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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Runway Ready: Fashion Design Students Attend Austin Fashion Week

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  • Waiting to go on stage, Audrey Lee ’25 poses for a photo while waiting back-house. Fashion shows are often chaotic, and Lee had to adapt to changes on the spot. “There weren’t many set answers and improvisation was the most important thing to apply that day,” Lee said.

    Courtesy of Audrey Lee
  • In their full runway outfits, (from left) Audrey Lee ’25, Olivia “Lucy” Teets, ’25, Fashion Design teacher Ms. Judy Chance, and Xueying “Lili” Yang pose for a photo. All three girls made it to Austin Fashion Week by getting in the top 10 in a previous runway show held by Shop LC. “[I like my students’] creativity and how they can look at a fabric and make it their own,” Ms. Chance said.

    Courtesy of Audrey Lee
  • Striking a pose, Olivia “Lucy” Teets ’25 walks on the runway of Austin Fashion Week. Teets thrifted the fabric for her dress and improvised the whole design. “I was most proud of just everyone who made it to Austin Fashion Week from the other show because all of our designs were really unique and everyone just deserved to be there,” Teets said. “It was a really fun experience.”

    Courtesy of Olivia Teets
  • From left: Juniors Audrey Lee, Xueying “Lili” Yang, and Olivia “Lucy” Teets pose for a photo together back-house at Austin Fashion Week. Austin Fashion Week was an intense event, and participants were there from 9 am to 3 pm. “There were a lot of tweaks that needed to be worked around and a lot of the schedule was actively changing throughout the day,” Lee said.

    Courtesy of Olivia Teets
  • Projecting confidence, Audrey Lee ’25 poses during her runway walk at Austin Fashion Show. Lee’s dress is inspired by Coco Chanel, and she sewed the entire thing by hand. “I’m proud of taking this next step into the real world of fashion and dipping my toe into the hopes of my future,” Lee said.

    Courtesy of Audrey Lee
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“I just said, ‘Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.’ I’m going to Austin Fashion Week.”

That was the moment when Audrey Lee ‘25, a third-year fashion design student, found out that she and her handmade design had accomplished one of the most important moments in her fashion career: an invitation to Austin Fashion Week on April 20. The biggest fashion show in Texas, Austin Fashion Week draws designers and models from around the country to the capital city for five days of runway shows.

But Lee’s fashion journey started long before this prestigious fashion show. Interested in fashion from a very young age, Lee got help from her supportive parents and the surrounding Austin culture in pursuing her passion for fashion design.

“I tried sewing when I was a kid for my little Barbie dolls,” Lee said. “I would make clothes for them with my sister. But the first time I started machine sewing and [sewing] actual garments for myself, was when I came to Westwood.”

Taking inspiration from well-known, successful designers such as Vera Wang and Coco Chanel,  Lee’s piece is an homage to the well-known Chanel-inspired fashion adage of the little black dress being a staple in a woman’s closet. Realizing that she herself didn’t have one, Lee decided to make her very own little black dress, sewing the entire outfit by hand.

Art is very subjective. It’s really about how you view it and I think if you’re proud of yourself, if you’re fulfilled with what you make, then I think you can bring yourself a lot of happiness.

— Audrey Lee '25

“I’ve never really made a dress before I made that,” Lee said. “I’ve always just made simple garments, but making a dress like that, it [consists] of making the top, making a skirt and putting together a lot of different components to it. They’re so complex, and a little more time-consuming. I think it took me about three to four weeks of just in-class sewing by hand.”

Lee got her fabric from Joanne’s Fabrics and got the pattern from fashion YouTuber, PaperStxrs. Lee says that her fashion aligns with who she is as a person and her overall personality. She enjoys looking at vintage pieces and taking inspiration from the fashion and feminine sophistication of post-war America.

“Specifically, I was kind of leaning towards a more classic look,” Lee said. “The long black gloves, pearls, and everything. Very 50s, Priscilla Presley, and Lana Del Rey.”

Lee paired the elegant mini dress with velvet black gloves and heels. The undeniable parallels to Audrey Hepburn’s iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s look is a running joke due to Lee’s vintage fashion influence and Lee and Hepburn’s shared first name.

