Idyllwild Arts Academy fashion design students are preparing the March 11 fashion show where they demonstrate what can be done with clothing from the Idyllwild HELP Center.
Photo courtesy Eduardo Santiago, IAA

Besides the better-known arts — music, theater and visual — taught at the Idyllwild Arts Academy, fashion design also is an important part of the curriculum. And similar to the performing arts, the student fashion designers are happy to share their creativity with the local community.

Next Saturday, March 11, the school, in cooperation with the Idyllwild HELP Center, will present a unique fashion show.

“In the Fashion Department, we have always wanted to do something collaborative with folks in town. The students and fashion instructors (Chinlee Chang and Minnie Christine Walters) are big fans of The HELP Center,” wrote Abbie Bosworth, chair of the InterArts Department. “So, when Eduardo [Santiago] brought us the idea of the Upcycle Fashion Show, everyone jumped at the opportunity.”

Students visited the HELP Center’s shop and chose three to five items of clothing. From this, their task was to create high fashion.

The students had three weeks and could only use scissors and sewing machines.

“Ever since our students went into the HELP Center after hours for the chance to pick as many items as they needed to construct their formal or glamorous look, they have been working furiously in the fashion studio to complete their pieces,” Bosworth wrote in an email. “A few students had some reservations about being their own model for their designs, as they usually work with students from other departments to model their garments, but now I think everyone is looking forward to this new experience.”

“The students were excited about the project,” said Chang. “It was a project they had never tried before. They were a little hesitant about working with and wearing fabric worn by other people. I thought it was a good project because it challenged them and we were able to show them that clothing was a precious item before cheap fashion started to take over. Also, it brought to attention the waste of resources in the fashion world. It made them aware of ecological issues related to fashion.

“Every one of the garments was unique. The goal was to give old clothes new life, look at and examine clothing the students had never examined before and understand their construction and styling, and create new trends in fashion with used clothing. The students were very curious to see what emerged from this project. The employees at the HELP center were very kind and generous to the students. The students really appreciated their help.”

“Through the Art in Society program, academy students volunteer at various places in town, such as the public library, Living Free, the HELP Center, Idyllwild’s Elementary school and more,” said Eduardo Santiago, Art in Society coordinator. “What’s unique about the Upcycle Fashion Show is that it allows our students to showcase their artistic talents while contributing to the community.”

The fashion show will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at Idyllwild Pines Camp.