By Kristen M. Foley
When it is time to design, sew, and finalize a Senior Fashion Show collection, every minute counts. Just ask Kassie Haji, who spent every free moment she had on her collection, including the hours she spent commuting to and from school on the city bus (a 90-plus-minute ride each way).
“Some of my classmates have told me they couldn’t believe I was still at school. They would have dropped out by now if they had a commute that was that long,” says Haji. “It [college] was what I really wanted, and it takes dedication. I don’t usually complain about it, but that’s been one of my biggest challenges.”
While the travel time made meeting her models difficult and sometimes made for long days, Kassie pushed forward and worked hard and fast on her collection.
“I would do hand sewing on the bus and some sketches,” she notes. “The problem with the bus is that it shakes so much or that people would stand there over me while I worked. I don’t know how I was able to do it, but I did it.”
Five of Kassie’s finished pieces will make a commute of their own as they travel down the runway in May. The collection comprises women’s and men’s wear and combines the essence of classic romance with modern silhouettes. She is particularly passionate about the men’s wear in her collection.
“I feel like men’s fashions are always pushed back and they need to be given the opportunity to show their style in everyday life, just like women do,” said Kassie. “I’m intrigued by the way a male silhouette looks when they are really dressed well. They are very beautiful to me. I also find it very challenging at the same time, and I love to be challenged.”
A native of Northern Iraq, Kassie and her family came to the U.S. when she was just three years old. They lived in several states, including Texas and Rhode Island before moving to Ohio. She is extremely proud of her heritage so she surprised a lot of people when she chose not to include that as a focus of her collection.
“I wanted to design according to what the public or the customer is looking for rather than just pulling from my culture,” said Kassie. “I also didn’t want people to think I might not be able to design for other customers besides what I’m used to.”
Kassie added that she doesn’t ever want to be a static designer. She wants to continually reinvent her designs and cover all facets of the fashion world.
“I want to have my own brand, and style, but I am versatile,” she says proudly. “I love designing for all kinds of costumers.”
The result is intricate details with a tailored look that is flattering and comfortable.
Another challenge that Kassie faced this year was not having access to a good sewing machine outside of the CCAD labs. She met that challenge by doing more hand sewing. Surprisingly, hand-making button holes ended up being a plus for her collection.
“Honestly, I didn’t know how to make the machine button holes so I told myself I needed to reinvent the button hole in a way that would work without looking bad,” she says. “I was able to apply the technique to the jacket and button up shirts and make them look very sophisticated. I was very proud of it, but it was a lot of work.”
Kassie Haji was born in Northern Iraq and is a resident of Columbus, OH. She graduated from Feinstein High School in Rhode Island.
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.