FIDM Students Debut Fashion Collections in Palm Desert

Eight emerging designers from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising will make their entrée into the industry at Fashion Week El Paseo.

Site Staff El Paseo, Fashion Week El Paseo

FIDM student Susan Lizotte works on designs.

new generation of designers is eager to make waves in the world of fashion, and this annual Fashion Week El Paseo showcase features the diverse perspectives of eight up-and-comers to watch, all nearing graduation from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles.

While their collections are decidedly personal and individualistic, overarching themes of sustainability, self-assuredness, and growth weave them together with a sense of harmony that is bound to uplift audience members. Get ready to discover what’s next in fashion.

Esther Gaor

The idea of shifting perspectives became the guiding light for Esther Gaor as she designed her collection of menswear and womenswear. Having grown up in the slums of Manila, in the Philippines, she likens her personal trajectory to that of a fairy tale. As such, she orchestrates a whimsical sartorial story using color blocking, architectural shapes, paneling, gradient printing, and embellishment.

“As a kid who grew up in an environment where opportunities were rare, I believe that creativity can bring us into a place where we forget our challenges in life and let us see the world from a new perspective,” she says. “I hope that when people see my collection, they will feel the emotions I have felt throughout this journey.”

COLOR PALETTE: “Purples, pinks, and blues represent the ethereal essence of fairy tales. I also used gradients to show the transition from nothing into reality.”

MATERIALS“Different weights create depth and dimension. Some will be more fluid, like microlux and microfiber, to emphasize movements and flow. Others will have a structure derived from the architecture we see around us through the use of crinoline, boning, deco-structure, and twill fabric. My garments have a lot of pattern work and paneling — one skirt has 120 pattern pieces!”

DESIGN PHILOSOPHY: “Take the ordinary and make it remarkable. I see fashion as my ultimate form of self-expression. Through passion and dedication, I believe we can transform ideas into reality.”


Cole Moscaret

With a love for historical films and 1940s style, Cole Moscaret designed his William Moss menswear collection with a focus on functionality and durability. “As a child, I loved reading old World War II comic books and all of the heroic stories that filled the pages,” the California native shares. 

“This collection is inspired by the imagination that was sparked by those comic books and movies, but with a modern touch.” A mix of materials, ranging from rip-stop to raw wool, take shape in an earthy palette of browns, greens, and tans, informed as much by nature as the colors were military uniforms.


DESIGN INFLUENCES: “I am a huge fan of Ralph Lauren and how he created an empire designing what he loved. It is truly an amazing example of the American dream. I am also a big fan of Matthew Williams; his work with Alyx and Givenchy speaks for itself.”

SOUNDTRACK:“Sometimes I wish days were longer than 24 hours simply because I am completely addicted to music. In everything I do, I have to play music. If I had to give you my soundtrack right now, it would be ‘No Sleep’ by Bawo.”

AUDIENCE TAKEAWAY: “I just want them to have a good time. They will see some amazing William Moss menswear, and if they wish to have a piece made for themselves, I hope they find me to talk about possibilities.”

Ethan Martin

Evening and streetwear collide in Ethan Martin’s runway presentation, informed by the designer’s infatuation with drag culture and video games. Powerful silhouettes evoke drag shapewear, with cinched waists and bold flaring at the hips, while color-blocking references the bosses, or enemies, one has to beat in a video game to reach the next level. Martin draws diverse inspiration from designers such as Christopher John Rogers, Christian Siriano, and Zero Waste Daniel, and in the future, strives to build a circularly sustainable line while also pursuing large runway projects. With this collection, they share, “My simplest intent was to bring fun and joy to the runway while keeping it chic.”

COLOR PALETTE: “I chose four intense colors to solidify the branding of my collection and to harken to the limited color palettes of video games past. Gamecube indigo, PS2 blue, HP Potion pink, and Golden Banana yellow, with an underlying black and white.”

“My work is about highlighting queer joy through color and whimsy. I find my work to be somewhat performative in essence, with its volume and structured nature, in combination with its bold colors. Ethically, my philosophy is to create and make as sustainably as possible.”

SOUNDTRACK: “Music is a huge part of my work. For this collection, I pulled a lot from ’80s pop — Madonna, Pointer Sisters — for a classic camp enigma, while combining 2000s techno bops, Remi Wolf, and video game soundtracks for a digital feel.”



FIDM Debut Collections
7 p.m. Cocktail Reception
8 p.m.Fashion Show
Get Tickets

Give back

Through the Bobbi Lampros “Giving Back” program, this show offers an opportunity to support and learn more about Desert Arc, which works to enhance the quality of life and create opportunities for local individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Education Sponsor

Seventy-five local high school students will attend this show and tour backstage thanks to sponsor Jordan Schnitzer, who funded their tickets.

Joel  Elliott

Shibari rope bondage and an 18th-century sailing motif thread through Joel Elliott’s debut collection.

“Sheer fabrics, holes, and cutouts echo the self we present to the world, and the self that can be glimpsed beneath,” Elliott shares. “Bondage rope appears as a detail element, then takes over more and more until it becomes the garment itself.”

