Rachael Crawford, a 2008 graduate of Parkland High School, had some of her favorite fashion creations on display in her alma mater’s Trojan Art Gallery this month.
Now a fashion design major and senior at Philadelphia University, Crawford returned to Parkland for an open house Tuesday afternoon in the gallery, where she greeted old friends, former teachers and the media.
Patch contributor Genevieve Marshall sat down with Crawford to talk about her collection.
Q: Where did you get the idea for the multi-colored taffeta dress with pleats that is the center of the display?
A: I made it last semester along with a few other items in the collection. I had the fabric professionally pleated in New York, and I used fishing line and sparkly thread to finish the edges.
The design was inspired by [Italian fashion designer] Roberto Capucci’s exhibit [earlier this year] at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the four colors by a Toulouse- Lautrec painting. The dress actually got to walk down the runway at one of the museum’s Friday after 5 events. It was so exciting to see it on a model because the skirt opens up and displays differently when you walk in it.
Q: Do you have a favorite fabric?
A: I like working with wool. It’s very stable. The first garment I made from my design was the hand-felted children’s wool coat. I made that sophomore year, as well as the leggings and top that are part of the outfit. … I also made the woman’s suit jacket from wool in that class and the [two] swimsuits, but those are obviously not wool. I’m using wool again to make jackets for my senior collection.
Q: When did you become interested in fashion design?
A: I was exposed to fashion early on. My mother [Roxanne Eklund] is a fashion design professor at the Pratt Institute. But I guess I started having my own style in the eighth grade. That’s when my mom started letting me choose what I wanted to wear.
Q: How would you describe your personal style? And do you ever make clothes for yourself?
A: It’s a cross between Anthropologie and Free People. I like layering. But no, I don’t sew my own clothes. I’m usually pretty burned out on sewing from school. I’ll fit my own clothes but start from scratch? No way. Not now, at least.
Q: The most exposure a lot of people have to fashion is what they see in magazines and reality TV shows like “Project Runway.” Is the show, in particular, anything like you’ve experienced?
A: I’ve seen some episodes. I think of it as the entertainment industry, not the fashion industry. It’s not a show I aspire to be on, but it’s fun to watch.
Q: What do you plan on doing after graduation?
A: I have a few things I want to do. I studied abroad in London my junior year, and I’d love to go back. Or maybe I’ll move to New York. I enjoy doing the research part of designing, so maybe I’ll get into trend forecasting, and I like picking out fabrics, which would make it fun to be a fabric coordinator specialist. Or I might end up at Urban Outfitters (where Crawford is an intern on the tech design team). [laughs] See, there are a lot of options in fashion.
Q: Do you have advice for aspiring fashion design students?
A: Fashion is a lot of work but it’s definitely possible to have a career in it. You pull a lot of all nighters as a fashion design student. I’ll probably be doing that a couple times this week. I have a paper due tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 28) and a vest (made of upholstery fabric) and skirt due Thursday.