Fashion is something that has been a part of our culture for thousands of years. In the 1800s, it was petticoats and ball gowns; in the 1920s it was red lipstick and flapper dresses. Society is obsessed with looks, beauty, and the clothes people have on their backs.
Some people go a bit too far (like wearing a dress made of meat), but if it gets the attention of anyone who matters in the fashion world, it is considered a score. Whatever is considered “fashionable” can take time to come into popularity, but it can also change drastically within the course of a few days.
It is hard to keep up with what clothes are "in" and what clothes are “totally last year”, and a lot of people have given up trying to please society. However, fashion can have a deeper meaning to people than most would think. Designers are artists, and putting down the ideas of what is trendy or not can be as bad as telling Leonardo de Vinci that the “Mona Lisa” is not a masterpiece.
Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) has a club on campus dedicated solely to the concepts and ideas of fashion. The club's advisor, Beverly Garwood, had a lot to say about a club she has been advising for six years.
Garwood came from Glendale Community College before starting her job as an advisor at EMCC. Since then, she has been in and out of the club as either advisor or president. During that time, the club has really focused on their fashion shows; one of their more recent shows being the Recycled Fashion Show. Garwood described working nearly a month on one piece for one of their shows.
When not concentrating on putting together fabulous outfits for the performances, the club members also enjoy competing in challenges against each other that have to do with refining their fashion skills.
One challenge that Garwood put together was the Goodwill Challenge. One of the club members, Anisia Valdez recalls, “We got magazines…and we picked an outfit that was already similar to what we had in our closet that was over twenty dollars. Then we went to Goodwill and tried to recreate the outfit for under twenty dollars!” Garwood explained, “It's teaching [girls] how to shop on a budget.”
The club also tends to those who want to pursue a career in fashion. “Besides just having fun, we do things that are going to promote your portfolio,” said Garwood.
Valdez agrees that the meetings are a lot of fun and very helpful. Valdez is always a model in the club's fashion shows, and she uses a lot of the pictures that are taken to use in her portfolio for the modeling agency she works with. “Being a model in training, I haven't done much. This [club] has really helped me learn a lot. Ever since I was little, I would watch America’s Next Top Model , and that's what I wanted to do. I don't just want to be a model for my whole career, but it's a passion I have.”
Despite all of this knowledge and creativity to spread around, the club does have some setbacks. “I would probably say the most challenges that we have, being a fashion club on this campus, is the facilities,” said Garwood. “Since we don't have fashion classes, we don't have the classes; we don't have sewing machines; we don't have mannequins.”
Garwood admits it is difficult to make the club professional and educational when they lack the resources that they need. However, Garwood believes that no one should be turned away from what they love just because they do not have all of the facilities they need. “Some people go „Why do you have a fashion club if you don't have fashion classes?‟ Because I have fashion students.”
An even more recent show that Garwood worked on actually involved the International Club as well. The models of the Fashion Club dressed in clothes from other countries, a few of which were El Salvador and Brazil. Garwood believes that part of the unity of the Fashion Club is including other clubs and working together to create something great.
Garwood and Valdez both agree that the club has been a great outlet for them and, also, a great teaching experience. “The thing is,” says Garwood. “Teaching these students, when you're working in the fashion industry, it's going to be those times where I want you to do crunch time, you're going to stay up overnight, you're going to have disappointments, you're going to have great things that you're going to be excited about. It's trying to educate them to know, besides us having a great time here on campus, there's the real world outside.”
On the Estrella Mountain school website, under the fashion club title, it reads: “The purpose of the EMCC Fashion Club is to provide fellowship among the fashion enthusiast and to promote unity among the members.”
But what exactly does that mean, and how does the club promote that? Garwood says that, “With unity, it's bringing in the different nationalities, ethnicities; we don't distinguish between whether you're male or female. It's opening doors for people to do whatever they want to do. I'm hoping that nobody, when we are doing our meetings, feels uncomfortable because your hair isn't done this way or you don't dress this way. Everybody's different.”
Being fashionable does not mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars on a new outfit and it surely does not mean you have to be like everyone else. The club promotes that and teaches people that everyone is different. So, is this a sign that the fashion industry should bring back powdered wigs?