Eye On Style: The Shape of Things

With the popularity of Project Runway, a lot more people are dreaming of careers as the next top clothing designer. After all, they have fabulous imaginations, can whip up a sketch and are always the ones friends consult with when it comes to fashion conundrums.

But is that enough to actually get a foot in the business?

Yesterday morning at Seattle Central Community College's Apparel Design Final Line & Portfolio Show, I got a glimpse of what it really takes to even consider putting a toe in the competitive world of clothing design.

Twenty-two graduates shared their work during the presentation, 'The Shape of Things,' the culmination of six quarters of rigorous studies that include pattern drafting, garment spec development and learning how to sew like a pro. This basic and all-important skill, sadly lacking in many would-be designers, is truly the foundation of knowing how to walk before you run.

The designs were truly impressive, each one unique from the other. Passion and perseverance was evident in collections that ranged from 'ZEPHYR' silky, sexy lingerie to 'OutBound' outerwear and 'Citymouse' charming vintage to 'Varen' modern knitwear. Becky Sullivan, one of the winners of Seamless' student division, captured casual luxury in her creations entitled 'Belmont Manor, tweedy and pop at the same time.

Studies were tidy, displayed on antique dress forms like actual merchandise in a showroom or boutique. Close inspection revealed the details: meticulous construction, fine fabric choices, hand beading ... I felt deep admiration for all of the students, for the heart and soul that went into creating the stories.

Little does the fashion world know of the hidden gem we have in SCCC's Apparel Design program. Take that, cliched notion of grunge as Seattle's native style!

I chatted with a moment with Program Director Hisako Nakayama, the self-ascribed 'Wicked Witch' ... the woman who cracks the whip and instills sometimes reluctant but talented students with the discipline they need to be a success in the field. She told me that this is her 30th graduating class. I said she must feel so proud, like these (motioning around the room) are all her children. She smiled, saying, "No -- my grandchildren!"