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AI’s Fashion Students Present 'Red Carpet' Event

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By Lea Michelle Cash –

Recently at the Art Institute-Inland Empire, Sherry West, the executive producer and Academic Director of Fashion Design, Dawn Knapp and Cecilia Ng, both co-producers, along with Phyllis Clark, instructor of Fashion retail marketing and a list of others hosted a fashion show featuring their students and a second fashion show featuring Project Runway eighth season finalist Michael Costello.

Costello, 27, a native of Palm Springs who is living his dream since a very young age, opened his fist boutique in Palm Springs at the age of 15. At 16, following a oneyear internship with Mackie, he took a job designing clothes for Claire’s Collection, the design house responsible for stunning gowns featured on red carpets at the Emmy, Oscar, and Grammy Award ceremonies.

He is also noted for dressing Vanna White and the girls from “Price is Right”. Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, Celine Dion, and Mya have all worn his creative designs. Although, the outstanding, award winning celebrity fashion designer was celebrated and featured his 2011 African print Spring couture collections, the night belong to the Art Institute fashion design students creating big dreams of their own.

For example, Bertha Harris, 64, has loved sewing, designing, and drawing all of her life. She recently retired from the County of Riverside as a drafter of maps. She loves designing wedding dresses. With her dream planted firmly in her heart she headed to the Inland Empire’s Art Institute and is scheduled to graduate in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design. Harris said, “I’m living my dream and taking it slow. Because my son says, mom take it slow. But I am so happy to be designing and doing things associated with fashion.” In the student’s fashion show she presented a breathtaking beautiful wedding gown with hand sewn sequenced butterflies featured throughout the garment. “I like butterflies” says Harris, “so I thought a wedding gown should have butterflies on it.”

“The Red Carpet” event was a success as the room filled with over 200 people, delighted with the unveiling of each perfect design presented by runway models who volunteered their time. Delicious finger foods were provided by the Art Institute.

Marinello the School of Beauty also sponsored the event. They supplied the make-up artists and hair stylists.

After both fashion shows were featured, the stage was opened to a question and answer segment in which Costello inspired the audience and future fashion design students to live their dreams and to never give up on believing the could become a valued member in the fashion industry.

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