Project Runway Meets Albright College
Three fashion students create original designs during a “Project Runway” inspired competition—showcased during Reading Fashion Week.
by Jordan Ezell ’19
With a limited budget and the clock ticking, fashion students Khala Corley ’18, Aliza Shoultz ’19, and Olivia Connor ’18 were set to the task of creating three unique designs during one week in January. The clock started running on Jan. 15 at 9 a.m. and by Jan. 19 at 5 p.m., they were done; their garments stored away until their runway debut during West Reading’s inaugural Fashion Week in February.
Much like the television show, “Project Runway,” starring Tim Gunn, who provides advice to the television contestants, Corley, Shoultz and Connor were guided by fashion department instructor Sara Nelson ’08. Nelson was allowed to provide advice but no hands-on assistance.
“The students really took to the challenge like fish to water,” Nelson said. “If they were stressed about the deadline, they didn’t show it. They knew what they were doing and they knew exactly what they wanted to do and how to accomplish it.”
In addition to the time restriction, the students also had to recruit their own models to wear each piece and supply accessories. Shoultz was named the winner of the competition, her designs chosen by a panel of judges at the runway show held on Feb. 10 at Etchfit in West Reading.
Fashion department chair Doreen Burdalski said, “This was a win-win situation for both West Reading and Albright College. It was challenging and fun for our students, and it was good for West Reading. We promoted the fashion show on campus, and many students and family members attended. We’re looking forward to collaborating again, next year!”
Several of the designs created for the fashion challenge are currently on display in the lobby of Alumni Hall, home of the fashion department.
Aliza Shoultz ’19
Aliza Shoultz ’19 has been inspired by powerful women in the fashion world since she was a young girl. “Ever since I was a child I’ve had a knack for fashion. I had a sewing machine when I was a kid, and I’ve always thought it was my passion. I look up to Kimora Lee Simmons who owns her own clothing brand and is also a fashion model,” said Shoultz. A fashion design major, Shoultz looks to the world and the people around her as inspirations for her designs, especially for her designs for the ‘Project Runway’ challenge. Shoultz, who ended up winning the fashion challenge, sketched designs prior to beginning the challenge. “Ideas just came to me,” she said.
But even with her ideas already taking shape, Shoultz, like her fellow designers, said the time restriction was a bit overwhelming; an excellent lesson in time management. “Usually I don’t plan out what I do, but for this I had to plan out my day farther in advance,” she said. “We had a 9-5 schedule and I had to figure out what exactly to do in that time.” Shoultz said she learned a lot about herself as a fashion designer and as a person throughout the week-long challenge. “I am grateful for the opportunity to display my work for such a diverse group of people,” she said.
Khala Corley ’18
As a young child, Khala Corley ’18 grew up watching her father sew. “My dad used to sew, and I have his old sewing machine and I wanted to do what he did. I would make clothes for my dolls and eventually myself. I’ve always been into fashion,” said Corley.
A fashion design major, Corley said she loved participating in the ‘Project Runway’ challenge and showcasing her own work. Deeply inspired by African prints, she likes to mix prints and use neutral, black and white prints. Although she said she had some fear at the beginning of the challenge about the time limitations and being able to complete the pieces on time, having the opportunity to showcase her work in the West Reading Fashion Week was an experience she said she will never forget. “It was stressful at first, but as long as I kept a schedule and didn’t work on one piece too long I was fine, plus there was time at the end to double check my work,” said Corley. A sense of pride filled Corley’s heart when she took a step back and looked at her designs and ideas come to life.
Corley’s favorite part of the experience was being given a fabric allowance and exploring the fabric store. “I had a lot of freedom with the fabric allowance since they had fabric on sale,” she said. “I could play around with textiles and patterns, which gave me a true sense of creative freedom with my designs,” she said.
Olivia Connor ’18
When Olivia Connor ’18 was in fourth grade she knew fashion was going to be a big part of her life. Assigned a collage project, she jumped at the chance to flip through Teen Vogue magazines to find advertisements and fashion photos to complete her assignment. It was then that her spark for fashion ignited. “My parents always told me, ‘If you’re good at what you do, you’ll always be able to make money from it,’” Connor said. The fashion design major said she is grateful for their support.
When the challenge began, Connor said she approached it with an open mind and relied on her natural tastes. Inspired by the spring fashion lines that she had seen online, she said what influenced her most were the textiles that she chose while at the fabric store. Using the skills she developed in the classroom, Connor created two tops, two bottoms, a dress, and a jacket—seven pieces that fit together—during the week-long challenge.
“I loved being able to create my first mini collection. Being able to work with the two other girls and be inspired by them was really cool,” she said. “Seeing what I could do and having the chance to display my capabilities is an experience I will always be grateful for.”
While the clock was ticking, she said she felt especially grateful that time management has always been her strength. “At first, I thought it was going to be stressful, but I’m good at time management. It was a lot of fun sewing and doing what I love to do,” said Connor.