meet the designers

These are the incredible senior designers whose looks will be sent down the runway at the spring 2018 fashion show. Get to know them this year as they embark on their creative journey.


 

Melina Perez

Hometown: Mission, TX

Zodiac Sign: Leo

Where to See My Work: Instagram: @melinayperez

What made you realize you wanted to design? I grew up in NYC, and fashion was everywhere. It was hard not to love it! I started drawing and sewing when I was really young, then stuck to art for a while after. I didn’t sew again until my sophomore year at UT! I always had the idea of being a designer at the back of my mind, but I abandoned it when I started going to an engineering high school. I still continued to pursue my art, because it was an escape from all the math and science I was doing. Fast forward to freshman year at UT, and my calculus professor told me about the TXA major because he thought I would thrive in it. I actually attended a UFG meeting soon after, which ultimately convinced me to switch my major to TXA. So I guess it was a professor telling me I should follow my heart that really convinced me!

What’s your favorite fabric to work with? The hard stuff -- satin, organza, chiffon, silk.

What designer(s) inspire you? Tia Feng, Oscar de la Renta (partly for my Dominican pride, mostly because he was so talented), Valentino, Ulla Johnson, Rosie Assoulin, Giambattista Valli, Paolo Sebastian, Marchesa, Alexander McQueen, Ralph & Russo, Vivetta, Rodarte.

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Have you designed clothes for yourself before? If yes, what are your favorite outfits? Everything I turn in for projects is for me, because it's easiest to think about what I would want as a consumer. I don't really have a lot of time to make stuff for fun, since I spend so much time working on projects for my magazine, The Audacity, so everything I make is in my size and in my style. I guess I could say people with closets like mine are my target customer!

What show are you currently binging/what’s next on your list to binge? Stranger Things! After I finish, I’ll probably continue with Vampire Diaries (don’t judge me)!

What’s your favorite comfort food? Ramen, curry, Mofongo.

What’s an out-of-the-box, wild idea you’ve had for a design? I’ve been wanting to do a dress with a lot of cowl-looking, huge and exaggerated ruffles in front, and the skirt would have these huge bubbles of fabric that are all bunched up and kind of swoop to the side to create some smaller box pleats.

If you could design for anybody--living or dead, real or fictional--who would it be? Wow I have so many: Rihanna, Lupita Nyong’o, Tracee Ellis Ross, Ruby Rose, Marina Diamandis, Taraji P Henson, Coco Rocha, Selena Quintanilla, Celia Cruz, Millie Bobbie Brown (that girl is already a fashion icon at 13 I’m shook)

Favorite song at the moment? "Uneasy Hearts Weigh the Most" by Dance Gavin Dance-- I’m on a pop punk kick right now!

Describe the first thing you designed. I think I was about 6, and it was this ruby red ball gown with a long train and a strapless sweetheart neckline.

Where do you want to end up in 10 years? (career-wise, life-wise) I’m super open! I also have an interest in Deaf Education, so I’m thinking of coming back to school for that after a few years of living in New York and working for a magazine or fun clothing brand. I would love to have The Audacity make it off the ground and maybe that can turn into a real job. Maybe I'll end up in Paris. Who knows? Life wise, I just want to be happy and still have the will to fight for what I believe in. Activism and sustainability are both really important to me, so I hope to work for a company or even own a company whose values align with my own.


Taylor Hicks

Hometown: Lake Dallas, TX

Zodiac Sign: Aquarius

Where to See My Work: taylornicolehicks.com

What made you realize you wanted to design?  Art is something I have always been passionate about. Growing up I invested my time in every art class my school offered, and until my junior year of high school I totally thought I was just going to be a studio art or graphic design major. But there was always something about the fashion industry that I wanted to be a part of… it’s such high energy and totally crazy--right up my alley. My best friend moved to NYC our senior year to model; after watching her kill it in the industry, I got the courage to fully commit to design!

