At the age of 15, N.C. State student Kiana Bonollo got her first taste of the fashion industry, modeling in fashion shows during Greensboro Fashion Week.
She returns to that event this fall, but this time as a featured designer in the Emerging Designer Showcase, slated for Oct. 5, and she’ll also debut a collection at fashionSPARK on Sept. 14 in Raleigh.
That first strut down the runway awakened a passion in Bonollo that she pursued in high school fashion classes.
“This was the year I took my first high school apparel class, where I fell in love with using a sewing machine and watching my ideas come to life,” she says.
Four years later, Bonollo is in her sophomore year at N.C. State, majoring in fashion and textile design.
At fashionSPARK, Bonollo will show her first collection, called “Queen of Hearts” — a fanciful, feminine take on the classic children’s character.
For the Greensboro Fashion Week Emerging Designer Showcase — a competition with a $1,500 prize for the top designer — Bonollo was chosen among seven finalists to produce a collection. This second line features an eclectic take on formalwear that emphasizes femininity, and includes techniques that challenged Bonollo’s skills as a designer.
“I wanted to teach myself more advanced techniques and strengthen my skills with patterning and draping,” she says of her work on the collection. “Additionally, I wanted to experiment with more challenging fabrics such as chiffon and pleather.”
Creating new collections for these shows, on top of her work as a student, can be challenging, as well.
“So much thought and hard work goes into conceptualizing a line and creating an entire collection of cohesive and detailed designs,” she says. “My process always begins by sketching designs that I have visions of in my head. I sketch a ridiculous amount of designs before narrowing them down to my final few looks and making any changes to make the line cohesive.
This process can take weeks as she finalizes the looks and decides on the textiles, she said.
“The actual construction process can take many months as I create multiple prototypes before cutting into my final fashion fabric,” she said. “It is a huge task to coordinate fittings, rehearsals, and meetings for models, photographers and makeup artists.”
But for Bonollo, all that hard work is worth it to see her designs on the runway, particularly at this early stage of her career.
“It takes months of work and hundreds of hours to make everything possible,” she says. “But when I finally see my designs go down the runway and my vision come to life, I realize that all those sleepless nights were worth it.”
For more details and tickets for fashionSPARK, visit sparkcon.com/fashionspark. For details and tickets for Greensboro Fashion Week, visit greensborofashionweek.com.
StyleFinder Boutique in Raleigh holds its monthly Wine, Women and Style event, Aug. 29, 5-8 p.m. Stylist and shop owner Mary Michele Nidiffer will speak on “Dress to Impress: The Five Secrets All Women Must Know Before Getting Dressed.” Attendees also can score door prizes, discounts and free wine and snacks. Seating is limited. RSVP to 919-454-3068.