Fusing faith with fashion

The biannual University of New York Fashion Week kicked off Feb. 8-11, and Liberty University student Caroline Danforth was one of the 27 students from different universities nationwide to experience the fast-paced fashion industry firsthand. 

Liberty’s Family and Consumer Sciences department and Collegiate Licensing Company recognized Danforth as one of the few to receive a $7,000 full-expense-paid trip to New York, learn directly from A-list designers, attend Son Jung Won’s fashion show and get behind-the-scenes insight into the fashion industry.

Before the runways and the stages, though, Danforth had to pass Liberty’s rigorous on-campus competition.

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The competition, held in November, consisted of three rounds in which each student had to craft a digital fashion line. The first round included an initial application form followed by a round of trend analysis and line design, and finally, the presentation to a decorated panel of judges. 

“It was a lot of work,” Danforth said. “It was really good because I got to do what I love most, which is designing, but it also pushed me to explore other areas, … like the marketing side of things.”

Eight fashion design and marketing students competed in the competition. Despite being among the last to present, Danforth’s presentation stood out the most to the judges.

“Caroline definitely stood out,” Kim Cashman, fashion design and merchandising professor, said. “She went above and beyond with her packaging and marketing perspective.”

Cashman mentioned that previous students had similar requirements under a narrower field for the competition. However, Danforth’s designs mixed the classical art style of impressionism with her sewing techniques, bringing a distinct perspective to the competition. 

In Bloom Full Collection

Danforth’s “In Bloom” line comprised four evening gowns with respective packaging. Each gown showcased a variety of bright colors stemming from floral inspiration. 

“I love to make beautiful things and things that other people can feel beautiful in,” Danforth said. “Fashion is a really practical way I can take the talents that I have and apply them in the real world.”

Danforth encourages students to apply and look for ways to “set themselves apart” in future competitions.

When Danforth landed in New York, she was treated to a five-star dinner, a photo shoot in Times Square and a tour of clothing brands’ headquarters, including the athletic wear brand, Champion. The tour included a look at Champion’s design process.

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Danforth’s trip to New York not only provided her with a glimpse inside the fashion design industry, but it also allowed her to incorporate her faith into her fashion designs because she had to trust in the Lord throughout the competition process.

“I love that (students) get a chance to be a light for the Lord,” Cashman said. “I want our students to impact this industry for the Lord. If our students can be not only excellent in their skills, but also strong in their faith so that when they go into this industry, they don’t capsize to the pull of the world, … and (they) change the industry.” 

Cashman described how training Champions for Christ is not necessarily training students to share the gospel with everyone they see, but showing light and love in their designs and work in the industry. 

“I’m just a random homeschooler from Wisconsin,” Danforth said. “It was such a cool experience, and I’m so thankful to Liberty for allowing me to experience it.” 

Danforth hopes to work full-time in the fashion industry when she graduates. Danforth will be the assistant director for the upcoming fashion show held by the Family and Consumer Sciences department Apr. 13 in the School of Music.   

Merritt is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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