Most often, college projects involve late nights and casual attire, but not for 14 students from the University of Minnesota's College of Design. For the 42nd annual senior student fashion show, "(in)sight)," students had to dress themselves and models. To test these lines in the real world, Josh and Delayna Sundberg of the Minneapolis boutique Cliché, which carries local designers, offered their comments.
Label name: Mae Lee Designs.
Hometown: St. Paul.
Inspiration: "Old photographs of Paris and 1930s and 1940s Harper's Bazaar magazines, Victorian necklines, Tim Burton films and the movie 'Coraline,'" she said.
Style advice: "It's always fun to look through fashion magazines and online trend sites, but when it comes to personal style, going with what makes you feel great and confident is all that really matters."
Why fashion: "I love art and anything that has to do with design. Art and design really are not as different as some may think -- the freedom of art and the objective of design work well together. I like that I can express my artistic side while also creating something that can be worn down a red carpet or everyday life."
First thing she ever sewed: A pair of pajama pants from old bedsheets. "I was following the instructions of a teenager who made her own pants that were showcased in a teen magazine."
The buyer's opinion: "She went for a look and she executed it," said Delayna Sundberg. "I wouldn't lead with my strongest piece and she did. It was amazing. Was it wearable? No, but half of runway isn't wearable. But it was really, really interesting."
Hometown: Madison, Wis.
Inspiration: "The materials I already had in my closet. I bought some fabric but decided to use wool I inherited from my great-aunt, who raised sheep, and from my mother, who spins and weaves. I have been really inspired by many craftwomen in my family and wanted to pay a tribute to them," she said.
Style advice: "I love my best friend's style. She likes to pair polka dots with stripes and skirts with pants, and she wears a lot of bold prints. Sometimes she asks me if she looks OK. I tell her to either match completely or not at all. That would be my best advice."
Why fashion: "I am an artist drawn to three- dimensional work. I love to build and sculpt; I find the process of designing for people very challenging and rewarding. I also love the idea that fashion allows art to move and I really consider apparel an extension of other art forms, but with a much broader arena."
First thing she ever sewed: A simple white skirt.
The buyer's opinion: "I got where she was really into knitting. It was cool, but there needed to be more styling," said Delayna Sundberg.
Label name: High Line Park.
Hometown: Oconomowoc, Wis.
Inspiration: High Line Park in Manhattan. "I spent the summer interning at Ralph Lauren and when I wasn't working I spent a lot of time exploring the city. High Line Park was instantly my favorite part of Manhattan. The park is elevated a few stories above the street on the West Side and the views are unique -- there are old rusty train tracks, cool warehouse windows and beautiful wildflowers."
Style advice: "Comfort and versatility. When adding garments to your wardrobe, I think it is important to have separates that can be mixed and matched to create a multitude of looks. When I purchase clothing, I try and picture it in a few different outfits in my closet. And being a designer, comfort is always a must when I am running around the studio, doing different things."
Why fashion: "I enjoy being challenged on a daily basis to use my creative insights and work with my hands. Fashion is forever changing and always dynamic. ... There is a place for everyone."
First thing she ever sewed: "A square pillow for a class in middle school. As I recall, the fabric was hideous, but I did get an A," she said.
The buyer's opinion: "Her stuff was really clean. It was simple, but in a good way," said Josh Sundberg.
Hometown: Brookfield, Wis.
Inspiration: "The softness of nature against the composition of modern architecture. My hand-dyed garments were inspired by some of my favorite artists, such as Monet and Kupka, and their use of color and shape," she said.
Style advice: "Invest in quality garments that are timeless, like a little black dress and a blazer. Layer pieces and add accessories to change up the look, and keep it current and fresh."
Why fashion: "I was drawn to fashion at a young age because my grandmothers were both seamstresses. By the time I was in middle school I knew that I wanted to be a fashion designer. I used to look at the designer clothes in fashion magazines and be like, 'I want to make that.'"
First thing you ever sewed: A purse, using old jeans as fabric. "I thought it was the coolest thing at that time, but looking back it probably looks like I sewed it in the dark."
The buyer's opinion: "The silk dyeing -- that's really impressive," said Delayna Sundberg.
Inspiration: "The curvilinear shapes of the chess pieces and geometric lines of the chess board were the inspiration. Combining these sharp geometric elements and soft style lines gave the collection a tailored yet feminine look. I also found an opportunity to use the characters of the chess pieces as inspiration for each look: The rook represents the castle, the knight, the bishop and finally the queen," she said.
Style advice: "Everybody is unique, and I believe everyone looks best in clothes that fit. Recognizing this uniqueness, fit becomes more challenging with mass-produced clothing. My advice is to take the time to purchase apparel that fits best and highlights an individual's assets, be it custom-made pieces or pieces off the rack."
Why fashion: "I believe it was Mark Twain who said, 'Clothes make the man.' There is certainly some truth in these words, at least insofar as clothes are a reflection of the wearer. We desire to look beyond simply meeting the utilitarian need for clothing, seeking a means of self-expression and individuality, and fashion provides us with one such means."
First thing she ever sewed: "A brown and white paisley print vest and pants made from scraps of fabric leftover from one of my [seamstress] mom's projects. To my young eyes, my Barbie doll never looked so good," she said.
The buyer's opinion: "There were really pretty fabrics. It was for an older crowd. I think that would be beautiful at Local Motion or something, or high-end on 50th and France," said Josh Sundberg.
Hometown: Waterford, Wis.
Collection concept: "My line is about making movement fun. My smart casual pieces easily integrate into a traveling woman's closet," she said.
Inspiration: "A career woman on the go meets the ideals of 1940s American sportswear. I like the idea of keeping pieces simple so that they can be paired in multiple ways for maximum usage," she said.
Style advice: "Look for pieces that you can wear in multiple settings, yet do not compromise your comfort or your style."
Why fashion: "Fashion is an expansive, ever-changing opportunity to solve problems for the wearer."
First thing you ever sewed: "When I was 8 or so, my grandmother and I made a jacket for my non-fuzzy stuffed bear. He seemed cold," she said.
The buyer's opinion: "I didn't like the [models] dancing and music, but the last piece was really smart. It reminded me of librarians gone wild," said Josh Sundberg.
Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177