What’s your favorite fabric to work with? I'm a sucker for anything that has good structure or thickness. This summer I worked with the most amazing neon and army green wool tweed…I’m still dreaming about that fabric!

What designer(s) inspire you? My latest inspiration is Richard Malone. If you haven’t seen his work you HAVE to look him up because I am totally obsessed! His draping techniques are highly sculptural and he creates these crazy textile prints with bold colors that are just stunning. But let’s not forget about Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Rei Kawakubo, and The Antwerp Six. Oh, and BARBARA ALAN! They are absolutely genius.

 

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Have you designed clothes for yourself before? If yes, what are your favorite outfits? Yes, but I always think it’s more fun seeing someone else in my designs! I made this black wool coat with a blue and black plaid lining. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s warm and has huge square pockets. I like designing clothing for women but with a more masculine silhouette – the boxier the better in my opinion!

What show are you currently binging/what’s next on your list to binge? Tales By Light, it’s a documentary series that gives you a behind the scenes look at some of the worlds most extraordinary places and the effort it takes to get those photos! (It’s actually really cool and not as geeky as it sounds) and maybe I’ll start Stranger Things next since everyone is obsessed with it lately.

What’s your favorite comfort food? My mom’s homemade chicken and dumplings for sure. It’s such a southern classic and always reminds me of home! Or brownies – any kind, any day..

What’s an out-of-the-box, wild idea you’ve had for a design? A gown made out of slime! I don’t know how that would work, but think about how comfy that would be…

If you could design for anybody--living or dead, real or fictional--who would it be? Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama, or Rae Sremmurd. 

Favorite song at the moment? "Bellyache"- Marian Hill Remix

Describe the first thing you designed. A pair of pink culottes that I dyed with beet juice and hand painted in my freshman year dorm room. My roommates probably thought I was crazy!

Where do you want to end up in 10 years?  I’m not really sure…I think it is such an exciting time to be in the fashion industry because it’s going through a lot of changes. I want to explore the possibilities of reconstructed fashion and be part of a company that is high end but also cares about sustainability. But honestly, I’m only 20 years old right now so whatever comes my way I’m totally down to give it a shot and see where it takes me! I know the fashion industry isn’t always glamorous and being a designer means pulling all-nighters and your work becomes your entire life…but if I’m designing cool stuff with cool people there are #nobaddays am I right??


Arden Frank

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Zodiac sign: Gemini

Where to see my work: https://www.ardenfrank.com/

What made you realize you wanted to design? I have always wanted to work in the fashion industry, but when I got to UT I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to major in Retail Merchandising or Design. I chose to major in design because I wanted to be able to understand the heart of the industry, the garments themselves. I knew it would be a challenge and it definitely has enhanced my critical thinking skills. While I do not intend on pursuing a career specifically in fashion design, I know I will be able to use the skills I have learned to better communicate with other workers in the industry.

What’s your favorite fabric to work with?I love to work with linen! So simple and crisp with amazing texture.

What designer(s) inspire you? Alexander McQueen is forever my muse. The way he romanticizes the dichotomy of savage beauty is so profound. GARETH PUGH BLOWS MY MIND. When I imagine the future, I imagine everyone dressed headed to toe in his designs. Thom Browne is one of my favorites right now.  No one can construct and deconstruct suits like he can. Both Browne and Pugh are architectural geniuses. Tom Ford is always sexy and cool, definitely my taste. My grandma somehow got his signature on a book and it is by far my favorite in my collection.

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Have you designed clothes for yourself before? If yes, what are your favorite outfits? I don’t specifically design for myself but I always design for my hour glass figure. Anything I design I usually would wear. One of my biggest strengths and weaknesses as a designer is always creating body conscious designs. I definitely have a sexy, tailored aesthetic that is hard to deviate from. Over the years I grown confident in my skill to design looks that highlight the natural shape of the woman’s body. 

