A passion for fashion
Updated: May 16, 2012 3:53PM
College towns surrounded by cornfields aren’t typically fashion destinations. Libertyville’s Jennifer Ruppert, a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, set out to change that last year when she and a handful of students launched a campuswide movement under the umbrella of College Fashion Week. — By Natasha Wasinski
Since most students cannot jet to fashion week events in big cities, the organizers brought a little of the industry and some of the professionals to central Illinois this year for the second weeklong celebration, held April 9-15.
In addition to trunk shows and networking sessions, representatives of Ford Models held several open castings for their agency in Champaign. A style contest inspired the best-dressed fashionistas and fashionistos on campus to upload their pics to Facebook and Twitter. Winners were treated to a limo ride to a red-carpet party at the Red Lion in Champaign.
The capstone event — a Saturday evening live runway show — displayed the work of student designers, including Rolling Meadows native Gordana Rasic, founder of Chicago-based label GOCA.
With nearly 32,000 undergraduates on campus, there were many opportunities for student involvement and cross-collaborations. College Fashion Week 2012’s planning committee and membership quadrupled in size from its inaugural year. Twenty students from the Illini Public Relations Association assisted with public relations, social media and marketing. Greek-life ambassadors promoted the events to every UIUC sorority.
“With more helping hands came more events and opportunities,” Ruppert said.
Junior advertising major with a minor in business.
Resume: sales and marketing intern at WGN this summer.
Personal style: edgy tomboy mixed with indie.
Favorite hometown shops: Re•De•Find in Barrington, Vanessa’s Bridal Shop in Arlington Heights.
Muse: Mom. When it comes to fashion, we’re total opposites. She loves matching; I cringe at the thought. But she pushes me to try new styles as well as wear what I want. Not to mention I’ve been digging through clothes she wore in her 20s and have yet to be disappointed!
“Project Runway” or “America’s Top Model”? “Project Runway.”: I’m not a designer but anyone who can do what they do is an idol of mine.
Fashion icon: Kate Moss for that perfect, unintended messy look. Every time I look at her I can’t help but think “Rock ’n roll, Kate!”
Trend that needs to end: Everyone is going to hate me for this but it’s TOMs shoes. I’m a sneaker fan; I like laces.
Currently obsessed with: everything jean. I’m now studding a thrifted jean vest for the summer.
What makes College Fashion Week fab: Each of us involved has a different story but we’re united by our passion for fashion. We had the chance to make our mark on campus.
Hannah Gettleman, Deerfield
Senior journalism major.
Resume: former editorial intern at Make It Better Magazine.
Personal style: classic, comfortable, girly and trendy.
Favorite hometown shops: Runway in Deerfield; E-Street Denim, Shoe Fly and Lori’s Shoes in Highland Park.
“Project Runway” or “America’s Top Model”? “Project Runway.”: I’d rather be judged on my designs than my looks. Plus, I love Heidi Klum.
Trends that need to end: ombre-colored hair, tie-dye, cowboy hats.
Currently obsessed with: jeggings, colored denim, plaid shirts.
Growing I wanted to be: a teacher.
Now my dream job is: working for a major entertainment publication or as a red carpet correspondent during awards season.
What makes College Fashion Week fab: Most of us are not majoring in a fashion-related field yet we all come together to create awareness of the fashion industry on campus. Even though Champaign is no fashion capital, the dedication students have to making this week a success is indescribable. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for making connections and getting involved in the industry prior to pursuing careers in fashion.
My post-grad plans include: I’m not quite sure but my hope for the next five years is to be working at a major publication in the magazine industry, preferably fashion or entertainment-related.
Sophomore double majoring in finance and marketing.
Resume: stylist at AKIRA.
Forte: styling and fashion marketing.
I draw inspiration from: fashion blogs such as the Man Repeller (manrepeller.com) and Sea of Shoes (seaofshoes.com).
“Project Runway” or “America’s Top Model”? “Project Runway.” It’s so interesting to see the creation of a runway collection.
Favorite fashion icons: Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen for their trendy yet timeless style.
Trend that needs to end: Uggs!
Currently obsessed with: tie-dye, neon and animal prints.
Growing up I wanted to be: a singer/actress.
Now my dream job is: being a buyer/merchandiser for a retailer.
Favorite aspect of College Fashion Week: Trunk Show Day was definitely my favorite. It was great to see jewelry and clothing lines, student designers and thrift stores come together in one place — best of all, it was on my campus!
Aryn Terry, Evanston
Senior advertising major.
Resume: former special events intern at BET Networks.
Forte: designing, specifically for plus-sized young women like myself. Designers need to recognize the need for more fashionable clothing for curvier bodies since there are currently a limited number of options out there for us.
Personal style: sophisticated, bold and feminine.
“Project Runway” or “America’s Top Model”?: Definitely “Top Model”! One of my goals is to become a professional plus-sized model. In 2010 I was one of six winners from a pool of 4,000 applicants in a Torrid model search, and a finalist in a Forever 21 search for its extended-sizes line.
Muses: Rachel Roy for her femininity, and Angela Simmons and June Ambrose for being eclectic in their styles.
Growing up I wanted to be: a marine biologist.
Now my dream job is: to work in entertainment marketing.
Currently obsessed with: bold lipstick colors, chunky necklaces, fringe.
My post-grad plans include: working within the marketing field, ideally in fashion or entertainment.
Senior majoring in communication.
Resume: former intern at MAVEN Chicago.
Personal style: whimsical, bohemian, eccentric, dainty and vintage.
Favorite hometown shops: Serendipity in Libertyville, E-Street Denim in Highland Park.
I draw inspiration from: fashion blogs from all over the world, like Australia’s Mandy Shadforth of Oracle Fox (oraclefox.blogspot.com).
“Project Runway” or “America’s Top Model”?: Neither. I am not a fan of mainstream television. I prefer focusing my energy and time reading blogs, fashion news and connecting with others in the industry, instead of watching a show while daydreaming I was in their position.
Trend that needs to end: The romper! It reminds me of infant pajamas.
Currently obsessed with: bold colored lipstick, maxi skirts.
Growing up I wanted to be: a teacher.
Now my dream job is: managing my own event planning company.
Favorite aspect of College Fashion Week: Our behind-the-scenes footage. Each show is unique and takes much planning. It is awesome to see makeup artists, designers, stylists, models, photographers, technicians and more scrambling before show time to make runway magic happen!
My post-grad plans include: working on the development and expansion of College Fashion Week. I have loved every minute of the planning and execution these past two years, and hope I can continue to make it my own business in the near future.