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Global Designs

Alison Kluxen was named runner-up in an international fashion design contest based in India. It was the first time the Albright College senior had ever constructed ethnic Indian couture.

By Kelsey Rudy '16

Alison Kluxen’s first fashion design project was a small, drawstring bag, created for her middle school home economics class.

By high school, Kluxen was constructing costumes for her school’s theatrical productions.

Today, the Albright College senior is being recognized internationally for her design skills.

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Alison Kluxen '16 was named runner-up in the Triveni u-Design contest. Here she models the traditional Indian sari she created.
Photos courtesy of John Pankratz

Kluxen, a costume and fashion design major, was recently named “Best Ethnic Collection Runner-Up” in the Triveni u-Design competition for her creation of a traditional Indian sari and an Indian-fusion ensemble.

But even more impressive, the collection marked the first time Kluxen had ever constructed ethnic Indian couture.

“I was very surprised to be named runner-up in the competition,” says Kluxen. “I was competing against some students from India, who are immersed in the culture and fashion, but I was still able to remain a competitor due to my extensive research. My hard work paid off.”

Hosted by fashion retail company Triveni Ethnics of Gujarat, India, the u-Design competition encouraged students worldwide to test their designing and styling skills. Contestants were challenged to create one traditional ethnic garment and one fusion garment.

Kluxen’s “Treasured Trends Spring Collection” features vivid blues and greens with bold patterns and vibrant metallics.

“It’s very cohesive,” says Kluxen. “I made the different pieces so they could work together. The top works with the vest and pants and can also work with the traditional sari. They’re very interchangeable.”

Kluxen, who has worked at QVC as a technical design intern, was initially named one of 14 finalists in the competition, who were then judged by a jury of designers, post “likes” on Triveni at Campus Facebook page, and an online poll on the company’s website.

As Best Ethnic Collection runner-up, Kluxen received a monetary prize.

Kluxen’s interest in Indian wear began in spring 2015 with a class project on Indonesia. Then, last semester, Kluxen was tasked to design a dress using sari fabric. That’s when she discovered the Triveni contest, a project that would consume the entirety of the fall term.

As a competition finalist, Kluxen was able to choose up to 17 meters of fabric from Triveni’s website, free of charge, to create her looks. She spent hours drawing, designing and crafting the patterns for her pieces, and used herself as the model.

"I did a lot of research on popular styles and what’s trending right now on the runway, including the fashion where the company is located in Gujarat, India.”

Her traditional sari includes a short green blouse and long swath of blue printed fabric that is draped around the body. The Indian-fusion garment combines fitted, gold metallic pants and a blue vest with an upturned Mandarin collar and sheer panels.

“The fusion garment combines traditional Indian ethnic wear with more contemporary westernized styles because the company is trying to make their clothes more relevant to the western world,” says Kluxen.

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Kluxen says the competition opened her eyes to what designing is like in the “real world.”

“Triveni gave us a list of due dates in the beginning but would often email on Friday and ask to have our submission by Sunday, so I thought I had a week to do it but then I only had three days.”

Kluxen began her Albright career as a costume design major, but has since added fashion to the mix. The decision has not only broadened her skills, but has taught her to be open and adaptable to change.

“I prefer to create a lot of bohemian looks that are very loose and flowy, but my teachers encourage us to create a wide variety of styles because you never know where you’ll be in the business,” she says.

“You could go from working somewhere very sophisticated to some place fashion-forward. This is true for costume design, as well, because there are so many types of shows with different time periods. So you need to be flexible.”

Kluxen has gained invaluable experience in Albright’s costume shop. She has worked on multiple theatrical productions, including Clybourne Park and Maelstrom, the latter of which is the concluding piece of the Domino Players’ groundbreaking silent opera trilogy.

The production was a challenge for not only the performers, but the designers, too.

“The clothes and the actors’ movements literally told the story, versus having a very vocal piece where the costumes have to represent the characters,” Kluxen explains.

Kluxen finds costume-making a welcome challenge. She describes it as “staying inside the box but still needing to find a way to be completely different.”

“In fashion you can be creative and can do anything in the world. But in costumes you have to stick to a script; no matter what it is, there are certain guidelines,” she says.

Kluxen is a skilled patternmaker, creating her patterns from scratch, sewing, altering and perfecting the looks from start to finish. It helps, of course, that Kluxen can draw. But it’s not all fun and games.

“Something people don’t understand is that it also involves a lot of math like trigonometry and geometry. It can be very frustrating and time consuming.”

Technology and computer-based programs, such as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator, have provided designers like Kluxen with a whole a new arsenal of tools. She is especially looking forward to a new class this semester on electronic pattern making.

As for her post-Albright plans, Kluxen is keeping an open mind.

“I’ve always thought about the idea of costume design for a TV show because it’s the kind of constant work I’d want,” she says. “Whether it’s working for a company or freelancing, we’ll see where life takes me.”


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