Apparel Design Senior places first in Alegria: the Fashion Show

As this year's fall semester began, apparel design senior Alex Engelhardt was already making headlines with his debut fashion line when he placed first in the annual Alegria fashion competition.

Alex EngelhardtAlex spent a lot of time sketching out ideas each day. Through his process in developing his line, he would finish a look and then move on to his next one. The line itself consisted of eight different looks. Eddy Perez/LSU University Relations

design by EngelhardtAlex's final reveal, which is also his favorite, included red fringe sewn into the collar of the white jacket to mimic blood trails from a vampire bite mark.Alex Engelhardt

design by EngelhardtThe line itself was created with women in mind and includes many zippers and high waistlines.Alex Engelhardt

Alegria: the Fashion Show raises funds to help the Louisiana SPCA and is a great creative outlet for Louisiana designers. Though he was the youngest entry in the competition, Alex's creativity and skill helped propel him to the top spot.

Alex chose to focus on his roots when he developed his first fashion line, pulling from New Orleans folklore and modern ideals. The result was a line inspired by vampires and futuristic settings.

"A lot of vampire stuff is based out of New Orleans and Louisiana, lots of recent [television] shows," Alex said. "It was the general idea and trendiness of it all, just how much you can do with it."

Alex drew from stark contrasts, juxtapositions and of course urban legends, including the New Orleans vampires.

"Black and white, the sharp shapes and angles, I like the sharpness of everything," Alex said. "I try to stay away from flowy things."

The line itself took the whole summer to develop, Alex said. There were eight looks in total.

"All of the looks flow together, they all have the same feel," Alex said. "I did two dresses to show the versatility [of the line], but it was mainly separates, like jackets, pants and shorts."

The items were not necessarily casual or formal; Alex stressed that the clothing he developed could go either way.

"My favorite was the last outfit, because it was all white and I stitched red fringe to make it look like a bite mark that was bleeding down the jacket," Alex said. The look itself was a jacket, shorts and tank top, and it was the stand-up collar with two lines that hung off the jacket that really brought it all together."

During the development stages, Alex first came up with a theme for his line and then began sketching out various ideas to see what would work with the other items.

"I took it step-by-step, made one outfit and then see what could go after that, trying to keep everything cohesive and look like it could be worn by the same person," Alex said. "I wanted to make sure there was consistency within the line."

For the competition, the competition organizers assigned Alex all women models, so his line showcased women's fashion. Alex does want to create a male line in the future, though.

"Menswear is harder to create due to the different details that are required to be wearable," Alex said. "For example, in women's pants you can just put a zipper on the back, but for men's pants you need a fly with the zipper, and also pockets, belt loops and other details."

The Alegria competition has been a staple of the NOLA Fashion scene for years, but this year, the organizers sent an email to LSU students urging them to get involved. Students were required to submit a short bio and pictures of their work. Alex submitted sketches he had created for his design classes and the organizers allowed him to participate.

"I came up with my own signature: all of the shorts and pants that I made have a waistline that comes up at the sides more than in the front and back," Alex said. "It's like a box, and it looks really futuristic. I fit it with the vampire theme for my line."

While he may have been nervous before the show, Alex said he got caught up in just making sure everything ran smoothly backstage to even process that other people were enjoying his line.

Though he did list Alexander Wang's design motifs as inspiration for himself, Alex said he tries not to look to other designers for inspiration when it comes to his own line.

"I tried to create my own style instead of just copying someone else," Alex said. "That's the kind of feedback I got from everyone [at the show], that mine was a lot different than everyone else's."

Like many college students, Alex explored various disciplines before realizing his true calling for creativity in fashion. It was not until last year that he took the chance and switched to apparel design.

"I switched majors a lot trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and I eventually realized I wanted to do something designing," Alex said. "If I'm not being creative or designing, I get bored easily, and I've always had the urge to do something in fashion, so I felt like I'd regret it if I didn't try it."

Alex suggested that creatives should try to find inspiration within themselves instead of from others.

"Try to inspire yourself and come up with your own things for people to remember you by," Alex said.

For those trying to develop their own lines, Alex left these words of advice.

"Make sure your line flows and that there are certain details that show throughout the collection," Alex said. "Don't transition through different styles within one collection. Just stick with your style and try to keep the little details to make it flow throughout."

Always one to stray from the norms of fashion, Alex believes LSU students can become even more fashionable if they experiment with their outfits.

"Try to venture away from the traditional polos and khakis and take a chance on something different," Alex said. "If you don't feel comfortable with it at first, it's okay."