Abandoned Buildings Inspired Maggie Tanner’s Collection

March 31st, 2014 by Amanda Pierce
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Maggie Tanner. Photo by Amanda Pierce

Maggie Tanner. Photo by Amanda Pierce

Growing up, Maggie Tanner was infatuated with Disney princesses. She was mesmerized by the way their dresses twirled and draped, and tried desperately to recreate what she saw in crude crayon doodles.

With no formal training, Maggie started piecing together costumes for her stuffed animals and dolls using hot glue and hand stitching. When she arrived at CCAD and decided to study Fashion Design (“I could not see myself pursuing anything else,” she said), reality set in.

“I was so lost,” Maggie said, remembering her first Fashion Design classes. “Now that I know how to do everything it’s so easy, but back then it was like trying to do math again.”

As she made her way through sewing and surface design classes, Maggie slowly added skills to her arsenal. The first time she got to apply her new skills and make a garment, “the light bulb went off,” she said. Everything made sense.

Now nearing the end of her CCAD experience, Maggie is putting the finishing touches on her senior collection, and it couldn’t be farther from her first love of fluffy, flowing Disney frocks.

“I love princess gowns, couture gowns, and wedding dresses but when I’m designing, [those things] just don’t come out of me,” Maggie said. “I just sketch out ideas. What I ended up drawing was more ready-to-wear sportswear.”

Her three-look fall and winter collection draws inspiration from the way that nature consumes buildings and houses after they’ve been abandoned. Denim and knitwear (two of Maggie’s favorites) are dominant throughout her collection, with hand distressing to achieve a worn, tattered look.

Though distressing takes center stage in her collection, Maggie wanted to balance the harsh look with a ready-to-wear feel.


Maggie hand-distressed all of the knitwear and denim in her collection.

“I didn’t want to do too much distressing to the point where it wasn’t practical anymore,” Maggie said. “I like the idea of something that someone can actually wear.”

She admits that sewing really isn’t her thing (“it’s like the bane of my existence!”), but doesn’t let it keep her from designing and constructing challenging garments.

Her favorite look, a distressed knit dress with a cutout neckline paired with a bleached and cropped denim jacket, posed some of the biggest design and construction challenges.

In order to achieve the desired look, Maggie had to undo individual loops along the bottom hem of the knit dress to create the appearance of snags and randomly hanging strings. The hand painted jacket required multiple seams and detailed distressing.

Out of the 22 designers in the fashion show, Maggie is the only one to include denim jeans in her collection. After constructing them, Maggie applied heavy distressing with bleach and sandpaper. Though she had made a pair of jeans once before, she said the construction was still a challenge.

“I probably made five waistbands for one pair of pants,” Maggie said.

For Maggie, designing a strong and adventurous collection was a unique form of self expression and a major departure from her own personal style.

“I’m more reserved,” she laughed. “I don’t really wear anything that interesting.”

Don’t miss your chance to see Maggie’s knits and hand-distressed denim on the runway May 9. Tickets are on sale now.

Maggie is from West Jefferson, OH, and attended West Jefferson High School.

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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.

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