CSULB Alumni Debuts Clothing Line at LA Fashion Week Art Hearts Fashion Show

WORDS BY: MORGAN MAITOZA
PHOTOS BY: LINDSAY PETERS

Production lights glimmered over elegant silk fabric and glossy red hair as CSULB alumni Melissa Feehan closed her show in a handcrafted garment from her clothing line Vis á Vis, which debuted at the LA Fashion Week Art Hearts Fashion Show Tuesday evening in Hollywood.

Looking far from a rookie at LA Fashion Week, Feehan’s eclectic designs had all eyes on them as the Hollywood Taglyan Complex filled with eccentric fashion lovers and eager photographers waiting for the perfect pose.

Feehan’s clothing line featured garments that she produced during her last semester at CSULB, which she showcased at the 2015 CSULB Campus Couture Fashion Show.

While trends come and go, one thing has not changed; CSULB’s Campus Couture Fashion Show continues to catapult the careers of fashion design students such as Feehan.

The designer with the “best collection” at Campus Couture 2015 would earn the chance to showcase their collection at LA Fashion Week, where they would have the opportunity to meet buyers, media and other designers.

Feehan’s determination and authentic, organic contemporary design turned that dream into reality.

With a total of 14 looks in her collection, Feehan expresses her passion for organic style and design, and she includes a variety of textiles that one might not normally put together: including interior design textiles, cow hide, and naturally hand dyed silk that she dyes herself.

“I get my inspiration from anything and everything, anything that I come face to face with in life,” said Feehan, as she explained her choice behind the name Vis á Vis.

When asked who her biggest influence was in creating Vis á Vis, Feehan stated that Hunger Games fictional character Katniss Everdeen was her main source of inspiration. Feehan even incorporated Lorde’s “Yellow Flicker Beat” Hunger Games soundtrack as her music for the show.

“Katniss is strong and bold,” said Feehan. “I love the Katniss meets LA vibe.”

Most young designers would be flooded with nerves before debuting their line at LA Fashion Week, but a calm and collected Feehan felt at ease with her garments taking center stage.

“I love the runway atmosphere, it is so euphoric and adrenaline pumping for me,” said Feehan. “I felt a bit of intimidation at first, but everyone was very nice and accommodating, plus nobody really knew the position I was in. I didn't advertise that I had won this opportunity to the other designers, I wanted to treat it as professionally as I could.”

Just days before the big show, Feehan visited the Los Angeles Fashion District with her father to pick out last minute fabrics and shoes for her models.

“Melissa glided through the aisles with such decisiveness,” said Melissa’s father, Terry Feehan. “I have never seen anything like it. She has such a vision for what she wants in this collection and is able to visualize and communicate that.”

Communicating her creativity in the classroom was also second nature to Feehan. She was never one to slump at her desk, never complacent or daydreaming about the weekend.

“Melissa always produced the best projects in class and always took them very seriously,” said Winie, a fifth year fashion design major and previous classmate to Feehan. “Her designs are very sustainable, yet fashionable. I would definitely wear her collection.”

Feehan asserts that her goal from the very beginning of her college career as a fashion design major was to get to LA Fashion Week.

“I took all my classes as seriously as I possibly could. I wanted to create a collection that I could love forever,” said Feehan. “ I appreciate my professors for helping me, as I like to use a lot of materials that are difficult to work with."

Using onion skins and black beans to hand dye her garments are one of the many ways Feehan breaks the fashion mold and carves her way into the organic fashion industry.

“Onion skins create an orange color, and black beans create a blue, grey color,” said Feehan. “In my textiles class, my professor briefly explained natural dying, and I just had to research more about it.”

In addition to Vis á Vis, Feehan also has a sister-line, Picking Onions, where she hopes to incorporate more silk pieces and focus on the craft of hand dying garments.

Being that most of the collection is made with 100 percent silk fabric, the price points for her garments will range from $100-200, and will continue to be made in America and hand-dyed by Feehan herself.

“I am going to start looking into getting everything produced,” said Feehan. “I would love to distribute to local boutiques and online vendors.”

Vis á Vis launched its online website Tuesday, Oct. 6, and clothing will be available for purchase mid-October.

This is only the beginning for Feehan and Vis á Vis. The organic fashion market is about to be taken by storm, and Feehan is a designer powerhouse whose thunder is sure to shake things up a bit.