June 22, 2009

A senior from Western Michigan University takes her final bow in funraising fashion show in Kalamazoo

By Ram

The fashion show "Redefined," set for at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, is more than it appears.

It is a grand report -- a senior thesis by Liza Nay, a Western Michigan University Lee Honors College student concentrating in fashion design in WMU's Textile and Apparel Studies program. The show, sponsored by Alano Salon, is an accumulation of all the design work that the perky Nay, 22, has done in her four years at WMU -- about 100 garments including a new line never seen before.

The show also is part farewell. Nay is adding one more year to her program to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, a great affirmation of her work at Western. Fashion Designer Liza Marie Nay wears on of her one of her dresses that will be featured at her fashion show "redefined" at the Epic Bistro in Kalamazoo.

The show also is a fundraiser. Nay plans to give half of the proceeds to WMU's Textile and Apparel Studies program, which needs equipment. She plans to use the other half of the proceeds to set up an endowment at the college to help fashion-design students purchase of fabrics, sketchbooks, parking passes and other necessities. Nay plans to raise a minimum of $4,000 in ticket sales and raise more money through drawings for donated gift packages from businesses and the sale of some of her fashions.

Some young people may be wrapped up in instant gratification, but Nay is an example of another side of her generation, those who are concerned about helping the world around them. "This generation, that is very much something on their minds, and she epitomizes that," said Linda Winquist, an instructor in WMU's Textile and Apparel Studies program. "And she does it rather than just talk about it."

Nay first began to reach out to others as a WMU student in 2007 when she spearheaded a program through the student organization Merchandising Opportunities Design Association, or MODA. The program involved mentoring high school students from Kalamazoo, Richland and Paw Paw who were interested in fashion design. The university got a $1,000 grant for the program, named Project MODA, from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

The high school students learned to create fashions and helped MODA stage several fashion shows. Nay was the coordinator of the project for the last two years. "We really wanted to expose the students to college life so they could see it can be fun, it can be enjoyable," said Nay, who was named a Presidential Scholar this past spring.

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