Today we presented our shoe-inspired looks to the judges. As always, I was pressed for time and rushed to get the sewing finished in time. I had to cut so many corners; leaving the inside seams unfinished, foregoing cuffs and a separate lapel on the skirt, and even gluing the buttons on at the last minute! I never would have dared to do that in the real world. Desperate times called for desperate measures. I couldn’t believe I was able to finish it on time! I had spent a good chunk of the previous evening trying to create a hand woven piece as an embellishment accent on the dress, but it was taking forever to make. In the end, I scrapped it and went with a simple white shirt dress with a touch of light blue satin around the waist.
My dress was essentially this: two button-down shirts connected at the hem with the upside -down one flipped and tied around the waist. I call it the Siamese twin shirt dress. It was exactly how I had envisioned it in my mind, and I was thrilled that it turned out so beautifully. My model Ross was so excited to wear it, and it showed in the way she carried herself in the dress. Each time I design a piece for a challenge, I approach it from the standpoint of what I, myself, want to explore. I wanted to create a dual-function piece.
My dress looking experimental and I never would have guessed that it would be chosen as an audience favorite pick. It was between my dress and Rico’s for audience fave, and Reco ended up receiving the honor. He really deserved it. He hadn’t won anything until then, despite sewing faster than anyone since the start of the competition. I saw the day as a big accomplishment for myself. Not only was I able to show everyone what I was capable of, I did it in a way that satisfied both my own design philosophy and the taste of the audience. Very rarely does that seem to happen with innovative fashion. Here, innovation and creativity were balanced in an American sportswear classic. I was so happy when George from Manolo Blahnick complimented me and said the shirt dress was one of the most difficult pieces to re-invent.
So far in this competition, I’ve felt that the audiences decisions were more mainstream while the judges picks were more fashion forward. It was great for me to have my designs acknowledged by the audience because it meant that it was both innovative and commercial, that it could be understood by all. I didn’t have to sell myself out to do it. As a designer, I felt that the public finally understood my designs.