Volume 7, Number 2, 1998

Whimsical embroidery wins gown international fashion award

Inspired by her husband's caricatures of his classmates when he was a sixth grader, Belinda Orzada, assistant professor of consumer studies in the College of Human Resources, Education and Public Policy, used them to add whimsy and sparkle to an elegant floor-length gown to win the Best of Fashion award in the International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) design competition in the fashion for a target market category.

ITAA is an international organization for textile and apparel scholars, which receives support from industry.

Named "Have You Seen Me?," the dress is a sheath of navy silk satin with a shawl collar that transforms into a peplum as it wraps around the back, highlighted by almost three-dimensional, "cubistic" faces, embroidered with different white and metallic yarns.

Orzada, who teaches apparel construction, draping and ethnic influences on 20th-century design, used the project in her draping class to involve her students in the design process. She discussed her ideas, compared fabric swatches, demonstrated draping on a dress form and later showed how sample draping evolved into the final effect she wanted for the gown.

For the juried design competition, Orzada first submitted slides and a design description. After the finalists were selected, she submitted the actual gown to be reviewed by another panel of judges at the ITAA November conference in Knoxville, Tenn.

Last year, Orzada won the Green Award from ITAA, a special award for "recycled" clothing. Orzada took an old coat and remade it into mother/daughter coats for herself and her then 2-year-old daughter, Emily. By piecing together the heavy, wool fabric from the original coat, she made two new ones, adding patchwork and bands of color.

Orzada's designs are characterized by the use of hand work techniques-embroidery, appliqués and quilting-learned from her mother and grandmother, which adds a personal touch. "I've always been interested in fashion and learned to make my own clothes at a young age and then began altering and changing patterns," she recalls.

A graduate of the University of Georgia, with a master's degree from Louisiana State University and a doctorate from Florida State University, Orzada joined the UD faculty in 1994.

-Sue Swyers Moncure