2015 Designer Profiles | School of Architecture | SIU

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2015 Student Showcase & Runway Fashion Shows Designer Profiles

Emily Kaye

“I design for people looking for distinct and unusual pieces that can be worn every day.”

Emily Kaye’s senior collection, Lesions, represents images and patterns from cell slides, photographs, and x-rays of autopsies of diseases that develop over a lifetime. Her inspiration for her color palette comes from the stain colors used in cell slides, haematoylin (blue) and eosin (pink), x-ray sepia and navy tones, and neutral shades to tie the line together. To create comfortable, modern silhouettes, Emily mixes soft knits, flowing silks, and sheer chiffons.

Emily was born on the south side of Chicago, and transferred from NIU in DeKalb to the Fashion Design & Merchandising Program at SIUC. As a designer, Emily is influenced by unconventional motifs that can be used to create garments that give a woman a unique style. 

Her advice to young designers is to “follow your true aspirations, and ask for help when you need it the most.” After graduation, Emily plans to earn an advanced degree in Library Science, specializing in the areas of textile, surface design, and apparel literature and references.


Jade Ellen Tracy

"My goal is to make the world look beautiful through my own unique perspective of color and beauty."

Jade Ellen Tracy, from Oblong, Illinois, will present her senior collection, Genesis, inspired by nature and the beauty of flowers, as well as the work of artist Alphonse Mucha. In this collection, Jade has incorporated the movement, color, and patterns from Mucha’s “The Flower Series 1898.”

As a designer, Jade has always been inspired by art, and believes that art and fashion go hand-in-hand. Art inspires Jade to visualize garments using new perspectives,adapting the colors and techniques found in artwork to reflect her style.

Her advice to aspiring designers is to “Ask all of the questions you can while you are a new designer. There is no better way to grow personally without listening, watching, and learning.” After graduation, Jade will pursue a career in fashion, bringing her  perspective and style to the industry. 


Leslie Drummond Billing

"I design for people who dare to be different."

Leslie Drummond believes that beauty can be found in turning a design upside-down and inside-out. Leslie often plays with masculine and feminine fashion conventions to create clothing that is free from gender stereotypes. Leslie is also inspired by the past. Leslie’s senior collection, Isolated, uses military, punk, and grunge themes to create a line that turns the conformity of the military into non-conformity, and plays with the ideas of masculinity and femininity. To add a personal twist, Leslie’s collection reflects the common human emotion of feeling “trapped” by one’s own thoughts, of those periods in life when a person feels “helpless, alone, and depressed.” Using these negative emotions, Leslie’s goals in creating this collection are to change the way people wear clothes, and to express the idea that all genders should be able to wear anything without being judged, as well as encouraging people to embrace this change. 

Leslie’s advice to aspiring designers is “to never give up. Being a designer is rough and it gets very stressful. But never ever give up on yourself. I believe that by taking inspiration from your own life, your own thoughts and beliefs, you can create something truly amazing. If you put yourself into your work, there is no one stopping you.” After graduation, Leslie plans to move back to Chicago and find a job working under another designer to continue to learn. 


Linh Hong

“If you are going to do something, do it properly, otherwise there is no point in doing it at all.”

Designer Linh Hong, from St. Louis, was inspired by the legend of Empress Erzsebet Bathory of Hungary to create her senior collection, The Darkest Mind. Linh was intrigued by the story of this empress, who bathed in the blood of virgins to obtain beauty and eternal youth. Simple silhouettes are paired with bold fabrics and trims for a modern interpretation of this story. Other design inspirations come from documentaries and Indie films, as well as Linh’s former academic studies in mortuary science and funeral service.

For aspiring designers, Linh believes that “it is important to have someone to talk to and discuss everything with and bounce design ideas off of. Two people can view the same concept, but still have different interpretations.” After graduation, Linh will apply for product development and design positions in New York or California.


Tram Mai

“Fashion is something that all women can appreciate and use to show off their own personality to feel good about their bodies and themselves.”

Tram Mai, from Chicago, Illinois, has named her senior collection Alluring. Inspiration for this line of evening gowns comes from goddesses in Greek mythology. Tram’s garments will present her own personal ‘take’ on the personality of each goddess with a line that creates a sense of elegance and confidence. Flowing chiffons, beading, custom jewelry and headpieces will complement the simple and elegant silhouettes of the gowns. 

Tram’s advice to young designers is to “completely fall head over heels in love with sewing and dedicate your soul to it. Going into fashion design is an extremely competitive industry so you have to keep your head high and never give up, although at times things can become very tough. It’s okay to feel discouraged, but don’t let that define your dedication if designing is something that you are absolutely passionate about.” After graduation, Tram would like to find a job in New York, California, France or Australia. Eventually she hopes to own a boutique and design dresses for clients who are interested in ‘red carpet’ looks.