The eight Hoover semifinalists of Birmingham’s Sixth Annual Fashion Week are predicting the future of fashion this year.
On Aug. 25 and 26, 60 students named Rising Design Star Semi-Finalists will strut their unconventional designs on a runway and show off their Birmingham Fashion Week creations at Boutwell Auditorium.
This year’s challenge was to imagine the “future of fashion” theme, and students were required to craft their garments from recycled or alternative materials.
The top scoring designs from each night will go to the Fashion Finale Aug. 27, to compete for scholarships, cash prizes and the chance to be named Birmingham Fashion Week’s 2016 Rising Design Star.
Anna Cate Weeks
All it took for 13-year-old Anna Cate Weeks, an eighth-grader at Berry Middle School, was a walk around her house before she knew her Birmingham Fashion Week design idea.
“I was thinking about what was futuristic, and I saw magnets,” Weeks said.
Weeks said her dress is made entirely out of “very strong” silver magnets.
Because she likes the style of dresses that are short in the front and long in the back, she added that as a style element to her design. She plans for one of her friends to be the model for her dress during the runway portion of the competition.
Even though this is Weeks’ first year taking part in Birmingham Fashion Week as a semifinalist, she went to the runway event last year and said that event originally sparked her interest in trying her hand at drawing a themed dress.
Of course, she also just loves fashion.
“I’m excited to see it on the runway,” Weeks said.
For Hoover High School’s 16-year-old Charity Kent, she wants her dress to stand out and “pop,” but not literally.
“The future of fashion is lean and flexible,” Kent said of her Birmingham Fashion Week design. “It’ll explode with individuality and uniqueness.”
With a dress made entirely out of blown-up balloons and tape, Kent’s semifinalist dress is certainly one of a kind. The balloons at the bottom are bigger and shrink in size as they go up the dress, just how she imagined it stylistically.
Although she wanted to redo the individualized part on the shoulder, Kent said she didn’t get a chance to do it in time, so she’s just going to have to figure it out as she’s making it.
“I didn’t know if it was going to be a balloon animal. I just wanted some design to be there,” Kent said.
She also said she wants to learn how to make balloon shapes. So far, she’s leaning toward a heart.
“I could basically say that that’s my love for fashion,” Kent said.
She said she wants the extra element to stand out, but she also wants to make sure it matches the color scheme of blue and gray already on the dress.
Chloe Annakin laughs and says she got a little carried away with the wings she put into her design.
Mostly, the 13-year-old Berry Middle School eighth-grader is looking forward to the physical making of her design.
“Something just popped into my head and that was what was really exciting about it,” Annakin said.
After her friend participated last year and told her it was fun, Annakin started working on her design for this year’s theme.
It’s been especially exciting, she said, because she’s been working with her friend, who will be the one walking it down the runway.
“We keep texting back and forth and giving each other ideas,” she said.
The dress will be matte black and sleek silver. It will be made out of papier mache, chalkboard paint, a lot of elastic, some Velcro and duct tape.
“I’m excited to see it come to life,” Annakin said.
Sixteen-year-old Halie Penton, an upcoming 11th-grader at Hoover High School, said she was surprised when her art teacher emailed her and suggested entering a design into the Birmingham Fashion Week contest.
“I’ve always wanted to model, and I’ve never dreamed that I’d actually want to be in a design competition for fashion,” Penton said.
In regards to her print-savvy design, she thought deeper for her design considerations, noting current trends that have circulated back into the fashion world.
“I thought wow, everything that’s in the past is coming back to us in the future, in a fashion way, like mom jeans or crop tops, platforms,” she said. “That’s all come back to us.”
The top part of her semifinalist design is torn out of fashion magazines and then hand-woven. Duct tape will act as the unifying material. Penton also collected newspapers for the bottom part of the dress and said she wants her design to be about interpreting previous newspaper and magazine designs as oncoming or present trends.
Soon to be 13-year-old Karley Wilson at Berry Middle School said the future of fashion is going to be complex, but simple at the same time.
“We have gone through a bunch of different fashion choices, like very structured then like loose and flowy, and I feel like we are going to go back to that loose and flowy again,” she said.
Wilson will be going into eighth grade in the fall but said she took a stitch and design class while in the seventh grade.
“I’ve been trying to get into actually making dresses ever since I had a sewing machine, but I haven’t been able to do anything with it,” Wilson said, adding that using unconventional materials is a big challenge for a beginning designer.
It was just the push she needed, she said.
Wilson is using plastic shower curtains, staples, paint, sheets of cork and plastic bags from grocery stores to make her Birmingham Fashion Week semifinalist design. She said she will probably not wear the dress, just design it.
“I want to not go by a pattern and see what I can do on my own,” Wilson said.
It was a trend that inspired 13-year-old Lola Waldrop from Berry Middle School to find her design for Birmingham Fashion Week.
“I’ve noticed in fashion lately that everything’s that popular today has come from inspiration of the past,” Waldrop said.
The eighth-grader proceeded to design her semifinalist dress after the silhouette of a popular French dress in the 1930s.
To add futuristic aspects to it, Waldrop drew in a collar, broad shoulders and a “foggy-looking” cape she’s created with plastic. She said she’d seen the dress used a bunch of times in various fashion books.
For the rest of the dress, Waldrop bought huge packages of CDs she cut up into pieces. She said she sometimes gets inspiration from other designers.
Waldrop’s sister will be modeling her dress, just like she did last year.
“It’s the only competition I’ve noticed for my age group that involves designing unconventional things,” Waldrop said.
Francesca Dichiara, a 15-year-old freshman at John Carroll High School, has been interested in the dynamics of fashion for quite some time.
It started when she attended a sewing camp when she was 9 years old. There, she said they made different shorts, shirts designed with pockets and even a few bags.
Dichiara said after she increased her skills, she really wanted to try out more designs.
Birmingham Fashion Week was the perfect opportunity.
“I heard a rumor that Birmingham Fashion Week was going to be based on art from the museum,” Dichiara said.
After seeing one big painting at the Birmingham Museum of Art covered with multicolored squares, she said she thought it was really modern-themed and one of the best paintings she saw that day. She then decided to model her semifinalist dress design after it.
When it turned out her original modernthemed design fit in with the Birmingham Fashion week “Future of Fashion” theme, she just tweaked it a little bit and submitted the design.
Dichiara used poster board as a base and then put multicolored plastic wrap over it to make the square pattern. One of her friends will be showcasing it on the runway for her.
“It’s about pure design for me,” Dichiara said.
Ontra Awad, a 16-year-old going into 12th grade at John Carroll High School, said she couldn’t believe it when she heard she’d been chosen as a semifinalist for the Birmingham Fashion Week this year.
“I thought my sister was joking with me,” she said.
Awad, who competed last year without moving on as a semifinalist, said she felt like it was really something she had to try again. She had her doubts though, especially on the night before when she was sketching her design, unconvinced of its soon-to-be success.
That didn’t stop her, though.
“Since I was little, I always liked to design fashion. I would love [to do] something close to fashion merchandising, because it’s more classical,” she said.
Awad said her first thought for unconventional materials was aluminum foil, since it had a metallic, “kind of futuristic” look to it. She knew she could spray paint it, make it different colors and make all of the sleeve and short lengths different to add some style.
“I’m most excited for finishing it, seeing it completed and being able to walk it down the runway,” she said.