Student fashion designer competes in Birmingham contest


Greg Johnson/The News

Allyson Putman
Staff writer

With no fashion program or even a mall shopping center, Murray is not known for being the fashion capitol of the world. However, it is home to one of 22 finalists in the Emerging Designers Competition for the 2012 Birmingham Fashion Week.

Meaghan Pierce, senior from Owensboro, Ky., is a first time competitor in the show, but said she has been designing clothes since high school.

As a high school junior, Pierce was given a sewing machine by her grandparents after toying around with her mother’s machine, using it to recreate old curtains and various odds and ends for her mother.

As for her first actual clothing piece, however, she decided to take a big leap and create her own senior prom dress.

After achieving success with the evening gown, Pierce moved on to designing everyday clothes for herself.

“I would see things in the movies that I really liked or find a material that inspired me and just create it,” she said.

Now, four years later, she has accomplished more than recreating a trendy outfit donned by a celebrity – she has seen her own designs modeled alongside pieces by prestigious designers.

The Emerging Designers Competition for Birmingham Fashion Week is a contest open to all students, with most participants being from Auburn University or the University of Alabama. Pierce said it was neat to be the only participant who is not studying fashion design.

“Just to be chosen as a non-fashion student and to be so far away was really awesome,” she said.

Applying to participate in the competition was no easy feat, as Pierce said the contestants were asked to submit a picture of one sewn piece the applicant had already created, a “mood board,” a 75 word or less summary detailing their inspiration and three to eight sketches for their initial portfolio. From the applications and portfolios, the judges chose the finalists, including Pierce.

While having her designs share a runway with some of the top designers known today and viewed by people of such high status was a dream come true, Pierce said her favorite part of the experience was having the chance to go out on the runway.

All designers have a final pose, hand gesture, et cetera, after the clothes have been modeled down the runway. For Pierce, she chose to strut down the runway to meet her last model and get a glimpse of the flashing lights and cameras. She said it was an amazing experience.

“I got backstage and I was OK, but then my legs started to shake and I just crashed,” she said. “It was such an adrenaline rush.”

Though Pierce was not chosen as a top five finalist, she said she does not regret taking part in the incredible experience.

“When it’s your absolute lifelong dream and your true passion, any little bit counts,” she said. “I may not have won the contest but the clothes that I designed on my bedroom floor were on the exact same runway as designers that sell their clothes for thousands of dollars.”

While this is just the beginning of her fashion career, Pierce said she plans to pursue a career in design and has taken on several projects to busy herself until the next fashion week, including designing a wedding gown for a friend. To see Pierce’s collection for the Birmingham Fashion Week, search “Meaghan’s Runway Debut” on YouTube.

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