Colorado State University Faculty Member Wins International Design Competition

A Colorado State University faculty member has won the top fashion design award at an international competition for her exquisite evening gown design.

Diane Sparks, associate professor in the department of design, merchandising and consumer sciences, won the Lectra Fashion Award at this year’s annual International Textile and Apparel Association Design Competition. The award, sponsored by Lectra Systems, was given to Sparks for her evening gown and coat ensemble which was judged best of competition. Sparks will receive a week-long trip to Paris to attend Premiere Vision, a major international fashion show where designers display their textiles and creations for the coming year.

Sparks’ winning piece, titled "Asiatica", is an elegant silk evening gown and coat ensemble which marries Eastern and Western styles. The deep blue gown is intricately hand pleated and has a cotton and chiffon lining. The full-length coat, in a matching blue tone, is cut from luminous fabric subtly patterned with traditional Chinese designs. Both pieces were produced with Sparks’ trademark attention to detail and emphasis on function. Sparks said the design emerged from her interest in Asian motifs.

"The piece is a synthesis of Asian and European fashion," Sparks said. "The simple camisole dress silloutte comes from Europe, the pleating technique is Japanese, the design inspiration for the coat came from Korea and I bought the fabric in China."

Sparks completed the design with supporting contributions from faculty members Sue Kruel-Froseth and Brenda Brandt, both from the department of design, merchandising and consumer sciences, and Stuart Sargent, from the department of foreign languages and literature.

The International Textile and Apparel Association is an organization of scholars and professionals in the textile and design industries. This year’s juried design competition was held in Knoxville, Tenn., in conjunction with the association’s annual conference. Entries in the competition went through two stages. First, applicants submitted slides along with descriptions of their designs. Selected applicants then submitted their entries for a second round of competition. The entries were displayed at an opening reception and design exhibition held at the Knoxville Museum of Art on Nov. 12. Over 90 designs were modeled or showcased in the gallery. Before the exhibition, the designs went through a final round of judging and winners were announced at the conclusion of the show.

"I’m delighted to have my work recognized on an international level," Sparks said. "I’ve received much support and encouragement from Colorado State, various grants, my department head, and my mentor Rob Hillestad at the University of Nebraska."

As the recipient of the Lectra Fashion Award, Sparks hopes to negotiate with Lectra Systems for software which would be used in Colorado State’s design program. Lectra Systems produces computer aided design applications for the clothing industry.

Colorado State’s department of design, merchandising, and consumer sciences also was represented at the competition by adjunct faculty member Sandy Hutton, and student finalists Stephanie Hoyland and Heidi Leech. Both Hoyland and Leech were sponsored by Sparks. Jade Winters, an art student sponsored by Merry Jo Dallas, was also a finalist. In addition, a professional collaboration between Sparks and Brooks, a designer from Denver, was exhibited. The entry was entitled "Town and Country Polar Fleece Coat".