University Fashion Group hopes to ‘Transcend’ expectations in this year’s fashion show

2013-04-18_Design_Sewers_Debby

Debby Garcia

Design senior Cecillia Vu adds finishing touches to her garment Wednesday afternoon as final preparation for the 14th annual University of Texas Fashion Show. The event is free for the public and will take place at the Frank Erwin Center on Thursday evening.

Alexandra Hart

Anticipation hung heavy in the air of the University Fashion Group’s general meeting Tuesday. Business-as-usual points were quickly attended to and members scattered after announcements to meet with their committees. It was crunch time, and the organization’s biggest event, the annual University of Texas Fashion Show, was looming.

“You kind of feel like you’re being stretched in a million different directions at this point,” UFG President Angeli Aguilera said of her tasks leading up to the show. “You have to cover just every detail that if you went to the show you might not even notice, but if you’re putting on the show, you have to cover if you want it to be good.

Thursday marks the 14th annual fashion show, a showcase of senior textile and apparel design students’ collections. The event has grown in attendance almost tenfold since its inception in 1997. That year had about 500 in the audience; last year’s show, “Contour,” drew more than 5,000. After months of preparation, this year’s production, “Transcend,” hopes to grow in scope even more.

“We hope to match last year, if not more,” said UFG’s director of public relations Elizabeth Allensworth. “This year we have an actual seating chart which is a new thing, with assigned seating for our VIP guests. At this point we pretty much have everything ready to go, making sure everything is done for the front-of-house, VIP areas, making sure our special guests are still coming and ready to go.”

All of the details are taken care of by six different committees that ensure everything from securing and dressing models to building the stage and winning over sponsors are taken care of in time for the show. Planning starts months in advance. 

“A lot of the planning work starts in late fall, like picking the theme and getting PR releases out,” Vice President Tyler Neal said. “It’s important to get that done early on so we can start finding sponsors in time to get everything paid for. Then most of the work is done January through March.”

Meanwhile, upstairs in room 212 of Gearing Hall, designers cut and stitched the finishing touches on the garments they would put on display to thousands in a matter of days. Discarded fabric littered the tables of the room that had been, for the past few days, more or less home for the designers participating in the show. Textiles and apparel design senior Bang Nguyen pinned up a sequined vest on a mannequin before stopping to speak.

“It looks a lot better in person, on the model,” Nguyen said. “On the mannequin it just looks so wide and boxy.”

Details like these, making adjustments to the garments so that they fit properly on the models, are just one more thing to consider for the students who already put in overtime to make sure their collections are runway-ready.

“Since the weekend, people have been here around the clock, sleeping in the lab,” Nguyen said. “We really have no time to go home or do much anything else. Once fall semester starts and you start working on your first sketch for your first look, that’s it, you give up your life.”

The late nights, the planning, the manual labor will all come to fruition tonight at 7:15 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center. The program is free to the public and features events starting at 5:30, with an after-party downtown to follow the runway show. Along with gaining exposure for their work, awards will be given for Most Innovative Collection, Most Marketable Collection and Best Evening Gown, among others. To the officers, committee members and designers, the production will be the result of months of work, and a sigh of relief.

“I feel like I won’t even be able to breathe again until Saturday, when everything’s all done and taken care of,” Aguilera said. “I always compare it to being pregnant. When I became president I was like, ‘Okay, I’m pregnant.’ And through the past months it’s been like making sure everything was all in place for when the baby arrives…once the show happens, it’ll be like my baby’s finally born.”

Printed on Thursday, April 18, 2013 as Fashion show 'makes it work'