Alumni Designer Spotlight: Gwendolyn Smith

The theme for Runway 10 is Remember Imagine, which encourages everyone to look at the past and remember where we started, so we are able to look towards the future and what we can achieve. In the final days before the show, we will be looking back at some of our past Runway designers and see where they are now, what lessons Runway taught them, and how they have carried them through life. The next Alumni we will be spotlighting is Gwendolyn Smith.

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Gwendolyn started working with Runway in 2011 as a junior, and then again in 2012 as a senior designer. She describes her Runway experience as packing for a trip you have waited four years to embark on. She was able to get the start to finish design process, and watch what she worked towards her entire schooling career walk down the runway. Working on Runway also allowed Gwendolyn to expand on her design skills, because she incorporated three men’s looks into her six item collection. Overall, she had a great experience working with Runway, and cannot wait to work with them again for the Anniversary show.

Runway was a special experience for Gwendolyn because it gave her a creative outlet outside of the classroom. Her college friends spanned outside of the fashion department, so being involved in Runway allowed Gwendolyn to showcase her work to her friends who were in different majors. She was even able to include some of her friends as models for her collection.

From her Runway experience Gwendolyn learned a lot. She learned how to work within a set timeline, how to source fabric, trims, and findings, and she was able to experience the design process from a flat sketch to a final garment. Runway really gave her the opportunity to use four years worth of skill in one collection.

Runway also allowed Gwendolyn to collaborate with many different people. Designers in Runway work with hair and makeup artists, as well as the production team. It is the successful collaborations between these different groups that allows Runway to be so successful. Gwendolyn was able to take these lessons and use them later in life. After college, she ran a custom graphic and t-shirt business for a few years. She had to work under strict deadlines to keep her customers happy, as well as source all her materials, machines, and apparel for printing. Working successfully with others is the most important lesson Gwendolyn thinks anyone will learn in Runway. Even though everyone might not be able to see eye to eye all the time, the end goal is more important. This is a skill that will be of value for the rest of ones professional career.

To Gwendolyn, Runway means showcasing her creations. She thinks it’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone involved. This is the first time she will be in the show since she was a senior, and being in the show again really brought her back to her true passion.

Gwendolyn has always been a designer in Runway. For her first show, she had one garment entered and a few dresses she designed for the Buffalo Loves Cotton section. The garments in that section were designed by the design students, and then created by other students from specially printed fabrics. Gwendolyn found that section to be amazing because it was so collaborative between the different students in the department.

For Runway 10, Gwendolyn wanted to focus on uniqueness. She wants her collection to be a surprise, but one thing she will reveal is that she used a new technique to hand dye some of her fabrics. She wants to give the illusion of the inside of a gemstone and contrast the rigged rock edges.

Tickets for the show are now available here:


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