After turning down the Fashion Institute of Technology, junior Lindsay Viola-Vu is using her accomplished student career at Texas Tech to launch her into internships on both coasts.
Originally, the apparel design and manufacturing major said Tech was nowhere near her realm of college choices when she was in high school. She described an incident where she told her parents she had applied to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York.
“We were at Sunday brunch and I was like, ‘Oh hey, by the way, I went ahead and went behind your back and applied to a school in New York, and I got in,’” said Viola-Vu. “It was dead silent. My dad was okay with it and my mom started crying.”
Her parents wanted her to stay in Texas or close to home in Houston, which is nine and a half hours away from Lubbock.
While at work during her senior year of high school, a woman she was helping told Viola-Vu that her niece had attended Texas Tech and was working for a major clothing company. After hearing this news, Viola-Vu decided to take a visit to Raider Land to see what all the fuss was about.
She said she remembers being biased right off the bat. She had already been accepted into FIT and wanted to be in the big apple. The designer said she knew it was a God-send in the end.
“By the end of the Tech visit, I was content with going here. They just get you,” she said. “Especially when they take you to that human sciences building and bring you to the top floor and see the entire campus, how do you say no at that point?”
Viola-Vu said after learning about the apparel design program at Tech she began to appreciate it more. In comparison to FIT, she said, if she were going to school in New York she would not be as successful as she is now.
“Best decision I ever made was turning down FIT,” said the Houston native. “Which sounds awful, but I got the experience here, knowledge from our professors here and I still got into this amazing program at Marist. I didn’t even need FIT.”
Marist College overlooks the Hudson River in New York, where Viola-Vu will be next semester for her internship. She was one out of eight in the nation to be chosen for the fashion program and said she is still awestruck over the opportunity.
While she is away, Viola-Vu will experience her 21st birthday only a few weeks following her arrival at Marist. The designer said the idea of growing up so quickly and plunging into the real world is scary to think about.
After speaking to human resources at Marist, Viola-Vu said, she has the possibility of working with Kenneth Cole during her time at the internship. She said the Marist panel was very impressed with her portfolio and thought she had talent. Apparently, California would agree. After her spring internship, she said, she will be working for Lauren Conrad’s Paper Crown apparel company during her summer internship.
With all of these opportunities, she said, it will be difficult to return to Lubbock for her senior year. Viola-Vu said the only reason she is returning to West Texas is so she can receive her diploma. She optimistically described her future experiences by saying it would only give her a better senior runway show during the spring 2014 semester.
Viola-Vu has created many garments in the past two years alone. But, she said, if she had to choose, her most accredited has been the infamous “Starburst dress: a juicy contradiction.” She has caught the attention of Wrigley candy corporation, who sent her a gift basket full of Starbursts to acknowledge how impressed they were with the dress.
Viola-Vu said the Starburst dress is what essentially set her company, L. Viola-Vu, into gear. She described the following events to be a domino effect. What began as a project for one of her classes ended up being displayed in multiple art showcases, a fashion show and a photo shoot.
She continued to talk about the candy-coated dress by saying it took her months to create and was a very tedious task. The young designer said her aesthetic is what keeps her going: “do what you love, and love what you do.” She said her motto gives her drive and helps her remain humble.
“As long as you do what you love, you’ll love what you do. As long as you love your garment that you’re making, you’ll be fine,” said Viola-Vu. “You know, just be dedicated in your work and as long as you’re confident in what you’re doing then what you put out is always going to be something good.”
She said her style of design is meant to be wearable, which is why the Starburst dress was a success; one could actually wear the sweet garment. The designer said she likes to be practical and she cannot stand when people consider her clothing to be called art. She said being called an artist over a fashion designer is practically degrading and she feels like designers are not receiving the recognition they deserve.
Recognition Viola-Vu has earned recently involves a fashion show she put on during the summer. Her sister is currently the reigning National Cover Miss, and through her sister’s charity, Be The Difference, the designer was able to display all of the work she has accomplished in two short years. Viola-Vu described Be The Difference to be equivalent to the Make A Wish Foundation. To help her sister raise money for a girl’s wish she was sponsoring, Viola-Vu put on a fashion show called “Two Years At A Glance” where all of her garments were displayed in her home town of Houston for the first time.
With all of her success and hopes of more to come, Viola-Vu has an official public relations team, photographers and more. She said she would not describe herself as famous, nor have all of her accomplishments seemed real.
“Everything is a blessing in disguise. Who randomly goes to Dallas to do a photo shoot? We have our own makeup people, I have a photographer and we have our own set of models now,” said the designer. “It’s just weird. It still hasn’t hit me yet. Half of these things don’t hit me until after they’re over.”
She said she hopes to learn from both of her internships and eventually hopes others start recognizing her sense of work ethic and how she constructs her garments.
“I want people to look at it and think, yeah that’s definitely something Lindsay would do,” said Viola-Vu.