Bits and Pieces: Mountain View graduate designs award-winning fashion

By Ashley Swanson, Columbian features news coordinator

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For many new graduates, the final project is a memorable achievement. For Mallory Williams, 24, it meant months and months of not sleeping, just sewing.

Her leather jacket and full-length dress combination opened "The Future of Fashion" show on May 2 at The Fashion Institute of Technology, a college of the State University of New York. The annual runway show features the top designs by the graduating students in an event that draws a packed crowd of established designers including Calvin Klein and other industry leaders.

"They chose [my design] to open the show. It's a big compliment," said Williams. Her look also won the Diane von Furstenberg critic award for sportswear.

The jacket emphasizes the silhouette, something Williams considers extremely important to her aesthetic style.

"The human body is your canvas," said Williams. It was the first time Williams' made a full garment from leather, but she wanted to take on that challenge after being inspired by the fabric.

Her interest and talent in fashion design began with her mother, Lori.

"My mother is a seamstress, she used to work for a ballet company in Maine," Williams said. "She'd make my prom dresses. She taught me to sew when I was 8. But I never thought of it as a career path."

It was Williams' mother who nudged her into looking at The Fashion Institute, the school Lori had wanted to attend when she was Williams' age.

A graduate of Mountain View High School, Williams moved with her family from Maine to the Vancouver area when she was 15. "In my junior and senior years, it was the photography and the fine art teachers who really pushed me towards an art degree program," she said.

And that push is paying off. Williams has accepted a position with the growing fashion house Marchesa, which specializes in high-end women's wear. "To get that kind of recognition, it's the ultimate reward," she said.

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.