Fiber Grad Alteration

From Candace Stieger's Unbraided Collection

When Candace Steiger decided to go to Maryland Institute College of Art, she didn’t have her hands near a sewing machine. Her hands were actually filled with thin wooden paint brushes.

“When I went to school at MICA, I began as a painting major,” Steiger. “I randomly took a class in the Fibers department, thinking why not just try this because I know how to sew. There was no turning back for me. I hadn’t realized before going to art school that a Fiber major was a real option for me as a means of expressing myself.”

After switching majors, she started to work towards creating her senior year fashion exhibit, “Unbraided.”

The inspiration for the exhibit came from Steiger’s interest in ancient Greek priestesses and religious practices.She read about social and political context of hair ranging from ancient stories like Medusa, Rapunzel and Delilah.

Steiger considers “Unbraided” to be one of her best projects she has done so far.

“Not so much in production value, but as a personal triumph,” Steiger said. As an artist it was a pinnacle moment where sound and setting and my performers and my garments came together with a synergy that I hadn’t achieved before.”

After the success of her exhibit, Stieger landed an internship at a vintage boutique that gave her an outlet to showcase her work.

“I worked there as an intern throughout last summer,” Steiger said. “Then, I came on as a seamstress and designer in the store converting vintage into more modern silhouettes and styles. Diece was a unique store in that much of the clothing carried there were one of a kind and hand made by artists. My garments fit well because they are more dramatic and one of a kind pieces.”

In December 2009, Steiger graduated from MICA and she is still getting used to going from art student to professional fashion designer.

“It’s a very unusual place for me to be right now,” Steiger said. “It’s a rather sharp transition from the freedom of art school to the reality of a very tough market in a very harsh economic time. I’m working for a designer who does very well in the market and trying to learn all that I can about the industry.”

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