This weekend, 26 student designers at the Columbus College of Art & Design will showcase their work in the annual senior fashion show. Each created four garments around their interpretation of the circus theme; two of those will be shown by student models on the runway. Here, meet four of the student designers.Jeein Shin
Jeein Shin has her mother to thank for getting to this point. And she'll be able to. Mom's flying in from South Korea, where Shin grew up, to see next weekend's fashion show.
"I used to draw all the time," Shin said. But she never thought of fashion as a career until her mom urged her to look into it, and she's glad she did. "I don't know why I didn't make the connection," she added, laughing.
After hearing good things about CCAD's fashion program, the Florida high-schooler was wowed during a visit with her mom.
For her senior thesis course, Shin tested herself by trying to create intricate pieces that look easy. She drew inspiration from the circus entertainers. "It was all about the performers ... the intense training for years and years just to put on this one show that looks so effortless," Shin said.
She also wanted to make sure she represented herself in her work. So she spent hours handpainting colorful designs on yards of silk for a dress, and integrated part of her South Korean grandmother's blue curtain - it's featured on the back of the jacket she's pictured with.
"I would love to do this for the rest of my life, but if not, I just want to show this is what I can offer," Shin said.
She's got the immediate future figured out: After graduation, she starts as a designer with Abercrombie. Shin completed a one-year internship with the clothing company as a student.
How would you describe your collection? Detailed designs full of movement, just like circus performers
What designers do you admire most? Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Prada, Jil Sander
What's your favorite part of the design process? Everything about it
What was the hardest part of this collection? I didn't find anything too stressful
What's your favorite part of a circus? If I went to one, I'd want to ride an elephantMary Pool
She's never been to the circus before. So when Mary Pool was at home last summer, trying to think of design ideas for this year's senior fashion design thesis class, her mom reminded her that she always loved animal crackers as a kid.
Turns out food is a fun and fitting inspiration for fashion.
Pool's garments are full-of-tulle interpretations of circus snacks like popcorn and cotton candy, along with a set of party dresses drawn from the same inspiration.
The popcorn dress' corset was one of her biggest challenges. She did research, but didn't know anyone directly who had experience making them. "After I started doing it, I thought, this is actually pretty fun," Pool said. "It's not as hard as it looks."
She came to CCAD in 2003 knowing she wanted to study art, but not too sure of anything beyond that. She started as an illustration major and then switched to fine arts - a "passion" - before settling on fashion design, which she considered more of a challenge.
"I wanted to learn something that I didn't know how to do, and I did not have sewing skills or anything before I came here," said Pool, who grew up in Bellefontaine.
And after graduating, Pool plans to move to Nashville with a friend she met at CCAD. The two hope to eventually open a boutique to showcase their fashions and other handmade lines. Pool intends to look into costume work once she gets there, she said, "since Nashville is a big plethora of things - with music and movies."
How would you describe your collection? Whimsical, bright and eccentric
What designers do you admire most? Christian Dior, Betsey Johnson and Tim Burton
What's your favorite part of the design process? Sketching and, much later, doing the finishing details
What was the hardest part of this collection? Interpreting the theme
What's your favorite part of a circus? The costumesYoshi Ito
Yoshi Ito sometimes felt at a bit of a disadvantage as a foreign student among mostly American classmates. But when the "under the big top" theme was announced for his senior design collection, he found himself on the same playing field as his classmates - most everyone had little exposure to the circus.
"I've been to the circus once, when I was a really little kid," he said, laughing. "Like, really small."
So the Japanese designer took the creative-interpretation route, researching and drawing inspiration for the arched shoulders of his jackets from the shape of tents, and his brown, green and blue color palette from modern military uniforms.
"I saw the soldiers as clowns, but they fight, and they bring fears," Ito said.
He'll be wearing the outfit he's pictured with at next weekend's show, where his models won't be wearing crazy hairpieces or bold jewelry. He decided not to include accessories. "I wanted to focus on the garment," Ito said.
Ito doesn't have a sewing machine, so he spent almost every night of the school year working on his pieces in Studio Hall until 2 a.m., when the building closed.
After studying music in Japan and then studying psychology at three different American universities, Ito took an art class that inspired him to pursue a fashion-design degree.
"Finally, I'm graduating," said Ito, who grew up in Okinawa. "I'm so done."
When he flies back to his home country at the end of May, he hopes to find work doing ready-to-wear or, preferably, couture design in Tokyo.
How would you describe your collection? Requiem circus
What designers do you admire most? John Galliano and Alexander McQueen
What's your favorite part of the design process? I find sewing relaxing
What was the hardest part of this collection? Coming up with ideas for garments that look different and are still cohesive
What's your favorite part of a circus? The efforts of the performersMelinda Duvall
Melinda Duvall doesn't know what's next for her, but she knows she's close to finding out what it is that she wants.
The OSU grad was once a high school art teacher in Kentucky. But she left that, unsatisfied, and moved back to Columbus, where she started balancing classes at CCAD with work as a substitute teacher in Hilliard.
Now, she's open to anything.
"I'm not too picky," she said. "I'd love to be in the actual design field, but I did a tech-design internship, and I liked that aspect of it, too - where you're fitting the clothes and adjusting the patterns."
She's just glad she made it through her senior project. The workload was a life lesson, she said.
"You get into it and realize how much work goes into each piece and everything that you're making, and it's just unimaginable how many hours that you put into it," Duvall said. "But it also makes you appreciate other things more."
The project pushed her out of her classic, ready-to-wear comfort zone to find designs that would suit the show's theme, she said.
Each of her garments loosely interprets the characters in a circus, reminiscent of performers like the equestrian rider and trapeze artist. She dyed silk, including the colorful skirt she's pictured with, by hand using fabric dye.
And given the opportunity to design a garment for a friend, Duvall created an apprentice's outfit for her boyfriend's 10-year-old daughter, Blake, who's excited to wear it down the runway.
How would you describe your collection? Turn-of-the-century, feminine silhouettes in modern colors
What designers do you admire most? Valentino, Elie Saab, Christian Dior; ready-to-wear: BCBG Max Azria, Betsey Johnson, Gucci, Versace
What's your favorite part of the design process? Everything from sketching to having a finished product to be proud of
What was the hardest part of this collection? Time-consuming and tedious sewing and finishing touches
What's your favorite part of a circus? The acrobatic elements