By Laura McAlister
Since Lauren Reeder was a little girl, she’s had a love for fashion.
Whether it was playing dress-up at her house or trying on shoes while her mother shopped, her interest in clothing started at an early age.
Her high school peers even named her Best Dressed for the yearbook Who’s Who for her style, which Lauren describes as “conservative with some funky mixed in.” Her fashion icons are “Pretty Little Liars” star Lucy Hale and actress Jennifer Aniston.
So now that she’s off to college next year, it only makes sense that she starts studying fashion design.
The Vestavia Hills senior will graduate in just a few days. In the fall, she’ll start at Auburn University’s design school majoring in apparel merchandising. She hopes to one day open her own fashion store – maybe in Mountain Brook or Homewood – featuring her own designs as well as those of others.
Though she’s still in high school, this fashionista is well on her way to achieving her goals. She’s already creating her own clothes, and the dress she designed for this year’s Birmingham Fashion Week earned her a finalist spot in the Rising Design Star Competition in February.
For the competition, Lauren incorporated many of her own loves into the dress. However, according to contest rules, she had to use unconventional materials, and no sewing was allowed.
“I wanted it to be something I loved, so I thought, I love music and I love theater,” she said. “So I got music sheets of the song ‘Everything’ by Michael Buble. Since the competition was around Valentine’s Day, I thought, that’s a love song. The top also looks like a heart.”
Using duct tape and brads, Lauren formed the bodice of the dress and added a straight skirt with a ruffle around the waste. The entire dress is made from sheet music that she crinkled to give the paper more movement. She even added a floral corsage, also made from the music sheets, to one shoulder.
In all, she said, the dress took her about three weeks to make.
And yes, even though it was made of delicate paper, it was still wearable on the runway.
“My sister-in-law wore it,” Lauren said. “It was kind of cool. I was so scared it would rip, but it was good.”
Though Lauren’s love of fashion started early, she said it wasn’t until recently that she decided to try her hand at designing her own clothes.
She had some good help to get her started. Her grandmother, Carolyn Reeder, taught the teen to sew and helped her make her first skirt.
“She’s really good,” Lauren said of her grandmother’s sewing abilities. “She used to make my mom’s outfits, and she would make my pep rally (costumes). Last summer, we went and picked out fabrics, and she taught me how to make a basic skirt.”
Lauren frequently wears the pleated, A-line skirt in a graphic print that she made, paired with a tank and thick belt. Since learning to sew, she’s also taken over making her pep rally outfits and created a red bandana skirt with white T-shirt top to wear to a recent farm-themed pep rally.
Attending the fashion camp Project Design last year at Auburn University also helped her sharpen her fashion design skills. There, she learned the technique of draping fabrics.
“After that camp, it really made me want to go into fashion,” Lauren said. “It was so great. You’d go into the classrooms, and they were just full of sewing machines.”
During the summer, Lauren said, she plans to continue to perfect her sewing and designing skills. Her next project is redesigning a pageant dress her mother wore as a teen.
“I hope to fix it up so I can wear it to different events,” Lauren said. “I hope to make more outfits, too.”