Couture and creativity come together in FAST Spring 2011 showcase

Amirpasha Moghtaderi/Staff

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FAST Fashion Show
FAST Fashion Show at Pauley Ballroom.

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Fashionable isn't exactly the first word that comes to mind when describing UC Berkeley. Walking among a crowd of students who mostly dress for comfort and not style, one cannot help but wonder if Berkeley lives in its stereotype of sweatshirts and faded jeans. But in the world of FAST, a drastically different picture emerges. FAST - Fashion and Student Trends - unites the campus through a shared interest in fashion. Every semester, their runway shows offer an outlet or designers, models and the like. This spring was no different, as FAST's visually striking "Expose" celebrated students' creativity and passion for the industry.

FAST originated back in 2001 at the UCLA campus and the Berkeley chapter was launched shortly after in 2005. The organization was founded for the purpose of offering students interested in fashion an environment in which to cultivate their talents. Currently, the group is run by Co-Presidents Terra Chan and Ric Vazquez, Berkeley seniors. Interestingly enough, both executives joined FAST with no prior experience, emphasizing that the club is more than happy to usher in newcomers. "I hope we inspire others to create (alternative) ways for students to express themselves creatively outside the realm of academia," said Vazquez.

The two leaders also highlight one of FAST's priorities - to offer an outlet for interested students while maintaining a level of professionalism. Though the fashion shows are open to to the student body, there are restrictions for participants. "There's a model casting and training sessions, so we don't let in amateurs. They have to go through a professional screening," said Vazquez. A similar case applies to designers, anyone who can commit to creating a collection of at least five pieces.

Once the models and designers have been selected, it is Chan's responsibility to keep track of their progress. "The designers meet with me and they show me their sketches," said Chan, who is also the show director. "We talk about their concept and I help them develop their ideas." Throughout the semester, designers keep Chan updated, whether by sending pictures, fabric swatches or silhouettes. The semester-long project calls for a high level of dedication and professionalism. "We want our name synonymous to quality and up to the lighting to model restrictions, we have a reputation to (uphold)," said Vazquez.

From the designers' perspective, FAST's fashion show provides the ideal opportunity for them to explore a potential hobby. Junior Sherrie Hang had no prior experience in designing or even sewing before she joined FAST last semester. "(My mindset was) if I sign up, that's an incentive for me to start learning so last semester was my first time sewing and designing," said Hang. For the spring showcase, she put her knowledge to use, creating a more polished collection of spring essentials. Composed of four dresses and a romper, Hang played around with two fabrics to create a look that she described as "generic but familiar," mixing together prints to structure a unique vision of spring florals.

Of course, even the best of designs fall flat without a suitable model to flaunt them. Veteran model Nastassia Maltsava, a Berkeley alumnae, views the process as a form of acting. Having walked in runway shows since 2008, Maltsava has dealt with her fair share of odd costumes, including one where she had to wear a white toy gun. "Most girls who model want to have really pretty outfits but sometimes, a designer has a certain look," said Maltsava. "As a model you have to present (the outfit) in a way that works even though it may not be your style."

All the different participants of FAST came together in Sunday night's showcase, titled "Expose." From animal prints to vibrant summer wear, students watched their dedication pay off as models and designers alike strutted the runway. Event attendees also had the chance to browse booths featuring raffles from the show's sponsors, such as national brand BCBG and East Bay jewelry designers Viv & Ingrid . As the night proceeded and creativity emerged, the theme of the show came to life. "Fashion, with its different designs and outfits, is an outlet for people to portray different personas," said Chan. "It helps you expose who you are."


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