Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Fashion show offers students valuable experience

When most people think of Birmingham, Ala., fashion isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. But for some college students across the state, Birmingham is home to one of the biggest events of the year – Birmingham Fashion Week’s Emerging Designers Competition.

Heidi Elnora, co-founder of BFW, said the competition was created to provide students interested in the fashion industry with the opportunity to promote their talents and make connections with industry professionals.

“I’ve done runway shows for the past 11 years,” Elnora said. “I’ve also done New York Fashion Week two times, and I wanted to give college students the opportunity that I never had to showcase their talents.”

Around 30 college students applied this year to compete in the Emerging Designers Competition. Out of the 30 applicants, 16 were selected as semi-finalists. The semi-finalists are given the freedom to select their own models and choose any and all makeup and hairstyles for them in an effort to create a cohesive image for their individual collections.

Makeup artists and hairstylists are provided by Alabama Independent Artists, MAC sponsors makeup, and hair products are provided by local salons.

This year, competitors will have the opportunity to showcase one of their designs in-store at Saks Fifth Avenue in Birmingham for the nine days leading up to opening night of BFW. Saks will also be flying in an internationally renowned designer to critique each outfit on display.

Jessica Dupuy, a junior majoring in apparel design, is a first-time competitor who is excited to see what her fellow young designers have up their sleeves.

“Getting to see what other people are doing and the inspiration that people have coming from our department is my favorite part of competing,” Dupuy said. “You thrive off of what could be done and push yourself to work harder and to do the best and stand out among your peers.”

(See also “Birmingham Fashion Week features students”)

Returning competitor Kelly Druce, a senior majoring in apparel design, said the competition is a great way for students to gain experience in meeting tight deadlines and learning to balance personal, school and work commitments.

“The process of designing the collection and taking it from ideas to an actual collection is an invaluable experience,” Druce said. “The week before the show, all of the designers are literally going insane because it’s so stressful, but it’s worth it.”

The hard work and long hours that each of the semi-finalists put into planning, designing and creating their own collections on such a tight deadline culminates in the presentation of each line to local and national industry professionals at BFW.

“The moment when my clothes actually walk down the runway is the best moment in the world,” Druce said. “You’ve been working on it for so long and putting all your energy and time into the line, and then you finally see it on the runway and it’s on the models and the lights are hitting it. It’s a really amazing moment.”

Jeana Lee Fleming, co-founder of BFW, said the exposure that designers gain from the competition is invaluable.

Previous winners have gone on to appear in local news segments and magazine, such as B-Metro.

“Photographers are constantly at the runways taking pictures of every outfit,” Flemming said. “These pictures end up in publications and all over blogs, so the exposure is really great.”

The 2013 winning designer will be guaranteed a runway spot as a designer on opening night in BFW 2014, a cash prize and a photo shoot with a professional photographer to develop a look book. The 3rd annual Birmingham Fashion Week will take place in downtown Birmingham at Pepper Place from Feb. 23 through March 2, and the Emerging Designers Competition will begin Feb. 26 at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Leading in today’s Crimson White:

Evangeline’s treats fine dining like family dinner

Tough schedule awaits defending national champions

Under Potter, Tide ready to defend national title

More to Discover