Student sews to win Best in Show


Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

Designer Whitney Rorah poses with models wearing Rorah’s Best In Show line “Oriov Endue” during The Fashion Show on April 4, 2014 at Stephens Auditorium. All pieces were created by Iowa State Students and the show featured 92 looks.

Mariah Wellman

Being surrounded and supported by her family and friends was all that Whitney Rorah, senior in apparel merchandising and design, ever wanted during The Fashion Show 2014. She received that and more.

Rorah was the winner of the Fashion Show 2014 Best In Show award at Stephens Auditorium on April 5 for her senior collection of eight wedding gowns. Rorah also received first and second place in the Digital Printing category, first place in the Collection category and second place in the Streetwear category for other garments she submitted along with her senior collection.

“I would never say that I was expecting it,” Rorah said about her Best in Show award. “There were so many amazing garments, and I know how hard every designer works.”

Rorah’s was given the chance to see her designs walk the runway at Kansas City Fashion Week but said her experience at The Fashion Show 2014 was even more rewarding.

“It was incredible,” Rorah said about watching her garments walk the runway at the show. “The amazing feedback was so incredible because a lot of people at Iowa State know who I am. The faculty up in the balcony, along with everybody else, knew me personally so that had a lot to do with the feedback from the audience.”

As Rorah’s garments walked the runway, applause filled the auditorium. The gowns received praise from not only the audience, but from the models wearing the gowns as well.

Caine Westergard, senior in apparel merchandising and design, was a designer in the show as well as a model in Rorah’s senior collection. Westergard also accepted a proposal from her boyfriend, senior Tym Wood, at the end of the evening.

“Whitney is a wonderful designer,” Westergard said. “She has such an eye for colors and lines. I’m a designer so I know Whitney, and it’s an honor to be chosen to wear one of her outfits. The collection is just beautiful. The detailing, the lines, the draping, the flowers, I mean it’s just beautiful.”

Rorah said she was inspired by intricate detail and hand-beading. She said she focused on details and got a lot of her inspiration for the gowns from Hindu bridal wear.

“Their bridal wear and formal wear are just so intricate and detailed that I gathered information from there,” Rorah said. “But I also got a lot of inspiration using different fabrics to create texture and to create volume. I used a lot of contrasting fabrics to create the texture and volume and shapes that I wanted.”

Rorah is graduating in May and plans to return to Iowa State in the fall as a graduate student. She will be studying apparel merchandising and design with an emphasis in design.

“With graduate school for apparel design you are given the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the technology used in the apparel industry, such as the 3D body scanner, digital textile printer and the CAD Optitex pattern-making software,” Rorah said.

“I decided to go to graduate school because this year I started learning more about these technologies and I really wanted to be able to experiment more with them.”

Rorah said she believes having a background in technology will help her if she decides to start her own business after graduate school. She also said she would like to attain her master’s degree because it provides her with another career path, and she may want to teach apparel classes in her future.

For now, Rorah is planning to take her senior collection to bridal shows and show customers what she has to offer. She is also designing a flower girl dress for a fall wedding as well as five bridesmaids dresses for a separate client.

Rorah said her plans for after graduate school are undecided. “I am unsure about exactly what I would like to do after graduate school,” Rorah said.

“As of right now, I would love to open my own business, creating custom gowns, and continue making bridal collections. A part of me also wants to work in the industry for a few years to see what that is like, but my first love is designing and creating my gowns from start to finish.”