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Communique: "Fiction To Fashion" Teen Design Competition 2018

Stephen Bellm
Jaya H. in Fiction to Fashion 2016


New Hanover County Youth Services Librarian Scooter Hayes joined us to talk about the Fiction to Fashion design contest. The runway competition is March 1st, but teens can sign up through 11:59 pm on Wednesday, January 31.  

Scooter: Fiction to Fashion 2018 New Hanover County Public Libraries 4th annual fashion design contest for teens.

Gina:     What does this mean?

Scooter: This means that if you are between the ages of 13 and 18 you can enter this program series and create an outfit using unconventional materials such as library books, cassette tapes, CDs, and walk the runway. Showcase this magnificent outfit you've created on the runway at Expo 216.

Gina:     So these teenagers make something to wear that they will walk down the runway in out of books, CDs, cassette tapes, videos...

Scooter: Basically they make an outfit, an accessory, out of books, CDs, cassette tapes. They can use fabric if they want as long as books are the primary material. And they use CDs and cassette tapes as well but books is the main material.

Credit NHCL
Fiction to Fashion: Nydheri B. (L) and Cammy H. (R)

Gina:     Where do they get these books to make into an outfit?

Scooter: They get them from the library. Either items that are too old from the library that have been discarded or sometimes folks donate books to the library for the Friends of the Library Book Sale that that don't get chosen for that. We take those and let the teens use them to create their outfits. So in a way I guess it's repurposing literature into fashion. It's fantastic.  It's a system wide event and it's open to anyone ages 13 to 18 who's interested in fashion design.

Gina:     Now, people have to sign up by Wednesday night at midnight.

Scooter: Correct.

Gina:     And what do they need to be able to tell you to sign up? Do they need to have their outfit already designed?

Fiction to Fashion: Bonnie F.
Credit Matt Born / Star News

Edit | Remove

Scooter: Not at all. They just need be interested. We need their name and preferably their clothing line name. Something that they want to call their brand. And the next few sessions professionals from the fashion scene will be working with them to really fine tune the design, inspire them, and elevate their ideas.

Gina:     So they'll get some mentoring on making a design?

Scooter: Absolutely. The most exciting thing I think for this year's event is Lesley Tamaev is going to be participating. She's the owner of Rove and Roam. I believe she was a designer for Ralph Lauren in New York City back in the day. She was a judge last year and she was blown away with what the teens designed and she wanted to be more of a part of the event this year. So she's going to be at the Fashion Forum on February 6th talking to the teens individually about their designs and helping them make them even better.

Gina:     So kids who missed the intro session can still register?

Scooter: Yeah, we have a handful of spots left. We have 15 designs registered currently. We still have some space for a few more. And they just need to sign up at NHCLibrary.org and basically put your name, say, "I'm interested in doing this," and come to the Fashion Forum where you'll be mentored by Lesley Tamaev, owner of Rove and Roam. Alice Powell and Jamie Banarsik are going to be there. They have costume design background. Jamie works for Cameron Art Museum.

Beauty Bar will be there where the teens get to select their look, their hairstyle, their makeup. And Beauty Bar is providing free hair and makeup the night of the runway show. Ann Hogalin will be there to help create artist statements for the emcee, which will be me, to read while they're on the runway. So there's a lot a lot of fashion authorities involved. Colby from Shelton Metal is going to be there helping them design jewelry and get ideas for accessories. By registering for this event you're going to be working with fashion professionals who are in the scene and it's a great networking opportunity and a chance to explore like, "Hey, this could actually be a profession for me."

Gina:     But at the same time, you're doing it in an outside the box kind of way. You're doing it in a way that is very unusual with books and CDs and cassette tapes.

Scooter: That's right. Yeah. You gotta throw the library spin on it a little bit, you know. We have tons of books that get recycled. We have to repurpose those and why not have a fashion show about it? The teens do such a fantastic job.

Gina:     So is this the third year?

Credit NHCL
Fiction to Fashion (before EXPO 216 became the host)

Scooter: This is the fourth year.

Gina:     This is the fourth year. What are some of your favorite pieces that you've seen over the past four years?

Scooter: Oh man. Everyone really brings it. Skyler last year, she did something like an atlas design and she had almost made these cones or triangles with the dress and when she walked it bounced up and down. It was amazing. We've seen a play on the Phantom of the Opera. Bonnie Fawcett in the past has done a mask with her design, which is really interesting. Cammy Herbert last year took us back to the roaring 20s and had a whole Great Gatsby ensemble.

It's really neat and the intricate details- like they'll make little flowers with the paper for their hair and some of them will even decoupage their nails. It's insane. And as the emcee I've learned a lot of new vocabulary- like “corset.” So I'm learning. I'm learning about this fashion stuff. But it is really neat, it's really amazing. I'm going to be repping the same outfit I've worn for the past three years. I'm not making anything new.

Gina:     Is it made out of books?

Scooter: It's a jacket made out of books. It's very 2015.

Gina:            Who made that?

Scooter: A co-worker, Jamie Schrum. She's now the Children's Librarian at MainLlibrary. I'm not very crafty. I'm more of the organizer and emcee guy, so I'll leave it to the fashion professionals to mentor the teens.

Gina:     And of course this is for young men and young women.

Scooter: Correct.

Gina:     And people can work in teams.

Scooter: Right.

Gina:     But only one of them can walk down the runway.

Scooter: Correct.

Gina:     So a team would have one outfit.

Scooter: Yes. You can work as a pair and you both can work on the design, but we only have space for one to model the design down the runway. And also, we don't want more than two because that kind of makes an unfair advantage if you have 17 people working on one design.

Gina:     Does it cost anything?

Scooter: It's free. And the runway show is free, open to the public. Can't beat that.

Gina:     When is the runway show?

Scooter: It's Thursday, March 1st at Expo 216 at 7:00 p.m.. Come on down. You can vote for crowd favorite. Cast your vote online for your favorite right there at the show. It's like The Voice except for it's paper. We also have Brittany Douglas, who's a local model, helping them with their runway swagger the Tuesday before that at runway rehearsal. We have D.J. Quinn coming back on to deejay the event, spin some records. I'll be emceeing the event. NeMa is providing food. Small bites. NeMa and Jester's Café providing small bites to folks who attend the show. It really is an amazing event. These teens bring it. They are fierce on the runway.

Gina:     Since this is year four, have you noticed a change in the event? Has it grown? Has it gotten crazier or has it gotten more participation? What's happened as you keep doing it?

Scooter: Yeah, the designs have definitely elevated each year. I think teens see what's been done before and they're able to be like, "Oh I could do that and this." And then the involvement of our community has exponentially grown. The first year I had one fashion professional involved with the whole thing and the next year a few more. And then from there it really exploded and we had over ten help throughout the process and we had Expo 216 as the venue and we have the restaurants bringing us small bites. So this year we're seeing even more involvement. I mean, Lesley Tamaev, she's a real designer taking time out of her day to mentor the teens. That's a really special opportunity right there. That's what I've seen change- the designs get elevated and the community involvement from the local fashion scene.

Gina:     Do you play music while you do the runway thing?

Scooter: D.J. Quinn will be providing music throughout the evening.

Gina:     Is fire acceptable? Can people like have something that blows up and sets on fire when they walk?

Scooter: Like Katniss?

Gina:     Yes! Like Katniss!

Scooter: I don't know. I'll have to check with the owners at Expo to see if pyrotechnics is allowed in anyone's design. Probably not. You know, paper is pretty flammable. Kaboom.