The Eastman Naia design challenge has returned! This marks the second year that Franklin’s O’More College of Design has collaborated with Kingsport-based Eastman to use Naia, the versatile cellulosic yarn made from wood pulp and derived exclusively from sustainably managed and certified forests. In the Eastman Naia Challenge, students in O’More’s Fashion program will create garments using fabric composed of Naia.

Last year’s Naia Design Challenge featured evening and formal wear.This year, the students have been challenged to define their muse/customer/driver and design a garment that merges the unique creativity of a haute couture garment into a regular wear one. The goal is to push the students to use Naia in various techniques, which allows the Eastman team to get firsthand feedback on the various value propositions. This year, the students will work with woven fabrics, which will allow the Eastman team to test a new segment that they have not yet explored. The Eastman team was excited to see what the students were designing and so market development manager, Terry Lawler, and marketing communications representative, Meghana Diwanji stopped in the studio to have a look!

Sophomore Chloe Baur proposed designs inspired by royal court portraits of the widowed Queen Victoria. A portrait by Henrich Von Angeli caught her eye that emphasized the arms and neck. "I want to focus on the upper body through a more progressive lens,” says Baur. “The sleeves in my design have rounded slits at the elbow to create a silhouette where the sleeve stays in the same shape no matter the arm’s position. I chose to focus on Queen Victoria’s post-widowed portraits for the color palette of my design’s sake, where all of her dresses worn are black with embellishments.” Baur’s design proposal takes into consideration the breathability, wrinkle recovery and drapeability of fabric produced with the Naia fiber.

Sophomore, Sarah Stevenson, conducts extensive research of historical fashions in an effort to understand why people would wear garments that, by today’s standards, would be ridiculous. Among the questions she asks are, “Would this be comfortable to wear? If not, is it worth the discomfort? How am I surprising my audience with this piece?” Stevenson seeks to push-the- needle in the Challenge by exploiting the limitless opportunitiesafforded by fabric produced with Naia fiber.

The students will present their final designs on May 10 in a fashion show at the Franklin Theatre in downtown Franklin, which will be juried by Eastman representatives. Students will be judged on versatility, comfort, innovative cuts, use of surprise elements with hardware, trims, and functional embellishments. The winner of the design challenge will be presented with a $2,500 scholarship for the 2018-19 school year.

Sarah Stevenson presents her historically influenced

Chelsea Baur presents her royal portrait inspired

Ashlee Reigler presents her design board for the design