Pushing Your Design Limits

The 14th annual IIDA Haute Couture Fashion Show brings together highly skilled architects, designers, and students to create custom outfits using common interior design materials. The theme for this year was “Color Theory, A Celebration of Color,” which focuses on the most  impactful Pantone Colors of the Year throughout the decades. Each team is tasked with conceptualizing, designing, creating, and completing an outfit within three weeks, showcasing their creation at the annual fashion show. IIDA Orange County City Center’s Haute Fashion Show also gives back to two local charities: Working Wardrobes and Olive Crest.

Pushing Your Design Limits
Lessons from the 14th Annual IIDA Orange County Haute Couture Fashion Show
By: Melissa Wehrberg

You’ve picked a number and chosen your color; you know where you stand in this competition.  Waiting with baited breath, you stand at the starting line for the official to yell “GO!”  You take off for the sea of textiles, unsure where to start, but knowing you need to grab anything and everything that you possibly can.  Grasping, throwing and pulling, you fight for every piece of fabric that you can, screaming back and forth with your teammates as you excavate the piles as if they are gold mines.


Alex IIDA Model

Alex, our IIDA Fashion Show Model


Pile of Fabric and Teams Running

Now, the fun begins: it’s time to think of a concept, create a design and bring it to life; all in three weeks.  At your first team meeting, you beg the question “who is actually going to be present during this process?”  The reality sets in that you are dedicating yourself to hours upon hours of work to make this design come to fruition.  But this is what we do right?  We make magic happen. So you are in!

You work tirelessly, fitting, pinning, sewing, gluing, undoing and starting all over.  It feels like it will never come together and then suddenly, you have the perfect design.  It is exactly as you imagine it would be.

Designer Sewing and Team Picture

Left: Designer Rachel working on the Ware Malcomb creation. Right: Designers Melissa Wehrberg, Jonathan Thomas, Joy Perez, Sarah Walker, and Bryan Walker.

Finally, the night of the show arrives, showcasing all the work you have done. The excitement is tangible; the anticipation has built-up over the last three weeks and all the secret designs are about to be revealed.  As the lights dim and the music raises over the voices in the crowd, the heads turn to the runway: the show is about to start.

 Ware Malcomb Model on the Runway

The first model walks out and she looks incredible. Oooos and Ahhhs abound from the audience and cheers erupt as she reaches the end of her first rotation, throws her wrecked skirt and shawl, and turns to walk back to the end of the catwalk.  This is the moment when you know that all the work was worth it, when you say to yourself, “we rocked this.”  Because even though there are winners in the competition, the IIDA Fashion Show really is about pushing your design limits, thinking outside of the box, and seeing what amazing creations you can come up with when great minds come together.

Watch the 2014 IIDA Orange County runway
Photos from the show by IIDA SoCal

Contributor: Melissa Wehrberg is an interior designer for Ware Malcomb, working out of the Irvine, Calif. corporate office. She is one of the two New City Center Directors for IIDA Orange County.

Melissa Wehrberg Interior Designer

Melissa Wehrberg
Interior Designer
City Center Co-Director, IIDA Orange County