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Originally published Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Art Institute student fashion show is sew creative

Art Institute of Seattle fashion students present a show tonight called "Peace, Love & Fashion." While the theme is '60s-inspired, the clothing is all new — and emphasizes craftsmanship and wearability as much as style. "Project Runway" alum Blayne Walsh is a judge.

Special to The Seattle Times

Fashion show preview

"Peace, Love & Fashion"

5 and 8 p.m. tonight, Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S.; $20 in advance (206-628-0888 or www.ticketmaster.com) or $25 at the door. The 5 p.m. show is free for high-school students with valid I.D.

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The Art Institute of Seattle students prepare for, "Peace, Love and Fashion, " the annual runway show of student fashion design, now in its 11th year of celebrating the Northwest's most innovative designers.

The Art Institute of Seattle's annual student fashion show introduces the public to fresh, creative designs that look great on paper.

But can anyone actually wear them?

Student designer Michelle Lateste says "yes." Her complex, luxurious entries resemble sculpture, but "you have to make sure they look good when they're moving," she said a week before the show, as she and other designers added the final touches to a room full of clothes. She insists women will be able to walk or sit comfortably — even in the plum-colored petal skirt she crafted of three-dimensional, pyramid-shaped segments.

The show will feature 89 garments, 32 models and 25 designers. Judges from the local fashion community — including Blayne Walsh, alum of both the Art Institute and TV's "Project Runway" — will award prizes.

The most ambitious students show an entire collection around a central theme. Eunice Poon calls hers "I Dream in Cake."

"The idea is that you love dessert so much you dream in it," said Poon, who uses rich fabrics in browns and creams reminiscent of pastries and frosting. All the students pay for their own supplies, down to the buttons.

Though this year's theme is 1960s-inspired — "Peace, Love & Fashion" — the clothing itself showcases this spring's styles, which Joan Kelly, the show's executive producer, says emphasize durability and quality as well as beauty.

Students have been adding "more tailoring and more design to their actual garments," said Kelly, who is also an instructor at the school.

The show is also a chance for students from fashion design and management programs to work together.

"It's a great opportunity to network and build on each of our own individual skills," said Salina Ramsey, who runs the "back-of-house" operations with Cole Millard. They pester designers to get their garments in on time, arrange the collections, find models and make sure everything runs smoothly on show night. (Kelsey Lang, another student, oversees "front-of-house" ticket sales and publicity.)

Millard, an admitted obsessive-compulsive organizer, is prepared to work with the models, most volunteers from the student body. On show night, he'll be "getting all these girls coming in and out and getting them over their modesty about changing, because there's no privacy. It's organized chaos."

Ramsey breaks in: "Organized chaos, but it looks like chaos. We know what we're doing. We're just talking really loudly."

Most of the show's participants will graduate this year. Though they know times aren't promising, they hope to find jobs that make use of their degrees.

"I'm ready to work," Lateste said. "I'm basically looking for any opportunity."

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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