What show are you currently bingeing/what’s next on your list to binge? I just watched A Clockwork Orange for the first time and I think it has to be one of my favorite movies. I moved directly onto Eyes Wide Shut! 

What’s your favorite comfort food? P-I-Z-Z-A

What’s an out-of-the-box, wild idea you’ve had for a design? On the plane ride to Israel this past summer, I sketched this dress that was all cubes. I have never thought about how I would bring it to life, but there are many ways I could interpret it. Designing that dress would be a really fun challenge. 

If you could design for anybody--living or dead, real or fictional--who would it be? My ultimate, ultimate dream is to design for Lady Gaga at the Haus of Gaga. 

Favorite song at the moment? I have been obsessed with Capyac’s Disco Muse ever since I helped a friend, Madi Paige, shoot a music video for the song as a class project. You could say I’m biased, but if you give it a listen you won’t be disappointed. It’s super smooth with mad chill vibes. 

Describe the first thing you designed.  A black mini skirt with a slit on the right side, hidden waistband and exposed silver center back zipper. There is a panel that is now a design line, but was actually added because I read the pattern wrong and didn’t buy the right size. Rookie mistake! But paid off in the end. 

Where do you want to end up in 10 years? (career-wise, life-wise) I really try to live in the moment. I honestly couldn’t tell you aside from working with talented people, surrounded by people who support me and in a place with positive energy that allows me to continue to produce and create! I simply could not say what the future holds; its a mystery and I think its more exciting that way! 


Becky Phung

Hometown: Houston, TX

Zodiac sign: Aries

Portfolio website: https://beckyphung.myportfolio.com/

What made you realize you wanted to design? Growing up, I have always been a creative person, whether it’s been through sewing or through other hobbies and interests such as violin. So naturally, I wanted to pursue a career in a creative field such as design. Styling and dressing myself, often in embarrassing and regrettable ensembles, has also always been important to me since I was a kid. I love working with my hands and creating.

What’s your favorite fabric to work with? Silky, free-flowing fabrics.

What designer(s) inspire you? Iris van Herpen.

Have you designed clothes for yourself before? If yes, what are your favorite outfits? Yes, a muslin mock-up for my eveningwear ensemble that I wore to a scholarship dinner this past winter break.

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What show are you currently binging/what’s next on your list to binge? The Handmaid’s Tale sounds pretty good.

What’s your favorite comfort food? A nice baguette.

What’s an out-of-the-box, wild idea you’ve had for a design? I want to design a line of basics that are screenprinted all over with information on manufacturing, such as the names of all of the people who have touched the garment during the production process, how the garment was dyed, etc. I would like to show people that even a simple T-shirt or a pair of pants requires a lot of work and affects the surrounding environment and population more than the average consumer would think. Also, people just don’t read anymore, and it’d be nice to get that going again.

If you could design for anybody--living or dead, real or fictional--who would it be? Hilary Hahn, my favorite violinist

Favorite song at the moment? "Remember Me" by KYLE ft. Chance the Rapper.

Describe the first thing you designed. I created a button-down that turned into pants (semi-successfully) in 5th or 6th grade.

Where do you want to end up in 10 years? (career-wise, life-wise) Doing good work for the betterment of others and happy with wherever life takes me


Ellie Wendland

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Zodiac sign: Capricorn

Portfolio website: elliewendland.com

What made you realize you wanted to design? When I was a child my parents gave me a miniature mannequin and some fabric samples and I would sit in my room for hours and pretend to drape on it. Fast forward to my freshman year of college, I came into UT as a Liberal Arts undeclared major and was very unsure what I wanted to study. I attended a lecture where the speaker asked the audience to think back to when they were five years old and had free time. Her theory was that whatever you did in those precious moments of unburdened free time was your true passion. I remembered my miniature mannequin and began taking textiles classes the next semester!

What’s your favorite fabric to work with? Any type of silk--faille and organza are some of my favorites.

