Fashion Forward. Trendsetting Students Become Designers


Senior Susan Hayley Fox ’13 presented her collection,“Rose of Araby.” Inspired by the sleek lines of the 1920’s deco era, the feminine silhouettes worn by the flapper girls and the ladylike floral fabrics made famous by designer Lela Rose, Fox designed a knockout collection. Ursuline’s students prepare for the fashion industry through rigorous course work in design and merchandising, culminating in a senior runway show.

The College’s fashion students have the option of attending NewYork’s Fashion Institute ofTechnology (FIT) during their junior year. They also have hands-on access to the College’s Historic Costume Study Collection that includes more than 3,500 pieces of 20th century American apparel and accessories. The VOICES staff caught up with six of the Innovations ’13 designers and production team members to find out what inspired their creations. 

Vanessa Feldkamp ’14131010142850

What’s your first fashion memory?
When the other kids in the schoolyard were playing, I was sitting down with an issue of Vogue. It wasn’t until I attended Ursuline that I really knew what I was looking at, but I loved it anyway.

Why did you pursue fashion for your undergraduate degree?
You know when people say ‘if something tugs at you, listen to it’? I succumbed to the tugging.

What’s your dream job post-graduation?
If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said I knew exactly what I wanted to do – be a designer and move to New York. But as of lately, I’m keeping my options open. I’ve been talking to local designers and looking into fashion opportunities in Cleve- land. The Banyan Tree is an amazing little boutique featuring local designers in Tremont. I want to own my own local company one day. I don’t want to work for a mass-producing company – and right now more than ever there are opportunities to make it in fashion in Cleveland.

What are you working on now?
I’m designing a collection using the skills and techniques I’m learning in Professor Gurko’s Computer Aided Design class.

What inspires your current collection-in-progress?
Fish, fish scales, fish skin. Algae. Really anything under the wa- ter and in nature. I love light blues and greens. And food. Defi- nitely food. I know fashion and food are not an obvious pairing but I think they go together. Maybe it’s because I’m also a huge foodie. I love going to the West Side Market in Ohio City. There is inspiration all around Cleveland – at street festivals in the city and in the Metroparks in the suburbs. Cleveland is making a comeback. Just wait. 

131010140613Anne Marie Gurko ‘09
Adjunct Fashion Faculty for Fashion Show Production and Computer Aided Design

What’s it like to teach your students how to produce a fashion show? 
It’s exciting, but a lot of work, preparation and deadlines. I think it’s thrilling for students because the outcome of the class is pro- ducing a real fashion show. It’s fun to see designs come out of a student’s head, onto paper and then walk down the runway.

How are you involved with the fashion industry in Cleveland?
I am a graduate of Ursuline’s Fashion program and I’ve been in- volved with many different fashion shows. Also I’m on the execu- tive board of Fashion Group International in Cleveland.

What’s the day of the show like?
Everyone comes together. Whether it is assistant producers, mod- els or designers, everyone works really well together. But, as you can imagine, it’s crazy hectic! There is only so much you can do prior to the day, so above all you must be prepared for everything and anything.

Have there been any show-day disasters?
Not many, but a few stick out and mainly involve hair, makeup or wardrobe malfunctions. We’ve even had heels break. I had to stick a pin in the side of the shoe to hold the heel in place and then the model walked down the runway.

Susan Hayley Fox ’13131010144215

What was your role in the spring fashion show?
I was featured as a senior designer in the Innovations ’13 Spring Fashion Show, where I debuted my four-piece collection, “Rose of Araby.”

What was your favorite moment from the fashion show?
From the moment my song started playing, “Midnight City” by M83, as my models walked down the runway, I was on cloud nine. It was everything I ever envisioned. When I met my parents at the end of the runway to get my flowers, it was my most perfect, proudest moment.

What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is an art of innovation. I, like many designers, look to classic silhouettes for inspiration. The creative, innovative part is how each designer interprets her/his inspiration into a completely new design and wearable work of art which is unique to each designer’s own point of view.

