Students participate in ‘#Halston: Student Design Challenge’

Post by IU Newsroom intern Tori Lawhorn:

Halston Design Challenge

20 students in IU’s Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design participated in “#Halston: Student Design Challenge.” Photo by Chaz Mottinger.

The spirit of Roy Halston Frowick’s designs came alive once again as 20 students in IU’s Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design participated in the “#Halston: Student Design Challenge” in the Grunwald Gallery of Art on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

This was in celebration of the exhibit “Halston: Line and Legacy,” celebrating fashions by one of the most influential American designers of the 20th century. The exhibit runs through tomorrow, Oct. 3.

Halston (1932-1990) was a former IU student who also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. He started by designing hats in Chicago before trading the heartland for an earned place at the heart of the New York fashion world.

The design students were led by their teacher, Deb Christiansen, an instructor in the department.

“Their directive was to be inspired by Halston’s aesthetic, style, silhouette, design details, or even his use of fabric and color,” she said.

Diane Dickey

Senior Ellie Feitl models a dress designed by senior Diane Dickey. Photo by Chaz Mottinger.

Christiansen couldn’t resist the challenge herself – she made the golden brown sequin top she was wearing the day of the challenge the night before.

“I needed some Halston sequins,” she said.

Christiansen called the challenge a “speed design project,” aiming to help her students overcome future challenges in the design industry.

“Fashion design students will work in a variety of capacities in the apparel industry, but will likely work for and with other people, incorporating their ideas or following their directives,” she said. “Guided assignments help students learn from design precedent, inform them about what fabrics and techniques work for different designs and details, and teach them how to realize a variety of designs and styles.

“The knits and fabrics that Halston used were of the highest quality, and our students are challenged to attain the silhouettes and elements using less expensive fabrics.”

Senior Diane Dickey designed a one shouldered red dress that she said drew direct inspiration from Halston. Her model was senior Ellie Feitl.

“I wanted to design a one shouldered dress that would gather well at the waist,” Dickey said. “It’s a real simple design, so I designed it in red so it would pop. Halston has so many elegant designs, so I wanted to design something similar, with a long length and a dramatic opening.”


Senior Ellie Feitl models jewelry designed by student Ge Bai. Photo by Chaz Mottinger.

Junior Mengxue Ding designed a black dress with beaded work on the chest and an approximately five foot long train. Her model was junior Zoe Chen.

“Some of Halston’s dresses and long and dramatic,” Ding said. “His fabric use is amazing. I wanted to design something with the beads as well, so I added it to the dress, but kept the rest of it bare.”

The long train, Ding said, was an accident. “I didn’t have a chance to finish my hem, so it was a pretty cool accident,” she said, “I decided to keep it.”

Junior Paul Rumer finished his blue jumpsuit design the morning of the challenge. His model was junior Sydney King.

Rumer said he drew his inspiration from the blue, two-piece silk jersey dress from 1974 worn by socialite Anne H. Bass.

Paul Rumer

Junior Sydney King models a jumpsuit designed by junior Paul Rumer. Photo by Chaz Mottinger.

“I added a halter top and a jumpsuit together,” he said. “It took a little of time to do because it wraps around the side seam and then ties in the front, but I love how it turned out.”

The fashion design students also partnered with students in the Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design Department to create accessories to accompany their outfits.

Randy Long, a professor in the Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design Department, encouraged her students to use Halston as inspiration for their jewelry pieces.

“These students were encouraged to interpret Halston through their own aesthetic and their own use of materials,” she said.

The fashion design students are in their third semester of the fashion design course taught by Christiansen. This is their first year of technical design.

“Students are definitely learning what a difference in fabric quality can mean to the outcome,” she said. “These students are also fairly new to both pattern development and draping, so they are more than challenged by trying to achieve such sophisticated design effects with very little experience in realizing design.”

The Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design and the studio fine arts programs will combine to form the new School of Art and Design on July 1, 2016.

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