“When I see Audrey [Lee], I think of Audrey Hepburn because she’s just very elegant,” Fashion Design teacher, Ms. Judy Chance said, “[and] she has [just] that kind of personality that goes along with her looks and everything.”

While Lee took a splash of vintage influence, Xueying “Lili” Yang dived into exploring a different style. A second-year student, her look for Austin Fashion Week is straight out of the 1950s, with a daffodil yellow dress complete with a knee-length, flowy poodle skirt filled with white daisies. The look is a classy dress that looks like it came straight from the closet of Jackie Kennedy.

Alessandra Ashford

“I love the 50s,” Yang said. “[Although] every day I don’t dress as the 50s, it is one of my favorite decades [for fashion]. I was going to choose a slightly darker fabric because I don’t wear yellow often, but I decided to go yellow because it’s so sunshiny. [The fabric] had a really cute flower pattern that I love, [and] I guess it’s just me trying something new.”

Much like Lee, Yang was inspired by the boldness of famous female icons from the 50’s, like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. Yang had only been sewing for a year before she was invited to Austin Fashion Week, and while she often takes inspiration from decades known for classy and refined traditional designs, Yang was first exposed to fashion in an unconventional way.

“When I was young, like six, seven years old, one way my dad would keep me calm was to put on Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show,” Yang said. “Which is insane. Because why would you let a seven year old watch that? He shouldn’t be surprised that I’m going to fashion, you know, it’s not even my fault at this point.”

During the creation of her dress however, Yang faced many obstacles. She ran out of the original yellow floral fabric that made up the skirt and cuffs, and had to make the top out of a different fabric with a similar color. As she got further into the creation process, she realized there was a light stain on the back of the top that she had missed. Despite how nervous she was about the stain and the difference in shades of yellow, Yang decided to just roll with it.

While Lee created a modern take on a classic look and Yang created a vintage swing dress, their classmate Olivia “Lucy” Teets ‘25, a second-year fashion student, has the most formal of the students’ looks. Her piece is a glamorous strapless gown, made from sophisticated black lace draped over white fabric. The dress is boned, has a seamless waist, and a lace-up back. Flowy white panels contrast with the black lace that spills from the hips down to the floor, creating a full-length dress.  

“I thrifted two yards of black lace for $5 and I came to school, thinking I was going to improvise the dress,” Teets said, “so my fashion teacher provided the white fabric which I used to drape the dress.”

Teets is a quick seamstress, she says so herself. The construction of her dress took a combined 12 hours over four days. Much like Yang, Teets had to be flexible with the piece. In her case, the hardest part of the creation process was the fact that she improvised the entire design.

“[Improvising is] one of my strengths,” Teets said. “The section [of fabric] that I had wasn’t as long as I wanted so I had to take a different [section of fabric] and improvise that part. I didn’t have enough white fabric to do the exact skirt that I wanted [either].”

Like many who started new hobbies in isolation, Teets began sewing during the COVID-19 pandemic after buying a sewing machine in an impulse purchase for $70 at Walmart. She has been interested in fashion for a long time, taking pleasure in thrifting and experimenting with her personal style. 

“I just started experimenting [with sewing], and it’s a lot,” Teets said. “I mainly started because I wanted to do alterations for clothing because not a lot of clothing fits me initially when I buy it. That was working out, [and] I really liked it, so I started doing more things and experimenting [with] different fashion [styles]. And now here I am.”

All three girls secured their spots at Austin Fashion Week through a previous runway show competition, run by a company called Shop LC, which gives opportunities to high school fashion students to gain exposure in the field. Shop LC reached out to Round Rock ISD and has been working with the district for a few years. This first runway show allowed 30 students from Round Rock ISD to showcase their designs and walk the runway in their own creations. 

“It was nerve-wracking as it was my first time and everyone was shaking,” Teets said. “[We had to] make sure everyone was dressed, had their makeup done, had their hair done, [and] do a dry run with no audience with the runway and music and everything. We were crunched on time, which was nerve wracking.”

