N.C. State student Laura Wyker never intended to be a fashion designer. The senior studying art and design already has a degree – in biology – and served a stint as a high school science teacher for several years. Her path was set.
But the siren call of fashion couldn’t be ignored.
So, Wyker quit her teaching gig and enrolled in N.C. State’s School of Design. This week, she’ll present her collection as part of the school’s annual Art2Wear student fashion show, slated for 7:30 p.m. April 28, in the Talley Student Center ballroom.
At State, Wyker’s story points to a growing synergy between the university’s signature programs – science, technology, engineering, math – and the less technical art and design majors. This year’s show includes students majoring in animal science and industrial design among its 11 designers.
“I love science and it’s actually something I use as inspiration for what I’m doing in fashion,” Wyker says. “The first time around I followed one path, and it wasn’t that I didn’t like teaching, but I realized I had this other passion for art and fashion.”
Wyker’s collection draws inspiration from biology, specifically the elusive hawk moth. The creature uses its markings – bold stripes, subtle waves, swaths of brown, gray and black – as a tool for confounding its predators and blending into its surroundings. Wyker saw the hawk moth as the perfect embodiment of the theme of this year’s Art2Wear show, “Déjà Vu.”
“The shapes and lines and patterns in the hawk moth are beautiful, but it’s one of those organisms that’s super-sneaky and uses many ways to manipulate,” she explains. “I got caught on that and started thinking, ‘What’s your outer mask or facade that you’re portraying to the world?’ With déjà vu you see that over and over again – it’s hard to see the real thing underneath that facade.”
Wyker manipulated leather to make her collection of dresses, utilizing a laser cutter to create patterns that mimic the markings of the moth.
Fashion and technology
At State, part of the cross-pollination of disciplines includes the proliferation of technology in the fashion design curriculum. Today’s students use laser cutting, 3D printing and other high-tech methods of bringing their designs to life.
“The application of technology to garment design is a hallmark of Art2Wear, and this year will likely surpass previous years in its application,” says Justin LeBlanc, N.C. State professor and Art2Wear faculty adviser.
Jeanna Young, a senior in art and design also showing a collection at Art2Wear, says the influence of new technologies has helped State fashion students think beyond the traditional scope of apparel design.
“I think it’s important to keep pushing the boundaries of what we see as clothing by building upon the past but using current technologies,” she says. “It’s important to have a contemporary voice. With the engineering college and the other design disciplines, it keeps the students from just replicating things we’ve seen, but rather build upon the past and move forward.”
For Young, that freedom to explore has sent her in the direction of incorporating unconventional materials – pantyhose, rocks, copper wire – into a collection that pushes the bounds of clothing beyond merely covering for the body.
“I like taking traditional techniques and combining them with these more unusual material explorations,” she says.
As the show continues to grow in scope and popularity, more students outside the schools of design and textiles have lent their talents and perspectives, giving Art2Wear a look and feel that captures the ever-evolving world of fashion.
“When it began it was a lot of College of Design students, but now a lot of people on the show’s boards are in biology and engineering,” says Olivia Koval, student director and emcee of Art2Wear. “It’s been great to incorporate a lot of interests, and I think it makes for a more full experience.”
The Art2Wear fashion show is at 7:30 p.m. April 28, in the Talley Student Center ballroom at N.C. State University.