How a semester abroad shaped her final collection

Abroad experience influences fashion collection

Bailey Levin, a senior fashion design major at Syracuse University, draws inspiration from her semester abroad in London to create a chic final collection.
Published: May 31, 2021 | Updated: June 1st, 2021 at 12:57 pm

SU graduating senior Bailey Levin combined her personal style with Victorian art and architecture elements to create her final collection.

A couple of miles away from Syracuse University’s main campus, senior fashion design major Bailey Levin spent countless hours hunched over sewing machines and work tables at the school’s Nancy Cantor Warehouse, completing her final collection of six unique pieces.

Her garments, which had been a work-in-progress since the beginning of the academic year, encapsulate parts of her time studying abroad in London during the spring 2020 semester.

According to Levin, the central idea for her collection came about while she studied in London and worked on a class project about Alexander McQueen, a prominent British fashion designer remembered for Victorian-esque pieces that utilize thick fabrics and dark, rich colors. Inspired by McQueen, Levin combined influences from aspects of Victorian art and architecture that she noticed around London and her other travels, in order to conceptualize her final collection.

Levin said that creating the pieces involves many steps, and developing a collection that works as a whole, presents even more difficulties. “In fashion design, we usually first make a mood board of the things we’re inspired by. From that, you sketch a bunch of design ideas and then narrow it down to what you actually want to make,” Levin explained, “For a collection, there’s that whole process of thinking about if looks would look cohesive together if models were wearing them and standing next to each other.”

From sketches to final stitches, she focused on maintaining a balance between giving the Victorian style a modern spin, while also maintaining its distinctive aspects, such as sophistication and careful attention to garment structure.

Levin believes that her final collection is consistent with her individual design style, which she describes as young and trendy, “I like to design clothes that I would wear myself. So, I do a lot of trendy pieces with things like color-blocking and patchwork,” said Levin. Her journey in fashion design began upon her arrival at SU. Although she had little to no prior experience working with garment construction, she was drawn to the field through her passion for drawing and other creative endeavors that’d she’d been a part of since childhood.

Now approaching the end of her senior year, Levin reflects upon how her skill set and abilities have grown throughout her academic career, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on her work. Most notably, her semester abroad was unexpectedly cut short due to COVID-19 restrictions. And she also felt like the pandemic restricted her creative process at times.

Despite these challenges, she says that immersing herself in her work at the warehouse, among her community of fellow student fashion designers, has helped her maintain a sense of normalcy and productivity as she works on her final collection.