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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Art to Wear: Meet two designers

Posted by on Sun, Apr 4, 2010 at 10:38 PM

Hannah Goff
  • Photo by Sarah Ewald
  • Art to Wear designer Hannah Goff works on her collection in her Raleigh studio.

We’re less than two weeks away from the Art to Wear (A2W) show at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum, and we’ll take a look at two designers who are preparing their collections for the show.

Hannah Goff, a fashion development major at N.C. State’s College of Textiles (COT), found out about A2W when she attended the show as a freshman. Goff is an old hand at participating in fashion shows: She also designed for the eco-fashion recycling project MorLove, founded by fellow COT student Mor Aframian, and last year’s A2W.

Goff works in a room at her house near St. Mary’s Street. Her studio contains a rack hanging with various pieces in progress, along with originally drafted pattern pieces tacked onto the wall near her sewing machine. Goff’s inspiration stems from reading Frankenstein in an English literature class during the fall semester. Even though she’d read the work previously in high school, the late-1700s setting and the Georgian-era styles resonated with her.

“My main concept is taking these pieces, these scraps and making them [into garments] like Victor created the creature,” Goff said, seated on her couch. On the adjacent wall, a mannequin wearing a pieced-together floor-length dress serves to illustrate the point.

She started working on her collection over Christmas break, and had half of her first outfit done by the beginning of spring semester. She’s aiming to send seven or eight looks down the runway.

Also looking to his studies for inspiration is Kirk Smith. However, while Goff’s influences are in the humanities, Smith draws ideas from his food science curriculum. His collection centers on a typical college student’s diet.

Smith’s initial idea for his food style concept came as he indulged in another typical college pastime: goofing off.

“I was over at a friend’s house [one weekend], and I was joking that she should make a dress out of beer cans. She said, ‘Dude, that’d be awesome, you should do that’,” Smith said. So he did, whipping one up right there. His friend happened to be Kendal Leonard, COT student and fellow A2W designer. She was impressed with Smith’s strapless dress, and encouraged him to make another piece and try to get in to A2W jurying.

Kirk Smith
  • Photo by Sarah Ewald
  • Designer Kirk Smith works on the dress that started it all.

To prepare his ideas, Smith researched online studies detailing what college students ate and created a Facebook survey to find out more from his peers. Unsurprisingly, pizza, beer and takeout food in general dominated the responses.

“Takeout’s very generic in their packaging, so it’d be a bit more difficult,” Smith said, sensibly rejecting a clothing line based on white Styrofoam and plastic sporks.

I visited Smith as he worked at a table in the Leazar fibers studio, and watched as he constructed a pair of mens’ pants created with Bojangles’ silver foil wrappers. He reinforced the masking-tape seams by painstakingly sewing them shut with needle and black thread. The Bojangles’ ensemble will follow, in Smith’s words, “a Chippendales theme.” But it’s been a learning curve working with the unconventional material, as Smith held up a previous pair of pants with a rip through the seat (although such a defect might not be a deterrent to Chippendales, of course).

Among his planned creations will be a robot constructed out of pizza boxes and a wedding dress out of Jimmy John’s wrappers.

“Vita and the A2W jurors suggested [that I make] a wedding dress to challenge [myself],” Smith said. He’ll also include paraphernalia from college diet mainstays Cookout, Starbucks and Krispy Kreme. He plans on showing at least six looks, two of which will be menswear.

“It’s a great way to end out my year. It’s definitely been a lot different from most of my college experiences,” Smith said, adding that it’s also been a great stress reliever.

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