Fashion capstone proves perfect fit

College students around the country will someday walk out of their respective universities with degrees that will land them the job of their dreams. However, what these degrees don't tell you are the talents many possess that are unrelated to their majors.

Many athletes, singers, dancers, musicians and performers only seek the thrill of the extracurricular activity and not the glory that comes with the major or minor. However, Nina Mahi Zadrozny-Pereira, a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in math and theatre, has turned her pasttime into what she hopes is a full-time future in fashion design.

"I want to be a designer after I graduate," Zadrozny-Pereira said. "Right now I'm looking for jobs or internships in costume design because I've had more experience in that, but eventually I want to go into fashion design."

The Switzerland-born and South India-raised Brazilian has dreamed of being a designer since she was young. Though she didn't apply to design schools, she has found a niche at AU to further her pursuit: She has been the costume shop's apprentice for the past year and, as an honors student, has chosen her senior capstone to be a fashion show of her original designs.

"I have been working on this show since the beginning of the semester, but I had already designed some of the pieces during the summer and even completed two of them," Zadrozny-Pereira said. "It took me about two hours to design each piece and about four to 10 hours to [construct] each one. Some were more complicated designs than others and some I didn't have such a clear idea of how I wanted to sew them as I did for others."

Though this is Zadrozny-Pereira's first fashion show, this is not her first time creating and constructing clothing. Learning how to sew at the age of 10 from her mother, she found little projects for herself to hone her skills.

"I made little skirts for myself and helped my mother repair her clothes or mine," Zadrozny-Pereira said. "I started designing my own clothes when I was about 13. I made new clothes for myself from sewing catalogues, or I tried to copy my own clothes and modify the designs a little to make them more interesting. I also liked making interesting outfits for my sister and my friends. I used to make my own and my friends' Halloween costumes almost every year until coming to college. That was a lot of experience and creativity."

Beyond making her own clothing, Zadrozny-Pereira has a few favorite designers.

"I like the casual-type clothes from Donna Karan because they're interesting and fun," she said. "For more formal wear, Versace [designs] beautiful gowns. I don't have a lot of designer clothes because I create my own combinations of outfits with cute things I find in [stores]. That way I can modify the clothes and not feel like I'm ruining someone else's design."

Zadrozny-Pereira also has celebrity styles she admires.

"There are a lot of famous stars that I think are fashionable, like Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Gwen Stefani, to name a few," she said. "However, I also believe that each person creates their own fashion, even if they have very little interest in the fashion scene."

Like most designers, Zadrozny-Pereira's concepts for the clothing she designed for this show were derived from modified ideas from stores, everyday events, and personal travels and experiences.

"My ideas for the designs came from dining at a restaurant and seeing the food arranged carefully on my plate, watching people on the beach," she said. "Some of my other ideas came from watching dance shows, talking to my friends; some of the crazier designs I created from thinking about history."

Her travels also contributed to her inspiration.

"I went back to Brazil, as well as to many places in Europe for vacation every summer. One of my favorite things to do while on vacation is to window-shop wherever I go. I'm interested in seeing what's out there to give me ideas," Zadrozny-Pereira said.

When she's actually shopping, Zadrozny-Pereira finds her clothing from stores like Wet Seal, Bebe, Forever 21, Express, United Colors of Benetton and the juniors sections of most department stores. She hopes that her clothing will breathe new life into fashion and fill the void that's not filled by these stores or other designers.

"I feel my designs and creativity will add another fun aspect to the world of fashion," she said. "They'll continue to promote intercultural and ethnic designs incorporated from my travels and growing up in India."

Zadrozny-Pereira's designs reflect her multicultural upbringing. There is a shimmering variegated red-satin sequined stretch velour halter dress with full circle skirt in red satin with black-beaded trim that was worn by the character Sally Bowles in last semester's production of "Cabaret." A blue micro-fiber gourd skirt with black satin ruffle topped by a corset with blue grommets laced with black chenille is fitting for someone who wants to be a vixen for the evening. The green raw-silk bustier and multihued raw-silk Turkish cut pant call forth images of the Middle East.

There's an electric blue raw silk crop top trimmed with black satin and black and purple seed beads along the bottom that is ideal for a night out. One can imagine the sundress of charcoal gray matte trimmed in lime green silk worn by a woman wandering aimlessly around the city. The mini sari blouse and skirt of green raw silk trimmed in a light green paisley pattern can function in both day or night.

The pieces will be on sale after the show.

"I'm thinking of selling each piece for about $50 to $120 depending on the complexity of the design and the type of fabric," Zadrozny-Pereira said. "I want my designs to be affordable to everyone."

She hopes that this fashion show will be a stepping stone to her future.

"Five or 10 years from now I see myself watching people on the red carpet wearing clothes that I designed, or if not on the red carpet, in movies or on stage," Zadrozny-Pereira said. "That would be my dream"

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