Out of the 30 fashion students who participated, the top 10, called Best in Class, got to showcase the same design at Austin Fashion Week. Upon finding out that they had made it to Austin Fashion Week, Lee, Teets, and Yang were all overcome with joy and excitement.

“This isn’t a school thing, it’s not a school function. It’s something that’s for my city, you know, capital of Texas,” Lee said. “It’s my first step into the real fashion industry.” 

The fashion industry is chaotic and organized at the same time. In the real world, people are not going to be nice to you. There is a lot of patience involved. You have to be able to adjust and be able to adapt.

— Lucy Teets '25

After the first runway show, all three Westwood participants came away with new skills and new expectations for the upcoming runway. Shop LC helped the participants perfect the modeling world of fashion, as they were already well versed in designing.

“I learned how to walk,” Teets said. “[Shop LC] instructed us to watch videos on how to walk and taught us you know, [straight] back, confidence, stuff like that. And then [they taught us] what it’s like to be a model. It’s gonna be [very] different [at] Fashion Week because that’s real life. They’ve told us they’re not gonna be nice to us. They’re not gonna baby us.”

Despite already experiencing a fashion show, the students knew even before attending that Austin Fashion Week would be an entirely different battle. While some had accurate expectations of the realities of the show, others were less prepared for how intense and extensive they can be. Schedules can often change during the day, causing everyone to have to adapt to the new settings. 

“I have learned that the fashion industry is chaotic and organized at the same time,” Teets said. “I learned that in the real world, people are not going to be nice to you. There is a lot of patience involved. You have to be able to adjust and be able to adapt.”

But despite all the chaos that is routine for a fashion show, designers and models had a lot of free time. This time is designated to prep, makeup, and getting dressed, but the students spent a lot of time just waiting.

“The most challenging part was definitely finding the patience to be able to wait there,” Teets said, “and [it’s hard to] be in this cramped room with 10 other girls and trying to just figure everything out, [but] not really knowing what’s going on.”

After all the enduring patience, the moment the students had all been waiting for finally came. It was time to walk the runway. Lee, Yang, and Teets got to showcase their designs in front of real designers. After all the diligent preparation, it was over in an instant.

Alessandra Ashford

“I’m most proud of how I went through that day and actually walking down the aisle,” Yang said. “It was quite intimidating since there [were] people staring at me but I really enjoyed it.”

More than anything, all three students are proud of their growth and how far they have come in fashion design. They can walk down the runway and look back and see where they first started out.

“I’ve always really wanted to put myself out there,” Lee said. “But I was always a little more reserved when it came to me and my own garments. I always just kind of doubted myself and thought, ‘Oh, there’s so much more room to grow.’ But I think this was a milestone, and I realized, ‘Oh, I did grow.’ Yeah, I’ve accomplished something in my life.”

As the Fashion Design course only runs for three years, Lee will be saying goodbye to her fashion class in May. Lee wanted to make her last year memorable and do something she was proud of. When she looks back at her growth, she is. The thing she’ll miss the most about her fashion design classroom, however, is the atmosphere.

“It’s such an uplifting and positive environment [where] no one ever feels judged or unappreciated,” Lee said. “My classmates are incredibly talented and I love being able to share thoughts and compare perspectives. Inspiration is so easy to find and the class is so supportive. Mrs. Chance is truly such an amazing and sweet person, as well as a wonderful teacher, so she allows our class to be so welcoming and special. ”

Lee wants to be a role model for other fashion design students by exemplifying how hard work pays off. She also wants to remind them that taking risks and being brave enough to put yourself out there can be extremely rewarding.

“Learn how to recognize your own talents and your work,” Lee said. “I think it’s really hard to do that, especially when you’re really critical of your own work. Art is very subjective. It’s really about how you view it and I think if you’re proud of yourself, if you’re fulfilled with what you make, then I think you can bring yourself a lot of happiness.”

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About the Contributor
Alessandra Ashford
Alessandra Ashford, Opinions Editor
Class of 2025 When I’m not writing or editing you can find me reading, drawing, painting, listening to music, and ranting. I always love to tell stories and start conversations. I’m so excited to be on Student Press!

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