Campus Couture

BY: NAYELI CARRILLO AND JULIE CHUNG

If you have not yet attended the annual Campus Couture fashion show, this year is your chance to witness firsthand the talent at the Cal State Long Beach fashion department. The CSULB Campus Couture fashion show is the largest student-run event on campus showcasing the end-of-year collections of junior and senior design majors. The event is an opportunity for the designers to share their garments with family, friends and the campus community.

The fashion show is the culminating event of a fashion class, which requires all garments to meet specific standards before hitting the catwalk. The show is guaranteed to have topnotch student-made pieces with the best student models showing off the collections.

We sat down with three student designers, with completely different design styles, to give you a glimpse of what to expect from the show.

AMBER HICKMAN

With her perfectly fitted blazer, tailored shirt and jeans, a bold necklace, and beautifully curled hair, there were only three word to describe Amber Hickman.

Cool, calm and collected.

Originally from Corona, senior clothing major and marketing minor Hickman discovered her passion for drawing at 5 years old. She realized at an early age that she loved drawing clothes and immediately began learning how to sew her freshman year of high school.

After learning how to sew under Ms. Maggi, eherfashion teacher who she stated was her inspiration to pursue design, Hickman made her first pair of snowflake-printed pajama pants that convinced her, "I'm going to be a designer!"

Although Hickman refused to be labeled as a professional, she has been a featured designer in Rags II Rhythms fashion show for four years in a row, she is a design assistant for junior design company Self Esteem, and she has also won second place out of 75 contestants in Orange County Fashion Week.

Hickman attributes her accomplishments to “never standing still, and always trying to find out where [she] fits in, in design.” Her mission as a designer is to create wearable clothes that women can feel unique in.

“I feel like a woman should be able to choose if she wants to be feminine or edgy,” Hickman said.

She added that her ready-to-wear garments provide women with those options.

Although Hickman enjoys wearing simple basics for her personal style, her designs always remain sophisticated. For Campus Couture, she has decided to take a more romantic and freespiritedapproach.

Hickman’s eight-piece, resort-wear inspired line can be described as “resort-retreat meets shipwreck-chic.” Many of her garments sport a flowing, fun and feminine style with bright pops of color that she created herself.

When it comes to design, Hickman discovered her specialty is color.

“I hope that the people in the audience can see [during the show], but there’s a lot of hand-dyed textiles that I think worked out really well in my pieces.”

In designing women’s ready-to-wear, Hickman strives to cater to women’s needs while making the garments marketable.

“It’s hard though as a student in my department because you see so manyshowstoppers with volume here and sequins there, and you have to wonder ‘dang, am I doing enough?’” Hickman said. “But I mean this is who I am and people can relate to me, so I love that.”

Behind all the glitz and glam, Hickman describes how people don’t realize that fashion design is one of the most labor-intensive fields. She jokes about how jealous she is of non-fashion design students, describing them as always looking “happy, shiny and clean.”

Hickman explains how design is a “labor of love,” because you cannot survive those sleepless nights without being passionate about it.

As she lists the endless difficulties of being a designer, from backstage pressures to the constant designing and sewing process, Hickman smiles as she says, “I still love designing though and it’s so worth it.”

WALTER MENDEZ

At only 23, Walter Mendez’s sharp eye for elegant and luxurious high end women’s wear and most recent menswear collections has caught the attention of high end fashionistas including television personalities such as actor Jesse McCartney, television host Jeannie Mae and America’s Next Top Model Raina Hein.

Sitting across from him you would never guess that apart from finishing his CSULB career this semester and designing his own line, he still manages to find time to work on his website and social media. He confidently asserts, “This is what I want to do so badly that it gives me the energy.”

Along with creating his own line, Walter is currently working on his senior project, which is to showcase eight of his garments in the show. The show provides student fashion coordinators the opportunity to interact with sponsors while designers get exposure with judges from the industry such as LA Fashion Week’s founder, Mikey Kouffman.

In fact, if chosen for the best collection in the show, Walter would be allowed to show his collection at LA Fall Fashion Week as part of the Emerging Designers Show.

