NC State’s Art2Wear fashion show is like one ‘Project Runway’ challenge after another

Avocados seem to be used everywhere, from avocado toast and guacamole to facial scrubs and hair masks.

But the pit of an avocado? Turns out it can be used to create a fabric dye that simply does not look anything like the green avocado.

Turns out boiling the pits creates a blush pink color, and that’s just what NC State student Emily Sikkel needed when creating her collection of garments for the annual Art2Wear fashion show.

“I needed a way to make the perfect pink color so I decided to dye my fabric with the boiled avocado method,” Sikkel told The News & Observer. “You can get vibrant colors from natural materials.”

Two pieces from NC State student Emily Sikkel’s Art2Wear Collection called Synergy. Alexa Molli

Sikkel is one of eight students participating in this year’s Art2Wear fashion show on April 26. The show features garments created by NC State students in the Department of Art and Design, which is housed in the College of Design. The show, an annual spotlight on emerging talent, is organized by students.

This year, students had to use the theme of “sustainability and circular fashion” in their creations, or clothing that’s made with recyclable materials and can be re-worn in different ways.

“They really looked at sustainability comprehensively,” said Precious Lovell, a fiber studio professor and Art2Wear organizer. “They looked at cultural sustainability, human sustainability. So, sustainability did not have to be what necessarily went into their garments, but also what they were thinking about while making these garments.”

Sikkel said most students, including herself, had never worked with sustainable materials before. Some thought of sustainability within the wardrobe, meaning fashion that can be worn for different occasions and with strong material that won’t deteriorate easily.

To prepare, students in the show take the fiber studio class with Lovell for two semesters. The first semester is solely research-based. Then, students create two garments that are judged to determine whether they will move on to the next course, which is where they make the collections.

NC State student Emily Sikkel, left, and fiber studio professor and Art2Wear organizer, Precious Lovell, looks over a piece from Sikkel’s Art2Wear Collection called Synergy on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. Juli Leonard

Each student has extensive ideas and collections that incorporate all kinds of sustainable practices. One made a collection using plastic straws, while others used upcycled denim and fabric to create their pieces.

In Sikkel’s collection, called “Synergy,” she combined many aspects of sustainability. First, she used natural materials, like the avocado pits, to dye the fabrics. She used laser printing to reduce printing ink and waste for her fabric’s patterns.

She created a system of tabs to allow people wearing the clothes to remove parts of them and place them elsewhere to redesign the look. The tabs are made with leather scraps that upholstering companies were going to throw away.

For the prints, she incorporated personal touches in the design. One print features hand-drawn portraits of important people in her life.

Another draws upon her global upbringing. Her mother is British but grew up in Zimbabwe. Her father is Dutch. Sikkel, herself, grew up in Singapore before moving to Raleigh 10 years ago.

“For some of the graphic prints and modular shapes, I looked at aerial images of the earth and areas that were important to me and kind of extracted those shapes and made them into textile designs or more graphic style,” Sikkel said.

While time consuming, this is how Sikkel had planned to spend her senior year, she said: “tackling Art2Wear.”

“I came to Art2Wear in high school and my senior year I knew that was what I wanted to do,” she said.

Lovell says all of the collections are diverse, and she wants others to understand what the students went through to create the pieces that will be shown.

“We are not a fashion program, we are a fibers program,” she said. “I think that is what makes us so unique. Our students actually create their garments from the bottom up. There will be strong evidence of the hand. Although these are garments, they aren’t going through a technical fashion program.”

Lovell said she hopes students leave the show with more self-confidence in their skills.

“It reminds them that if they put in the hard work, they put in the time, the research, that you can actually realize your desires and designs,” she said.


What: Art2Wear fashion show

When: April 26, 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Where: Talley Student Union, Grand Ballroom, 2610 Cates Ave. Raleigh.

Cost: $30 for general seating, $60 for premium seating

Info: 919-515-1100 or