Recent Dallas College graduate Sandra Davalos won top prize in the Fashion Group International fashion competition.
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For immediate release — Sept. 29, 2020
(DALLAS) — Sandra Davalos has long dreamed of pursuing a career in fashion design. There are the runway shows, red carpet events and even the chance at international fame and fortune. But it’s not the industry’s glitz and glamour that piqued the interest of the 27-year-old former Dallas College student.
“I went into this to innovate what and how we think of fashion. There is so much suffering that goes through the fashion process, so my job is to challenge the industry in a way,” Davalos said. “I want to help inspire people to discover a different way of designing and creating, one that isn’t harmful to everything living.”
Preserving Earth and its natural resources is a seed that was planted early at the fashion program at Dallas College El Centro Campus. Davalos even hoped to bring her vision of “zero-waste transformative garments” to the forefront of Fashion Group International (FGI) of Dallas’ annual fashion competition. With a keen focus on sustainability, she wants to design clothing options that generate little to no waste in their production.
The concept, however, took on new meaning at the onset of COVID-19 — a pandemic that has forced several industries to rethink and reshape the way they operate. Even the college’s largely hands-on fashion program transitioned entirely online during the Spring semester.
fashion designs by Sandra Davalos
“It’s been a challenge. We’re more technically driven, focusing on the hard skills like sewing and designing,” said Brenda Carlson, fashion design coordinator at Dallas College El Centro Campus. “We used to have these long lab hours, but now we have to be more deliberate with our delivery, and our information has to be intentional.”
That delivery, now via Microsoft Teams and Blackboard Collaborate, is shaped by current events. An industry once focused on being flashy and boastful has now shifted to practical and authentic.
“The big buzzword in the industry is ‘pivot.’ People in the industry have had to go from their areas of specialty to mass producing protective gear like masks and other equipment,” Carlson said.
The same is true within the fashion program. Students are being challenged to get creative, learning to use any materials they have at home.
“I want our students to be global in their perspective — understanding global dynamics and that fabrics come from all over,” Carlson said. “If there is a disaster overseas, it affects us. It’s a supply chain.”
After all, Carlson says, the fashion industry has experienced interrupters before.
“Like 9/11. Airline flights were not allowed for three weeks, so fabric in transport was halted or delayed,” Carlson said. “You have to have resilience, and you must be flexible.”
Dallas College student Casey DeKrey won third place in the Evening/Bridal category at the recent FGI fashion competition.
Those two qualities paid off for several of the program’s students, including Davalos. Like other aspects of life during the pandemic, FGI’s competition soon returned — virtually. Although up against student designers from big-name four-year institutions, Davalos believed in her vision, and it paid off.
Her designs in three of the four categories — Little Black Dress, Women’s Sportswear and Evening/Bridal — scored well enough to earn her the top prize: $1,000 and an all-expense-paid semester at the Paris American Academy in France. While the excursion is delayed due to the pandemic, the excitement was instantaneous. The credit, Davalos says, goes to Dallas College and instructors like Carlson.
“If I could, I would shout from the mountains that [Dallas College El Centro Campus] is the best school for fashion in Texas, based on the value. They teach you everything needed to move confidently into a career in fashion,” Davalos said.
Davalos graduated this past June, part of the college’s first-ever virtual commencement ceremony. She hopes to one day have her garments sold in boutiques nationwide.
Four other Dallas College students also took home awards, including second and third place awards for Keven Hernandez and Casey DeKrey in the Evening/Bridal category and second and third place awards for Man Matty Sy and Lauren Fallis in Women’s Sportswear.
One thing is certain: COVID-19 did not stop these students’ creativity; it spawned it.
“These victories inspire our students and showcase our program,” Carlson said. “I don’t want to treat us as ‘just a community college.’ We simply need to be the best that we can be.”
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