It seemed like the perfect opportunity to showcase my talent and better myself as a designer.
A Showcase for Design
Birmingham Fashion Week offered students a rare chance to have their work critiqued by someone other than their instructors.
An ambitious concept from the start, Birmingham Fashion Week (BFW) was brought to life in 2011 by designer Heidi Elnora and retail business owner Jeanna Lee Thompson. Their goal was to “create an atmosphere that not only directly influences our youth and local economy in a positive way but also changes the persona of the fashion industry while setting the stage for future generations.” Through years of hard work,
BFW grew to be a fashion event recognized by local, regional, and national press.
The week featured a variety of acclaimed fashion designers each year. Participants have included Tibi, Show Me Your MuMu, and Rebecca Taylor. Aspiring designers who had not yet received widespread recognition completed an application process in order to showcase a collection. In 2016, nine of the 16 participants in the Emerging Designer showcase were current or former CHES students.
Designers in this showcase had to be college student or post-graduate designers, and were chosen based on illustrations and a written statement about their collections. Once selected, students had a tight schedule. There were several critique times before BFW during which students had to share their progress and have it evaluated. All students then participated in the fashion show event and were evaluated again before semi-finalist selections.
Designs were critiqued once more, and the winner was announced.
CHES student Haley Stiles says, “From the first moment I heard about BFW, I knew I was interested in applying. I heard so many great things about the event and the people behind it, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to showcase my talent and better myself as a designer.”
Brian Taylor, an instructor in the Department of Clothing, Textiles, & Interior Design, describes what BFW meant to students. It “was a unique opportunity because it was not a part of our program but was close enough for students to participate. The design students had the chance to be critiqued by someone other than their instructors.”
CHES student Caryn Lee says, “My experience in Birmingham Fashion Week was unlike anything else I have ever done. Throughout the entire process — from research and development to the runway show — I knew that I wouldn’t be happier in any other kind of career.
“I really can’t say enough positive things about what I gained by participating. It was a lot of work, but it felt like you had really accomplished something when it was all said and done.”