What is it like being a fashion student at Ursuline?
Ursuline’s fashion department differs from many other fashion schools because here we don’t have that fast-paced, ultra, competitive environment. Instead, our amazing professors are able to give us one-on-one attention, and they have every inten- tion of helping us to succeed. It’s such a valuable experience to have real world insight from the fashion department from our esteemed professors. We also have a special hands-on learning experience with the historical costume study collection which is incorporated in all of our studies, even outside of fashion.

What are your plans for your future in fashion?
I want to put Cleveland on the map in some exciting way! While I gear up to start my own lifestyle brand, I want to share my pas- sion and love for style with others. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when I was 16 and learned from the experience that look- ing good and being well dressed can give you confidence and make you feel better inside and out.

Agne Pilijevaite ’16

131010142054What was your role in the spring fashion show? 

What was your favorite moment from the show? 
My favorite moment was when I wore the paper dress because it gave me a sense of pride knowing how much hard work I put into it.

What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion to me is all about creativity.

What is it like being a fashion student at Ursuline? 
It’s great because it is very personal. I know all the teachers well and they know me.

What are your plans for your future in fashion?
I will be attending graduate school.

Kelley Plas ‘16

131010135743What was your inspiration for the Innovations ’13 show?
Paris Fashion Week. Dresses with horizontal waves and big circle skirts. And I’m finding a lot of inspiration on Pinterest.

What’s your favorite type of garment to make?
Dresses. I don’t like making pants or jackets.

What are you working on now?
I want to get into bridal gown design. Dresses and gowns. Non-traditional, nothing pure white with a few short and edgy pieces. Couture. I love couture. Love, love, love it! I am not on couture stitching level yet, but  I will be one day. 

Why bridal?
I am learning about the whole concept of couture and I made my prom dress in my senior year of high school. I want to combine my two passions – couture and dresses – and design couture bridal collections. I hope they are fabulous.

What’s your dream job post-graduation?
I want to design. I love sewing and touching clothes. And fashion is always changing. It’s never boring and always creative.

Keith Reeves ’16

What inspired your Innovations Fashion Show ‘13 collection?
I wanted to give edge to everything…so, naturally, Alexander McQueen. Blazers with spikes and edginess with class. McQueen is one of my favorite designers. Most of the time his designs are not clothes that everyday people would wear, but that’s okay with me. He brings fashion and art together.

131010134728It is your first show at Ursuline, right?
Yes and it was awesome. But I’m a fashion show vet. I’ve done many shows in and around Cleveland.

Why fashion?
Fashion is something I’ve always been passionate about. I first got into the industry when I started styling models’ hair for shows – I’m also a licensed cosmetologist. I just love everything about fashion. It’s forever changing and there are always surprises.

What’s your favorite aspect of fashion design?
Sewing, I absolutely love sewing, and the look on people’s faces when they wear my clothing. It makes me happy. My friends ask me to make them clothes. I’m making three prom dresses right now – for my sister and her two friends.

What are you learning in your classes?
I am in a pattern making class and I’m also making dresses with lots of embellishments and cutouts. I want to show-off my sewing skills and I don’t want to do something I think is just cute. I want to challenge myself. Outside of class, Agne and I are designing five garments for Cleveland Fashion week spring 2014.

What inspires you?
Fall 2014 trends, anything 80s, anything 90s grunge and Lady Gaga’s Applause music video.

What is your dream job post-college?
My dream is to move to New York City or Los Angeles and work for a design company, sewing. I want to work my way up to be the head designer for a company. Fashion is my life. I want to put the Ursuline Fashion Department on the map.

Why Ursuline?
The core values, honestly. And the program goes over everything you need to know to be successful in the industry.

Why are you an Ursuline Ambassador?
I help people create a dream and that’s so exciting. I thrive on the energy of people. I love it! After I am crazy successful and get my masters, I want to come back to Ursuline and teach.

The spring fashion show will be held April 27. Stay tuned for details! 

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