Three fashion majors’ designs accepted at ITAA Design Exhibition; Two win scholarships

October 27, 2021

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Maxine Poage, Rose Soma, and Carly McKay, Fashion Design & Merchandising majors in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, had designs accepted in the fall 2021 International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) Annual Meeting Design Exhibition. Poage and Soma received scholarships for their work. Western Michigan University has never before had so many student submissions accepted into this competitive and highly respected conference. Each design was peer reviewed and competed with over 200 designs from around the country. 

“I am so proud of each of these students! The quality of their work, the thought, time, and commitment each student put into their designs reflect the commitment these students have made to their success,” said Dr. Mary Simpson, Assistant Professor of Fashion Merchandising and Design in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. 

Maxine Poage

Vintage Ambition

Maxine Poage received a Blanche Payne Scholarship in the amount of $1,000, for her piece, “Vintage Ambition.” The award is given for creative design and is the highest award in the undergraduate category. Her piece was designed during an advanced design course where students were challenged to create a 30 plus mass-market bridge design based on their design research and incorporate an original textile print to use in their final garment. Poage chose the vintage fashion trends of the 1960s as inspiration for her design, coupling a vintage silhouette with a modern color palette to bridge then with now. The gingham plaid fabric required her to be extremely careful when cutting, matching and sewing the garment.

“Being accepted into the exhibition was incredibly exciting because I was able to work the printed fabric that I designed into the illustration and construction of the garment. This was the first time I created a fabric pattern, and I was able to cut the fabric so that it was color-blocked across the whole dress. When I was selected for the scholarship, it was an even bigger surprise. It was a tremendous affirmation for me personally, of my design skills, and of the work hours put into the creation of my final garment,” shared Poage.

“Undoubtedly, I owe my success to the support of my instructor, Dr. Mary Simpson. She encouraged me to look in unexpected places for inspiration for my designs, and she guided me in transforming my illustrations from paper to reality. In her classes, I have learned techniques through flat pattern design that gave me the freedom to construct a garment of my own creation.”

Poage is a Junior and expects to graduate in spring 2023. Her dream is to work in the fashion industry in Japan. 

Rose Soma

Chartreuse Chaos & Composure Coat

Rose Soma received the undergraduate ATEXINC Award for Excellence in Marketable Textile Design in the amount of $500 for her piece, “Chartreuse Chaos & Composure Coat.” Her piece was designed during an apparel line development course where students used their design research to create a bridge design for the Missy, mass-market, 30 years or older and had to incorporate fabric manipulation techniques into their wearable art item. Soma drew her inspiration from geometric shapes and colors found in nature including plants, rocks, and crystals. A quilting technique was used on the coat back and the pockets to attach the chartreuse knit fabric to heavier forest green wool blend. The process was time-consuming and innovative, creating a one-of-a-kind textile with true “wow” factor. 

Being accepted into this exhibition is incredibly exciting for me, especially at this time in my life. I worked incredibly hard to create this garment and the recognition is rewarding and motivating,” said Soma.

“The hands-on instruction was definitely my favorite part of the program at Western. Our fashion professors expect high-quality garment construction and work with us one-on-one to achieve this.”  

Soma graduated spring 2021 and is considering going to graduate school. 

Carly KcKay

Transformative Skirt and Color-Blocked Blouse

Carly McKay had two pieces selected for the design exhibition, “Utilitarian Backpack Coat” and “Transformative Skirt and Color-Blocked Blouse.” Both designs were generated from an apparel line development course and come from the same line. The garments in the line represent the armor a modern metropolitan woman needs to put on to perform throughout her day. Each piece transforms, the coat into a functional backpack, and the skirt from one color and texture to another when the wrap direction is changed. 

“I am so honored to have my pieces accepted into this exhibition. It is so rewarding to have my hard work recognized by such an extinguished board of professionals. I look forward to the opportunity to connect and learn from inspiring individuals at this conference,” said McKay.

“I believe that the foundations of fashion design, specifically pattern drafting and fabric manipulations, and that Western taught, helped prepare me to make the garments displayed in this exhibition. The broad knowledge of sewing techniques and skills that the program taught me opened the door to bring my creative vision to life. It was exciting to take a basic skill and translate it into my own design.”  

McKay graduate in Spring 2021 and has been doing design and production management for a the clothing factory with a sustainable approach, Soft Goods, in Detroit, Michigan.

Utilitarian Backpack Coat