Wow! I can't believe it, but I survived yet another quarter at FIDM. Finals are over and I am almost done inputing the final grades. Since I was in a "school mode", I remembered that I had not done my recap for my November visit to the University of Kansas "Project Runway"-themed contest. It's the least I could do, especially since I promised the wonderfully talented students that I would put up some of their photos on my blog as a "Thank You" for the invitation and allowing to enjoy the great show in a cold Kansas Autumn night.
I flew into the Kansas City airport, along with David, dressed in my best "Fall ensemble" : A black fitted trenchcoat, dress shirt and vest, black skinny pants, boots and of course a scarf. I guess we looked "different" at KCI (Kansas City International Airport) because when we went to retrieve the van that would take us into the city, the lovely van-assistant remarked, "Are y'all from Canada?" I asked why she was asking. She said, "Well, I've seen some guys dressed like you guys...and ... well, they were from Canada". I guess "Canadian" is the new "Gay".
We arrived into the University of Kansas campus and were met by the lovely Stephanie Altoro, the cultural arts coordinator for Student Union Activities for KU. She gave me a briefing and before I knew it, I was on stage in front of a cheering "sold-out" crowd of over 600 attendees. I spoke about my experience in fashion, how I got into it as well as what inspired me. I also spoke at length about subjects ranging from what classes to take, what to study, as well as reminded the students to take business courses, since after all, the fashion industry is a business. A Q & A session followed with many students asking me about the show. In fact if my memory serves me correctly, the first question involved Santino and whether or not he was "a nice guy" and if we"re still friends. I laughed since I just spoke for about an hour about fashion and how to get into it and about what kind of education one should pursue, yet all these kids wanted to know was dish on "Project Runway". I treated them to some "Inside Dish" (as much as my contract allows) and then the contest fashion show began showcasing designs from the 8 student finalists.
The contest involved putting the eight contestants through three seperate rounds to create outfits from scratch on budgets of $40 or less. There was a "Muslin Challenge" like our first challenge in Season Two, a "Make an outfit from what you find in a Thrift Store with $25", and finally a "Make an evening gown with just $40 for fabric". I did double-duty, not only as the "featured speaker" but I was also one of the esteemed judges who would decide the fate of these finalists. I was surprised to see such amazing talent and refined fashion, especially from a non-fashion school. After all ,KU does not really have a Fashion Design program. I have judged other "Final Shows" in actual fashion design schools and what I saw at KU was even better than those at times!
The overall winner was the pretty Julee Kessinger, a senior and a dead-ringer for being the next "Miss Kansas". Her designs were contemporary, beautifully sewn and most of all, I could see her pieces in a store anywhere across the US. Sometimes, student designers forget about the customer and that, eventually, someone has to wear it and not look like a fool. Students sometimes get overtly creative and end up with a costume and not an actual wearable garment. However, these students hit all the right marks. I had a great time and I commend the students and the Student Activities Union for inviting into their wonderful campus and making me feel at home.