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NC State’s Oldest Fashion Show Provides Opportunities for Its Newest Designers

four models and designer pose

By Sarah Stone

Each year, the African American Textile Society’s Fashion Exposé allows up-and-coming designers from around the Triangle to showcase their work. 

The event is about more than just competition. It’s also about tradition and community. The show is NC State’s longest-running student design competition, and it takes place during the university’s Pan-Afrikan Week. 

This year marked Tia Rogers’ first opportunity to experience the competition in person. She joined AATS in spring of 2020, when the show was canceled. This is her second year serving on the Fashion Exposé committee, but in 2021, the show was held virtually. 

“The day of the show was actually kind of when I met everybody and had the role of getting everybody ready for the runway, making sure all the models and designers were good,” the textile design senior says.

Five designers from NC State and a team of two designers from North Carolina Central University competed in one of two categories for scholarships – novice and intermediate. A panel of judges evaluated the designers based on the following criteria: 

  • Digital portfolio: Mood board, color presentation and introduction video 
  • Quality and construction of looks
  • How well the looks fit into the theme of their collection

Gallery: 2022 AATS Fashion Exposé

Sophomore fashion design student Lilly Barozzini won this year’s novice category with her collection, “Mudpie.” She committed to making looks only from post-consumer fabrics, and took the creative process from what materials she was able to collect. 

“I got inspired by the colors and the textures that were there and then got inspired by this idea that in childhood, you go outside and just collect what’s in your environment and build this whole world based on what’s around you and kind of mush together this mudpie,” she says.

Barozzini translated this inspiration through an earthy, neutral color palette and combination of structured and fluid silhouettes. The Fashion Exposé marked the first time she created a full collection, and she says the process helped her grow as a designer. 

“It was my first time making garments to fit other people. I definitely pushed myself to try  new things,so working with lace and doing all French seams,” she says. “It was also the first time in a while that I had just been sewing for myself without the expectation of a grade, so I felt this freedom to just  experiment and go for it.”

North Carolina Central’s team of designers won the intermediate category with their vibrant collection. 

Placing first in the competition isn’t just a line on a resume. Each winner received a scholarship, $300 to the novice winner and $500 to the winners of the intermediate category, to advance their design education. 

More important for Barozzini, however, was the confidence boost the competition gave her. She says sending her collection down the runway made her feel like a “real” fashion designer. 

“It was like I’ve been waiting to be here, and I was finally there,” she says. “So it was just very exciting to be doing what I’ve always wanted to do.”