Thursday, April 13, 2017

San Diego Fashion Files | April 2017

“Nifty Fifties”

The sixth Annual FASHION REDUX! Held their 2017 Finale Party in Balboa Park on March 3. This annual design competition was co-hosted by the San Diego History Center and the Fashion Program at San Diego Mesa College. This year the theme was the “Nifty Fifties”. Everyone was encouraged to wear 50’s dress. A 1955 Thunderbird was parked at the entrance so that all the guests could take pictures with it.

Each year a different time period is picked and the students come in to view the historic garments as inspiration pieces. The next step in the competition involves creating the sketch, making muslin, and constructing the finished garment. Finally faculty and industry advisors judge these creations. The judge’s decisions are based on creativity, workmanship, and wear ability. Four finalists were chosen and the garments were put on display at the History Center leading up to the finale. The inspirational pieces from the Historic Clothing and Textile Collection were also on exhibition to give everyone a better idea of the process.

A Finale party and reception was held to announce the winners. During this time the guests had the opportunity to cast their vote for the “People’s Choice Award”. The “Lead Designer” and “ People’s Choice Award” went to Juliet Liet. Kara Riekstins and Phitsenee Jirathamrongkarn tied for second place. The third place finisher was Rachel Merrill. This year a special award went to Carla Robyn W. as the best 50’s dressed guest.

After the awards presentation, the crowd retired to the auditorium for an awesome presentation by Gabe Selek who is the History Ambassador. Selek shared his wide knowledge of the 1950’s history in San Diego. Mesa Fashion Professor Susan Lazear gave an illustrated fashion lecture on the fashion styles of the 1950’s. Bringing a close to this marvelous evening, Lazear went through the entire process of creating these inspirational garments for the audience.

As a follow up the Villa Montezuma in Sherman Heights was open for a tour on March 25th. The four inspirational pieces of the students were on display and the designers were able to speak to the guests about their collaboration with the History Center. The Villa Montezuma is a Victorian Mansion built in 1887 for Jesse Shepard. They are only open 4 times a year so this was a great opportunity for the students to talk with the public about their creations. For more information about the History Center visit: San Diego Mesa College is a two-year college with associate degrees in Fashion, Merchandising, and Computer Technology. For more information Visit:

Upcoming Events

January 14, 2017-June 4, 2017 Knotted Fiber Jewelry This exhibition by Sandy Swirnoff is at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. The artist combines the old with the new using various beads and a form of macramé. Hours are Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5-pm.

Thursday April 27th, 2017 FAB Authority presents an Intellectual Property Workshop with Knobbe Martens as part of Fashion Week San Diego at 6PM. This free event will be located at FIDM on 350 Tenth Avenue #300. RSVP at

Friday May 5th, 2017 “Double Oh Siete (007)” is a luncheon and fashion show fundraiser to benefit the Vista Hill Foundation at Town & Country Hotel. For info: (858) 449-8060.

Friday May 12th, 2017 Golden Scissors Fashion Show at the Sheraton Harbor Island Hotel. San Diego Mesa College fashion students show their designs. For info: (760) 994-8083.

This article originally appeared in the San Diego Downtown News April 2017. Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned Couture Milliner based in the Historic Gaslamp Quarter. Learn more about our Hat Designer, Teacher & Blogger at

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