There is no mistaking the business happening in the fashion design academy at Wellington High School. As you enter the classroom, there is a flurry of activity with students measuring, trimming, stitching and, most importantly, collaborating to bring their designs to life.
The pieces are coming together from unusual places. A set of curtains is now a strapless a-line creation. A unique newspaper print fabric intended for upholstery is now a skirt. The students work together to suggest ideas and share techniques to make every design runway-ready.
“This program lets people be creative,” senior Sahar Barzroudipour said. “No previous skills are required. Everyone can come in here and learn. It’s so much more creative and out of the box from my other classes.”
Barzroudipour plans to pursue a business degree in college to manage luxury brands, and she is even in the process of starting her own brand.
The academy, which is in its 15th year at the school, has about 75 students from freshmen to seniors who learn how to do everything from sewing a button, making boxer shorts with pockets, to the grand avant-garde style dresses that will grace the runway at the academy’s annual fashion show in April.
Being part of the academy is more than just dressing the part. Many of the students have worked as interns on professional fashion shows behind the scenes, learning more about the business and working with the models backstage.
Academy teacher Ted Gliptis, who had a previous career as a costume designer, said that the skills learned in his class are more than which fabric to use and finding the right stitch. The students must also use math skills to get the proper measurements and translate that into their designs to get the runway-ready look. There is also an opportunity for some of the students in the program to obtain industry certification in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
Senior Gigi Charles has had an interest in fashion since she was in elementary school. She started to design and draw at a young age, and now she has grown into a leader in the class. She’s the first one in the classroom every morning before school, spends lunch periods in the class, and serves as a “Queen Mother” to the design students by offering help with the intricate details involved in the work. Charles has started her own accessory line and plans to pursue creative design in college. “It’s just what I love to do,” she said.
The Fashion Design Academy fashion show, a completely student-run show, will be April 4 in the school’s auditorium. Students will showcase up to five designs. The event is open to the public.