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Jul 10, 2013
10:40 AM
Window Shopping

Local Boutique Hosts Their Own Project Runway-Style Competition

Local Boutique Hosts Their Own Project Runway-Style Competition

At the beginning of May, I was asked to judge a real life Project Runway-style competition—on a local level. Nikki Anderson, owner of Change (see my column on the store here), staged a semester-long design competition with UW–Madison’s Textile and Apparel Design students. Designers in the Collection Development and Apparel Design courses sketched, cut and sewed the semester away on a dress, top and other piece of their choice—for the chance to be sold in spring 2014 in Anderson’s shop. Anderson also collaborated with Fair Earth, a garment manufacturer she currently works with whose artisans will make the winning garments using local, sustainable materials.

I helped Anderson judge the final garments up for consideration, along with stylist Lisa Barry, owner of Barry Chic, and Rebecca Heller, a Textile and Apparel design grad, former Lands’ End designer and designer of her own clothing line Internal Construction.

As you’ll see in the slideshow below, students gave deep thought on who the Change customer was—and designed for that woman in mind. Part of Anderson’s semester-long project was to immerse the students in who her customer was, what the store’s current selection is and what vendors are carried. When I was brought in to judge the frocks, I told Anderson she would have a tough time picking out a winner—so many of the designs were so strong! And in fact, she decided to carry three winning designs instead of just one: “We had originally intended to choose one winning design from each of the three categories. However, we were so impressed by so many from the dress category that we decided to go with three winners from that category,” says Anderson. 

With the judges’ help (we scored each garment on a whole range of attributes—including originality, design, garment construction and ease of replication) and Anderson’s input, the winners included (in no particular order): 

1. Black Cocktail Dress, by Daniel Walker
“This little black dress features a stunning, plunging neckline that gives it a very chic, urban look. It will be constructed to include a detachable ‘modesty panel’ so that it can be a little less revealing for customers that prefer that option. The dress can be adjusted at the waist with a belt-tie option in back.”

2. Fitted Tank Panel Dress, by Stephanie Carnes
“This turquoise block color panel dress accentuates a woman's hourglass shape. It is trendy, fun and functional at the same time. Paired with a blazer or shrug it would be the perfect wardrobe choice for the young, professional who likes to go out on the town after work.”

3. Vintage-Inspired Sun Dress, by Kayla Rossa
“This floral print dress was described by one judge as "romantic and whimsical....a dress you couldn't help but be happy in when wearing". It has a classic, feminine silhouette that will flatter a wide variety of body types and be appropriate for work or play in the spring and summer.”

Not only will those three designs be sold in spring 2014 at Change, but Walker, Carnes and Rossa received a cash prize from Fair Earth and a gift certificate to Change Boutique. Anderson says the three winning dress prototypes were taken to Uganda by Holly Elzinga of Fair Earth, who will spend the next several months with the garment makers in Fair Earth’s cooperative in Uganda.

“They will work on the patternmaking process for each dress and will prepare samples in a variety of sizes so that Change can approve them before they are produced in a larger volume. Holly will then bring the samples back to the U.S. with her, and we will revise them as needed. Garment construction will then begin in the fall/winter of 2013. The final products will be shipped to the U.S. and sold at Change in spring of 2014.”

Anderson’s endeavor was no doubt a lot of hard work—on her end as well as the students’—but I applaud her innovativeness and creativity in offering UW students the chance to design in a real-life scenario, as well as giving her customers beautiful clothing that they will no doubt snatch up to wear! As Heidi Klum famously says on Project Runway, “one day you’re in, the next day you’re out.” With this design competition, here’s to finding Madison’s next design stars—and bringing us gorgeous frocks!

 Change, 1252 Williamson St. 237-2707, changeboutique.com

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About This Blog

As Madison Magazine's style editor, Shayna Mace writes the monthly "Window Shopping" column about Madison's coolest store owners, products and shops. She also reports on Madison's most stylish people, chic items she loves, store events and sales, and additional dish in her weekly blog. Her favorite places to check out around town are local boutiques, consignment and vintage shops for one-of-a-kind treasures, new restaurants and bars, and anywhere that affords her the opportunity to meet and talk to Madison's most inspirational (and many times, fashionable!) people.

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