With four years of experience, his skills in design have helped him stand out in the LA area, winning him honors such as “The Next Big Designer Award” by the World Networks Committee, an exclusive networking alliance created by Louisine Karibian. What makes Walter truly stand out is the clarity of his goals.

He knew in freshman year of college that he wanted to be a designer, and staying positive helped him come a long way since. When designing for his women’s line, Walter aims for women wearing his pieces to feel elegant and chic. The structure and soft silhouettes allow women to be confident knowing they have the proper support, and yet feel feminine and sophisticated.

Being raised in the small community of Manhattan Beach, the ocean has always been a huge influence in the flowing silhouettes and natural tones of the Walter Collection.

Growing up here where his personal style aesthetic isn’t prominent, he strives for his pieces to reflect his desire to make New York high fashion accessible in the west coast. He laughs as he confesses, “I feel like I am a New York kid trapped in L.A.”

From the onset of his CSULB career, fashion merchandising professor and Campus Couture advisor Dr. Suzanne Marshall was instantly drawn to Walter’s friendly attitude. She emphasizes how “he doesn’t settle for just good enough but always goes the extra mile.”

Recently, he was chosen along with fellow designer Linh Nguyen to create an outfit for Style Network TV host Jeannie Mai to wear on her Emmy nominated show “How do I look?” As far as his menswear line is concerned, AFI lead singer Davey Havok and Disney actors David Henrie and Adam Irigoyen have all been spotted rocking Walter’s sophisticated yet comfortable suit jackets in magazine editorials and the red carpet, confirming that Walter is not just talented but adaptable.

LINH NGUYEN

It’s hard to keep a straight face while talking with Linh Nguyen, especially when her hilarious personality is hard to ignore.

She immediately starts the interview by talking about her 2-year-old pit bull that she loves as if he were her own child, and her love for basketball despite how much “[she sucks] at it.”

A simple glance at Nguyen’s senior collection for the fashion show is enough to know that her talent as a designer is undeniable. Nguyen is a senior clothing textiles major and merchandising minor who currently works as a raw materials assistant at Volcom, has a background in photography, and has won the “How Do I Look” contest along with Mendez.

And although it is so apparent how experienced Nguyen is, no one would ever guess it with her humble attitude.

Nguyen’s mother taught her how to use the sewing machine when she was only 7 years old, so that she could make her own Barbie doll’s clothes. As Nguyen learned how to make her first dress in the fourth grade, she began making her own Halloween costumes and has ever since.

Through the process of discovering her passion for fashion design, Nguyen realized that she loved designing because “there is so much more to fashion than what is on the surface and what people think.”

Although Nguyen described her personal style as being lazy, her collection for the show is anything but.

“I’ve made a lot more un-wearable [garments for the show],” said Nguyen. “I love historical fashion and so I tried to tie in certain elements from that into my recent designs.”

Inspired by the Elizabethan era, many of Nguyen’s garments have exaggerated silhouettes with structural designs that emulate Queen Elizabeth’s extravagant garments. Nguyen made sure to take this opportunity to use different design techniques and her creative ideas.

“I feel like this [show] is my last chance to do whatever I want, and so I’ve tried to incorporate things that I wouldn’t really get to do once I graduate,” said Nguyen.

What may set Nguyen apart from other student designers is her meticulousness. While many designers might despise the pattern-making and sewing process, Nguyen lights up as she talks about creating her garments from sketch to finish.

“The thing that matters to me the most as a designer are the little details,” said Nguyen. “I always want the inside of my garments to look as nice as the outside, even if people don’t always notice it.”

Although many aspiring designers strive to have their own label, Nguyen clarifies that is not the lifestyle she wants to lead. “I think it would be too much of a burden on myself, so I would love to work for someone that already caters to my aesthetics,” said Nguyen.

As Nguyen reminisces her freshmen year, she advises, “Beginning designers should put themselves out there more because I really regret not doing that when I first started [design]. You have to start marketing yourself…and it never hurts to try.”

Nguyen’s designs for the show definitely cannot be found anywhere else because they are the epitome of “one-of-a-kind.”

Make sure you catch her, Mendez and Hickman on the runway on Friday, March 10, 2013 at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at 7pm.

For tickets and information visit or call the Family Consumer Sciences Department at 562-985-4484.