The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design has announced the 2016 winners of the Mary Mitchell Fashion Excellence Awards, shown at the Biennial Student Runway Show April 22 in the Nebraska Union.
More than 100 student designs were judged by alumnus Jillian Fellers, of Jillian Fellers Bridal in Lincoln; Laura McGrew, head designer of TOMBOY design studio in Kansas City; and Brook Hudson, producer of Omaha Fashion Week. The awards are made possible through an endowed gift from Omaha resident Mary Mitchell and her late husband, John, who established a fund in 2012 through the NU Foundation to underwrite the costs of awards to students participating in departmental competitions, including runway shows.
The following is a list of winners, including the award, amount, designer(s), designer’s hometown and name of dress.
Best of Show ($1,000), Sarah Wanek, Lincoln, “Manta Dress”: “The ‘Manta Dress’ came from the desire to make something new, unique and elegant by means of a simple design,” Wanek said. “I’ve always been interested in creating new silhouettes and found myself wanting to break free of the bodice and skirt construction most dresses have. So, with that in mind, I draped a manta ray-like shape around the body. The fabric I used is a spandex knit both in print and black, which makes this dress very soft and comfortable, and also easy to wash. The ‘Manta Dress’ is unique, but also very marketable in that it can fit a number of different sizes and is flattering to the figure.”
Award of Distinction ($500), Crystal Brakhage, Tobias, “Medieval”: “I wanted to create something that the wearer would feel powerful in,” Brakhage said. “This was the first time I made chain mail, so the process took a while to get down. The hood alone probably took me 40 hours. I ordered jump rings on the internet and then I individually linked them together. I also individually sewed on all the squares because I wanted to create my fabric and to have it look like it was protecting the body.”
Award of Honorable Mention ($250), Megan Foutch, Omaha, “Blair Waldorf”: “I was inspired by Blair Waldorf, a character in one of my favorite shows, ‘Gossip Girl,’” Foutch said. “She has a classy Upper East Side style that I find very sophisticated. I wanted my wool garments to have the same qualities, so I decided to go with a high-neck dress design and then added fur to create a plaid, black and white wool color-blocked dress and a wool cape with a fur collar.”
Award of Honorable Mention ($125 each), Chloe DeCoito, Lincoln; and Katherine Rodriguez, Costa Rica; “Boho Chic”: “ ‘Boho Chic’ was a team project and the goal was to create a new outfit from a combination of old, pre-used garments and textiles in a way that didn’t look anything like the original pieces,” DeCoito said. “A blouse, two skirts and an ivory lace curtain were used to complete the new top and short. We were inspired by a Boho trend and the garments reflect a free spirit by mixing print and lace,” Rodriguez said.
Little Black Dress Honorable Mention ($100 each), Naomi Snyder, Murdock; and Lauren Hauger, Dakota Dunes, South Dakota; “School Girl Chic”: “The Little Black Dress project was developed as a way to involve our newer design students learning the garment assembly process, as well as our merchandising students learning fashion styling techniques,” said Molly McPherson, a doctoral student in textiles, merchandising and fashion design. “Naomi and Lauren took a basic black dress and incorporated layering and accessories to create a wearable, school girl-style look.”
The biennial runway show represents about two years of work carried out by students as assignments in various textiles, merchandising and fashion design classes. The Mary Mitchell Fashion Studio on East Campus is the locus for the work of pattern drafting, grading, draping and styling that culminates in each of the students’ designs. Instructors Sandra Starkey and McPherson and professor emeritus Barbara Trout oversaw the 2016 runway show.