last year, four UC students represented the U.S. in Paris.  UC students have been represented in the competition since the late 1980s.

Any of the U.S. students -- including those from UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning -- who go on to compete in Paris will be eligible for a 90-percent scholarship at Paris’ Institut Francais de la Mode (IFM) if they meet entrance requirements and if they wish to continue their studies after receiving their undergraduate degrees. 


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