As a young child, Michele Watson carried around a sketchbook and crayons everywhere she went. “I would draw little skinny female figures with huge heads, almost like a Bratz doll, with clothes my friends had worn that day,” says Michele. “It wasn’t until my teacher’s aid told me that I should start drawing my own designs on my figures that I knew I wanted to have a career in fashion.” That was in second grade.
Michele still carries around a sketchbook, but her style and designs have obviously evolved immensely and are ever-changing. “I always want to do different things,” she says. “I don’t want to get bored with one thing.”
Her selected muses for the senior fashion show encompass that thinking. She knew she wanted to include African culture and fabrics in her collections, but struggled at first to find works that not only spoke to her, but also would connect to her original vision.
She finally discovered the works of Armand Fernandez, a French-born American sculptor, best known for his “accumulations” and destruction/recomposition of objects and Yinka Shonibare, a British-Nigerian artist whose work explores the issues of race and class.
“I chose both these artists because combined, their works embodied the artistic vision I wanted to present in my collection,” says Michele. “My sculptor Armand Fernandez’s work is very repetitive and uses common found objects and presents them as endlessly repeated forms. I tried to show that in my collection through the repetition of pleats.”
Michele’s other muse, Yinka Shonibare’s is known for using the richly patterned Dutch wax fabric produced in Europe for a West African market in his work. For this reason, Michele’s artistic vision included the use of multiple versions of handmade printed fabric that she acquired from a woman who makes frequent trips to Africa.
“Mixing the prints together was very hard because I didn’t want to use just one print for each garment, I wanted to mix them up,” she adds. “I really had to focus on where I would place the fabrics in each piece so they wouldn’t overpower the design.”
During this process, Michele was also surprised by how much her collection’s direction changed from sketch to final garment, especially during the fabric placement stage.
“I drew out what I thought I wanted but when I started to construct the designs, they started to change,” says Michele. “Some designs that I drew didn’t match the fabric so I had to rethink it and redesign it.”
In the end, her hard work and attention to detail paid off as all four of her presented designs made it into the show. When asked what advice she would give to a designer about to embark on the same journey she is close to completing, she quickly advises that doing your research is key.
“I know I have a lot of ideas, which isn’t bad,” she laughs. “But, you want to be able to narrow those ideas down to see which ones you can combine to create your final vision”
Be sure to purchase your tickets now before they are gone, so you can see Michele’s final vision take the runway on May 11.
The CCAD Fashion Show is an annual fundraising event that showcases the talent of graduating Columbus College of Art & Design Fashion Design Seniors. This popular event sells out every year and this blog is a portal through which to view the behind-the-scenes goings on.