Fashion Forward

Go behind-the-scenes of one of Austin's biggest fashion events

Go behind-the-scenes of one of Austin's biggest fashion events

University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 Carolina Ramos Victoria Espinoza Emily Noel
Carolina Ramos, Victoria Espinoza, and Emily Noel pose next to a few of their designs at Gearing Hall. Photo by Nicole Raney
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 Raluca Popoviciu
UT design student Raluca Popviciu puts some finishing touches on her designs. Photo by Nicole Raney
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 Tre Miles Jessica Ciarla
University Fashion Group president Tre Miles chats with faculty advisor Jessica Ciarla about his piece. Photo by Nicole Raney
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 Avani Patel Taylor Litman
Students Avani Patel and Taylor Litman hard at work. Photo by Nicole Raney
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 wedding dress Tiffany Chan
Tiffany Chan inspects her bridal look. She was inspired by ballet and classic Chinese dance for her collection. Photo by Nicole Raney
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 Rachel Baker
Rachel Baker focuses on touch-ups for her Star Wars-esque dress that is inspired by "Art Deco buildings." Photo by Nicole Raney
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 denim Clare Moore
Clare Moore shows off in-process "industrial but girly" pieces from her denim street style collection. Photo by Nicole Raney
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 students sewing
Clare Moore, Tre Miles, and Kara Crosby hit the sewing machines to complete their work ahead of the Elements fashion show. Photo by Nicole Raney
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 clothes
Finished garments wait for their fashion show debut at the Erwin Center this Thursday. Photo by Nicole Raney
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 Carolina Ramos Victoria Espinoza Emily Noel
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 Raluca Popoviciu
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 Tre Miles Jessica Ciarla
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 Avani Patel Taylor Litman
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 wedding dress Tiffany Chan
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 Rachel Baker
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 denim Clare Moore
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 students sewing
University of Texas fashion show Elements preview class April 2016 clothes

It was eerily quiet at the University of Texas’ Gearing Hall Tuesday afternoon as design students feverishly finished their garments for the upcoming UT Fashion Show. The annual runway show they're preparing for is one of Austin's biggest fashion events, bringing out thousands of people each year. Entitled Elements, the fashion show is entirely student-run, from the completed looks down to the marketing and event planning.

Feeling like we were in an episode of Project Runway, UT faculty advisor Jessica Ciarla jumped in when students were having creative roadblocks with their designs. After months of planning, and just days away from Elements, students were down to the wire as Ciarla channeled Tim Gunn to help them “make it work.”

Using a combination of unique textiles, the 22 senior design students participating in Elements were required to put together a total of three looks to be debuted: sportswear, a three-piece collection, and either an evening wear or bridal look. In addition, students worked in groups of two or three to design special collection Spirit of UT that will be modeled at the event by UT luminaries, including Edith Royal and professional athletes.

Emerging style themes for this year’s show include gender-neutral items, or as design student Aaron Kubacak put it, “pan-gender,” along with geometric shapes and a few nods to vintage.

To help prepare for the event, students worked with faculty advisors Ciarla, Gail Chovan, Ockhee Bego, and Eve Nicols to craft their one-of-a-kind styles. Over the course of two semesters, students refined sewing skills and learned the intricacies of fabrics and how best to work with them ahead of the high-pressure event. They also worked with hair and makeup teams, selected models, and conducted video and photo shoots to gain first-hand experience of what goes into producing a major fashion show. 

On Thursday, April 14, all of the elements will combine in a massive runway show at the Frank Erwin Center, which is free and open to the public. Presented by the University Fashion Group, the show has grown from an audience of 500 in 1997 to a 5,000-person turnout in 2015, and will be televised to 25 million people in the U.S. on the Longhorn Network.

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Elements takes place Thursday, April 14, at the Frank Erwin Center. The runway show begins promptly at 7:15 pm.