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Drawn Together

Students in Diverse College Program Find No Language Barrier When Fashions Do the Talking

May 30, 1996

Several languages, from English and Spanish to Vietnamese and French, are spoken by students in fashion career classes at Rancho Santiago College in Santa Ana. This posed a mini-dilemma during the planning of their fashion show: What language should be used when describing the styles in the event's program?

Their solution? Art, a language everybody can understand.

Each of the 75 garments on display at Le Collezioni, the college's biannual fashion show held recently, was represented by the student designer's original sketch. There was no written text.

"We wanted everyone to feel comfortable," says Karen Conrad, department chair. "A lot of friends and family attended, and [even] if they couldn't read English, they could see a sketch with their student's name."

Students from the sketch, pattern, draping, construction and production classes designed garments for every occasion, from club wear and swimsuits to business suits and evening gowns.

"We have a range of ages," says Conrad, who instructs most of the classes. "The 18-year-olds love to do the wild club wear and prom dresses, and we also have sophisticated designers who like cocktail dresses and bridal gowns.

"They know how to sketch and make patterns, as well as design for different styles, price points and markets."

The 15-year-old department, known for its diverse student body, offers AA degrees and certificate programs in four categories: fashion merchandising; design and custom clothing; apparel production; and dressmaking and alterations.

"This event showcases that our students are prepared, ready to go out to work," Conrad says. "We invite industry people to serve as judges, and they get a chance to look over the crop to hire."

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