[PHOTO CREDIT: Jay Calderin]

I had the exciting opportunity recently to get a sneak peek at the Massachusetts College of Art ‘Voltage’ Senior Fashion Show (while filming a feature for the show…).  It was certainly a daunting task to select whom to highlight, what with all the endless trains of chiffon, tulle, peacock feathers and beads.  Oh, the chaos of completing a collection, only to send an army of leggy models to strut down the runway. Nonetheless, Shalyn Webber’s ombré chartreuse mermaid evening gown was a definite standout and I just couldn’t forget it, so I sat down with Webber to pick her brain about her education, the excitement of presenting her senior collection, and the whirlwind of fashion that awaits her, post graduation.

KIM:  Congrats on debuting your senior collection!  What inspired the collection? (Which, I must say, was very, very beautiful!)
WEBBER: Thanks!  It’s been an unbelievable process and a journey in producing this collection!  I’d have to say, the dark, romantic Victorian cemeteries, and the juxtaposition between life and death were some of the main themes of my collection. I was really drawn to the contrast between the hard, still, stoic stones versus the the soft, curly, lively plant life that grow all over them. I wanted to embrace the intricate details in the featured couture evening gown.

KIM:  What are some of highlights and the details of your piece (the gown shown above)?  What kinds of raw materials did you incorporate?  (textile, color, beading, embellishing, cut, etc.)
WEBBER: My wedding dress – the finale piece [mainly consists of] nude spandex with dyed lace applique sewn all over the bodice. The bottom half of the gown is [constructed] of several layers of chiffon I have hand-dyed with a green gradient.  I then added on beading for extra texture and color. The veil is made of silk organza.

KIM:  What was the most challenging factor in the completion of your collection?
WEBBER:  It was a real learning curve for me, especially with regards to the dying process. It took countless trials and errors of testing and practice to get the coloration just right. What was just as challenging, though, was finding a way to make the garment maintain a structural element, all the while allowing enough fluidity in the piece to be able to be worn and workable on the model’s body.
KIM:  What was the production and the manufacturing processes like? How long did it take for you to complete the entire collection?
WEBBER:  It involved many long nights of hand-sewing, where I had cut and sewn each individual slices of lace onto the bodice of the gown to get the layered effect . I have been working on this collection since last September, and every day was an inner battle, trying to stay put and focused to achieve the precise image of the look I had envisioned in my head and in my sketch, into a reality.

KIM:  What was your experience at MassArt like?  How did you feel your were supported and nurtured as an aspiring designer?
WEBBER:  MassArt was a very welcoming and nurturing environment for my fellow classmates and me.  [MassArt] actively encourages and embraces the individuals’ creativity, and confidently provides students with many different resources, classes and mentors to help you untangle and solve any issues you run into in learning and mastering craft of [fashion and art].  Moreover, the depth of diversity in the school’s curriculum and class offering allowed the opportunity for me to try classes outside of my concentration, and weave those experiences and knowledge into my collection.

KIM:  I know this isn’t anyone’s favorite question to answer, but I have to ask: what are your post-graduation plans?!
WEBBER:  Frankly speaking, I am taking it day by day, and am focusing my energy on finishing and presenting this collection to the public for the time being.  I am most certainly looking forward to graduation, for sure!  I don’t have any concrete plans as of yet.  But I would really like to be part of a creative design team.  I see myself working in the costume industry, making unique garments, headpieces, and quirky accessories, and having the chance to bring all kinds of fantasy and fun into tangible, wearable products, and being able to enjoy the collaborative process among many different walks of creative people.

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