What designer(s) inspire you? I have always loved the classics like Valentino and Oscar De La Renta; they create the most elegant designs. Recently I have been into Markarian which is a newer brand from New York creating really whimsical and ladylike things.

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Have you designed clothes for yourself before? If yes, what are your favorite outfits? I always design everything to fit myself, which is maybe lazy or maybe genius. My favorite thing I’ve made is a navy blue motorcycle jacket in a really cool textured silk wool blend.

What show are you currently binging/what’s next on your list to binge? I love crime shows--Broadchurch, Mindhunter, or Criminal Minds.

What’s your favorite comfort food? MASHED POTATOES. Fried chicken from Bubbas when I’m home in Dallas.

What’s an out-of-the-box, wild idea you’ve had for a design? When my brother and I were young we had the idea to create Kleenex that changed color depending on your illness. Maybe I could translate that technology into a design that acted like a giant mood ring.

If you could design for anybody--living or dead, real or fictional--who would it be? Jackie O, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn--can you tell I like classic glamour?

Favorite song at the moment? The Phantom Thread soundtrack or "Shining Star" by Earth, Wind, & Fire

Describe the first thing you designed. When I was seven, I got a kit for a make-your-own teddy bear and then I designed a purple vest with tan embroidered flowers on it. Very chic but I made my mom do most of the work.

Where do you want to end up in 10 years? (career-wise, life-wise) I just want a job and a place to live and I’m not going to ask too many questions, OK??


Alexandra Hill

Hometown: Austin, TX

Zodiac sign: Sagittarius 

Portfolio website: www.alexandrahilldesigns.com

What made you realize you wanted to design? When I came to UT, I wasn’t 100% sure of what direction I wanted to go in as far as my studies and career path. I found out about the fashion program here halfway through my first semester and basically immediately changed my major. I’ve always had a really creative mind but had never really explored my artistic ability, so I felt intimidated before taking any classes, but once I did I realized my talent and it’s felt right ever since.

What’s your favorite fabric to work with? My favorite fabric to work with is fabric that I find at thrift stores. Finding and using repurposed fabric adds an extra challenge to designing that I really enjoy, and sustainability is really important to me. I’m really proud that four of my five looks that will be on the runway are made 100% of repurposed fabric, I’ve learned a lot from the process.

What designer(s) inspire you? Stephane Rolland has always inspired me; the shapes he’s able to construct are always so complex and elegant. Stella McCartney’s aesthetic and focus on sustainability also really inspires me.

Have you designed clothes for yourself before? If yes, what are your favorite outfits? I sketch a lot of things I’d love to wear but the clothes I actually construct are usually for models. It’s really exciting to put my work on someone else and really see it come to life.

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What show are you currently binging/what’s next on your list to binge? I just finished binge watching Queer Eye on Netflix and I’m so sad it’s over! Finishing Veep is next on my list, I’m really loving that show.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Pizza, or a big bowl of pho.

What’s an out-of-the-box, wild idea you’ve had for a design? I was inspired by SpaceX and Mars for three-piece collection and some of the ideas I thought about early on were making my garments look like actual rockets and boulders!

 

If you could design for anybody--living or dead, real or fictional--who would it be? Michelle Obama, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jackie Kennedy, Prince, Jeff Goldblum, Donald Glover, the list is endless!

Favorite song at the moment? “Don’t Make Me Wait” by Sting & Shaggy

Describe the first thing you designed. The first thing I ever designed from sketch to construction was a pair of 1960s-inspired dresses for my nieces. Making clothes for them is one of my all time favorite things.

Where do you want to end up in 10 years? (career-wise, life-wise) Career-wise, I really don’t know. Right now I have short-term goals I want to achieve and hopefully doing that will help me figure out what I want to do long-term. Life-wise, all I really know is that I hope I have a dog, am living comfortably, and get to see my family a lot.