Last Thursday, I was invited by UCLA to judge their first ever, "Resident Runway", a take-off on "Project Runway", where residents/students of the UCLA residence halls held a fashion design contest in the same vain of the Bravo show. It was a nostalgic visit for me since I am an alumni of UCLA and had not been back since I graduated A LONG TIME AGO. It had been so long ago, that in fact, the building where the event was held, Covel Commons , was not even there when I attended UCLA! How sad is that? Boy, did I feel old!
I spoke for about 45 minutes about my time at UCLA and how I wished there would have been something like this when I was there. I also took questions from the "sold-out" audience. Some were great, ranging from "What is your favorite drink?" (Cadillac Margaritas), to "Who was your inspirational muse when I was a very young kid in Caracas, Venezuela?" (Empress Farah Dibah of Iran).
For the contest, there were over 15 designers (working in teams sometimes), all UCLA students-- freshmen, sophmores, juniors mostly. None of which had a fashion design major, since there is no such thing at UCLA. But all with a great drive and (obvious) design talent to create wonderful garments out of nasty ones.
On that note: The challenge they were given, only a few weeks ago, was to create an outfit out of thrift-store garments bought at Goodwill. Each of the designer students/teams were given 4 items such as a dress, jacket, pants and an accessory reminiscent of a bag lady and then they had to re-create it into something original, chic and stylish. I was amazed at what they did, especially since most of them had never sewn before and some of the outfits were hand-stitched together (not glued, thank you!) The winning ensemble was stupendous! They somehow made a fabulous hoodie jacket, shorty-shorts and a sexy stretch knit top out of bad "Golden Girls"-looking thrift store garments. The re-created outfit looked like something you would see at "Club Monaco" or "Banana Republic". (Picture of winning design is on the right. The designer modeled her own outfit!) It was impeccably sewn and stylish at the same time. Congratulations to the winners!
The night of the event, they also received a surprise challenge: They were given a T-shirt and had to tear it up, and create something else out of it, in 15 minutes! The results of that surprise challenge were also fun and innovative, ranging from a winning sexy mini-dress to an actual purse! I had so much fun coming back to UCLA and being part of this first-ever "Resident Runway" event.
All the students should be incredibly proud of themselves and I could tell that they all had so much fun, just by the huge smile on their faces. They needed a good fun break from studying all night for their Midterms!