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Threads Fashion Gala 2023 Showcases Student Talent in an Immersive Setting

Model poses in black and blue outfit from Sophia Brown's collection, Sophisticated.
Sophisticated, Sophia Brown
Photo Courtesy: Amanda Law Photography

Walking through the doors of the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Dec. 2 felt like stepping into a dynamic living art installation. Over 540 attendees, dressed for the formal event, casually strolled among groups of models showcasing a diverse range of styles, spanning from luxurious 80s designs to glamorous wedding dresses. 

The Threads Fashion Gala 2023 was a celebration of months of hard work, dedication and creative vision from the talented students in the fashion and textile management (FTM) program. 

Every fall, students in the fashion development and product management (FDPM) concentration take what they have learned throughout their coursework to design and build a complete industry-quality collection through an elective course, Threads.  

Jada Williams holding flowers while her models walk the runway.
Stop! In the Name of Disco, Jada Williams
Photo Courtesy: Amanda Law Photography

“I think the whole gamut of everything that they’ve learned is reinforced and heightened through the class,” says Assistant Teaching Professor Emily Law, the instructor for Threads.

This year’s event departed from the conventional runway format and instead embraced a hybrid art gallery fashion show. This unique approach allowed guests to engage with the garments up close, extending the spotlight on each student’s collection and creating an immersive experience. Additionally, Threads partnered with Coach, giving students the opportunity to accessorize their looks with Coach products. 

“It was a really emotional night. I’m so glad that everybody I love came out to see it, and I’m so grateful that we could have it in a format like this,” says senior Melis Hafizoglu.

Exploring cultural inspiration

This year’s 13 designers found their inspiration from a wide variety of themes, with collections ranging from wedding dresses to children’s wear to 70s and 80s-inspired collections. 

Senior Melis Hafizoglu drew inspiration from her Turkish heritage for her collection, Misket. Her designs were inspired by influential Ottoman female figures, with a focus on Turkish textile exploration.

“I’m from Turkey. My mom and dad immigrated here the year before I was born. So, I have a really huge appreciation for where I’m from.”

After years of visiting her grandmother in Turkey and observing what she wore, Hafizoglu started to draw inspiration from different Ottoman eras.

“Turkey has a really rich textile history, and I wanted the fabric to tell the story.”

Models posing in Melis Hafizoglu's collection, Misket.
Misket, Melis Hafizoglu
Photo Courtesy: Amanda Law Photography
Models posing in Melis Hafizoglu's collection, Misket.
Misket, Melis Hafizoglu
Photo Courtesy: Amanda Law Photography
Close up on a model in a floral top from Melis Hafizoglu's collection, Misket.
Misket, Melis Hafizoglu
Photo Courtesy: Amanda Law Photography
Close up of purple floral bra top with mini coach purse belt from Melis Hafizoglu's collection, Misket.
Misket, Melis Hafizoglu
Photo Courtesy: Amanda Law Photography

To source the fabrics for her collection, Hafizoglu visited Turkey over the summer and selected materials for her collection, including different linens and vintage textiles. 

“That’s how it started to come together. The fabric was my main source of inspiration.”

The collection features layered silhouettes and mixed textures inspired by traditional Ottoman styles but with a modern spin to make them wearable yet unique to the average consumer.

For inspiration, Hafizoglu visited Turkish palaces, museums and historical sites, including Topkapi Palace, which has a section on female Ottoman fashions.

“I wanted to create Misket as a commitment to merging my two cultures creatively while learning more about Turkish history.”

Embracing challenges as opportunities for growth

In navigating the intricate process of creating industry-quality collections, students not only honed their technical skills but also acquired invaluable project management experience. 

Law elaborates by saying, “There’s a huge learning curve when it comes to time management. The first critique is always kind of a mess for everybody because they’re not used to the pace of senior studio. As soon as we start, it’s like a sprint.”

“Patience is something I have had to learn. Design like this takes time. Dr. Law has been so helpful with expanding on patterns and other concepts that I have done in courses before, but are very different in terms of developing a collection, ” Hafizoglu says.

Melis Hafizoglu and Assistant Teaching Professor Emily Law working on a pattern in the fashion studio.
Melis Hafizoglu works in the fashion studio with Assistant Teaching Professor Emily Law.

Many students use Threads as a portfolio piece to go into careers in design or hands-on product development roles. 

“I chose this major specifically to do this course. This was something I wanted to do to enhance my portfolio and have more design opportunities,” Hafizoglu says.

Emerson Huffman wants to pursue a career working in children’s wear after her summer internship at Carter’s.

“I really wanted to incorporate a way that I could do children’s wear and women’s wear to show that I can create a collection where I can design for two different demographics,” Huffman says.

Jada Williams, who wants to pursue a career in costume design, created her collection with bright colors, sequins and feathers. She was inspired by disco and the role it played in the fashion world in the mid-late ‘70s.

13 Threads student designers and instructor Assistant Teaching Professor Emily Law pose for photo.
2023 Threads designers and Assistant Teaching Professor Emily Law.
Photo Courtesy: Amanda Law Photography

Hafizoglu elaborates on her overall journey in the Threads course, emphasizing the valuable lessons she learned throughout the experience.

“Believe in yourself. I started this course insecure about myself as a designer. But I stuck through it. I’m really proud of myself and how everything’s turned out.”