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DEBUT Student Delaney Poe Cites Time Spent in Oceanside as a Child as Foundation for Her Work as a Designer

DEBUT Student Delaney Poe Cites Time Spent in Oceanside as a Child as Foundation for Her Work as a Designer

A student in the Advanced Study Fashion Design Program, Delaney Poe is in the final weeks of creating her 11-piece collection for the DEBUT 2020 Runway Show, to be held on April 3rd. Since the age of five, the competitive swimmer and California native has spent annual vacations in Oceanside with her family, and cites this as the foundation for who she is as a designer.  She brings the culture of vintage beach clubs into her DEBUT collection, which she’s calling “Surfrider Way.” We caught up with the designer to learn more.

Tell us about your DEBUT collection: My DEBUT collection is titled Surfrider Way. For this collection, I was inspired by the culture of vintage surf clubs, the atmosphere of the Jonas Brothers’ Happiness Begins Tour, and the mood of the Jonas Brothers’ “Cool” music video. Since I was five years old, I’ve been going with my family (Mom, Dad, Mimi, and Papa) on an annual vacation in Oceanside, California, at a place called Robert’s Cottages, a group of adorable little cottages the size of some people’s living rooms. During our week-long vacation we would wake up early and walk the beach looking for shells, have lunch at the marina, dinner at the pier, and spend the majority of our days at the beach in the water or relaxing on the sand; one year I even learned how to surf. My time spent in Oceanside is the foundation of who I am as a designer. I strive to make clothes that easily transition from water to land. I use fabrics that dry quickly, and that are comfortable to wear. I decided to incorporate the culture of vintage beach clubs into this, because of the camaraderie and attitude of the surfers in these clubs. I love movies like Blue Hawaii, Gidget, and the beach party movies. I really wanted to bring this type of attitude to my clothing, with a modern twist. Some of the silhouettes have vintage inspiration, but are brought to the modern era with the prints I chose, as well as the finishing details. From the Jonas Brothers’ Happiness Begins Tour, I drew inspiration from the colors and the atmosphere. After attending the show at the Hollywood Bowl, I was blown away by the energy and the vibrancy of the production. Through my prints, as well as my own color story, I wanted to evoke that same sense of excitement for the DEBUT audience. My very first source of inspiration for the collection is the Jonas Brothers song “Cool.” I love the ease, yet specificity of the lyrics. This song, as well as the music video really set the mood for the collection, and was the starting off point for my designs.

Tell us about your path to FIDM: I first heard of FIDM during my junior year of high school when a rep visited one of my classes. I instantly fell in love. By senior year, I was the president of my school’s fashion club, which I converted into an official FIDM Fashion Club. I was also a competitive swimmer and I knew that my swimming career was not over yet, so I was not ready to attend FIDM right away. I met with FIDM Admissions Advisor Matt Schug and told him that first I wanted to go to University of La Verne (ULV) for my Bachelor’s in Business and Theatre Arts. For the next four years, I kept in contact with Matt and let him know what I was up to. I was so in love with FIDM’s DEBUT Show, that I even had my own fashion show at ULV for my Theatre Arts senior project. It was amazing, and I was so supported by the people of that school. After finishing my ULV degree, I reached out to Matt again and told him that I was ready to apply to FIDM’s Fashion Design Professional Designation program (an amazing program for those who already have a degree). I felt super cool applying for this because it was the same one that Nick Verreos graduated from (needless to say when he became our department chair I totally geeked out). So five years after first hearing about FIDM during my junior year of high school, I finally applied and was accepted. It is not the typical journey, but the journey that was right for me. I have always been the type of person who likes to set a plan and then follow through with it.

How has your background as a competitive swimmer influenced your career choice? My parents put me in the water before I could even walk, and for that I am forever grateful. I have such a special relationship with the water, that it really feels like when I am in a pool, or in the ocean, I am truly myself. As a competitive swimmer for the majority of my life, I was always trying to balance between my sporty side, and my fashion side. Especially as a collegiate athlete at the University of La Verne, I loved to put a fashionable twist on our team apparel. I would add fun socks, or bows, and let me say my tennis shoe game was strong. As a freshmen, I was known as the shy distance swimmer who had fun swimsuits, and wore crazy cool leggings to the weight room. I have enjoyed the fact that I have very strong attributes of both a right and left brain person. I am very detail oriented (some might call it type-A), but also extremely creative. I always knew that I loved fashion, and that I loved swimming. However it wasn’t until my first creative course with Dawn Marie at FIDM, that I realized I could bring the two together. During her class she tasked us with creating a collection solely for a sport. I realized that my passion for swimming could translate to clothing. This assignment truly set my wheels into motion. It helped me develop my design point of view, which is creating clothing that can easily transition from water to land.
What are you most looking forward to about showing your collection on the runway at DEBUT? For DEBUT, I am most excited to show the audience, my family, and my friends what I have been working on—and talking their ears off about—for the last nine months. When I was a senior in high school, back in 2013, I attended my first DEBUT show. I was overcome by the lights and how professional it was! The collections were amazing, and I remember promising myself that I would work hard and eventually be a part of DEBUT.  I’m excited to fulfill that promise to myself. The loudest cheers from the audience will surely come from my mom, dad, and papa! I will also have my mimi cheering from her front row seat in Heaven. The four of them are my biggest supporters and my biggest inspirations. They have taught me what love and life is truly about, and I am excited for them to see this labor of love that I have been working on. My mom and dad are my own personal Tim Gunns. I always go to them for advice.      
How is FIDM helping you get closer to your career goals? When I first heard about FIDM, I knew that there was no place I would rather go to learn about fashion design. The knowledge and level of experience that the teachers hold is invaluable. Although I came in knowing how to sew, I was still able to learn so many new and exciting things starting on my first day. Attending FIDM, truly allowed me to develop not only my skills, but also my design voice. During my time in school, I was able to secure an internship with the fashion brand Trina Turk/Mr. Turk. This was a life-changing internship that taught me day to day what goes on in a fashion company. DEBUT has really been the cherry on the top. The program is so valuable and unique to FIDM. No other school offers its students such an amazing opportunity, and has taught me more than I could have ever imagined.  
What advice do you have for someone thinking about applying for DEBUT? My advice for someone thinking about applying for DEBUT is APPLY! The program has been one of the hardest experiences of my life, but one that I have learned the most from! Even if you don’t want to end up being a fashion designer, the program teaches you so much valuable information about the entire fashion industry. In the program we deal with managing a budget, developing a schedule, how to market ourselves and our collection, all in addition to designing eleven looks. Not only have I learned valuable information about fashion and the garment industry, but also about myself as a person. 

See Delaney Poe's designs on the runway—and that of her fellow classmates in Advanced Fashion Design—at DEBUT on Friday, April 3, 2020. For more information and tickets, go here.

Categories:  Fashion Design Student