Fashion Show judges determine runway worthy designs

Mariah Wellman

One of the most anticipated events before The Fashion Show 2014 is judging day. Designers, models, directors and judges flood the halls of the Memorial Union for the two-day event a week before the models hit the runway.

On March 28 and 29, three alumnae from the apparel program and a professor from San Francisco State University were invited to judge the illustrations and garments submitted weeks in advance by Iowa State students.

Judges have chosen around 100 garments in previous years. The garments were reviewed by the judges and those with the highest scores will be shown on the runway.

Kelly Reddy-Best, assistant professor in the consumer & family studies/dietetics department at San Francisco State University, is the only judge invited that has never attended Iowa State.

“It’s really impressive,” Reddy-Best said about Iowa State’s apparel program. “I’m really impressed by all of the people I’ve interacted with and how really professional and how together this whole event is. It’s so organized and the talent that I’ve seen is really great.”

Reddy-Best has a PhD in apparel merchandising and design.

“I look a lot at the social environment and the human experience in my research,” Reddy-Best said. “What I really think is most compelling is when [the] designers incorporate diverse models.”

Reddy-Best said one will see a lot of designers sketching very thin white females. She said what speaks to her is when there is diversity in the sketches and designs.

Erin O’Connor graduated from Iowa State’s apparel program in 2010, and is now working at Marc by Marc Jacobs as a junior technical designer and sample tracking associate.

O’Connor said she is impressed by the changing categories presented in the show each year.

“I have noticed different categories for the show,” O’Connor said. “I don’t recall having a fiber arts or an eco-thing, so from what I’ve seen so far is diversity in the types of things that are done.”

O’Connor said she is mostly looking at construction and fit when judging garments.

“How do they sell it, is it good quality,” O’Connor said she asks herself. “Does it fit on the model?”

Tressa Elgin is a textile designer and an alumna of the ISU apparel, merchandising and design master’s degree program. She is currently doing freelance design and working toward building her own business.

“I’m a textile designer so I’ll, of course, be looking at prints and patterns,” Elgin said. “But also creativity and how that applies to a mass market.”

Elgin said she had not come back to Iowa State since she graduated and she was really excited for the opportunity to come back and judge.

“To see all of the talent that is happening now and not have the pressure of trying to get into the show is really exciting,” Elgin said.

Julie Linville is also an alumna of Iowa State and is currently working for Von Maur as a divisional merchandise manager. Linville said she is looking for originality and how a garment fits on a model.

“I am also looking at marketability and how that design is ultimately constructed and executed in the end and how that would transition to the market,” Linville said.

Linville said she was most excited about seeing the quality and the work that comes out.

“There are some very talented students and I’m excited to see all of that talent,” Linville said.

On March 28, the judges were asked to speak to students and faculty about their role in the industry.

Reddy-Best described her role in a different way than the other judges, with her experience being outside of apparel.  

“I’m not only an educator, but a researcher,” Reddy-Best said. “I don’t work in the industry but I’m hoping to form and mold young emerging innovative designers. I really want to push students to the limit and really make them think about what types of garments and for whom they’re designing. I want them to think about what they’re designing and what this means in the bigger social world.”

All garments chosen by the judges on judging day are kept secret to many, but can be seen at The Fashion Show 2014 at 7 p.m. April 5.