UT students flaunt talent in annual fashion show

This story was part of a group reporting package put together by myself and some of my fellow journalists in 2015. I pitched this idea and organized the coming together of the package. I also wrote the written portion, which is viewable below. The entire package can be seen here.

Photo: Natalia Fonseca

Photo: Natalia Fonseca

There is something electric about a fashion show. People bustle around everywhere. Lights flash on and off. Music pounds out of speakers. Emotions run high.

This was the scene at the Frank Erwin Center on April 23rd, as the University Fashion Group (UFG) and UT’s School of Human Ecology Textiles and Apparel division put on their steadily growing annual fashion show. This year’s show, “FUSION,” was a high-energy spectacle of over 100 garments put together by 23 senior designers in the Textiles and Apparel program. It was a product of a high level of work from not only the designers themselves, but also everyone else involved with the show’s production.

For the designers, it was a moment they had been working for all year. Each designer had five pieces in the show — an active wear piece, a three-piece collection, and either an evening wear or bridal piece — each created from scratch in a span of two weeks per piece.

The night of the show was the time for them to demonstrate everything they had envisioned and worked for. Which was a somewhat stressful experience, according to senior designer Andrea Fernandez.

“It’s nerve-wracking [sitting in the audience] because you want everything to look good,” Fernandez said. “You get so self-conscious that sometimes you don’t enjoy it as much as you should because you’re thinking about it too much.”

In the end though, seeing those final pieces up on a runway, worn by a model makes it worth it, Fernandez said. Shelby Smith, a fellow senior designer and UFG’s Head of Show Production, agreed.

“FUSION was by far the best night of my life. The adrenaline building up to the show is absolutely insane,” Smith said. “The day of the show was a whirlwind — there were some scary moments with garment fitting backstage. But at the end of the day, my collection came together just as I envisioned. I could not have been happier!”

Even some Textiles and Apparel students that are not currently senior designers got a little taste of that gratification as well. Victoria Espinoza, a junior designer and UFG’s Director of Public Relations. who submitted a piece for the show’s Lexus Challenge, also experienced it firsthand. 

 “I was a finalist, so my design walked the runway,” Espinoza said. “That was the first time something like that has happened to me. It was a nice little sneak peek for my senior year.”

Beyond the hard work put in by student designers on their pieces, FUSION and its previous incarnations are interesting because all aspects of the show are handled by students, from concept to fruition.

“This is all organized by our student group [UFG] and also all volunteer students,” said Ockhee Bego, a lecturer in the Textiles and Apparel division and one of the main overseers of the show’s production. “These students who are working backstage, they have 15 to 18 hours, a full schedule. Plus [this] whole thing they organize and plan and execute. And this is something to really brag about.”

UFG president and fourth-year Textiles and Apparel student Ronit Joselevitz elaborated.

“UFG does everything from making the stage and planning it to making sure all the models are fitted,” Joselevitz said. “We make the Swag Bags, we make the stickers, we make all the artwork for the show…We make all the headshots, all the promotion, all the PR, the press release for the show. We choose the music for the show. We do everything, essentially.”

According to Joselevitz, the show as a whole is an example of the stunning amount of talent at UT.

“I hope they [people who attend] realize that UT just has a lot of talent, in terms of the fashion department, and that the program is growing and that UFG is growing also,” Joselevitz said. “The show wouldn’t be as big as it was now if UFG didn’t continue growing. But the more people know about it, the bigger it can get each year.”