The gender-neutral designs feature more than 1,000 feet of biodegradable cotton rope. “Clothes can allow us to experiment with who we want to be, can make us feel more like ourselves, or can simply be a fun way to play.”

COLOR PALETTE: “I usually design very colorful clothing, but as I was designing this collection, I decided to try something outside my comfort zone. I settled on using a natural white as my primary color, with splashes of crimson red accents. Gunmetal black hardware provides contrast.”

DESIGN INFLUENCES: “While my design style is different, I admire and am influenced by designers like Iris Van Herpen and Rei Kawakubo and their sculptural approach to garments, as well as Alexander McQueen’s intricate construction techniques and storytelling.”

AUDIENCE TAKEAWAY: “I hope that some are challenged, that some feel seen, and that everyone comes away with an appreciation for how freeing removing gendered preconceptions of clothing can be.”


Sasha Swedlund

Sasha Swedlund was immersed in art from a young age thanks to her mother, who collected fabrics from all over the world. Swedlund has worked as a muralist and sign painter — talents she has incorporated into her collection of elevated streetwear. The silhouettes of her designs are inspired by natural hairstyles of Black women, such as afro puffs and bantu knots.

COLOR PALETTE: “I hand-painted all the prints for my collection. They are dynamic with high contrast — pairing blue, orange, and pinks with gold and greens, or green and orange. The fabrics are digitally printed.”

DESIGN INFLUENCES: “Some of my favorite and most influential designers are Nick Cave, Craige Green, Issey Miyake, and Laduma Ngxokolo. They each create very unique silhouettes, prints, or design in the realm of wearable art and fashion.”

AUDIENCE TAKEAWAY: “My hope is to bring inspiration, joy, introspection, curiosity, and an eagerness to see more.”


Susan Lizotte

Born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in Houston, Texas, Susan Lizotte’s collection combines comfort and elegance. Aiming to exude a calming feeling, and highlighting the allure of modesty, Lizotte looked to curvature in architecture and featherweight textiles as inspiration for her womenswear designs. “I wanted to show that modesty can be sexy by the placement of curves, the use of sheer fabrics, and highlighting what skin is shown,” Lizotte says. She incorporated ponte, Sherpa, and satin, as well as hand-painted organza in a color palette of neutrals and tranquil pinks. 

“The organza is all hand-painted because it is a way for me to relax, and something I really enjoy doing. I wanted it to feel personal, comforting, calming, and to have the authenticity shine through — by doing this hand-painted technique, I was able to create a soft pattern with watercolor-like strokes.”

DESIGN INFLUENCES: “The world around me and what brings me joy. Sometimes it is the way
the sun is rising and other times it is the time spent with my family.”

DAY JOB: “I am currently a full-time student, finishing up my bachelor’s, and a full-time visual merchandiser for Target. As a visual merchandiser, I get to style the mannequins, merchandise the floor pads to increase sales, and set displays throughout the store.”


Thierry Kepgang Nana 

Hailing from Douala, Cameroon, Thierry Kepgang Nana served in the U.S. Army before attending FIDM. His effervescent collection of menswear and womenswear was inspired by his personal journey to be the man he’s always hoped to become. A symphony of textures and colors come together through a variety of techniques, from dyeing to pleating. “This collection is personal to me,” Nana says. “It is a presentation between my past, present, and future. The pleating represents who I am inside, and the organza symbolizes fragility and emotion. The shine and strength of the brocade represents my future, strong and bright as it will be.”

COLOR PALETTE: “The blue, vibrant as the sky, is a representation of peace. The purple is symbolic of royalty. The red symbolizes passion and love. The gold represents the prosperity in my future.”

DESIGN INFLUENCES: “My design influences are a mix of my African origins, European, American, and Asian cultures. It is contemporary, artistic, and emotional. The designers I aspire to [be like] are Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent.”

DESIGN PHILOSOPHY: “The philosophy behind my design is a mix of cultural experiences, authenticity, uniqueness, and passion. I aim to allow others to be validated and feel love through my designs. My slogan is ‘Be yourself, feel yourself. ”


Yubin Min 

Sourcing inspiration from Polish artist Marcin Rusak, Yubin Min uses fabric manipulation to illustrate the transformation of colors and textures during a flower’s life cycle — from bud to bloom to withered and dried. “My love of flowers started with a bouquet of roses my mom gave me when I got accepted to the top fashion and design high school in Korea — my dream school,” says Min, who was born and raised in South Korea. “I took care of them with love and devotion and even dried them, so that I could keep them forever and always remember that moment.” Elaborate detail work, including suede flower cutouts and handmade flowers created with strips of organza, shine through and represent the delicacy of nature and of life.

COLLECTION INSPIRATION: “My grandma often whispers ‘that was my blooming age’ to herself whenever she looks through her old photo albums, referring to her prime. In my eyes, however, she is always in her blooming age.”

ON GROWTH: “This collection has great meaning to me as a designer. It helped me grow technically, as seen in the elaborate detailing and use of various materials, and further shaped me as a designer while expanding my outlook on beauty and life.”

DESIGN PHILOSOPHY: “Mixing and incorporating traditional values such as tailoring and craftsmanship with new technologies and sustainable practices have always been my niche category.”