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Fashioning Experience

Mackenzie Miller in the studio.

Thimbles, thread, and miscellaneous pieces of fabric overtook Mackenzie Miller’s work space. Miller (fashion merchandising and business management ’21) commences each project with tenacity and endurance to see it through to completion. Creating something out of nothing provides Miller with a sense of accomplishment and artistry. Last semester, she had the opportunity to work professionally with the Averitt Center for the Arts in Statesboro, Georgia. She applied the skills obtained from her fashion and design classes to create a set of costumes for their production of Orestes.

For over two months, Miller worked with a faculty mentor, Dr. Addie Martindale, and a group of six students collaborating and creating pieces for this project. This Greek tragedy follows the consequences of murder, deceit, and injustice. Young actors, ranging in ages from seven to seventeen, undertook this mature play. “It was interesting to see a cast with a majority of fifth and sixth graders take on these very dramatic roles,” Miller said.

Miller was unfamiliar with the play, so she conducted extensive research to gain a sense of its themes. Miller and her peers had complete creative authority from the initial sketch to the moment the curtains fell. “We decided to shift the design away from traditional Greek attire. Instead, we used a post-apocalyptic take on streetwear with both Greek and modern influences,” she said.

After researching the play’s origins and past performances, Miller began the design process. “I found inspiration photos and created a mood board with the overall conception of our design. When someone looks at your sketch or design, they should be able to see the mood and style for the project. We sketched out each of our designs for peer feedback sessions. We came together to converse and to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our designs. We explained the inspiration or reasoning behind what we made. Everyone was constructive and gave helpful feedback. Next, we sourced fabric and started sewing and patterning.”

There were a total of twelve to fifteen costumes for the play, and Miller specifically aided in the creation of four.

Miller tries to incorporate her studies in other responsibilities she has at Georgia Southern University. Last semester, Miller was a peer leader in Dr. Steven Engel’s FYE course, The Examined Life. She had the opportunity to teach several lessons, including a survival guide to college. She also created a lesson centered on the power of clothing.

“One of the classes I taught was about the way your outward appearance can influence other things during your day. For example, how you dress can make you feel better and increase your self-confidence. This confidence can affect your presence in the classroom or during presentations. I know that many freshmen worry about doing presentations,” she said. “I wanted to stress how some confidence can come through your clothing, as an extension of your personality. Clothing and fashion are the way you can speak without using words.”

After graduation, Miller wishes to continue into the field of costume design, specifically for The Walt Disney Company. “Completing this project really got me interested in costume design. Before, creating costumes was not something I had on my radar. However, after this experience, I realized how rewarding the process is. It is very exciting to get to make something different than what people wear every single day,” she said.

Miller is not finished yet. This semester, she with working with the Averitt Center of the Arts again, with their production of Beauty and the Beast. She has the opportunity to make both of Belle’s costumes, the blue dress and the yellow ball gown. Disney is on notice.


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