A nifty 1950s fashion redux!

Posted: April 7th, 2017 | Columnists, Fashion Files, Featured | No Comments

By Diana Cavagnaro | Fashion Files

‘Nifty Fifties’

The 2017 Finale Party for the sixth annual Fashion Redux! was held in Balboa Park on March 3. This annual design competition was co-hosted by the San Diego History Center and the Fashion Program at San Diego Mesa College.

(l to r) Design competition winners: Phitsenee Jirathamrongkarn, tied for second place; Juliet Liet, first place; Kara Riekstins, also tied for second; and Rachel Merrill, third place. Pet is Lambchop, a Bedlington terrier. (Photo by Siobhan Gazur)

This year the theme was the “Nifty Fifties.” Everyone was encouraged to wear 1950s dress. A 1955 Ford Thunderbird was parked at the entrance so that all the guests could take pictures with it.

Each year, a different time period is picked and the students come in to view the historic garments as inspiration pieces. The next step in the competition involved creating the sketch, making muslin and constructing the finished garment. Finally, faculty and industry advisors judge these creations. The judges’ decisions are based on creativity, workmanship and wearability.

Four finalists were chosen and the garments were put on display at the History Center leading up to the finale. The inspirational pieces from the Historic Clothing and Textile Collection were also on exhibition to give everyone a better idea of the process.

A Finale Party and reception was held to announce the winners. During this time, the guests had the opportunity to cast their vote for the “People’s Choice Award.” The Lead Designer and People’s Choice awards went to Juliet Liet.

Kara Riekstins and Phitsenee Jirathamrongkarn tied for second place. The third place finisher was Rachel Merrill. This year a special award went to Carla Robyn W. as the best ’50s dressed guest.

After the awards presentation, the crowd retired to the auditorium for an awesome presentation by Gabe Selek who is the history ambassador.

Selek shared his wide knowledge of the 1950s history in San Diego. Mesa College Fashion Professor Susan Lazear gave an illustrated fashion lecture on the fashion styles of the 1950s. Bringing a close to this marvelous evening, Lazear went through the entire process of creating these inspirational garments for the audience.

(l to r) Carlene McKnight and Carla Robyn W., best ’50s costume (Photo by Diana Cavagnaro)

As a follow up, the Villa Montezuma in Sherman Heights was open for a tour on March 25. The Villa Montezuma is a Victorian Mansion built in 1887 for Jesse Shepard. It is only open four times a year, so this was a great opportunity for the students to talk with the public about their creations.

The four inspirational pieces of the students were on display and the designers were able to speak to the guests about their collaboration with the History Center. For more information about the History Center, visit

San Diego Mesa College is a two-year college with associate degrees in Fashion, Merchandising, and Computer Technology. For more information, visit

Upcoming events

Through June 4 | Knotted Fiber Jewelry — This exhibition by Sandy Swirnoff is at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. The artist combines the old with the new using various beads and a form of macramé. Hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5-p.m.

April 27 | FAB Authority presents an Intellectual Property Workshop with Knobbe Martens — Part of Fashion Week San Diego at 6 p.m. This free event will be located at FIDM on 350 10th Ave., #300. RSVP at

May 5 | ‘Double Oh Siete (007)’ — This is a luncheon and fashion show fundraiser to benefit the Vista Hill Foundation at Town & Country Hotel. For information, call 858-449-8060.

May 12 | 2017 Golden Scissors Fashion Show — At the Sheraton Harbor Island Hotel. San Diego Mesa College fashion students show their designs. For information call 760-994-8083.

—Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned Couture Milliner based in the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Learn more about our hat designer, teacher and blogger at

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