By MIKE CHAIKEN
NEW YORK– All eyes in the world of fashion were focused on New York City from Sept. 6 to Sept. 13 as the Spring 2013 collections were strutted out before buyers and the fashion press.
Icons of fashion such as Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Tommy Hilfiger, and Zac Posen set up stakes under the tents of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center.
And on Friday, Sept. 7, Bristol Central High School graduate— now a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology— Amanda Carlson found her designs walking the runway as part of the Elle | Fashion Next show at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center.
The show wasn’t just another show in the city at the same time of fashion week. It was part of fashion week.
“The show itself doesn’t seem real,” said Amanda after the fact. “There have been so many months of prep work that it’s almost hard to imagine being there at Fashion Week.”
The Fashion | Next contest, Elle’s annual competition for young design talent, partnered for the first time with Amanda’s school FIT. “The designer’s task was to sketch a capsule collection of two or three looks inspired by the very city they call home,” said a story on Elle.com
The Elle website explained, “Editors whittled down applications to 22 finalists, who (debuted) their creations… during New York Fashion Week on the runway at Lincoln Center. There, a panel of designers, celebrities, and Elle editors awarded top honors: Elle’s Fashion| Next Design Award ($25,000) and one Maybelline New York Design Awards ($25,000).
Unfortunately, Amanda did not win.
(A third prize, the People’s Choice Award, worth $10,000, was to be chosen by users on ELLE.com.)
Amanda, 23, is studying sportswear design at FIT. She explained she found out about the Elle event through one of her professors. Amanda said she had just participated in another contest with this same professor. For Elle, Amanda explained, “He gave me a day and a half to
hand in an illustrated collection and application.”
Amanda did so and then kind of forgot about her application.
“I actually hadn’t event realized they announced the finalists until my friend, who also presented in the show texted me, ‘Congratulations.’ It was a great surprise.”
(Not only did she get a chance to show her clothes at Fashion Week, the October issue of Elle featured a photograph of a model wearing one her designs.)
For Fashion | Next, Amanda said, “I presented two looks in the show, which were hand-picked by Ann Alowery from Elle.”
The choice of looks for the runway wasn’t necessarily unanimous for Amanda. “I actually had to fight a little to be able to show the blazer as well, but it ended up being such a great addition. Elle even Instagrammed the look.”
Amanda had participated in other fashion design contests before. But the difference with this one was “the contestants had no involvement with styling and the models.”
In fact, Elle officials said that Amanda didn’t even know how her clothing would be styled until the model—of Elle’s chosing—walked out onto the runway. Amanda sat in the front row of the show, just as surprised as the other guests.
Looking back on the event, Amanda said, “It’s just amazing and overwhelming to know (I was) showing with the big guys before I’ve even graduated college. It’s a huge opportunity and hard to believe its real.”
As for her vision of fashion design, Amanda explained, “My aesthetic has always been about a modern woman that includes one with real shapes and curves.”
“I want my garments to be functional and desirable making a woman feel sexy and strong that also means being aware of what women would feel confident wearing and what should be more concealed. Always feminine but with a tailored touch,” said Amanda.
“Despite the lack of sleep,” said Amanda, “it was unbelievably worth it”
As for what’s next, Amanda said, “There are so many plans for after the show.”
“I’ve spent my summer shooting my look book, collaborating with emerging photographers and media groups in preparation for the show.”
“The website is going to launch soon (amandaraecalson.com) and hopefully more exposure with the results of the show,” said Amanda. “Elle was able to put my name with the industry leaders and fashion week. Now it’s my job to ensure it stays there.”
By MIKE CHAIKEN