Dawn McLaughlin’s Macabre Screenplay Inspired Collection

April 2nd, 2014 by Amanda Pierce
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Dawn McLaughlin. Photo by Amanda Pierce

Dawn McLaughlin. Photo by Amanda Pierce

Designers find inspiration all around them—in nature, a song, personal experiences—and sometimes they create whole new worlds to inspire their work.

Dawn McLaughlin, a designer and a writer, did just that—she drew inspiration for her collection from a war-torn 19th-century world that she crafted through her writing.

Inspired by her macabre screenplay-in-progress, Dawn’s collection, titled Bullet, straddles the line between ready-to-wear fashion and costume. She calls the marriage between the two a “deadly combination.”

Each item in the collection is designed with a specific character in mind. Her runway look, an over-dyed, slashed, and burned red sweater paired with knit pants, is soft but also shows violence—just like the character it was designed for, Dawn said.

“I wanted to give [the garment] a younger feel because he’s more of a gentle, free-spirited character,” she said. “But [I also] wanted to give it a drastic look because he doesn’t have a happy ending.”

To mimic the look of a severe singe, the thin knit sweater was dyed multiple times before being slashed with an X-Acto knife point on one side and carefully burned around the edges.

Though we can only guess how the story ends, the screenplay has yet to be finished. Dawn made progress on the story last spring, after several failed attempts, when she took a screen writing class taught by CCAD professor Lesley Jenike.


Dawn’s collection combines ready-to-wear fashion and costume. Photo by Amanda Pierce

“I’ve always had this story bouncing around in my head. I tried writing it before and it just didn’t [work],” she said. “Then I took a screen writing class and I was like, ‘I can do this.’”

Asked whether she considers herself more of a writer or fashion designer, she said that she identifies with both roles. She aspires to pursue writing at some point in the future, but said that illustration and design piqued her interest back in high school.

Dawn left her regular high school in search of a more art-focused education, and started attending an area technical school where she was able to explore her passion for illustration.

“I found out that I enjoyed designing and illustrating characters’ clothes [and] different types of costumes,” she said.

Though she admits construction isn’t her strongest suite, her love for bringing characters to life through costume prompted her to start sewing costumes for herself during her senior year of high school.

“What I lack in [construction], I make up for in illustration,” Dawn said. “I feel like that’s my strong suit.”

Dawn continues to pursue costume design outside of her classes, making costumes to wear at comic conventions and sewing historic garments at her internship with the Kelton House Museum in Columbus.


Dawn’s runway look was photographed for the look book March 9. Photo by Amanda Pierce

Her ultimate dream, though, is to work in the movie industry as a costume designer or tailor (and maybe even pitch a screenplay in the process). It’s a big dream, but she said she’s ready to work for it.

“A girl from Southern Ohio isn’t going to get there by doing nothing!”

Dawn’s design will come to life on the runway on May 9. Tickets are on sale now.

Dawn is from Miamisburg, OH, and attended Miami Valley Career Technical Center.

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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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