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Assistant Professor Lisa Barona McRoberts is creating a physical timeline of LSU style for the LSU Day experience "Fashion Through the Ages." The timeline will feature garments made by students.

This story was written in anticipation of LSU Day occurring April 24. Although LSU Day has been postponed until the fall, the university would still like to acknowledge its programs and participants.

Students create collections for Fashion Through the Ages Exhibit

Fashion isn’t just for the New York runways. From the cover of Vogue to the sidewalks of Los Angeles, fashion is everywhere. Even on the second floor of the Human Ecology Building, stylish garments come to life.

In this classroom, seniors are lead by Assistant Professor Lisa Barona McRoberts for their capstone course, Synthesis: Textile and Apparel Production. This semester, students were asked to create three garments, which includes the idea, the sketch, the pattern and sewing and executing the final piece.

The students were to create one look for the Dallas Career Day competition, an annual program for students in the fashion industry. This piece could fit into one of several categories including career, outerwear, casual, the little red dress, re-purposed denim, cotton or costume, along with several others. The second piece had to be created from sustainable materials. This includes fabrics such as bamboo, hemp, peace silk and soy, along with natural dyes from berries, coffee and flowers. The final piece was free range, however, all three piece must form a cohesive collection.

McRoberts compares the experience to a local “Project Runway.” After all, the students work on tables, use sewing machine stations and each have their own mannequin for measuring and fitting. When the collections are complete, the garments will be on public display at the “Fashion Through the Ages” exhibit on LSU Day, April 24.

“I was asked to put together an exhibit for the 150th anniversary,” McRoberts said. “I knew it was time to showcase the students’ work.”

For the exhibit, each student will have at least one piece of their collection showcased. By coincidence, McRoberts ended up with garments representing interpretations of fashion in the ’20s, all the way through the ’00s.

“I didn’t assign the students years,” McRoberts said. “I didn’t want them to design around that idea. I just wanted their interpretation of previous fashion design.”

McRoberts is working on a physical timeline the public can walk through to see all of the fashion that’s come through the university, including futuristic looks. McRoberts is also coordinating the Human Ecology’s Body Shape Analysis for LSU Day’s “What to Wear” experience. Participants will learn what clothing shapes best fit and flatter their bodies.

At LSU Day, McRoberts will also showcase environmentally friendly fashion at the sustainability tent. There, the public can learn about natural materials and how to dye fabrics with tea and berries.

For McRoberts, learning and teaching sustainable fashion has been multifaceted.

These four dresses were LSU winners at the Dallas Career Day competition, which showcased a variety of garment styles.

“As a designer, I’ve found that there are comparable fabrics that are still environmentally friendly,” she said. “They are really beautiful, and in some ways, they make better garments.”

Throughout the classroom, there are several finished garments made from sustainable materials. In the front of the room, there is a baby pink ruffled mini-dress, which was dyed using strawberries, fitted to a mannequin. There is also a floor-length gown made from cheesecloth, hanging in the back of the class.

McRoberts said she enjoys finding uses for eco-friendly materials, such as creating bustiers from hemp, which has warmth and structure. She also notes bamboo fleece as a favorite material, along with peace silk—a silk made without hurting its providing worms.

“There are so many alternatives, and it begins with education,” she said. “Through this we’ve been able to collaborate textile science with educating our students and the public about eco-friendly fashion. We are moving toward the future.”

McRoberts is a professor focused on her students and their successes, but she is no stranger to triumph in the fashion world. She earned her undergraduate and master’s degree in apparel design at LSU, before interning for Vera Wang’s fashion house. She earned her Ph.D. from University of Florida and owned a local custom couture business, where she designed and made bridal, debutante and evening looks.

Today, she is still bubbling with excitement over her students’ wins at the Dallas Career Day competition—an event in which she placed as a student.

“I wanted to come back and teach at LSU, to pass it on,” she said. “But to see my students win, it’s tenfold.”

Four of McRoberts’ seniors placed at Dallas Career Day, the most ever in the competition. Joelle Fisher earned second place in the cotton category for her tea-dyed dress. Natasha Popich placed third for her little red dress of cotton. Molly Stackhouse placed third in casual wear with her hand-painted strapless dress. Ryan Auld won first place in career with a black and white patterned dress, and also won Best of Show, earning a Paris Scholarship Competition to study in Paris at the Paris American Academy.

“We have a great reputation here,” McRoberts said. “We are one of the only universities in the South that has a fashion program through the Ph.D. level. I love LSU, and I feel blessed to be involve with the 150th anniversary as a faculty member.”

Holly Phillips | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations
April 2010