Junior Designers 
Olivia Oliphant & Esmeralda Cortes
Tell us about your experience:
This project was very enriching to work on and helped with both networking and design conceptualization. Shira Leeder, the model that I was assigned, was a pleasure to get to know. We talked with Esmeralda Cortes, my group partner, about many different subjects during our interviews. Shira is inspired by travel. The place that she wants to go to most is Paris. The museums are of great interest to her; she enjoys visiting one wherever she travels. She loves bright colors and particularly likes to look at butterflies. I was a challenge translating my design ideas to paper. In the end I am happy with what I have created. Shira requested an outfit with leggings and no zippers or buttons. My outfit is a dolman sleeve tunic with a Monarch butterfly inspired skirt. The skirt would be elastic to help be comfortable and easy to put on. We spoke via email and zoom meetings. Our main zoom meeting lasted for over an hour. Shira was out of town due to Covid-19. I felt like it was a really good experience overall. I would love to meet up with Shira when it is safe to do so and continue our friendship!
Olivia Oliphant
Tell us about your experience:
I've always had an interest in fashion from a young age when my grandmother introduced me to arts and taught me how to sew. For this project, I was partnered with Shira Leeder, the winner of Miss Wheelchair 2012. My model is naturally very joyous and happy and loves feminine colors and girly things like glitter and butterflies.  I wanted to incorporate those ideas into her design, but being mindful not to make it look too childish since she still wants something that is professional. Being in a wheelchair and having limited range of movement, it’s been tough for Shira because she struggled her whole life finding clothes that fit since she is limited to only a certain range of styles. Taking into consideration Shira’s needs and wants, my partner and I created a three piece design which includes a dress with leggings and a poncho. This design was created because it would be practical and easy to slip on. Because Shira loves knit, I created a floral sequin-detail square poncho with open slits for the side of the arms made from a cotton knit fabric. As a fashion design student, this whole experience was very helpful and eye-opening. I was excited to create something exciting and meaningful for myself and my model.
Esmeralda Cortes
Meet the Model:
Shira Leeder
Tell us about your experience:
My name is Shira Leeder and currently reside in Berkeley, California.  I am currently a graduate student pursuing a master’s in public administration at San Francisco State University and hoping to open my own for profit and nonprofit organization for better services and housing options with disabilities here in the Bay Area one day.  I have a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Cal State East Bay Hayward and a bachelor’s degree in American Studies with an emphasis in Disability Studies in May 2008 from UC Berkeley.  I am 41 years old and I have cerebral palsy disability since I was one day old.  I was named Ms. Wheelchair California 2012 and during my reign I was using my knowledge of disability studies and policies to advocate and promote disability awareness for others with disabilities and the general public all across the State of California.  I got the opportunities of a lifetime to ride in the famous Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena, California and the second inaugural of President Obama in Washington D.C.  I have done a lot in my life so far and I look forward to see what my life takes me in the future.  

For my hobbies, I love eating food, traveling on different adventures, drawing and painting and writing poetry.  I love hanging out in nature and having fun with friends and family. My model experience was very difficult in connecting with my designers because of this Coronavirus pandemic crisis and I didn’t get to participate in the fashion show and that was a disappointment but it’s better to take precautions measures to be safe and healthy.  Hopefully next year at this time, I will be able to actively participate  in a fashion show.  Despite having technological difficulties online using the zoom format, I got to know my designers and talk about what outfits were appropriate and accessible to my likings and my disability accommodation needs. 

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