UT fashion student designs collection for Elements fashion show

Hannah Shih

Fashion may repeat itself, but textiles and design senior Hannah Leonard isn’t afraid of drawing from history for inspiration and sewing her own revived version of it.  

Premiering her five-look collection at Elements, UT’s annual fashion show, Leonard is one of 23 senior designers who will showcase their work at the Frank Erwin Center on April 14. 

With her collection, Carnaby Street, Leonard said she updates the vintage silhouettes and fabrics of the ’60s with dynamic colors and contemporary textures that echo the iconic fashion muse Twiggy, while staying relevant to the 21st century. A distinct dusty rose color weaves a theme through Leonard’s collection — a suede jumpsuit, a long wool coat that tops an illuminate holographic leather skirt, as well as an active wear look and a wedding gown.

“During the 1960’s, Carnaby Street was a place where the latest bands, celebrities, fashion muses and all fashionable people were found roaming the streets and gathering for parties and outings,” Leonard said. “This sums up my collection perfectly because my girl can be seen shopping all day in these outfits, just tweaking a few things to go from day to night out on the town.”

Growing up in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, Leonard said she has always known she had a special interest in fashion beyond her peers. In her eyes, clothing has a unique ability to express personality and mood, a characteristic she said she sees in herself because her style has evolved with changing sources of inspiration. 

“I have always felt a passion for fashion that overwhelmed and overrode any other thoughts I could have about a different career,” Leonard said. “A lot of designers can struggle with confidence in their work, but that is something I really have never struggled with, and for that I am very grateful.”

Ockhee Bego, director of Elements and the instructor overseeing the senior collections, said Leonard’s strong sense of direction has lead to a uniquely cohesive collection. 

“She is very dedicated and talented and one of the top designers among my students,” Bego said. “Her collection is very feminine yet very powerful, with an interesting use of color that is almost vintage — yet at the same time, it is her own style that comes through.” 

Tré Miles, a fellow Elements designer and president of the University Fashion Group, the organization that plans the annual fashion show, describes Leonard’s clean design aesthetic as one that can subtly mix pastel tweeds with metallic leathers to sophisticatedly blend a hint of the modern era with vintage touches. 

“[Her clothes] are a play on the feminine with an edge of quirk and a smirk, and she always has every detail planned out without an ounce of doubt,” Miles said. “She has a real vision as a designer that is clear, concise and very accessible to many people.” 

With the show rapidly approaching, Leonard said she is looking forward to sharing a piece of her heart with her friends and family, so they can understand why fashion is the only career she has ever considered.

“Before the show, we all go through the good, the bad and the ugly in preparation — and I feel like that gives us so much experience,” Leonard said. “The glitz, the glam, the press and the cameras all make the night exciting, but it’s all about getting to share my passion with the world.”  

This article has been updated since its initial publication to correct the date of the Elements fashion show, which will be held on April 14.