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At left, Truly Yours boutique owner Erin Davis ‘12 helps ECU student Lindsay Grimmett, at right, with a belt as fellow student and Apparel and Interiors Merchandising Organization member Caitlyn Grubb watches. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)


Student work spotlighted in annual show

April 20, 2017

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

East Carolina University student work from behind the stage and on the catwalk will be the focus of the 13th annual ECU Apparel and Interiors Merchandising Fashion Show on Friday.

More than 90 models - mostly ECU students - will wear clothing from six boutiques and garments made by ECU textile students for the show.

Participating boutiques are Truly Yours in downtown Greenville, Beloved Boutique in Wilmington, Shimmer in Winterville and Greenville, Preppy Pirate based in Eden, Unveiled Couture in Greenville, and Escape Spa & Boutique in Greenville. Truly Yours is owned by ECU alumna Erin Davis, who started her store online while a student, and alumna Kelsey Light owns Beloved Boutique.

ECU textile students Simone Johnson, Megan Turner and Alicia Roueche have each made at least four pieces for the show. Hair and makeup will be provided by Alexander Paul Institute of Hair Design.

Textile student Simone Johnson works in Jenkins Fine Arts Center on a garment for the annual ECU AIMO fashion show.

The event, "A Night in Shining Armor," begins at 7 p.m. at Rock Springs Center and is open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for guests and are available at the ECU Ticket Office or The show will last about 90 minutes and will include a cash bar and short intermission.

Unexpected spotlight

Friday's event won't be the first runway walk for student Lindsay Grimmett.

The junior from High Point was an unexpected model at New York Fashion Week, one of the industry's biggest events, in February.

After earning a spot along with other ECU students for a Fashion Week adventure trip, Grimmett, who had been zipping dresses and answering phone calls, was asked to fill in when a professional model didn't show up for David Alford Harare's shows.

"In a matter of minutes, I went from holding the NYFW designers' phone to being slipped into one of his couture dresses and stuffed in four-inch heels," Grimmett said. "This was by far the most amazing experience of my life because that is something that literally never happens. I would absolutely do it again because it was such a thrilling experience."

Grimmett thanked fellow Pirate and friend Carmela Benach for suggesting to the designer's public relations manager that Grimmett could walk the runway. She said all of the ECU students there were supportive and encouraging throughout the experience.

For ECU's show, Grimmett has been Beloved Boutique's leader and worked directly with Light. 

ECU student Lindsay Grimmett walks the David Alford Harare runway at New York Fashion Week. (Photo credit: Oxford Fashion Studios)

"From working the fashion show, I feel like I have gotten a lot of experience on how the backside of the production goes," Grimmett said. "I keep the models up to date on where they need to be for fittings, what to bring and what time they should arrive on the day of the show. I have really enjoyed it because although it is a lot of work, it is really showing me a different side of the industry I have never experienced before."

Student success

Erin Parrish, associate professor of interior design and merchandising in the College of Health and Human Performance, said the student-run show provides many learning opportunities from communications and negotiating to event and time management and leadership skills.

"It is a very valuable learning experience and it puts them in contact with different people in the industry which helps with job prospects," Parrish said. "We're here to support them if they need it."

ECU senior Chelsea Ann Kay, president of AIMO, said she has learned how to create a budget and get sponsors as well as the importance of teamwork. "I now know how to be not just a leader, but an effective leader," Kay said. "It has also taught me how to stay organized and to be on top of my activities."

The fashion show also is a fundraiser which helps provide opportunities for students to attend events such as the Atlanta Apparel Mart and New York showrooms, and to learn about different careers in the industry.

After graduation, Kay will enter Belk's Emerging Leaders Program, an eight-month management program. "This fashion show and being president has molded me and prepared me for this position of being a leader," said Kay, who is majoring in business management with a minor in fashion merchandising.

Wearable art

For the past few years, School of Art and Design students enrolled in the fiber and textile art program have used dye, felting and print techniques to create pieces for the show.

"It has added a new element of interest because it's wearable art," Parrish said. "It has made the show better." 

Art students Megan Turner and Alicia Roueche have worked this semester to design, develop and make garments by screen-printing layer by layer for their final products. Turner's inspiration has been femininity in fashion, using pinks and corals and "covering them up" or "redirecting them" with other colors, she said.

"I barely had any sewing experience," Turner said after making her first piece, a jumper. She wanted to participate in the show because she's interested in the fashion industry and the role it plays in everyday life. "Technically, I've learned so much and the ideas I've been exploring conceptually. It would be beneficial to do more research on gender in fashion."

Roueche's spring break trip last year to Palm Springs was the inspiration for her '70s, mid-century modern maxi-dress, pants, shirt and romper. "I'm totally obsessed with it," Rouche said. "I like things that are functional."

Sketches and inspiration for textile student Alicia Roueche’s pieces for the upcoming fashion show. 

Roueche, an ECU diver who has recruited swim and dive teammates to model her clothes, has participated in the fashion show the past two years. She said she has learned to not procrastinate and take each step as it comes during the process.

"I'm just having fun with it," she said.

Simone Johnson, a mother, wife and grandmother who commutes from New Bern, was inspired by the weather's changing seasons and recycling. She used newspaper, coffee filters, CDs and plastic bags along with recycled denim to create three dresses and two kimonos. She also hand-dyed wool and used a nuna-felting technique for some of her artwork.

"I'm more confident in my skills and interpreting patterns and transferring them to the (sewing) machine," said Johnson from participating in the show.

Her son and 15-month-old grandson will model some of her designs. "They're not every day wearables," Johnson said. "They're meant to be fun and get you to think about recycling and an eco-friendly approach to fashion."

Christine Zoller, associate professor of art, said the fashion show gives the community a look at the different facets of the textile program.

"Although we are not a fashion program, many of our students are interested in that area for a career," Zoller said. "The show gives them an opportunity to create a line of their own designs and showcase it to a large audience. They work extremely hard to make it happen and come away with a greater maturity in making work."

For more information about the event, visit


Textile student Megan Turner pins a pattern used for her creations for the 13th annual ECU AIMO fashion show.

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