Durango may not be known as the most fashionable town in the United States, but on Wednesday, Durango High School fashion design and illustration students hope to change that when they launch a full-on fashion show.
The more than 50 students in the class will produce the show: Acting as models, designers, photographers, seamstresses, they will send their designs down the catwalk with the theme Urban Translation.
Krista Karpel, art teacher at DHS, has been offering the class for about four years, and she says interest in the course has blossomed.
She said for the show, each designer is assigned two pieces: One sewn from scratch, the other a redesign, or repurposed, garment.
“We’re trying to hit on a technical challenge for the sewn garment and a creative challenge for the redesign – and also sustainability,” she said. “I want them to know that recycle, reuse, repurpose is a huge market in fashion.”
Karpel said the class is one semester, but there are a few dedicated students who take it as many times as they can. She said there are some advanced students who will be showing more than two pieces.
One of the advanced students is junior Timmy Chamblee. Timmy has been taking the class every semester since freshman year. He said he will show nine pieces in the show – a combination of two semesters’ worth of work.
“I think it will be fun; I’m really excited,” he said, adding that while Chanel used to be his favorite fashion house, his influences have grown to include designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors and Louis Vuitton.
And this isn’t just a fun class for him: He’s looking into applying to New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.
“This is definitely my future,” he said.
Lily Sturm, also a junior, will have four pieces in Wednesday’s show. She’s also walking the runway as a model for Timmy.
She said she has been working on her garments for about three or four months, gradually working up from illustration to design to fittings with her models.
“My pieces are ancient-Japanese inspired mixed with kind of a modern grunge look. I picked out a bunch of really cool Japanese printed fabrics, and I’m making a kimono, I’m making a cool belt with parachute clips on the back,” she said. “I’m making a lot of pants because I don’t like wearing dresses, so I don’t want my models wearing dresses.”
Karpel said the class is made up of a mix of students from all four years and ability levels – and, she said, sometimes the students are surprised at how challenging the class can be.
“It’s fun. It’s a lot of work. Sewing is a technical process that demands focus, attention and perseverance,” she said. “It’s fun to coach them through the process and build their creativity and have them dive into something that they may not do. The program has just taken off, and these shows are a reminder that these students can bring something to the community. And they put these fashion shows ON!”
And for Lily, the class offers knowledge more than just an opportunity to make cool clothes.
“I think it’s really important to learn how to sew. My mom has advocated for me to sew and be creative since Day One,” Lily said. “I think it’s really important, not only for young women, but young men, to take an interest in learning how to repair clothes, how to make something, how to be creative in that kind of way. And I think that’s really important. I also think designing is a great way to get your creativity out and express yourself through clothing.”