Kristen DePalmo
  • Photo courtesy of Kristen DePalmo
  • Half of Kristen DePalmo’s garments await public display.

“You do not ‘like that one,’” a sign in North Carolina State University’s Leazar studio sternly admonishes inquisitive visitors who might want to express appreciation for a design piece. Across campus at the College of Textiles, the same sentiment prevails during class critiques of the Senior Fashion Collection Studio.

“You can’t use the word ‘like’,” Cynthia Istook, associate professor of textile and apparel management and senior studio teacher, said. Instead, class members can make suggestions about changing a piece, and the designer can choose whether or not to implement them. “It’s interesting to see how it impacts the designers.”

The College of Textiles senior studio class began in spring 2007. It’s been offered each spring, and also last fall for the first time. Its first iteration saw a collaboration with the College of Design, but that hasn’t happened since due traveling between the campuses and a disconnect between each college’s respective goals.

“The Textiles students weren’t used to the critique process,” Istook said. “Textiles students focus on the end consumer. Design students focus on the concept.”

The class structure sees designers develop six-piece collections over the course of 15 weeks. Approximately every five weeks, two garments must be completed and presented to the class. (This year, the middle two critiques were a mere three weeks apart due to class negotiations, according to Istook.) The show doubles as the third checkpoint.

Kristen DePalmo’s collection revolves around resort wear and uses braids and knots as embellishments. She began gathering inspiration and sketching over Christmas break.

“I wanted to make a line that would simplify packing,” DePalmo says, citing her personal inability to pack light. “It’s elegant and mix-and-match. You can slip on a long dress that would also double as a cover-up.”

DePalmo enjoyed getting suggestions on how to improve her work from her peers.

“For many of us, it’s our first time making a collection of garments, so we really appreciate the feedback we get,” DePalmo said. In previous classes, students only made one garment per semester.

Kendal Leonard’s collection is titled “In Monet’s Garden,” after her favorite childhood book. Though the book’s setting is the painter’s famous garden in Giverny, France, Leonard explains that she’s inspired by English cottage gardens, which Giverny mimics.

“It’s a mixture of function and flowery plants, and uses a variety of textures,” Leonard says.

Leonard is also co-directing the show with fellow designer Rima L’Amir. Absorbed in managing the event’s logistics, she sat down for her interview studying a seating chart.

Fashion has been on Leonard’s brain lately. She showed a different six looks in the Art to Wear fashion show just last week, and has focused on that line for a few weeks. Now she’s switched back to working on her senior collection.

Kendal Leonard
  • Photo by Sarah Ewald
  • Two of Kendal Leonard’s English-inspired monochromatic looks, photographed in the College of Textiles apparel lab.

“I don’t think I’ve been home for more than four hours at a time for a month,” she says of her recent schedule.

To accompany her looks, Leonard is making jewelry. She made green and brown papier-mâché beads to be strung into necklaces, but kept loose in a box for now. She expresses initial surprise that many students in the class were making accessories, but then quickly adds that she shouldn’t be.

“We have a pretty creative class,” Leonard says.

The show takes place tonight at 7 at “the Square” on N. C. State’s Centennial Campus. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for the general public. Visit for more details.