Taking Cotton to the Catwalk
As a finalist in this year’s Supima Design Competition, Bryn Lourié 18 AP is busy completing five new looks for NYFW in September. photo by Jo Sittenfeld MFA 08 PH
New Apparel Design graduate Bryn Lourié 18 AP is riding a wave of creative energy this summer. As a finalist in the 2018 Supima Design Competition, she barely had time to catch her breath between finishing her final designs for the Collection 18 runway show in May and diving in on a capsule collection of women’s evening wear accentuating the versatility of Supima’s high-quality cotton fabrics.
“I always begin with materials research,” says Lourié, “and with this project, I approached the five sample fabrics they sent (shirting, knit, velveteen, twill and denim) almost like a science experiment—ripping them apart to figure out how each one wants to behave. Does it stretch in a nice way to complement a woman’s body? Does it drape well? Or hold onto dye really well?”
After presenting her findings—along with rough sketches and sample prints—to Supima representatives, Lourié was selected to represent RISD at the New York Fashion Week (NYFW) competition on September 6, which also includes six finalists from other design schools. “Bryn really thought about how to utilize the fabric creatively and sustainably,” says Apparel Design faculty member Meg DeCubellis 83 AP, who has mentored each RISD contender since the competition began in 2008. “Three of her garments are zero waste, which is really cool.”
Whether or not she wins, Lourié is already enjoying the benefits the experience provides, including regular meetings with Supima mentor and award-winning designer Bibhu Mohapatra. She’ll travel to NYC with DeCubellis for NYFW and show her collection at the Supima runway show at Pier 59. The winning designer will earn $10,000 and the opportunity to show again in France, when selections from each finalist’s capsule will be showcased during Paris Fashion Week in late September.
“They’re also setting up like 15 interviews for each of us as well as networking events with industry executives, fashion photographers, bloggers and fashion press,” Lourié notes. “I’m so grateful for the support.”
Lourié creates comfortable womenswear that follows the curves of the body and loves to work unexpected back and side details into her garments. “But the goal of the design is to highlight the woman wearing the dress,” she adds. “The back detail might catch your eye at a party, but the front is more simple. When she turns around, you’re focused on her face.”
Describing her Supima looks as “active meets elegant,” Lourié selected beach-inspired blues and corals for her color palette and created her own print designs by sketching with a Sharpie and then using Photoshop to build collages using photos of the beach. “The ocean finds its way into all of my work,” the California native adds.
The feedback Lourié has received from Mohapatra and the Supima judges tends to be more practical than at typical RISD critiques. “RISD has a very fine arts perspective,” she explains, “so the work I did here was looked at more conceptually.”
Two of the best lessons Lourié learned at RISD are to trust her instincts and take a playful approach to design. “One of the other finalists was talking about reaching maximum creativity under pressure,” she says. “But for me it’s the complete opposite. If I get too serious, nothing works.
“There’s always a solution,” she adds. “I learned that from [Apparel Design faculty member] Philip Sawyer. If you’re shoving layers and layers of fabric into the sewing machine, take a step back, think of another way and work smarter. That advice has really stuck with me and has actually changed everything.”
—Simone Solondz / video by Titre Provisoire
Fanciful and well-crafted looks by Apparel Design seniors wowed the crowd at the runway show known as Collection 18.
New Apparel Design graduates blew the crowd away at a standing-room-only show in NYC.
Recent Apparel Design graduate William Lathrop 18 AP creates high-end couture for men.