Before becoming an apparel and merchandising major at Colorado State University, Latifah Hirchi-Vogl attended the CSU Fashion Show every year growing up, which sparked her interest in pursuing a career in apparel design. Her exposure to the program, hosted and coordinated by CSU’s Department of Design and Merchandising students and faculty, inspired her both while she was younger and now, as she heads into her third year in the department.
Hirchi-Vogl was recently selected as a finalist for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET) Costume Institute College Fashion Design Competition in New York City. Hirchi-Vogl’s inspiration for entering the contest was sparked by the creative freedom of the challenge, and the confidence she gained in the apparel and merchandising program. “I got energized by the idea of a project where I could create a design and construct the entire outfit from start to finish,” she said. Hirchi-Vogl had free rein with the design and execution of the submitted product.
The creative process
The competition’s theme this year was “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” and contestants were asked to choose a singular word from themes that evoke the emotional qualities of American fashion.
Hirchi-Vogl chose the word “affinity” to represent her ensemble, which evokes a positive connotation. “Affinity means a spontaneous or natural liking, rapport, accord, or harmony,” Hirchi-Vogl said. “The mesh of knotted leather I made for the skirt symbolizes connectedness, and the yellow felt on the coat represents lichens that live in symbiosis with algae and fungus.” These designs reflect Hirchi-Vogl’s view of America: a culture where individuals can celebrate the affinities that arise across the breadth of its diversity.
It takes a village
The Department of Design and Merchandising prepared Hirchi-Vogl for moments and opportunities like this, equipping her with skills, tools, and resources that directly impacted her finished designs submitted for the contest.
During the contest and creative process, Hirchi-Vogl benefitted from support and mentorship in the department: Kevin Kissell, assistant professor, emphasizes digital technologies in the fashion industry and fashion illustration in his teaching; David Russon is an accomplished a pattern maker and former graduate teaching assistant. Graduate student Kate Schmidt also championed Hirchi-Vogl’s progress. Hirchi-Vogl noted each for their pivotal guidance in her submission.
Representing CSU in NYC
Hirchi-Vogl was among many undergraduate and graduate students from programs across the U.S. who were invited to submit their entries to the MET competition. After submission, ten finalists were selected to display their garments at the MET, at which point in the process the judges selected a winner. Hirchi-Vogl finished as one of two runners-up in the competition. The winners were announced at the Met College Night Gala on May 9.
Seeing her work recognized with the work of students from top design schools was an incredible accomplishment for both Hirchi-Vogl and the CSU Design and Merchandising community. “Most of the students were from schools like Parsons School of Design, the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Savannah College of Art and Design, so I was proud to represent CSU and what our outstanding program can help students achieve.”
The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.