In FC’s Prom Challenge, FIDM Fashion Design Alumna and Advanced Study Theatre Costume Design Student Erica Williams was challenged to do a redesign of a thrift store dress inspired by Lana Del Rey. She had six weeks and a $50 budget!
Tell us a little about yourself: I am originally from Dallas, Texas, and grew up in a huge family where creativity played a major role in everything we did. I just graduated from FIDM with my degree in Fashion Design, and will be starting the Advanced Study Theatre Costume Design program this July.
What did you like best about the FC Prom Challenge? I absolutely loved designing for it! At first glance, it seems like it would be easier since you are starting with a finished garment, but if anything that is where the real challenge is. As a designer, I'm used to starting from scratch, choosing the fabric, creating each pattern piece to best achieve my design, but when working with a finished garment, it almost tells you what to do, you have limitations and have to flexible. I loved that challenge, and my favorite part was seeing what all of the other designers came up with, the most interesting thing to me is that we could all look at one thrift store dress and all see completely different designs. Everyone did such an amazing job, I really blown away by their talent!
Where did you find your thrift store dress? I found my dress at an amazing thrift store called Jet Rag near the Grove. I was looking for something that had a lot of room for improvement, but offered great fabric and colors to start with. The garment I chose was a lavender dress with a short sleeve bodice and a long skirt. I didn't realize it when I bought it, but after working with my dress, I discovered that it had already been re-imagined once before! There were strange seams going down the front and it was obvious by looking at the inside waist seam, that a tulle underskirt had already been cut out. I wish I could see what my dress had looked like from the very beginning. It was definitely an old one though. I had to be careful with it because the fabric would deteriorate while I was working with it.
Describe your finished prom dress design: My finished prom dress has a vintage-made-modern silhouette, with romantic lavender floor-length chiffon, overlaid with a black Chantilly lace bodice.
What is it about your design that reflects Lana Del Rey's style? When I think of Lana Del Rey, I always envision pastel colors and a romantic vintage vibe. I definitely captured that facet of Lana through the color of the original dress and all of the soft fabrics, but I also wanted to incorporate her darker slightly edgier side with the black lace.
How did you hear about FIDM and what made you decide to go here? I always knew that I wanted a creative career, but was never sure what would be the best college for me to do so. I first heard about FIDM at a college night through my high school. Amongst the sea of black and navy tables the colorful FIDM booth first drew my attention! That night after talking to the ambassador, I watched the DEBUT Runway Show, and from that moment I knew FIDM was where I was meant to be. I’ll never forget the night a few month later when I sat in the crowd at DEBUT. Overwhelmed with excitement, I looked at the students and made a silent promise to myself that one day, it would be me up there. And now I will be—two years in a row!
How did you choose your major? Deciding my major was an easy choice for me. I knew from a young age that I wanted to do costume design, and FIDM offered, not one, but two different costume design programs. Since they are both Advanced Study Programs, I had to first get my degree in Fashion Design in order to qualify later on.
What are your career goals and how is FIDM helping you get there? I plan to be a costume designer for period pieces, or for a major network like HBO. My absolute DREAM job would be to work on set of Game of Thrones, the costume department is even in Ireland, talk about amazing! FIDM has helped me in so many ways not only through the skills I have learned, and the confidence I have gained as a designer, but through all of the work opportunities and people I have been able to meet—it has truly helped me lay down the path to my career. I may or may not have devoted one of my portfolio collections to designing costumes for the show, so if Michele Clapton were ever to call I'd have something ready.
What advice do you have for someone thinking about going to FIDM? For anyone thinking about going to FIDM, I would say that as long as they have a passion for what they aspire to do, the "ifs," the "hows," and the "whens" will all fall into place. FIDM has truly helped me flourish both as a designer and a confident professional. I have had amazing opportunities working on set for films, making light up TRON costumes for AT&T, and working with amazing professionals in the industry, just to name a few! I've had the ambition from the beginning, but FIDM gave me the resources and the opportunities to bring my goals to fruition.