NC State's Art2Wear show focuses on the evolution of fashion

CorrespondentApril 23, 2014 

Day after day in a fashion studio on N.C. State’s campus, Sydney Whittington Smith cuts glass.

Inspired by ancient techniques utilized by stained-glass makers in 15th- and 16th-century Europe, the N.C. State senior cuts thousands of tiny triangles of glass and hand turns flame-retardant wire, which she embeds between the pieces of glass before firing in a kiln to create a shimmering chain maille-like material for her Sklo fashion collection.

This is Art2Wear.

For more than a decade, students in N.C. State’s colleges of design and textiles create exactly what the show’s title implies – wearable art.

Smith, along with 11 other student designers, will present collections on the Stafford Commons outside Talley Student Union on Friday at 8 p.m. This year’s theme is “Accelerated Evolution: Speed.”

3-D printing ‘incredible’

The student collections feature a myriad of techniques, many as unconventional and complicated as that used by Smith.

Gillian Page, a senior majoring in art and design, turned to principles of math and engineering as inspiration for her Generative Edge collection. Influenced by the concept of generative design – a method in which the design is generated by an algorithm – Paige’s collection incorporates printed fabrics and 3-D printing techniques. Paige created sketches, which were converted to digital files and then printed on the 3-D printer at State’s Hunt Library.

“The 3-D printing has been a really exciting process for me,” she says. “Generative design is sometimes used in the creation of 3-D printed materials, and I definitely wanted to try it for myself by creating accessories. Getting to see these pieces created by the 3-D printer was pretty incredible.”

LeBlanc as mentor

Paige also found inspiration from her professor, and recent “Project Runway” finalist, Justin LeBlanc. LeBlanc, who wowed the televised competition show’s judges with his own 3-D printed design elements last summer, plays the Tim Gunn role at Art2Wear, serving as co-adviser (along with fellow professor Katherine Diuguid).

“Tim Gunn taught me a lot about myself and about how to effectively mentor,” LeBlanc says. “Through his support in tough times, constructive criticism, constant respect and endless encouragement, he made me a better designer and person. I see my role in Art2Wear as being very similar to Tim’s in ‘Project Runway.’ I only hope that I am as effective as he was.”

LeBlanc, who has been involved for several years with Art2Wear as both a student and professor, says this year’s designers have challenged convention to elevate the show to new levels of creativity.

“The biggest thing that impresses me about this year’s group of designers is that they have really pushed the boundaries of fashion through the materials, silhouettes and colors,” he says. “This is certainly the boldest show to date.”

Origami influence

Another veteran of Art2Wear, Sarah Cannon, and her collection, Folded, certainly have contributed to that higher level of creative artistry. Cannon, a senior who interned for designer Jason Wu and has participated in Art2Wear all four years of school, created this year’s collection with the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation. Intricate and tactile, her pieces incorporate origami-like techniques.

“The grant has inspired me to really dive into the world of fabric manipulation with folding techniques,” she says. “I wanted to see what folds I could take from origami, smocking, etc., and the impact the manipulations would have on my creations. Every piece in my collection has a type of folding in it, whether it’s a small detail or the entire piece.”

Crucial experience

For these students, who aspire to be fashion designers, costumers and more, the challenges they face and the experience they gain in creating a collection for this fashion show will teach them skills no mere class could ever impart.

“I have been able to grow as a designer through Art2Wear. Each year I strive to improve and challenge myself to do something new,” says Cannon. “This being my last year, I have strived to do my best and do a collection that I could really see creating for my own label. Art2Wear has taught me more than I could have ever imagined.”

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service