Saturday, April 13

FAST 2023: Holland Smith adapts fashion skills to create ‘Evolution of Theory’ collection

Garbed in white and blue, model Shin Ng looks into the camera. The second-year business economics student said he is excited to be modeling Holland Smith's designs on the FAST runway. (Photo by Bryan Palmero/Daily Bruin senior staff. Photo illustration by Isabella Lee/Illustrations director)

Holland Smith is branching out with his latest nature-inspired collection.

On Friday, the fourth-year ecology, behavior and evolution student will be showcasing his collection titled “Evolution of Theory” at Fashion and Student Trends at UCLA’s annual runway show. Although they may be similar in name, this collection is distinct from the one Smith unveiled at FAST last year, which was titled “Theory of Evolution.” While that line focused on the chaos and imperfections behind his pieces, Smith said that for this year’s collection, he is focusing on refining his fashion skills and creating pieces with a more intentional order to them.

“Sometimes one idea will lead to a million different ones,” Smith said. “It’s hard to choose, and so I’ll spend time going through, refining and figuring out what I really want the core essential piece to be. … Some pieces, I don’t know what they’re going to be until the very end, and then there are other pieces where I have a very clear vision in mind.”

As a designer with an interest in ecology, Smith said much of his inspiration behind the “Evolution of Theory” pieces was spurred by the nature he sees both in class and around him in general. However, Smith said that the initial spark oftentimes evolved into something completely different than what he was originally envisioning – an essential step in his creative process.

(Courtesy of Holland Smith)
Designer Holland Smith poses in front of a grey wall. The fourth-year ecology, behavior and evolution student said his collection "Evolution of Theory" is inspired by the nature around him. (Courtesy of Holland Smith)

[Related: FAST 2022: Josephine Qi’s collection blooms from UCLA botanical garden onto runway]

Smith said he has been interested in the fashion industry since he was young, and it has long been his goal to pursue fashion design professionally. He said his mother has always been the primary influence behind his passion for design and fashion, crediting her as both a supporter and inspiration.

“My mom was an art history major and an interior designer,” Smith said. “I’ve always been surrounded by creative thoughts and ideas and beautiful spaces, so it (my interest in fashion) started with that. And then through COVID, I really got into making clothing with some friends of mine as a creative way to spend some of that time, (which) led to a fostering of love and appreciation for art.”

When it comes to Friday’s show, Smith said he is excited to be walking the runway and modeling one of the key pieces in his lineup. Other student models will be wearing the rest of his collection, including second-year cognitive science student Arash Dewan and second-year business economics student Shin Ng.

While models do not have creative input in Smith’s collection, their modeling style still determines how the pieces are ultimately received by audiences, Dewan said. As such, the FAST models attend weekly workshops that each focus on a different aspect of modeling, he said, whether that be shoulder placement or when to face forward on the runway. Each designer also gets to choose a soundtrack to accompany their collection, so Dewan said the models have to practice matching their pace to the tempo of the music.

Though he does not plan on pursuing modeling professionally, Dewan said fashion has always been a major part of his life. He grew up stealing whatever stylish clothes he could find from his brother’s closet, which he said sparked his interest in fashion. For Ng, clothing was a way to escape the labels that came with being an Asian high schooler in rural Ohio.

“Fashion, for me, was really a form of expression to try to break out of the stereotypes that I faced in high school,” Ng said. “It’s something that has been a way for me to express myself on first look. That has always meant a lot to me – first impressions.”

(Bryan Palmero/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Ng gazes to the side. Ng will be modelling "Evolution of Theory" pieces which will be showcased during FAST at UCLA's annual runway Friday. (Bryan Palmero/Daily Bruin senior staff)

[Related: FAST 2022: Lauryn Ilasco encourages self-discovery, creativity with whimsical collection]

By modeling Smith’s “Evolution of Theory,” Ng said he is excited to expand upon his interest in fashion and help bring a UCLA designer’s creative vision to life. In addition to seeing his pieces on the runway, Smith said he is looking forward to seeing the creative talents of the other designers at FAST. Even though UCLA does not have a fashion design major, Smith said the designers prove that UCLA students are still able to create collections with professionalism and nuance.

“The inspiration behind other people’s pieces and just seeing what they’ve created, their concepts – it’s pretty incredible to see,” Smith said. “Most of us want to pursue it (fashion) long term, and so you can really see the attention to detail that goes into creating these collections.”

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