Two Teenage Fashion Stars on the Rise

I'm a big fan of cocktail dresses and eco-bags. They’re kind of the perfect mix. So we’re happy to spotlight two high school seniors--Ivy Holland, 17, of Fredericksburg, Texas, and Elisabeth Acosta, 18, of Miami--who each took home a Grand Prize in The Art Institute’s 2009 Passion for Fashion Competition. That translates to a full tuition scholarship at any Art Institute location and a trip to New York Fashion Week this week (that's Ivy, left, and Elisabeth at Bryant Park). Elisabeth won the Fashion Design category with an off-white cocktail dress with three silks and an organza bubble skirt that was hand-dyed using a dip-dye technique. Ivy won the Fashion Marketing & Merchandizing category with her eco-friendly handbag that reclaims car upholstery--and looks cute at the same time (below). We talked to both of them:

Elisabeth What was the inspiration for your winning design? Architecture and murals at Versailles and the works of Edgar Degas, mainly his famous painting, The Dance Class

How did you get into dying and learn the technique? My mom has been dying fabrics and laces for years, so she helped me mix the peach color. Spilling the blue dye however, was completely experimental.

What's next for you and your designs? Well, I just won the scholarship, so I guess school is what's next! After that I want to go work in New York for a designer, and eventually start my own line.

Ivy How did you come up with the idea for reclaiming car upholstery? I began with a big idea of recycling something to make something else. I’ve grown up around cars so it was no surprise when I rested on using car upholstery as my medium.

Where did you find your materials? I went to a junkyard in Stonewall, Texas with a box cutter and spent about two hours chopping up seats. It was exhausting and gross out there but I felt so accomplished afterward. My inspiration was cradled around all of the different types and colors of the fabrics and the way they could go together. The time I spent out there was a big find-and-match process.

Have you always wanted to work in design? I became interested in fashion in middle school and have followed that dream ever since. I began by attempting to draw clothing designs, then chopped up old clothes and pinned them together (before I could sew). In high school I taught myself to sew and actually started making wearable things. My first design was safety pinned together--an old floor-length prom dress tuned bubble skirt with a bustle. It was gorgeous despite the fact that underneath its layers were a hundred or so pins. Ha.

What's next for you and your designs? I want to begin marketing my bags. I'm still getting ideas and working out the kinks, but there are so many people in my hometown alone that want one, I really would like to see about getting them out there for sale.

So would we! We might even wear Ivy and Elisabeth's creations together one day (hey, their names do kinda flow...).