Student fashion designer makes it work

Anya Gazes, a senior, attended the Art Institute’s fashion course, sparking her interest in designing


Photos by Brian Wildeman. Sketches by Anya Gazes.

Middle: Anya Gazes poses with her hand-made pantsuit. After browsing online, she was inspired by a ‘60s-type pantsuit with a boxy fit. She designed this outfit at the Art Institute’s Fashion Design and Construction course this summer. Left, right: Anya’s prospective sketches from the fashion course were elaborate. She considered these designs, but opted for a more basic approach. The two-week course prompted many late nights, hard deadlines and a “Project Runway”-esque atmosphere. By the end of the course, she was inspired to pursue fashion in college.

“When I was younger, I would get inspired and design clothes that I’d like to own. I never thought of it as that other people might want to wear it, too,” Anya Gazes said. “In high school and in middle school, I got very shy, and I just wanted to dress like everybody else and wear what was popular.”

The past two years Anya, a senior, has begun expressing her fashion sense at school by not being scared to wear outfits that make a statement. This has helped build confidence in many aspects of her life.

sketch by Anya Gazes

In summer 2019 Anya spent two weeks at the Art Institute’s Fashion Design and Construction course designing a boxy, light blue two-piece suit. Anya’s design was elaborate.

“We all had to present like three options second day of class for, like, what we were going to make, and I think I went a little more out there than other people did in my original designs,” Anya said.

In the end, Anya simplified her design, so she could focus on improving the quality of her work. For two weeks she and her fellow design campers worked on their projects while receiving instruction on the basics of clothing design and construction.

“It was brutal. I thought it would go a lot faster than that, but it felt like we were all on ‘Project Runway,’” Anya said.

Anya said that she was so stressed that she felt like she was working harder than she did at school, as the steps involved in making clothes were foreign to her.

sketch by Anya Gazes

“I didn’t realize that in handmade clothes, not factory-made, you kind of have to make it twice because you gotta do the rough draft, and then you have to start the process of cutting them out and sewing them together all over again but for your final,” she said. From using stencils to measuring fabric to the numerous drafts, the workload was intense.

At the end of the camp, Anya participated in a runway show to exhibit their work from the summer. Walking down the runway, Anya posed for photographers and smiled at cheering friends and family in the crowd. She wore her completed light-blue, boxy two-piece with white buttons.

Since finishing the camp, Anya has found her new skills very useful. “I’ve offered to like design stuff or alter stuff for my family and friends since I know how to sew. And sometimes I would cut apart old clothes and try to hand sew,”

Anya is applying to design schools and hopes to major in fashion design. Ultimately, her goal is to create her own fashion line.

“If I can bring more color and happiness into the world through my clothing I want to do that,” Anya said. “Fashion for me is like showing you who I am on the inside on the outside, too.”