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5 Minutes with: Kabrina Lee Feickert, Award Winning Student Fashion Deisgner

Kabrina Lee Feickert

This year’s CSUN Night of Fashion showcased the remarkable talent of our Apparel Design and Merchandising students. The event was held at the new CSUN Valley Performing Arts Center and the panel of industry judges and audience were very impressed with the design collections of our students.

One of the awardees, Kabrina Lee Feickert, as a result of her success, has been accepted into the prestigious design competition of the International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA). Kabrina is a senior in the Apparel Design Merchandising Program, a minor in Theatre Design/Technology, and a recipient of the Dean’s Outstanding Senior Award. We spent 5 minutes with Kabrina to talk about her life's passion: fashion.

Q: What were the highlights of the fashion show for you?

A: Collaborating and participating in a show of this magnitude, from the first drawings to seeing the models walk across the stage in your designs changes your perspective. You really see the creative process. I saw other designers experience something similar. You start with a theme, a central idea, and as you develop it, sometimes you question yourself.

three views of model wearing one of Kabrina's creations

About a third of the way to the show deadline I could see my projects starting to change in ways I wasn’t predicting. Sometimes these things take on a life of their own so I spoke with Dr. JongEun Kim as my designs were changing and I wasn’t sure if I was seeing them clearly and whether they were translating the way I wanted them to. The creative process often requires a leap of faith.

Dr. Kim was so incredibly supportive. She looked at what I was doing, she really listened to what I was trying to do and looked at what was happening in the design and said, “Keep going, this is a good design; trust it.” She has such a good understanding of the process, and of the world market, honestly don’t know what I would have done without her. The same was true with Dr. Wei Cao. I was working on a design for an overcoat, pulling from classic ideas but translating them to today’s sensibilities, and Dr. Cao gave such great advice: start with concept, make sure lines are clean, smooth, and in the case of this project, bold, but give distinguishing details to evoke the desired qualities of the past.

Q: How did you get your start in fashion design?

A: Right out of high school I moved to Southern California and got a job in a fabric store because I loved working with fabric as a creative medium. I taught myself to sew and pretty soon got into making costumes for the Renaissance Faire, making patterns, and trying new combinations. It wasn’t long before I was asked to make costumes for high school theatre productions and I also made clothes for special occasions, Halloween costumes, whatever I could get my hands on, really. When I was in the community college I got the chance, as student worker, to design and construct wardrobe for theatre and dance shows with large casts. For one show I was responsible for over 300 garments.

Q: What do you see as the link between apparel design and theatre?

A: What I love most is the design element of theatre productions, which is why I came to the apparel design program. I am hoping to go to graduate school next fall. Meanwhile, I’m finishing up the Theatre minor. With a background in costume design for theatrical production and live performance I feel prepared to excel in any job that comes my way.

Q: Tell us about your award winning pieces. What was the theme or inspiration in your winning design?

A: The ensemble that caught the judges’ eyes was inspired by Steam Punk street fashion and mid-century vintage. It was designed to convey elegance while still promoting sustainability. The wide leg trousers can be worn both day and evening and I think the firm hug of a well-made corset creates a sense of confidence and mystery. The style calls for a certain boldness.

Q: One of your instructors, Shirley Warren, told us about your acceptance into the ITAA design competition as a result of your work in the fashion show. Can you tell us more about it?

A: At the yearly ITAA convention there is a major competition with a runway show and a curated studio display of several garments. It’s a big event. It takes a lot of preparation. Since we were already working on the CSUN fashion show I wanted to capitalize on the work we were already doing.

Six of us from Dr. Kim’s studio class who were winners or placed in the fashion show got together for professional photo shoot so we could all enhance our portfolios. We got professional make up artists and models and created a studio in the classroom so we could get some fantastic pictures to submit to the ITAA competition. Everyone was really supportive of each other - submission calls for five pages paperwork for each garment, so we made it a team effort and helped each other.

Q: This was after the fashion show was over - you still had more work to do then!

A: Yes, but it was worth it, and collaborating made it easier for all of us – and more fun.

Q: About the Valley Performing Arts Center: this is a new venue on the CSUN campus, and it must have been exciting to use it for the fashion show.

A: When I found out about the venue I was really excited. In another life I trained with the San Francisco Shakespeare Company, and have worked in a lot of professional venues. The Valley Performing Arts Center is amazing. Backstage is state of the art. It has the traditional structure for dressing rooms, “stacked” since old time theatre in big cities always had to expand up, so it was an authentic feel that connected to the history of theatre.

Q: Finally, what is it about design that captivates you most?

A: Design calls for flexibility and the ability to do a lot of things at once. You have to make compositions out of pieces and balance different elements all within a budget. With the line I designed for the fashion show this spring, I had made decision a year before to really focus on marketable wearable line. I wanted challenge myself with more subtle design, and I really like the way my pieces turned out. I guess you could say what captivates me is that I love it.

- Jean O'Sullivan