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Gold Standard

As part of an Interim ACRE project, Albright College senior Freddy Diaz has designed a striking avant-garde wedding gown using his signature color of gold. Diaz didn’t set out to create a wedding dress, but he’s grown accustomed to adapting to life’s twists and turns.

By Francheska Taveras '18

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Freddy Diaz '16

Alfredo “Freddy” Diaz, Jr., never set out to design a wedding dress.

The Albright College senior had planned to spend his winter break designing and executing a couture dress in his go-to color of gold.

“Gold is such a rich color,” says Diaz. “It is very symbolic. It can mean purity, power or wealth. It never goes out of style.”

But four weeks, 220 hours, and yards of fabric later, Diaz has pulled off a bride’s dream.

The fashion major has created a striking avant-garde wedding gown, with gold lace, asymmetrical strap, and corset, accompanied by a fur shawl. A short dress with a flowing train, the gown seamlessly combines the new with the traditional.    

Diaz accomplished the design feat through the Albright Creative Research Experience (ACRE), a multi-disciplinary program that affords students the opportunity to conduct research or pursue creative endeavors during winter Interim or summer break.

“The ACRE enabled him to explore his artistic sensibilities, learning advanced haute couture techniques of garment construction. His success is clearly evident in his work," says Albright fashion instructor MeeAe Oh-Ranck, who served as Diaz’s ACRE adviser.

This was Diaz’s second ACRE. He previously designed three sheath dresses during Interim 2015, one of which was, of course, gold.

Like his unintentional wedding dress, Diaz never envisioned he’d become a fashion designer, despite being reared in the fashion mecca of New York City. 

Born on the Lower East Side and raised in a two-bedroom apartment with his parents and two brothers, Diaz learned about himself and his artistic style through the Boys’ Club of New York, an organization that teaches young boys life skills through activities such as swimming, sports, and visual and cultural arts.

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“The Boys’ Club is where I learned a lot,” says Diaz. “I lived in the projects and going to the Boys’ Club really took us off the street. That was their job, to make us love art, sports and other things that any liberal arts school has within their curriculum.”

But Diaz had to bid the Boys’ Club farewell when his parents decided to move to Reading, as Diaz explains, “to have a better future for us, to live in our dream house, and for my brothers and myself to go to college. My parents definitely wanted us to have a bright future.”

After graduating Reading High School, Diaz entered Albright and began taking fashion courses.

“I always made art, so that’s what I wanted to try when I came to Albright,” says Diaz. “Lady Gaga was my first inspiration. I researched her and her exotic costumes, and it was then that I had the thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to make clothes and market that as my art piece?' With fashion design, I could market and brand myself.”

With a few fashion design courses under his belt, Diaz knew that his love resided in sewing, fabric and women's wear. 

“You could research what’s trending, you can play with concepts, and you can make a chic dress or a ball gown. It is playful, fun and creative, of course,” Diaz says. “Fashion never ends. I need clothes, you need clothes.”

Diaz’s love for fashion has only grown during his time at Albright, and he credits his professors and mentors, Oh-Ranck, Susan Golembiski and Paula Trimpey. One of Diaz’s biggest champions, Connie Heller Horacek, associate professor of fashion, passed away in the fall, but continues to inspire his passion for fashion.

"Connie was the best person I ever met,” says Diaz. “She always told me, ‘I’m going to read about you one day in newspapers and magazines. I am going to see you on television.’ She is probably the number one person in this school that has inspired me to push and continue doing what I love to do.” 

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After graduation, Diaz plans to move back to the place that inspired his creativity years ago – New York. The city’s art, architecture and vibe are his muses.

“I am inspired by the streets, the lights and the nighttime. When you look up in the nighttime, you don’t see stars, you see purple because of all the lights.

“I am inspired by riding bicycles in East River Park, walking to Wall Street and the Financial District. The rush of people, the excitement behind every person who walks by inspires me.”

In the short-term, Diaz would like to work for a major fashion company. But ultimately he would like to create and own his own brand, with locations in the United States and the Dominican Republic, where he has deep family roots.

“I kind of want to be like Oscar de la Renta,” says Diaz, of the late Dominican designer.

But Diaz also wants a presence in the Dominican Republic to help people there find greater economic security. “The Dominican is a country that is known for beautiful and exotic things. People in the Dominican go to school to learn how to sew but do not get paid enough. I want to be one of the first people who actually pays them what they are worth.”

Diaz’s attributes his desire to work in the Dominican Republic, and to get in touch with his roots, to his family. “My father always gives me these speeches to motivate me to never give up and never stop,” he says. “My mom has always supported me. She always knew I had the talent.”

As for Diaz’s ACRE wedding dress, it’s currently on display in the lobby of Alumni Hall, and will be seen on the runway at the Albright College Fashion Showcase in May. He hopes to eventually sell it.


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