2021 International Student Design Competition Winner: Emily Omesi

Overall Winner: Emily Omesi

2021 International Student Design Competition Winner: Emily Omesi

24th September 2021

Emily Omesi is a fashion designer based in NYC, who is currently studying fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, she also spent a year studying womenswear in London at Central Saint Martins. She thrives in creating authentic, unique, and one-of-a-kind clothing.

‘Bacterial Genetics’ is a leather jacket design inspired by cell scans from her brother’s research on infectious diseases. Emily’s inspiration also came from 80’s outerwear to create a cropped bomber jacket with an exaggerated dolmen sleeve with sculptured swirls. The jacket is made of 100% cow leather.

What was the inspiration for your design?

The inspiration from my design came from my graduating collection, “GFP” which started from images of my brother’s medical research. He studies infectious diseases at UNC at Chapel Hill’s Pediatric Research Center.

The scans from his research are GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) scans. The image is of many cells with some spots glowing in bright green. I loved how organic the shapes were, and how certain areas glowed differently from others. This was the start of my research and a topic that felt very relevant to what we are experiencing today. I hoped to take inspiration from something that can be frightening and dangerous, and make something beautiful out of it.

I also love history, so I used the paediatric research from my brother, to deep dive into Victorian-era paediatric medicine, and fell in love with the almost-creepy imagery. I then finished my research with Victorian children’s clothing. I love how much detail is in the clothing during this time, and found the child-like silhouettes inspiring as well.

What are your thoughts on working with leather?

I love working with leather – there is truly no other material like it. It’s durable and can last the wearer almost forever, but is also very delicate to sew. Handling leather takes patience and practice – similar to creating a sculpture. Every leather skin is unique, which makes the process that much special.

What first attracted you to using leather for your designs?

For this jacket in particular, I wanted something that would feel expensive and provide enough dimension to make the details in the garment pop. I played around with various skins and thicknesses until I found which I felt would be best for my original prototype.

Is there something within your country’s design or fashion culture that you think makes it unique?

Without realizing it, I think the culture and people of New York City inspire the type of clothing I design. Living in NYC, almost anything you wear goes. With that being said, I still wanted to create a jacket that could be worn out as a statement piece or thrown over your shoulder to visit your local bodega. I believe my jacket balances both ends of the spectrum for any New Yorker.

Why do you think leather has consistently remained ‘in style’ while other materials come in and out?

Leather is luxury and sustainable. It’s a luxurious textile that can be used for various mediums. Leather can be incredibly expensive yet still affordable depending on the quality – regardless of the price, it is still viewed as luxury. It’s durable, keeps the wearer warm while still being breathable. Without a doubt leather is one of the most sustainable textiles, as it comes from the earth, lasts a lifetime, and goes back into the earth as it deteriorates.

What does participating in this competition mean to your career as a designer?

This competition provided me with the opportunity to explore leather and it’s capabilities in the fashion industry. Having an understanding of leather, aids my design process from realizing a sketch to the final garment.

Don’t forget to follow Emily on Instagram: @emilyomesi

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