Silhouette show reveals student inspiration
By Madalyn Gotschall, NewsNetNebraska
Megan Berry held her breath as she watched months of hard work and hundreds of hand-sewn beads walk into the spotlight.
This was it, the Silhouette Fashion Show. It was the moment Berry and others had worked toward for months. It was the moment Berry’s idea sprang to life.
“The absolute best part is creating something then seeing the end product, from paper to a real person,” Berry said later.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s department of Textiles, Merchandising, and Fashion Design ends the school year with the fashion show, where advanced students display their work. The program has produced stars in the fashion world with one recent graduate appearing on Lifetime Channel’s Project Runway.
The students create garments throughout the year that are then selected to appear on a model on the runway, complete with the hairstyle and makeup of their choosing. The process is competitive — a few are chosen for scholarships — and the work is intense.
Berry said one thing people don’t understand is how much work goes into design, something even she didn’t know until she began the TMFD program. One professor, Barbara Trout, is notorious for challenging and pushing students in her classes, something Berry couldn’t stop thinking about as she walked into Trout’s classroom the first day.
“I was terrified if I didn’t do something right there would be repercussions,” Berry said. “Design classes are so much work, and you’re getting not much sleep.”
The one-time pre-med major, now fashion merchandising and design senior, knew Trout was going to be tough, but wasn’t sure what to expect.
Nearing graduation, Berry said she chose her projects over sleep some nights.
“My low point was when I pulled five all-nighters in a row to finish one garment,” Berry said.
Kendra Morgan, senior fashion design major, also spent a lot of time awake, working on projects.
“My garments each took almost 40 hours to make separately,” Morgan said. “That means a lot of sleepless nights.”
In the end, Berry said she wouldn’t have changed a thing.
“I have grown so much,” she said.
Morgan said Trout’s reputation was all she thought about that first day, but eventually she became comfortable.
“I was definitely scared, but I’ve gotten used to the process,” Morgan said.
Trout teaches three classes fashion design majors need to take before graduating. There’s no avoiding her. The first? Draping, where students learn to get fabric into a form and to lay correctly.
Trout will be first to say her expectations are high, but that has not failed her before.
“Once they really challenge themselves there is a rise in confidence level in what they do,” Trout said.
This usually happens right away in Trout’s draping class, she said, which results in obvious growth. Trout’s assignments focus on finding solutions for a given problem, something Trout believes is a needed ability to make it in the fashion world.
“It’s the rhythm to the class, attacking problems and coming up with an aesthetic solution,” Trout said.
After Trout’s classes, Berry and Morgan are sure they have found what they are passionate about.
“I get really excited to see people in my clothes,” Morgan said. “I even teared up a few times during fittings.”
Berry said her major switch was the right decision.
“I was bored with my math and science classes, I just wanted to get in touch with my creative side,” Berry said.
Fashion design gave Berry that chance. Her main inspiration behind her pieces: dreams and time periods.
Morgan credits most of her inspiration to some of her favorite childhood memories, which resulted in bright prints and patterns used for her garments.
And now, at the end of two semesters of hard work, there are finished garments waiting to be revealed to the public.
The reveal is the reason for Silhouette, the name chosen for the student spring fashion show.
Adrienne Anderson, a second year graduate student working towards her Master of Arts degree, was designated by Trout as the organizer of the show as part of her graduate work. Anderson called models, contacted and booked the venue where the show took place, and was the main contact for models, designers and stylists.
A featured designer herself, Anderson had her hands full.
“I have the slightest case of OCD which tends to give my heightened organizational skills,” Anderson said. “That helped, but luckily I was able to complete my garments before the most strenuous amount of time for the show was necessary.”
Four hours before the show began models and designers could be found in a cloud of makeup and hairspray in the theatre of the Sheldon Museum of Art.
Stylists from Belleza Salon, Salon Chic, Max Bartholomai and Liz Chu were hard at work bringing the designers’ sketches alive.
“Makeup is important,” Berry said. “I really think it can add those finishing touches, and is the bow on the package.”
Leading up to the show, all three designers said tension was high and nerves began to set in, all for different reasons.
“I was nervous, I was wearing one of my own dresses,” said Morgan who ended up modeling her favorite piece after a model dropped out of the show.
Anderson said she reached her low point in the week leading up to the show.
“The stress really started to get to me and I became frustrated with some of the less ambitious people I had been working with,” Anderson said.
For Berry, the atmosphere took over.
“It was so hectic, and then there were last minute changes,” Berry said.
Then the show began.
Trout said the show was named Silhouette because so much of the final class was focused on body, volume and readdressing the body.
“The importance of the show is having a venue to share work with the public,” Trout said. “There is a feeling of accomplishment after the show, but it is not a stopping point.”
There is always room to build, Trout said.
“My kimono and colorful dress completely evolved from my original plan,” Berry said. “I hated them for a bit, but eventually I loved them. They are my babies.”Berry said a major turning point for her was actually hating two of her pieces.
Morgan said modeling her colorful dress was a dream come true, with 230 yards of tulle and 40 hours of work, she wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Berry, Morgan, and Anderson all have plans of their own now that the show is over. For Berry, it all starts with graduation this May.
“I’m planning on entering in some competitions and fashion weeks for the fall and winter,” Berry said. “Long-term, I want my own line.”
She already had her work shown at Dallas Career Day and Fashion Show where students from 39 colleges submit garments they may then be chosen to appear on the runway.
“Fashion is pretty limited in Nebraska, which is why I want to start a business here with domestically made products,” Berry said.
For Morgan, her plans are not set. After showing a wedding collection at both Kansas City and Omaha Fashion Weeks this last year, she said her real dream would be to work as a costume designer for movies. Silhouette was a big opportunity for Morgan however, as she saw one of her dreams come to life.
“I finally got to make my tulle skirt,” Morgan said. “I have wanted to do that for over a year and a half.”
Anderson has put her career plan on hold after graduation, instead focusing her energy on approaching wedding bells.
“I have never had a desire to be a high fashion designer or move to New York, but my desire to live in Omaha and settle my family there makes it difficult to use my degree the way it was intended,” Anderson said. “I don’t have a definite career plan from this point, but I know I will end up teaching sewing and draping/flat pattern at some point.”