At the end of each spring semester, fashion design students from the University of Cincinnati (UC) Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) send their designs down the runway at the year-end fashion show , unveiling their senior collection and showcasing the skills they learned during their time at UC. One of the seniors of this semester who will exhibit her line at the show is Annie Backs. The News Record sat down with Backs to discuss his “Choose the Energy” line and the inspiration behind it.
The News File (TNR): What was the inspiration for the line?
Annie Backs (AB): A big thing while brainstorming for my collection was that I was thinking a lot about the past few years, you know, the state of the world and how it’s affected the mental health of so many people. A lot of the changes that we’ve been through, they’ve been so isolating and a lot of people have really been forced to creatively take control of their happiness. I researched by listening to podcasts, reading articles and this book called “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor.
I absolutely loved this quote, it says “the benefit of happiness also lies in the little moments of positivity that spice up our lives every day. As we have seen, a short humorous video clip, a quick chat with a friend or even a small gift of candy can produce significant and immediate increases in cognitive power and job performance.
I thought maybe through a collection I could do something that would trigger a burst of happiness in someone. I wanted to create a collection of women’s clothing that accentuates femininity with bright colors and bold prints. I actually created my own prints using lots of images I found and a lot of the images I found were from things that make people happy.
TNR: Why did you choose the name “Choose the Energy” for your collection? What does this mean to you?
A B: My whole concept is about choosing things that make you happy and choosing the energy you want to put into things and how you can get that energy back by controlling certain aspects of your life.
TNR: What does the collection include?
A B: There are five rooms. There are three dresses, a romper and flare pants. I also use a lot of power-mesh to make tights and under layers for certain outfits.
TNR: What was the process to bring this line to life?
A B: I started my research last May. Summer has been a lot about looking within ourselves and hearing things we’re really passionate about, and then conceptualizing it all. Towards the end of the semester, we started creating ideas, which basically includes a ton of drawing ideas and drawing like 150 thumbnails of different silhouettes with tiny changes.
After that, we all went to co-op and then came back for the spring semester. Since then, everyone has been working on finalizing prints, fabrics, colors, themes and stitching. Next, we had our chiffon review, basically our drafts of our looks. We soon have our final muslin prototype and after that we will start sewing our final fabrics before shooting.
TNR: Does the line look like what you usually design or is it something new for you?
A B: I guess in some ways it’s similar. I focus a lot on dresses in particular and I think a lot of my silhouettes tend to be similar, but conceptually I feel like it’s different because often artists, myself included, talk a lot about ‘anxiety. I wanted to make it a really positive collection and be happy working on it.
TNR: Was it hard trying to put the anxiety aside and make that happy line?
A B: I actually think it was really helpful. It’s my inspiration and also just, in general, I do this work so much that I feel like it lifts my mood, which I really appreciate.
TNR: What do you prefer in this line?
A B: I love colors. I just wanted to go all out with the colors. They are super vibrant and inspired by the 60s and 70s with the prints. Something I really look forward to photographing this collection. I want to do it like a picnic with all kinds of fun food and it’ll just bring out all the colors.
TNR: Do you have a favorite among the five?
A B: The green look with the cutout. I just think it’s really fun and flattering too.
TNR: Who do you see wearing these pieces and when?
A B: The target audience is Gen Z and Millennial women who are just looking to have a good time and express themselves through the plays, someone who isn’t afraid to make a statement with what he is wearing.
TNR: What are you most looking forward to with this line?
A B: I’m really, really excited for the fashion show, but I think I’m more excited for the lookbook because I really like exploring the style with it because I’m having fun accessorizing the actual stage set-up from where you are taking the photos.