Today’s challenge involved designing a look around a high school clique. I was given the b-girl clique, which was the last group I’d ever want. I grew up in a small town of 70,000 people in Indiana, and we never had b-girls in my high school — a school where there were 40 people in each grade. For the challenge we were each given a backpack with items representing that clique. Mine were a cap, magenta sunglasses, a fluorescent colored wristband, a yellow scarf, and a notebook with an image of a boom box and graffiti on it. Normally, I would do a bunch of research, read all about the group, take pictures of b-girls looks on my wall for inspiration and really immerse myself in that culture. I would go to the bars and clubs that they hang out at and really study the way they dress. In this challenge, however, we could not do any outside research. In fact we have been cut off from the outside world since Day 1 of the show, so we cannot do any kind of research at all. My only reference point was one friend I knew that was associated with that group. She always wore a puffy vest and tight jeans, so I took that look for inspiration. Since we only had 11 hours to make it, I had to think fast. And make it even faster.
I had one day to make the entire look. I took the items from the backpack to accessorize my model. That hair stylist already had it planned that she would have cornrows in her hair. I guess it didn’t help the look that she was blond with fair skin. Reco gave the approval on my puffy vest idea, and James-Paul styled the look. I thought the model looked very chic and trendy. The puffy vest is something me and my friends would wear. The judges criticized the look because they said it didn’t look b-girl at all. Actually, on their notes, it said it was b-girl/hip-hop. Had I known I was supposed to do a hip-hop style, I would have designed something more fun and sexy. I didn’t know that b-girl was synonymous with hip-hop. With all the '80s references in the backpack and b-girl written on the folder in graffiti letters, I felt it had more of a break dancing vibe. It seemed trendier and niche than the hip hop category that they thought I was assigned to do.
In any case, I thought it was unfair because the challenge was all about wheat we experienced in high school. Since I had no reference point for this clique, I was at a big disadvantage. And they criticized the accessories but those were the props we were given to play with for the look.
In the end I was happy to leave the competition when I did. The judging process no longer seemed to make sense anymore. Reco acknowledged that during deliberations and started an argument with Daniella while we were waiting for the elimination decision. Fashion design is all about absorbing the outside world and channeling all that information into a visual form of expression that can be worn on the body. That involves art, culture, politics, current events … everything that we see in the media, movies, and on the streets. I am constantly collecting all this visual material to inspire my designs. We call them mood boards and trend inspiration research.
To tell fashion designers that they can’t do that prep work for their designs is like telling an actor to act without him/her knowing anything about their character, or a chef to cook without learning their guests’ tastes and preferences. It’s essentially taking the “fashion” art out of Fashion Design. All we are making in the end are superficial, uninspired garments that say nothing about the world we live in. It may make for good TV, but it does not do anything good for Fashion.
As a fashion designer, I am inspired by the latest materials/fabrics that I can develop directly with the fabric mills. I am inspired by real women that travel the world and are passionate about what they do in their life. I am inspired by art, by architecture, by technology and by new cultures. I collaborate with other inspiring creative people to offer the world something new, refreshing and innovative. I develop original prints and designs that take months to create. I travel the world to bring all these resources together and produce a final look and collection. Take away all these tools away from me, and you’re left with a very sad and uninspired Angel.
The good thing is that I now know that it really is possible to sew up an entire look in two days. It is very liberating to know that I can sew up a trench coat in just a few hours. Had I not been forced to do it, I never would have realized this was in me. The challenges really stretched my limits on the technical construction level, and I’m grateful for having the opportunity to discover this talent that laid buried deep inside of me.
In the end, I learned that anything is possible when we focus and put our minds to it. The Fashion Show helped me realize that I have an innate talent for construction and that I can use it more when I am designing my own collection. Thank you, Bravo, for helping me grow as a person and I hope viewers enjoy the show