Designer Corner / Events / Fashion Shows

Milwaukee Fashion Week 2015 – Sarah Lauren Fashion Designs


Sarah Lauren Fashion Designs


I am still currently a student at the University of Wisconsin Madison but I am spending my senior year at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.  I really started to develop my label last year.  As a designer I draw inspiration from the subtle things I see around me. On a walk outside I notice the geometric lines making up an edging of a building. The hard edges and symmetrical lines inspire silhouettes of a dress. Tree branches and soft flower petals inspire soft details of the garment. I love this juxtaposition between geometric and organic; I believe that together they can create something truly beautiful. I design with neutral colors so that I can play with different textures of fabric, hard lines and soft shapes in one garment. My clothing is as ever changing, striking, soft and unique as the person who chooses to wear it.

I participated in Milwaukee Fashion Week because I thought that it would be a great opportunity to get my designs and name out in my local community.  Being a student I want to try everything I can to prepare myself for the fashion industry and start my career.  Right now I am the only one representing my collection.  I do all of the work from the designing to the construction and execution.  I do not have a physical store or website where people can purchase my designs, however I do take limited custom jobs with clients by word of mouth or if someone contacts me on Facebook.

I expanded a capsule collection I made in an independent study at the University of Wisconsin Madison.  I played with textures and fabric manipulations in these pieces.  It made sense to me to keep going with it and create a larger collection for the show to showcase a collection that represents me as a designer.  This collection was inspired by the movie Rear Window directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  The thought of exposure and privacy provided by windows and curtains really intrigued me.  Windows can be so exposing and make one feel vulnerable to the outside world.  One can find out so much about a person by looking into a window and seeing the inside of a home or seeing someone just live in their home.  Then by drawing a curtain you are provided with privacy and are able to close out the outside world.  This collection is based around this idea of exposure and privacy.  I created some lingerie looking pieces with sheer overlays and different textile manipulations to represent windowpanes and curtains.  


The thing that I struggled most with this collection was finding the time to complete a ten-piece collection while still attending school and having schoolwork.  Although I had this overall inspiration and had created 8 looks dedicated to this collection.  I tried to tie in other pieces that I had created in the past.  For example my Zip Tie Pieces are from a completely different collection but I felt that they fit in well with my looks.  I tend to design with neutrals and classic silhouettes, which makes my pieces cohesive.  I would love to create another large collection like this.  I am currently working on a five-piece collection inspired by the sand stones of Death Valley, California.  

The only pieces that were not created for this specific collection but I added in are from my Mindscape collection.  Mindscape – a scene or place uniquely designed by one’s imagination.  This dress was conceptualized while imagining a place where nothing is quite as it seems.  Mountains made of giant crystal, waterfalls that fall backwards, and tiger fur looking so soft, yet when coming upon it you realize it is rough as dry prickly grass.  I took this idea of creating something looking soft and fur like yet really being rough and heavy and decided to create a surface entirely made of zip ties.  This surface then turned into a dress in which one can wear and give the effect of wearing or having fur.  

This was my second show experience where I had to cast my own models and it was a problem for me in the past.  One model didn’t show and I was left with 9 looks for the runway.  At Milwaukee Fashion Week I was more prepared and was keeping in close contact with all of my models and anyone else that I had asked to be there for the show.  This way I was sure that everyone would show up and it would be a successful show.


These pieces have been show in my University’s Annual Fashion Show as well as MODA Fashion Week and Splendor Raw Artist Event in Milwaukee.  The Splendor Raw Artist Event in Milwaukee was my first fashion event that didn’t have any ties to my school.  There weren’t any students and it was all local artist and designers in Milwaukee.  It was really cool to see that people were succeeding and living out their passions as I am.  It felt like a community and it was such a great experience.  I met so many people and made connections during the event.  It impacted my brand just by being able to get my name out there and giving me the knowledge and experience of casting models, hair and makeup and photographers.  It made me realize that this is definitely something that makes me happy and something I see myself doing for a long time.  


I have been apart of MODA Fashion Week, Threads PULSE Fashion Event, Threads REMIX Fashion Event, International Textile and Apparel Association Live Gallery Show, Raw Artist Splendor Event, and Milwaukee Fashion Week.  As much of a great experience my school fashion shows were, I think that my favorite shows were the Splendor Raw Artist Event and Milwaukee Fashion Week.  It was a really great experience for me to see what is happening in the industry outside of school.  I was able to meet other designers that are more established than me that have dedicated their career to their collections and developing clothes.  It was also a great exposure for me as an up and coming designer.  

My pieces have appeared in MODA Magazine, which is a student run magazine on the University of Wisconsin Madison’s campus.  They also have been in local newspapers (Isthmus and the Daily Journal)


I created a portfolio during my time at the University of Wisconsin Madison and have been keeping up with photographing my new garments and collections by setting up time for photo photo-shoots through the Milwaukee and Wisconsin Area Models, Makeup Artists and Photographers Facebook page.  Here I have developed relationships with models and photographers that I use frequently.  It is a great resource and a lot have great things have come out of it for me.  My favorite experience was when I took my three-piece capsule collection out to Pope Farm Conservancy during the peak of sunflower season.  I had a great photographer and two models that I have great relationships with.  I felt that the photos truly represented my pieces well and me as a designer.  It is truly exciting to get a great photograph of something you put so much work into.  


The International Textile and Apparel Association selected my designs to be shown at a live fashion gallery on the East Coast.  I designed a jacket that won second place in the Land’s End Outerwear Design Challenge and received a scholarship.  Denali had a Design a Throw Competition and my textile design was selected as the third place finalist.  I also have a t-shirt that I designed the graphics for sale on Printed Onion.  It was a college themed competition to create a graphic that represents our campus and mine was selected to be sold.  They now have it in tank tops, long sleeves and sweatshirts.


I am not sure where I will be in 2016.  Right now I am in New York attending school where I hope to start my career, or possibly somewhere on the west coast like LA.  I am on the wait list for a Raw Artist Show here in Manhattan, which I am designing a new collection for.  I hope to gain exposure in New York and kick-start my career.  I would love to have a business where I create bespoke clothing and take in clients to create custom pieces.  I am planning on attending the Raw Artist Manhattan show and showcasing a new 10-piece collection.  I also am applying to a few other fashion events such as Fusion, which is a fashion competition between the two top design schools (FIT and Parsons) and the YMA competition. (Coming Soon)

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