An Interview with Andrew Maclaine, HUFS Audience Choice Winner 2014

An Interview with Andrew Maclaine, HUFS Audience Choice Winner 2014

Even more tips to help you succeed for the Her Universe Fashion Show!

Andrew Maclaine is a Fashion Designer based in Palm Springs, CA with over two decades of experience in fashion and costuming. In the first ever Her Universe Fashion Show, in 2014, he took home the Audience Choice award for his “Regina’s Curse” transforming design (you might recognize him from our Her Universe Fashion Show:Design Submission Tips Part Two post.)


Since the first HUFS, he has gone on to design and create the gowns that Ashley Eckstein has worn to host the fashion show since. He created three original dresses for her to wear for the 2015 show (inspired by Princess Leia of Star Wars, Black Widow from The Avengers/Marvel and Haku the Dragon from Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away). Then, last year, collaborated with LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya to create the first ever LEGO couture gown, made with over 10,000 individual bricks!


[from left to right] Princess Leia dress, Black Widow, Haku and LEGO dress. Photo courtesy Her Universe/Kelsey Edwards Photography.

So beyond being a winner, Andrew has gotten to know the team that are selecting your designs- and gave us a peek at what he has learned!

Any overall tips for someone who is applying for the first time?

[Andrew] Welcome, first timer!  Don’t be afraid.  Have confidence in what you do, but remember that this even though this is a competition, your experience will be much better if you realize this is a wonderful venue to display your talent and passion.  The participants range from professionals to amateurs, and they are all there to celebrate being a designer.  As a first time applicant, remember that there are a lot of entrants, and it’s selection, not rejection.  So bring your best, and if you get in, congratulations!  Stay focused and get to work!  If you don’t, go to the fashion show anyway.  You might learn what you can change for the next year to make yourself stand out.

“Have confidence in what you do, but remember that this even though this is a competition, your experience will be much better if you realize this is a wonderful venue to display your talent and passion.”

Don’t forget pictures of your past work!  Her Universe needs to know that you are able to make your concepts come to life.  Submit multiple examples of your past work, and if they have a professional quality to them, all the better,  Mirror selfies can show off your outfit okay, but a photo that looks like it was taken with more forethought and setup can show that you’re in it to win it.


Do you have any advice for someone who may not have much sewing experience, but who is interested in submitting?

[Andrew] Here’s where I somewhat contradict what I have heard some others say,  Yes, I think you should have a more than competent sewing knowledge, or at least have a natural talent that makes creating a professional looking garment easy for you.  Remember this is a competition and the audience and judges want to see a fashion show featuring looks that will excite them and impress them.  If you do a great sketch, but don’t know how to make the concept a reality, the experience will be very frustrating and the outcome may be disappointing for you.  Put in the time to learn, and practice, gain experience until you are comfortable wearing something that you have made.  Your garment for the fashion show shouldn’t be the first dress you’ve made.

What should a designer consider when submitting their particular design?

[Andrew] First of all, take advantage of the fact that you can submit 3 designs.  Even if you have a CLEAR favorite, do three concepts.  I say this because you never know what exactly they may be looking for when putting together a good show, and it also just makes you look more passionate and full of ideas.  Make them different from each other to show you have a range, and come up with concepts that people haven’t seen before!

Submit designs that excite YOU.  If chosen, you’re the one who is going to have to make it, and it will be a part of your life for a LONG time, especially if you win.  People will be able to see the passion behind your hard work.

“A sketch is a blueprint and reference picture of something that you are actually going to make.  Take it seriously and have an idea how you are going to execute it…”

MAKE SURE YOU CAN CREATE WHAT YOU SKETCH!  I can’t say this enough.  If you have this amazing piece of art in the form of a fashion sketch, and you show up with a dress that looks nothing like it, that’s not good.  Your final piece should look like your submission OR better.  Yes, you can tweak it if you come up with a cool detail or really want to add more drama during fabrication, but it should still look like the sketch they chose, in concept, quality, and presentation.  Remember, they are putting their faith in you to create a show-worthy garment without actually seeing it first.  A sketch is a blueprint and reference picture of something that you are actually going to make.  Take it seriously and have an idea how you are going to execute it (what fabrics you might use, how you are going to make that collar stand up, is the wearer going to be able to walk?).

Feel free to make notes on your sketch explaining what is going on.  Write on the side that the bodice and skirt are made of different fabrics, or the jacket is removable, or that detail on the front is going to be hand-sewn gold-leafed tree branches.  Let them know that you thought a lot about how you are going to create your vision.

Do you recommend modeling or hiring a model? Any tips for finding a model? 

[Andrew] Here is where I differ with some others.  I DO think that having someone walk the runway with modeling experience makes your presentation more heightened.  If you are a good walker and can model your garment with confidence , or are willing to learn how, do it!  But just as you put in the time to learn how to sew and perfect your craft, models put in the time (at least they should!) to practice presentation and learning their craft as well.  Being proud of your work is wonderful, and you should try to present it in the best way possible.

Finding a model.  Remember that just because a girl is tall and thin, it doesn’t mean she’s a good model.  You need to find one that can present herself confidently, as well as understand your point of view as a designer and embody your concept.

It is easiest to start close to home.  I am sure that you have friends or friends of friends that know a girl that would jump at the opportunity to walk for a real designer.

There is also a website called ModelMayhem that I have used to find models for years.  It’s a website for pro and amateur models, designers, photographers, MUAs, that are looking for work, but a lot of them are there to build their books.  So quite often you can find someone to work with that will be happy with just getting the experience of walking on the runway at a real show.  If you are from out of town and would prefer a local model, set your search to San Diego, and you should be able to find a lot of local girls to choose from.

BUT, I have to point out, models CAN unfortunately be flaky.  Let’s face it, some of them are young, pretty girls that don’t understand that modeling is work and they have to be dedicated.  So when you do find one, stay in communication with her.  Tell her your expectations and call times (do you need to meet for fittings?  Can she do her own hair and makeup?  Are her measurements correct?)  and send her messages regularly.  If she shows any signs of not being trustworthy, drop her and find someone else!  You want someone as excited and into it as you are!

Any advice for designers who get in, that they should keep in mind for the fashion show? 

[Andrew] YES!!  Don’t complain!  ABOUT ANYTHING!  You are being given this amazing opportunity to show your work at a highly visible venue for No fee, other than your own expenses.  As a designer who has been in the industry for several years, i regularly receive invitations to show at fashion events “for the special discounted fee of only $8,000”, or more!   Putting together a fashion show is Expensive for the producers, both monetarily and mentally.  All you have to do is show up prepared and have your hard work celebrated by the adoring public and your peers.

“Don’t complain!  ABOUT ANYTHING!”

Keep that in mind and have a good attitude, if not for the sake of your fellow contestants, but for yourself!  Don’t complain on social media how your dressing area is small, or you don’t like the lunch they set out for you, or how you wish they had provided you with your own makeup artist.  Show up on time, go to rehearsals, listen to the producers, do you job.  Be prepared and you will have an amazing experience!


Did Andrew’s advice help you out a little bit further? What would you like to have clarification on? Make sure to leave a comment below and let us know!

Happy Unstitching!






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