University Fashion Group, senior textiles and apparel design students unite for Capstone Fashion show

Sebastian Barajas, Life & Arts Reporter

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the May 3, 2022 flipbook.

The warehouse buzzes. Families cradle bouquets of multicolored flowers. Pride emanates off of the designers.

Before the models made their way across the runway, the designers, assisted by University Fashion Group members, scurry around the venue, making sure the work they’ve spent months preparing for will dazzle on stage.

UT textiles and apparel seniors presented their capstone collections April 30 at Distribution Hall in downtown Austin. Each student’s collection included four looks, which embodied their design aesthetic and abilities.

The show’s 20 designers worked all semester on their individual runway pieces and united to create one Capstone Collection, encapsulating all of their works. The University Fashion Group, a student organization dedicated to putting on student fashion shows, brought the Capstone Collection to life, organizing all the most important details such as casting models, finding a venue and running a social media campaign for the show.

Victoria Martin, textiles and apparel senior, said that although the process of making the garments felt tedious at times, seeing her pieces on the runway made the experience worthwhile. She said her designs focus on the intersection between fashion design and augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality technologies.

“It was a frustrating process. It started off hard for me to decide what I wanted to show and finalize,” Martin said. “Working on (the garments) for so long feels like you’re nurturing a baby; it’s something you’re bringing into this world. Seeing my pieces on a live, walking model was astonishing.”

While walking the runway, Gabriele Groberio, a studio art freshman and model, said she felt a fantastic rush of adrenaline. Groberio closed out the show in an elegant wedding dress by designer Kathryn Hutchinson. She said the unique experience will remain a happy memory for long to come.

“My favorite part was in between walking — the rush of the dressers getting me in my garments and everyone in sync getting me ready for the runway,” Groberio said. “When you’re out there, the world is almost blank, and backstage, it’s a flurry of chaos. You get to celebrate with the other models even if it was so quick and fast. It’s so gratifying.”

The group’s model director, LuLu Eisenberg, said she found the behind-the-scenes process of getting the models ready to walk before and during the show extensive and fulfilling.

“Our main role is selecting the models for the show. We do model calls, model fittings and we have walk training,” the neuroscience junior said. “It’s a lot of interacting with the models, the designers and the garments. When the show ended, I cried tears of happiness.”

When Ian Howard saw his pieces on a model for the first time, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The textiles and apparel senior said he took inspiration for his collection from industrial and postmodernist architecture, combining shades of gray with faded colors to represent the lighting on buildings.

“When I saw (my pieces) on models under lighting at the show, it was surreal. All of my models did such a good job and carried the character of my garments,” Howard said.

Howard said his capstone collection was based on the topics and philosophies that interested him, and he said that it is important for aspiring artists to stay true to the ideologies they believe in and live for themselves.

“Make sure you stay true to yourself and (don’t) live your life for other people,” Martin said. “The most important thing is you are doing what you want to do and taking steps to get to where you envision yourself.”