The doors to the fashion lab at Chaffey College open into a cavernous space where mannequins and designers overwhelm the room. Left and right designers are hard at work as they put together their collections for the second annual Design Open House.
The collections class, housed in Chino, is a class for design majors to show their works and ultimately design their own personal collections.
The noise of sewing machines being used and the laughs of designers echo through the room as designers work meticulously on their garments. Yards and yards of fabric are scattered across the workstations as designers drape their mannequins.
Designers have until the end of December to create a collection of six pieces for the class. Two of those six pieces will be shown at the Open House that will take place on Nov.30.
Helping the students is an instructor and coordinator of fashion design and merchandising, Karen Encinas. Encinas is considered to be the Tim Gunn of the classroom.
Gunn, is the mentor and fashion critic of the TV show “Project Runway.” Like Gunn, Encinas goes around the room talking to every designer about their pieces and the overall aesthetics of their collections.
“She’s been a big help, she comes on Fridays and opens the lab for us to work,” student designer, Eric Baltazar said.
Encinas critiques help students to move in the right direction towards making a cohesive collection.
“This is just wonderful, I love it,” Encinas said of Baltazars piece.
They both smiled and exchanged ideas over a grey sequin gown with a matter mesh and an eye-catching collar that crated a Renaissance inspired look.
Baltazar was inspired by armor for his collection. Suede, leather and sequins all were key elements to his collection.
“The reason I came up with armor was because I feel that going through this journey in the fashion program…people trick you a lot,” Baltazar said. “Choosing armor is my interpretation of defense, because as a fashion student you are always being guarded and defensive.”
To create his look, Baltazar used colors —greens, blacks and grays — to create his ensembles.
“The types of things that I like to do are more structural,” he said. “I like things that are precise and sharp.”
Every designer has their own story and inspiration to go along with their collection. Along with every look the designers make, they will have to incorporate something currently trending in spring of 2013 into their collection.
More than just sketching and sewing go into the garments, the fashion students do lots of research to create each and every one of their looks.
A large part of that research requires designers to look for affordable places to purchase fabric from.
Many designers mentioned going to downtown Los Angeles to look for fabrics, but only when time and money permits.
For all other fabrics and garment elements, the fashion designers talked about a whole in the wall location in downtown Pomona.
“The (wrong) fabric could totally ruin your look,” Baltazar said.
Fabric can be quite costly for students, and no money is given to designers to create their ensembles, each penny comes out of their own pockets.
Plenty of fabric goes into every garment. For some, such as design major, Cristhiane Lein, fabric can add up when using multiple patterns in one garment.
Pattern making and draping are not the only hardships that have crossed Leins’ path. While most designers have the experience and have completed pre-requisite classes to take the collections class, Cristhiane Lein, successfully challenged those pre-requisites.
“I really just like to challenge myself,” she said, “I’m enjoying it.”
Her experience with sewing at home and the three fashion classes she is currently taking, along with an illustration class, has helped her tremendously, she said.
Lein is not only the class underdog but also an inspiration, she recently underwent heart surgery. Neither pre-requisites nor health issues have stopped Lein from designing her collection.
“When you like what you are doing, it doesn’t matter,” she said.
Like others, Lein has put in long hours to create her collection. “If you count lab hours and the work at home, I work over 24 hours a week,” she said.
Part of making that garment come to life is having the right model to the design down the runway.
Designers stepped away from their workspace and moved tables to the sides of the room as they created a runway like aisle for some prospective models to walk down.
The model process can be very cutthroat. Designers know the look they want and are determined to see that walk down the runway.
“I like her but I didn’t want her,” Baltazar said about one of the models who came to the open casting call that night.
For Baltazar, the process of finding models has been quite tricky. He was looking for tall, statuesque women that night. But also he wanted models that had a hard, tough look.
“I want them to look over people, towering and really dark and scary,” he said.
Models for the show are free for use by all designers unless the designer that scouted the model says otherwise.
While the students worked on their pieces, a model of Baltazars and current students at Cal State San Bernardino, Virriana Saldana, came into the room, ready to walk the runway like set up.
“I’m nervous,” she said. “You walk in and everyone’s like staring at you.” Saldana’s nerves quickly went away once the music came on and she walked up and down the room for the designers.
Designers all gathered around to see her walk; some designers even stepped in to coach Saldana on her way of walking.
Fashion design major and collection designer, Justine Hammond had model Saldana step aside as she walked the runway with a fierce look in her eye.
For designer Hammond, walking the runway was something she was comfortable with. Her start with fashion began with modeling.
“I used to model for a designer,” said Hammond.
She wanted to do more than jut wear the clothes. She began to see herself wanting to fix the clothes and try things with them. As her ideas flourished, so did her love for fashion.
Now as she walked down the runway for her fellow designers and models she was designing her first very own collection.
“I finished three garments already,” she said. She has incorporated both her loves for black and white along with stripes and floral print into her collection. “I wanted to see if I could make patterns work together,” she said.
Saldana sees herself graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fashion and taking her passion to the next level by working with a designer. She then hopes to open her own store.
But not every fashion student in the design class inspires to open their own store or create a brand for him or herself.
For some students like Jacob Johnson, fashion design is a way to learn how the industry works. “I don’t want to be a designer, I want to do management in this industry,” he said.
Johnson is the only designer in the class designing menswear for the show. His beachwear attire will have a formal twist to it.
“He’s just here for the girls,” Hammond teased of her fellow designer.
All the designers joked with one another as they worked on their pieces. They seemed to work well together and fed off each other’s creativity.
“Everybody has something different,” collection designer and fashion design major Ah’nesha Worshim said.
Her them are to do a modern version of the 1950’s. She has incorporated cinched waists and full skirts into her collection.
“I’m kind of nervous, I don’t have anything but one thing done,” she said.
But the fairly shy and quiet designer had Johnson and Hammond near to keep her relaxed as she worked on her pieces.
The designers have a couple weeks left before the fashion show and are all looking forward to seeing one another’s work.
“I consider my peers as a competition in a good, motivating way,” Baltazar said, “good competition.” “It’s a lot of work…picking models, bringing about a collection.
But none of that scares the designers; their work will be shown on November 30 from 7-9p.m. at Chaffey College.
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