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Fashion Firsts

SEED gives student designers their first taste of the runway

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StyleWeek is all about emerging talent. But SEED, the student designer competition presented by Swarovski at the January 2012 event, showcases even earlier work. “I really wanted to incorporate student designers in StyleWeek, to give them the opportunity to compete and have their own runway show in StyleWeek Northeast,” explains SWNE President Rosanna Ortiz Sinel. “But I wanted it to be students all over the region, not just from Providence.”

The annual event launched earlier this year, at the Fall/Winter 2012 StyleWeek, and will happen again on January 24 during the Fall/Winter 2013 show. From hundreds of applications, 16 students were chosen to show at the 2012 SEED.The contest was hosted by The Rhode Show’s Michaela Johnson, and judged by a panel of high-level industry experts including fashion bloggers, beauty professionals and television personalities.

Unlike traditional StyleWeek runway shows, SEED focuses on the art of avant-garde fashion. “We didn’t want it to be conventional. We didn’t want it to be ready-to-wear,” Rosanna says. “We wanted to see art. SEED will always be a little more artistic, and more of what the students see their design aesthetic to be. It has nothing to do with sellability.”

To that end, the designers are given critera for their work. The 2012 SEED competition – which showcased work from the Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University, Lassell College, the Massachusetts College of Art, the Boston School of Fashion Design and the University of Rhode Island – required students to use recycled and repurposed materials. The winner, Kwong Hui Yee from MassArt, fashioned a cocktail dress out of rope, clothespins and a mop. “It’s really more about their character of design,” Rosanna says. “What are they thinking? How can they use their creativity? How can they use that in a runway setting? If you think about it, this is our team’s everyday life, but prepping for a runway show is a lot of work.” Yee won a cash prize and the opportunity to show her work at an upcoming StyleWeek.

Another competitor from the 2012 SEED, Hope Macdonald, has a runway show in August’s Spring/Summer 2012 event. “We approached Hope,” Rosanna says. “We saw her show at RISD in May. She’s so ahead of the curve: her technical ability, her color blocking and her mixed media techniques are at the level you see in an established designer. She’s really precise in her designs. That’s why she’s showing on closing night.”

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2013 SEED competition.

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