Colors that usually look strange together make sense to Sloane Gustafson. Fabrics become masterpieces under the manipulation of her sewing machine.
Gustafson put her talents to the test when she interned with Oscar de la Renta, one of the world’s leading fashion designers, this June.
Behind the superficiality of the colors, fabrics and runway models, fashion designer and senior Sloane Gustafson sees something most people can’t come close to comprehending.
“My creative eye has always fueled my passion for design and art in general,” Gustafson said. “When I view art, I like to completely immerse myself in the artist’s vision and strive to see the art as they intended.”
“That’s what fashion design is to me,” Gustafson added. “It’s the culmination of aesthetics, a creative eye and a life well lived.”
At Oscar de la Renta, Gustafson had the opportunity to intern with the Head of Textiles in one of eight different departments. Aside from the typical intern jobs of copying and running errands, she helped put together mood boards, swatches, color palettes and pattern books for the next season. Gustafson has also interned with designers Chloe Dao and David Peck.
“Being an intern gives me the opportunity to be surrounded by exceptional talent and absorb more than I could have in a classroom or in any other environment,” Gustafson said. “People who are the ‘greats’ or have global brands now were people who usually worked for other people in the business for 15 years. One day, I will be ready to be my own boss.”
In August, Gustafson pursued her dreams one step further when she attended a pre-college fashion design summer camp at Parsons, a famous design institution in New York.
Designers were faced with numerous real-life tasks, including designing and marketing a fashion collection from start to finish, drawing quick sketches of real life models and participating in Project Runway-like competitions such as creating an unique design for a dress given a set pattern and shape.
But Gustafson’s deeper mission is to help others who are less fortunate. Her passion and talent for design led her to create a fashion show of her own by working for eight months, collaborating with other Houston area high school designers and using her friends as models.
Gustafson organized her charity runway, Speak Against Silence (SAS), to support victims, specifically women and children, of family violence and domestic and sexual abuse.
“I’m a leader in WHEE, so this issue is dear to my heart,” Gustafson said.
Gustafson was inspired to create her own fashion show after participating in Tickle Me Pink, a breast cancer charity runway. She decided to partner with Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) and ended up raising $50,000.
“She combined this passion she has for design with her love for charity and community service and created a great and fun event that supported creativity in our community,” SAS committee member and senior Cameron Hull said.
Gustafson describes AVDA as a fascinating program. “They provide legal rights such as custody, divorce and restraining orders to aid the victims,” she said. “This is fundamental for those who are abused, to remind them that they have rights that need to be asserted.”
In addition to chairing Speak Against Silence, Gustafson also participated in Paint it Red, a charity runway led by Houston high school designers to raise funds for the American Heart Association.
This year, Gustafson plans to raise money for a different charity, SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures, a school for about 30 homeless children ages 18 months to five years. She plans to hold her latest charity runway, “Home Sweet Home,” in March 2014.
Gustafson has known that she was going to dedicate her life to becoming a fashion designer since she was four years old.
“I was always sketching things and drawing long dresses. I loved color. I’ve always wanted to do this, and I’ve never questioned it,” Gustafson said.
When she was eight, Gustafson began attending art classes at the Glassell School of Art, and six years later, she enrolled in a four-hour fashion designing class held on Saturdays. Gustafson has participated in six different fashion shows with three of them pertaining to charity runways.
“I prefer charity shows,” Gustafson said. “In my experience they have been larger and offer more exposure and inspiration to push your limits and further your aestheticism.”