When Alaina Aylward was looking for inspiration for her latest collection, the soon-to-be senior at Blue Springs High School turned toward a popular pink bird.
“I was watching this documentary, ‘Crimson Wing,’ which is about flamingos,” she said. “It struck me as to how many different colors are in flamingos’ feathers. There is this ombre and then the color blocking under the wings. There are so many textures. It is just not pink.”
That inspiration led Aylward to her second national title. She was named the national champion in fashion design at the recent National Leadership Conference of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.
More than 7,000 FCCLA members attended the national conference in Nashville, Tenn., which included a five-day convention and STAR Events. STAR (Students Taking Action with Recognition) events are competitive events where members are recognized for proficiency and achievement in individual projects. There are 31 STAR events, including fashion design. Others include applied technology, focus on children, interpersonal communications, job interview, recycle and redesign, parliamentary procedure, early childhood and fashion construction. In fashion design, there were 28 participants.
Aylward, who also placed first at the regional and state level, received a medal and a scholarship valued at about $50,000 to FIDM in California, considered to be one of the top fashion schools in the United States.
“It was really, really exciting,” Aylward said. “I was a lot more nervous this year because I had won the event before. It felt good to do so well again.”
As part of the requirements, Aylward had to design a six-piece collection, along with presenting a detailed portfolio. She also had to showcase one of the collection’s pieces, which was a dress and quilted jacket, both sewn by Aylward. The portfolio includes sketches of all the pieces, patterns for her garments, information about potential careers and any additional research.
The last portion of the competition is a 10-minute oral presentation about the collection in front of a panel of judges.
“I always start by making rough sketches,” she said. “From those, I do more final sketches and then take which pieces or ideas I like the best. All I needed was a six-piece collection, but I made about 12. I chose what I thought showed my skills the most.”
Renee Herman, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Blue Springs High School, said what has impressed her the most is the growth she has seen in Aylward the past year.
“I have seen such growth in not only her skills, but her attitude. She is much more mature,” she said. “She is quite talented and I cannot wait to see what she does in the future.”
Aylward said now that she is entering her senior year, she has started to think about where she wants to attend school. She said one decision she has already made is her major - fashion design.
Page 2 of 2 - “I feel drawn to New York. I feel like there are so many opportunities there, but it would be a big transition,” she said. “What I would ultimately like to have is my own brand and have people all over the world wearing my clothes. But as long as I am making beautiful things, I will be all set.”