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Sept. 25, 2018

Chantel Booker: Fashion week, Spartan style

Chantel Booker is a senior majoring in apparel and textile design and minoring in theatre in the College of Arts and Letters. Booker recently won the Spartan Fashion Design Collection Competition and traveled to New York's Fashion Week.

Going into New York Fashion Week, I honestly didn’t know what to expect because before coming to MSU, I had never thought of going into the fashion industry.

I have been a deeply creative person since I was young, so even though I didn’t always have an interest in fashion, I always had a yearning for design. After making my first garments in class here at MSU, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the industry.

I was awarded the experience of attending New York's Fashion Week through the Spartan Fashion Design Competition where IMG College Licensing partnered with the Apparel and Textile Design Program to present a competition where students had to design a garment that showcased why we think MSU is great.

My answer to this was MSU’s community makes it great. MSU’s community is made up of people from so many diverse backgrounds.

I decided to make my design using a more heavyweight black fabric to represent how the members of the community can come together and rise above our past and be stronger. Constructing my design was definitely the most challenging part leading up to NYFW. I ended up slightly changing my design from what I originally pictured it to be, so I had to problem solve and think about a new solution while also keeping the deadline in mind.

After arriving in New York, I was really excited for the weekend and all the things I would get to experience. I worked really hard on my design that won me this opportunity, so I felt that my hard work definitely paid off and that I deserved to be there.

The most exciting part of the week was the “In Conversation Talk” with Elaine Welteroth and Tyler Mitchell. Elaine is the former editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, and Tyler is the photographer that shot the cover photos of Beyoncé for the September issue of Vogue Magazine.

Listening to Elaine and Tyler talk about what it was like being Black in the industry and how they worked to get where they are was very inspiring as an aspiring designer.

They also talked about how it is becoming more and more popular to have a multihyphenate career title, which I found to be exciting because I want to be able to have a career where I am able to do more than one thing.

They talked about cultural appropriation and the importance of having that kind of conversation in the presence of a diverse group rather than just Black people having the conversation in private with other Black people, and I totally agree with that. I just really appreciate how real both of them were, which made the mood very welcoming.

The avant-garde Apparel and Textile Design Program at MSU has allowed me to design in a way that enhances and expands my creative ability in ways that I never knew I could. I also know that without my professors Rebecca Schuiling and Dr. Theresa Winge always pushing me to design out of my comfort zone and their compassion and love for the program, I know I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have this experience.

Words cannot describe how hard they work to provide the very best they can for the ATD program. I am forever grateful for all that they have done and continue to do to help me succeed.

For anyone looking to have a career in the fashion industry, my advice is to stay diligent, always keep a positive attitude, be able to take criticism and be teachable. It is very important to show that you are dedicated to doing everything you are asked to do and that you are doing it well and putting forth the effort to make it the best it can be.

Also, staying positive will always go a long way because no one wants to work with someone who is constantly negative. Opening up to others’ criticism is difficult, but often will offer a new viewpoint and, ultimately, in the end, the final say is yours.

Teachability has always been a quality I work hard to keep because showing people that you aren’t afraid to ask questions and learn different ways to do things makes you stand out.

Read a related story about Booker's experience during New York Fashion Week and see the dress Booker designed.