Hundreds gathered at the Media Production Center, 1600 S. State, on June 8 to show support for Columbia College’s Fashion Columbia 2012. The event was to honor well-known fashion designer, Lana Bramlette. That night she received the alumni achievement award in fashion design.
Bramlette who graduated in 1997 went on to create Lana Jewelry. Since then the “Queen of Hoops” as she is known by her loyal fans, went on to design jewelry that has been worn by celebrities such as Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, Zoe Saldana and Angeline Jolie. Her pieces have been featured in several films, TV shows, and magazine covers.
After Bramlette received her award, she offered some comforting advice to students and fashion designers who will be looking for employment but facing the uncertainty of today’sj economy. “You don’t have to go to L.A. or New York. You can do this here with amazing Chicago people,” said Bramlette. “I only hire Chicago people.”
“We are actually in over 300 stores worldwide today, and we [sold] over 150,000 pairs of ear rings out of Chicago,” said Barmalette. “Retailers love it that we’re from Chicago. They feel like it’s a breath of fresh air when you fly to them,” she added.
When Bramlette finished speaking, the fashion show began and the audience was amazed. “The event was beautiful it couldn’t have gone smoother,” said Kendra DeKuiper, fashion designer. “And I just felt extremely honored to be there.”
“All of the graduates from Columbia, we’ve gathered so close especially over the last year all working together on our projects, and kind of being a support system for each other. So to be with them also felt really great,” said DeKuiper.
“Now that school’s done I kind of have the opportunity to explore different avenues and there are, a lot of amazing work happening in Chicago,” said DeKuiper. “A lot of times people assume that if it’s not in New York or if it’s not in LA nothing’s happening.” She said that the Chicago fashion scene has began to thrive and hopes to tap into that resource and work with veteran designers to strengthen her craft.
“I’m extremely interested in continuing on with design and that is something that I plan to do continuously until I grow old,” she added. “I’d like to explore aspects in visual display, kind of pursuing creative work in that way.”
Francesca Peppiatt, campaign coordinator and development assistant at Columbia College Chicago acknowledged what an incredible event the fashion show was. “I think that it was amazing the way they were there to support Columbia students, and the incredible for all the designers. Also the gorgeous historic clothes from the Johnson collection, that was really quite magnificent to see,” she added.
She later recalled a funny story that Bramlette told previously at Columbia’s convocation. “Her dad went to Northwestern business college and made fun of her a little bit for going to Columbia. Now he’s in charge of her company because it’s so huge,” said Peppiatt. “It’s like she said, ‘It’s the work ethic, and you obviously have the talent. Because you’re here, you put that work ethic and keep it in Chicago.’”
Tam Nguyen, fashion designer and illustrator, said she wants to pursue fashion focusing on architectural publication. “I like architectural things. So, I’m going for an architectural publication like Textile,” said Nguyen.
She looks forward to the opportunity to work for a publication such as Textile and hopes one day after becoming established designer that she can pursue her entrepreneur endeavors of having her own boutique. “Hopefully, I still have plan later on for grad school,” says Nguyen.
“I’m purposing freelance illustration like fashion illustration. And I’m also doing some works for fashion shows. I’ve been doing couture accessories like crazy, wing things. Things that are wire things that are metal. So that’s what I’ve been working on. I have a show that I’m doing for Hair Show in Vegas, like the crazy kind of accessories for that. Yeah [I’m] just doing freelance right now,” says Lindsey Kate, fashion designer.
Kate explained that pursing freelance illustration was a personal choice. “I’ve kind of always wanted to do freelance because I was really interested in illustration,” she added. “And that’s where most the jobs are because you can’t get freelance jobs that easily.”
Kate said that although others may want to pursue a full-time job currently, she enjoys the benefits that come with being a freelancer. “I also like that it gives you freedom to be an artist and do other things to. I do paints and I sell those and then I’m looking into doing some makeup artistry,” she said. “It just allows me to do whatever, every time which is really fun. I’d be really happy doing this for the rest of my life.”