Editor’s Note: For the rest of this quarter, Aggie arts reporter Sasha Sharma will investigate the process of designing a runway collection from beginning to end. Check MUSE weekly to see Funmilayo Alabi’s progress as she continues to work on her collection for the Picnic Day Fashion Show taking place in Spring 2012.
With New York Fashion Week just around the corner, designers are gearing up for breathtaking runway shows. From finishing up the last stitch on a maxi skirt or scheduling fittings with models, the frenzy that surrounds a fashion show is crucial.
Likewise, designers from the UC Davis Design program’s fashion emphasis have been working hard for their very own spring fashion show that will take place on Picnic Day 2012 and in San Francisco on May 6.
To get a glimpse of what it means to be a designer, MUSE talked to one of the designers presenting their collection this spring. Funmilayo Alabi is a senior at UC Davis and says she has been subconsciously working toward this day her entire college career.
“I am Nigerian and I’m also not a follower — my designs are inspired by my culture and the Rio Carnivale,” Funmilayo said.
The Carnivale is an annual festival held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With approximately 2 million attendees per day, the festival is a samba-style blur of bright colors. Additionally, The Carnivale is inspired by the dominant Yoruba tribe — Funmilayo’s ancestral tribe.
“You won’t see much ready-to-wear in my collection; it’s much more avant-garde. I am a drama major as well so there’s this costume element to my clothes,” Funmilayo said. She adds that her second source of inspiration are the Nigerian masquerades performances given by masked members of tribes during important events in the society.
The Yoruba tribe celebrates Gelede in order to honor the female elders of their society where the performances are colorful and use the famous Yoruba wooden masks.
“They use grass and twigs and even hair for costumes that are just really bizarre,” Funmilayo said.
Funmilayo hopes her collection will bring many of these elements into play with intricate prints underneath hair, the focus being primarily on movement. The colors in Funmilayo’s collection are a contrast to what’s on the runway — the spring pastels forecasted to dominate this season. Funmilayo’s collection is an amalgam of bright oranges, yellows, reds and golds.
The fashion show is the equivalent of a senior project for Design 179, a class offered as part of the Design major at UC Davis.The class is mainly for students whose heart lies in the world of fashion, students who desperately seek internships with Marc Jacobs, Giorgio Armani, Betsey Johnson and others.
“Michael Kors started his career interning for Céline,” Funmilayo said as she confessed her desire to someday work for Marc Jacobs.
Although the job sounds glamorous enough, it is anything but. Underneath the bright colors, there is an extensive amount of time and effort put in by the students.
It is a far cry from the popular TV show “Project Runway”. Students at UC Davis dye their own fabrics, make their own prints and finance their own collections from purchasing fabric, dyes, prints to finding complementary makeup, shoes and accessories.
The class is comprised of 18 students and according to Funmilayo, three students were fortunate enough to win the President’s Undergraduate Fellowship grant. The grant finances, in part, undergraduate research. Funmilayo, on the other hand, has been the sole financial backer for her project along with a $1,500 private scholarship.
“About two weeks ago, I dyed something and I forgot that I needed to steam it so the color would spread, and it turned out this wrong green color that did not work at all,” Funmilayo said of a dying mishap. She says she usually leaves campus anywhere between 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. to work on her designs.
As Funmilayo continues labors on her collection, MUSE will bring weekly updates of her personal, albeit more arduous, Project Runway.
SASHA SHARMA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.