Art Institute Fashion Designers Change Gears at Toyota Plant
Keeira Ford of 909models.com models a dress designed by a student from The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire during a fashion show at the Toyota North American Distribution Center. Photo by Miguel Zaragoza of Graceful Visions Photography.
Adrianna Diaz, a Fashion Design student at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire, was proud to see her friend Tiffany Leilani model a designer gown Diaz had designed and created herself. A fashion show at the Toyota North American Distribution Center in Ontario provided the friends with this opportunity. Photo by Miguel Zaragoza of Graceful Visions Photography
Students in the fashion programs at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire recently put on their first fashion show, for employees of the Toyota North American Distribution Center in Ontario. Fashion Design students and outside professional designers designed and created the clothes, while Fashion & Retail Marketing students assisted in many ways, including styling models’ hair. The models were professionals from 909 Models.com as well as friends of The Art Institute students. Photo by Miguel Zaragoza of Graceful Visions Photography
(ONTARIO, Calif.) – The Toyota North American Parts Center usually focuses on car parts. But for a few hours recently, employees found themselves gazing on flirty spring dresses and designer formal gowns.
“Legends of the Apollo Theater,” a fashion show created by The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire’s Fashion Design program, was the lunchtime entertainment. This was one of the ways this Toyota facility celebrated Black History Month 2009 throughout February.
“People may wonder what a parts distribution center has in common with fashion,” said Ed Huante, manager of the distribution center. “But diversity is very important to Toyota and this fashion show is a celebration of Black history and its diversity.”
For The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire, this was a first opportunity for its six-month old Fashion Design program to showcase student work. Six of the 11 designers participating are enrolled in the Fashion Design program. The others are a student from the Art Institute of California – Orange County and four professional designers.
“Our students were overwhelmingly enthusiastic,” said Sherry West, academic director of the fashion programs at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire. “They enjoyed it from start to finish.”
Most of these students had never been involved with a fashion show before, and none had gone through the process of taking an idea and turning it into a garment worn by a model, West said. As a long-time industry professional, she’s been involved in numerous fashion shows, but this was her first as a fashion instructor.
“Now they understand why they had to do sketches, why they had to make patterns and why they had to fit different models into several different outfits,” she said. “To see them work so hard and be so thrilled, was the best.”
“We want our students to see that if they work hard, they can have exciting careers doing what they love best,” said Art Institute of California – Inland Empire President Emam El-Hout. “Our Fashion Design and our Fashion & Retail Marketing students experienced a taste of this by participating in the show for Toyota.”
West is African-American, but said creating a fashion show to celebrate Black History Month was a challenge because most students in the Fashion Design program are of other races.
“One of the students came up with an idea to have the fashions inspired by the Apollo Theater,” she said. “They love Billie Holliday and the other Black jazz artists who came from that theater in the 1940s and 50s, and were inspired by them when creating their clothes for this show.”
West headed a team of 16 models, 11 designers, and about 25 other behind-the scenes workers, including a model coordinator, makeup artists, hair stylists, photographers and model dressers. Other than the four professional designers these were all students.
Adriana Diaz, one of the student designers, called this fashion show an incredible opportunity. She made a silver formal gown in a matter of days, then watched as her hand-selected model and good friend, Tiffany Leilani, paraded it down the runway as part of the Legends of the Apollo Theater fashion show.
“I want to open a haute couture (exclusively designed fashions) business after graduation,” she said. “This experience taught me how to work on a quick deadline with my clients’ needs in mind.”
While Diaz and several of the other designers asked friends to help with the modeling, members of the Inland Empire’s 909Models.com also delivered. This modeling agency matches professional models with clients for such diverse projects as television commercials, print advertisements, sales and event promotions, and artistic paintings.
“When many of these models joined the agency, they were looking forward to opportunities to be runway models,” said Carl Dameron, owner of 909Models.com “As an Inland Empire agency, these opportunities were limited before The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire began its Fashion Design program in September 2008. We look forward to working with The Art Institute on additional projects in the future.”
This was the first of many fashion events the fledgling Art Institute of California – Inland Empire Fashion Design program intends to hold. It is already planning another, larger show on June 6 at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center in Rancho Cucamonga. That show will be open to the public, and will feature completely different creations by these and other Art Institute designers, as well as fashions available for purchase in the retail stores of Victoria Gardens.
“Our students can hardly wait for the next show,” West said.
The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Game Art & Design, Graphic Design, Web Design & Interactive Media, Interior Design, Fashion & Retail Management, and Media Arts & Ani
mation. It offers an Associate degree in Graphic Design, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design.
The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers an Associate degree in Culinary Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary Management. Each program is offered on a year-round basis, allowing students to work uninterrupted toward their degrees.
It’s not too late to start a new term at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire. Courses begin April 6 and classes are offered in the day, evening and on weekends for new and reentry students.
For more information, or to arrange a tour, call The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire at (909) 915-2100 or go on line to www.artinstitutes.edu/InlandEmpire
The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire is one of the Art Institutes (www.artinstitutes.edu
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