Santa Monica College Fashion Department students gear up for next Thursday’s culminating runway show

By Michael Aushenker

Santa Monica College fashion students choose their models for next week’s La Mode 2014 Fashion Show

Santa Monica College fashion students choose their models for next week’s La Mode 2014 Fashion Show

On a scorching weekday afternoon, five sleek fashion models stand in a small courtyard as they sport new handmade creations by designer Emily Hernandez, who fusses with the wardrobe of her quintet as they strike magazine-ready poses.

It could have been a scene out of Fashion Week in Paris or Milan, but the setting was Santa Monica College, where Hernandez was among 25 fashion majors readying for next Thursday’s La Mode 2014. The SMC Fashion Department’s annual fashion show in downtown Los Angeles represents the culmination of an SMC fashion major’s experience, taking place just ahead of graduation in June.

Like her classmates, 23-year-old Hernandez has chosen her models from a group of young women — all of them SMC students, some of them also enrolled in SMC’s fashion program — lined up around a large room replete with sewing machines and racks of garments. The West L.A. resident found her inspiration for the line from an unlikely source: 16th-century France, during the rule of Mary, Queen of Scots, via the CW show “Reign.”

“I was inspired by those types of fabrics, but I tried to bring it into the present,” Hernandez said.

In choosing her ethnically diverse group of models, “I was looking for a mix of body types and color tones,” she said.

“I don’t really care about the height,” said WingYee, another student designer, of her own model choices. “They have to have a cool look.”

Marine Boyadzhyan, who has led SMC’s Fashion Portfolio Production class for eight years, said her pupils will compete in four main categories come May 29 — casual, business, cocktail and evening wear — with an optional category for avant-garde design.

Students plan out their runway show

Students plan out their runway show

“Many people in the audience are coming from the industry,” said Boyadzhyan, author of the 2009 book “The Art of Sewing.” “They will be judging the garments.”

And hiring.

Several in attendance are from European fashion houses, and the cream of the crop from Fashion Portfolio Production may land internships or jobs based on their La Mode showcases, Boyadzhyan said.

Sophomore Yee is already transferring to Parsons Paris School of Art & Design based on her portfolio’s strength.

“I learned a lot — making patterns, sewing skills,” said the 23-year-old Hong Kong native as she assessed one of her creations, a black-and-white jump suit composed of leather, polyester and chiffon sections.

Student designer Monica Furchi, who came to America from Brazil five years ago to learn English and pursued fashion design at SMC after falling in love with Los Angeles, said she benefitted from the program’s hands-on training.

“Not only are we making garments in this class, but we are learning the whole process of how to run a fashion show. We have so far raised money, made the flyers, chose the models, looked for judges, worked on our PowerPoint slides,” Furchi said.

Hernandez, who had an affinity for arts but entered college unsure of a major, credited Lorrie Ivas, her Fashion 20 Window Display and Visual Merchandising instructor, with channeling her creativity into an academic direction. She intends to pursue a career in fashion design after graduation and is considering a couple of internships.

But summer is far from her mind at the moment. In the ramp-up to the May 29 show, Hernandez still has much to do.

“I have to alter [the clothes] for next week’s photo shoot,” said Hernandez after her model test run that afternoon.

Hernandez will also have to decide on hair and makeup, as well as a song for the runway — most likely, she said, a retro-feeling instrumental by The Lumineers.

“Many of [our teachers] have worked in the fashion industry, so they can advise us on how to be successful,” Furchi said.

La Mode 2014 Fashion Show begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 29, at California Market Center Fashion Theater, 110 E. 9th St., Los Angeles. Tickets are $25 and available at SMC Main Campus Theater Box Office, open from 8 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Call (310) 434-3005 or visit