Big smiles and animated conversation abounded last week at Cañada fashion department’s annual celebration tea. Students, friends and family all gathered to honor the students who completed certificates and degrees this spring, as well as those who were awarded scholarships. Most anticipated, however, was the news of this year’s design contest winners. A total of 31 students entered this year’s challenge, so competition was stiff!

As always it was a packed house at this year’s spring tea.

The theme was the 1950s and 60s, and each contestant had a different interpretation of those striking eras in fashion. One student created a youthful and classic poodle skirt look, complete with neckerchief and “L” monogram. (If you know what the letter stands for, you are of a certain age, she noted.) Others headed more in the bombshell direction, making sexier looks similar to those worn by stars like Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel series inspired another student designer. The coordinated fabrics were provided by an anonymous donor, which helped the looks complement one another, forming what almost looked like a spring collection suitable for Paris Fashion Week.

Some contestants used self-drafted patterns, others store-bought. A few broke out oldie-but-goodie patterns from their vintage collections. Techniques ranged from using the wrong side of fabrics to cutting them into strips and weaving them. One took a faux fur scarf she purchased at Target and turned it into cuffs for her Maria Callas-inspired gown.

All 31 entries impressed this year’s pool of judges—made up of faculty, staff, board members and others from in and outside the department. However, only four finalists could be chosen. After much drum-rolling and giddy anticipation, Ronda and Peggy announced the winners. They were:

Fourth Place: Chelsie Gho

Chelsie used her fabric creatively, adding layer upon layer to create this classic 1950s silhouette.

Third Place: Linda Imlay

Linda employed a technique traditionally used by quilters to create this intricate pattern. This “cascade” (a scaled-down train) alone took Linda roughly two weeks to complete.

Second Place: Johanna Jay

Johanna loved this Pierre Cardin design from the 1960s but had no idea how to approach the pattern-making. Then it dawned on her: the lower part of the dress was constructed by repeating the simple pattern piece shown here.

First Place: William “Billy” Lash

Billy proudly struck a pose with his winning creation. Even the petticoats were dramatic, and the back of the jacket was intricately laced. Billy thought of every detail. After all what 1950s look would be complete without a string of pearls?

Although some admitted being hesitant at first to take part in the competition, all were glad they competed and were proud of their accomplishments. One student declared, “I’m so glad I entered. It gave me so much more confidence in my skills!”

To say this year’s contest entries were good, great, or even fantastic would be an understatement. Our students’ work this year was absolutely superb! We are proud of each and every one of you!

Campus Public Safety officer Zorie Gomez missed the tea last year but heard great things about it. She recalls her grandmother sewing and has a special appreciation for well-constructed, beautiful garments. She was determined not to miss the contest this year!

What do you think about this year’s contest entries? Do you have a favorite? Please share in the comments.


  • All of the student entries were fantastic. I am proud of the skills demonstrated for designing, pattern making, and construction. The many hours required for creating the dresses were in their free time and not required for a class. For so many busy students to participate, shows confidence for designing beautiful garments.

  • Watching the students design, draft, sew, press, and sew some more through the semester has been heartwarming. Each gown was a blossoming for the students’ skills. A true sense of community was evident as students consulted each other for advice. Proud for all involved.

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