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MSU students focus on fashion at exhibit
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi State University’s apparel, textiles and merchandising majors found a fitting way to end the spring semester by staging their first-ever fashion exhibit on campus.
Fashion Focus, a student organization, held the event to demonstrate the ability of MSU fashion majors to master design, business and technical skills needed for successful careers in the industry.
Some projects on display took visitors through the various steps needed to create clothing and accessories, while others presented visual business concepts that position these items in appropriate markets.
Visitors admired actual garments produced as ready-to-wear or custom-fit items. MSU freshman Jay Grishby of Jackson dazzled the audience with his haute couture-inspired cocktail dress of emerald silk, which featured cream rosettes on the gown’s single shoulder.
“I simply pictured the dress in my head and sketched the design onto a croquis figure, which is a schematic figure drawing with standard proportions,” Grishby said. “It took me four days to construct this dress.”
Also on display were patterns, muslin-fabric dress samples and concept boards that students produced with computer-aided design programs. Some students presented representations of business management plans with examples of newsletters, website pages and visual merchandising storyboards.
MSU senior Trekina Miller of Goodman has been designing clothes for a long time. As a child, she tore up plastic grocery bags and twisted the pieces into various shapes and wraps to outfit her dolls. She also stayed in trouble with her mom for cutting up clothes to make patterns.
Miller is the recruitment chair for Fashion Focus and was responsible for motivating her peers to participate in the show. Her enthusiasm for all the facets of designing and marketing fashion soon caught on with her peers.
“Creating, drawing and cutting patterns is tedious work, but you have to understand how to make them to create a muslin sample to custom-fit someone’s body before you actually cut the expensive fabric for that gown,” she said. “Patterns are one of the key elements in the process of designing and producing clothing lines and accessories.”
Many of the students were present to answer questions and network with people who dropped by to take a look.
“One of the key staples in my wardrobe is vintage clothing and retro pieces,” said Fashion Focus president Jessie Ajluni, a senior from Birmingham, Ala. “I love to talk with people because I find out what they like, and I get ideas on how to create a showcase for a particular garment or accessory.”
For Grishby, Miller, Ajluni and the other students, the show was a means to explore the importance of presentation in the world of fashion.
“This experience prepared students to set up showroom exhibits for manufacturers and design firms, store displays and booths for apparel markets,” said Phyllis Bell Miller, MSU associate professor of apparel, textiles and merchandising. “In many instances, exhibits are a regular activity for people who work in the fashion industry.”
Students had the responsibilities of planning, timing and coordinating efforts to put on the exhibit. They chose the Colvard Student Union as the venue. As the show came together, the students followed an approach that can guarantee success: teamwork, follow-through and commitment.
“The officers of Fashion Focus, who were primarily responsible for organizing the show, witnessed what happens when someone doesn’t follow through, and through that experience they learned how to turn a bad situation into a positive outcome,” Miller said.
By immersing themselves in the process of running an exhibit, students learned another lesson. Many of them now view individual projects as building blocks to a career.
“The value of completing a project and making it work extends beyond one course or semester,” Miller said. “By knowing their work will be on display should encourage students to give their best efforts on class assignments.”
While some students planning the event have graduated and begun their careers, the undergraduates who participated can build upon the experience next year when they host the show. The students plan to recruit MSU Fashion Board members and graphic arts majors to work with them on future shows.
“Our students now know to expect to exhibit their work and prepare their projects with that goal in mind,” Miller said. “We look forward to seeing what we can accomplish with next year’s event.”