Here Come the Next Fashion Superstars

Graduating FIDM students debut their new collections at Fashion Week El Paseo

ERIN WEINGER Fashion Week El Paseo

Programs at student fashion shows can be like baseball rookie cards: You keep them somewhere safe, because you never know who’ll become the next Derek Jeter.

On Thursday night, there was likely more than one superstar in the making as students from Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising presented their graduate collections at Fashion Week El Paseo.

FIDM is known for producing famous fashion names, including Monique Lhullier, Karen Kane, and Juicy Couture co-founder Pamela Skaist-Levy. So it’s anyone’s guess exactly how far each of the 10 students who showed their wares will go.

Each had strengths. Alicia Czerwiec, for example, showed a coats and vests that carried a tribal vibe in their embroidered, pom-pom and mirrored details.

Chelsea Dowell, who graduated from the school’s knitwear program, presented her collection of voluminous, shag-adorned sweaters — including one particularly innovative knit maxi dress with metallic gradient coloring that looked like a Palm Sprigs sunset.  

Joshua Christensen, who also participated in Wednesday’s night’s Stars of “Project Runway” show, proved he’s willing to take menswear risks with his interesting, larger-than-life take on standard dress shirts, cummerbunds, and Spanish bullfighter-flavored tuxedos.

Although few collections were truly cohesive, certain students displayed work that was much more than mere strength — it was sheer brut force.

With black and white stripes and geometric prisms of primary colors, Alejandro Ortega’s one-shoulder chiffon handkerchief dress was jaw dropping. So was the elaborate eveningwear sent out by Randy Lee Donato. A red Spanish-style gown, lace and gold wedding dress, and red floral appliqué dress each were well constructed. But the later two featured one impressive detail: a back closure of at least a dozen intricate buttons in place of a zipper or snaps.

But our big money is on two designers who’ll likely stay true to the industry’s lexicon.

Ralph Rado’s sleek, minimalist pieces combined with his use of highly pigmented teal and orange silks channeled Calvin Klein designer Francisco Costa and just worked — especially a bright orange collarless sweatshirt worn over a white dress and a pair of sky blue silk tailored shorts paired with an orange top and white structured vest. Rado’s finale piece — an elaborately draped, one-shoulder gown that lit up with LED twinklers when the house lights dimmed — was a random but added bonus.

Our other one to watch is Yadimar Chavez, who displayed a collection of Native American and cowboy-inspired menswear that included leather shorts, Navajo-printed blazers, and full fringe-leather ponchos that were inventive as far as gentlemanly goods go — and just plain cool.

No, you never know who will show up on the cover of Vogue. So remember these designers’ names. After all, wouldn’t it have been awesome to say you saw Jeter play when he was a senior in high school?


‘id’: ‘playerID’,
‘width’: ‘480’,
‘height’: ‘270’,
‘file’: ‘’,
‘image’: ‘’,
‘modes’: [
{type: ‘html5’},
{type: ‘flash’, src: ‘’},
{type: ‘download’}
] });