Rachel Hamerski (pictured top right), a senior in Buffalo State's fashion and textile technology program, created a stunning dress that took first place in the national Lifestyles in Cotton design contest sponsored by Cotton Incorporated.
Students had to design and sew a contemporary woman’s garment. Hamerski designed a long-sleeve dress embellished with petals. Using a knit fabric that is blue on the outside with a red sheen showing through from the fabric’s underside, Hamerski gave the dress a unique, almost ethereal look.
"The feathers of a bird inspired the design," Hamerski said. "That's where the petals came from. I had them travel up the neck and through the arms in a dramatic way."
As the first-place winner, Hamerski was awarded $1,000 and an all-expense paid trip to the company’s headquarters in Cary, North Carolina. Her dress will be on display, along with the creations of the other top nine winners, for six months. Afterward the garments will travel to Hong Kong to be included in a fashion conference there.
Jeana Hatch, the product development manager at Cotton Inc., explained the reasons behind Hamerski’s win. "Her creativity and craftsmanship were illustrated in the way she used the fabric—taking a non-traditional athletic fabric and turning it into a contemporary, high-fashion woman’s garment. Starting off with a beautiful illustration, the garment was perfectly translated from that image in exact detail.”
This is not the first big win for Hamerski. In the fall, she was named one of five ambassadors for Cotton University, an educational and outreach website that Cotton Inc. developed in 2012. Hamerski created a fall marketing plan informing fashion students about opportunities available to them.
"Rachel has a business sense as well as a flair for design and creativity," said Lynn Boorady, associate professor and chair of the Fashion and Textile Technology Department. She credits the first-place win to talent and tenacity. "Rachel has a go-getter attitude. Every time she hears of an opportunity, she applies for it."
After she graduates in May, Hamerski said she would like work in merchandising or apparel design with a large company such as Cotton Inc.
Winning the Lifestyles in Cotton contest is certainly a big step toward achieving her goal.