North Miami / NMB

Fashion face-off puts Johnson & Wales students’ styles in the spotlight

As industry experts looked on, models sporting the latest trends, such as winter pastels and mixed prints, sashayed across the room.

While it looked like a showroom during the recent New York Fashion Week, it was actually a student competition hosted at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami.

The school’s first ever fashion face-off competition was designed to give students an opportunity to explore what goes on in the fashion world.

To be considered, about 40 fashion students submitted blog essays about their personal style. Faculty selected four students from the applicants and gave each a $100 budget to style an outfit inspired by fall trends from fashion week in New York three weeks ago.

“The competition really exposes students to what they will need to be able to do in the industry,” said Michelle Garcia, associate dean of academic affairs at Johnson & Wales. “Not only do they need to understand fashion trends, but they have to be able to articulate their vision.”

With the help of friends who volunteered to model, the students presented the looks to a panel, including Kristin Clark, who writes about fashion on her blog, Living In Color Print; Kelly Saks, an on-air style expert, blogger and stylist; Stephanie Pernas, the writer behind fashion blog A Sparkle Factor; and Ina Cordle, a fashion and business reporter at the Miami Herald.

The panel shared fashion industry advice with students and provided feedback to each of the looks showcased by student stylists.

The panel selected freshman Kelson Sanders as the winner. She styled a look inspired by the dark colors and mini-skirts she saw in designer Andrew Gn’s recent New York show.

“My vision was styling for someone like myself, either a college student or a fashion blogger,” said Sanders, 18, a fashion marketing major from Atlanta. “I always try to incorporate things that I would wear.”

Sanders used her money to splurge on a pale pink and black striped skirt and black patterned leggings from BCBG Generation. For the black collared top and tweed gray jacket, she went into her model’s closet.

She sent a photo to her mom, who thought the outfit did not match, but she knew the panelists would think differently.

She told mom, “It’s fashion. It doesn’t have to match and it is cute.”

Nearly 40 students came to the competition to support the student stylists and to get advice about how to break into the industry. The panelists told students to create opportunities for themselves, even if it means working for free.


“The panelists were great because they were able to say ‘I’ve been there. I’ve done it and here is the route,’ ” said Antonio Boone, 20, a junior studying marketing. “To see people that are young or entrepreneurs and doing this, it encourages us.”

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