Retro Active

A behind-the-scenes look at three RetroFittings projects

On October 13, a new crop of UC’s fashion design students will debut their creations for RetroFittings, a partnership between the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. But the painstaking work of designing these projects began long before the bright lights of the final show.

The program is deceptively simple: St. Vincent de Paul allots $10 cash each to more than 50 students and then turns them loose in their network of thrift stores. Students must find materials for two ensembles, which they’ll exhibit in a runway fashion show in the Hilton Netherland Plaza’s spectacular Hall of Mirrors.

“The thrift stores are part and parcel of the St. Vincent de Paul mission,” explains executive director Liz Carter. “Everything that we can give to somebody who’s struggling, it’s because somebody else said ‘I don’t need this anymore.’ ” Proceeds from the show go right back to St. Vincent de Paul’s programming.

The challenge was to build something from practically nothing—and the students ran with it. “I wasn’t expecting what I came up with,” says junior Bree Qureshi. “When you’re designing, you never know what you’ll find. With this project, you kind of learn ‘Hey, look for what you can use—stop looking for something that you don’t have.’ ”
We trailed Qureshi and two other fashion design students, Shaheen Miro and Shayna Arnold, as they created walking works of art from their thrifted items. Take a look at their finds, their inspirations, and a preview of the final cuts.

Student: Shaheen Miro
Project Inspiration: Greta Garbo
“I love velvet, I love chiffon and lace, and so I kind of let those be my medium. Whenever I design something, I like to look at fabrics and I like to draw. I sketched a bunch of things and looked at them as shapes and then thought, ‘OK, what fabrics would make these shapes? How can I make that happen?’”

Student: Bree Qureshi
Project Inspiration: Miles Davis
“Davis did amazing things with music, obviously, but also with fashion. He started this whole phenomenon of ‘the attitude.’ He was flashy and very masculine without being too constricted. For my project, I liked the idea of a gender swap; I wanted to do a masculine silhouette on a female form.”

Student: Shayna Arnold
Project Inspiration: Mata Hari
“I thought it was crazy that Mata Hari was wearing jeweled tops that remind me of Lady Gaga. She was a dancer, so she’d wear the little tops and flowy skirts, but then also she was going out with all these men and she’d wear these cool draped, fitted, body-con dresses.”

October 13, 6 pm at the Hilton Netherland Plaza. Tickets: Students $20, general admission $60, VIP $100. (513) 562-8841 ext. 225,

Originally published in the October  2011 issue.

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