This past weekend, I was thrilled to be one of three judges at a fashion competition by Boca Raton-based THOS Fashion School of Design (THOS). Picture “Project Runway” at Mizner Park! The competition was fierce with talented students under the guidance and mentorship of Letty Sanchez, founder of THOS.
The challenge that these aspiring designers were tasked with was to design a garment inspired by the idea that, “If Cruella was attending the Met Gala, what would she wear?” To take it a step further, students had to utilize three unconventional fabric textures that have a yin and yang relationship, yet look attractive together. No simple project to say the least.
Worth noting is that a large number of the students had never sewn before enrolling at THOS, but after just a few months of classes under the tutelage of Sanchez, they showcased intricate garments that would make Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum proud. These students pushed themselves, constructing garments with corsets, statement epaulettes, voluminous tulles, tiered paper, garbage bags, and even fiber optic.
For Sanchez, her biggest takeaway from the show is, “proof that these new students got to experience what it’s like to have their vision turn into fruition by executing their original design. It was a realistic opportunity to discover that it is all possible.” And making sure that her students are equipped with the tools necessary to succeed in the highly-competitive world of fashion is the reason why Sanchez started THOS in the first place.
As a designer of her own label, The House of Sanchez, Sanchez was used to selling to retailers like Nordstrom. But after having another child and wanting to be a stay-at-home mom, she realized that her talent and practical knowledge was needed to help those students who dream of learning design, but are not able to pay the typical high tuition fees, nor spend 4 years in a program.
“I created a program that would bridge the gap and offer students a solid foundation in learning the core fundamentals, but more importantly a type of mindset that builds character, determination and a belief in their fashion future,” says Sanchez. Well, mission accomplished! After each look went down the runway, the competing designers answered the judges’ questions with confidence and conviction.
These budding designers’ dedication to mastering the art and business of fashion design was infectious. Selecting a winner in three categories was no easy feat, but Yvari Toussaint emerged victorious, winning awards for both “Best Design” and “People’s Choice.” For Toussaint, “Winning these awards show me that you must believe in yourself to make things happen, and now I want to achieve more than I wanted to achieve before the competition. It is time to go after my biggest dreams and aspirations.” Cheers to that! With a new year around the corner, let’s feed off the optimism and hope of Toussaint and his peers by toasting to big dreams and going after them.