Reaching the heights of fashion

COSTA MESA — Fashion isn't just about sewing and coordinating clothes, handbags, accessories, shoes and jewelry.

It also involves planning runway shows and photo shoots, sales and writing.

And some of that is missing from fashion-school classrooms. This is what Erin Bianchi offers through her weeklong fashion camp — for a $500 price tag.

"There are all these elements to the fashion business and things they don't offer in classes," Bianchi said. "It's very focused on designing and merchandise and sewing."

Bianchi, who teaches at Orange Coast College and does public relations and special events for Bloomingdale's at South Coast Plaza, started Fashion Camp OC to provide her students with a complete insight of the fashion industry.

Fashion Camp OC doesn't involve camping in the wilderness, but it's a camp nonetheless. A week's worth of it began Monday with a challenge to recreate plain white T-shirts into fashion pieces and was scheduled to end with a meeting with designer Jason Bleick, who has a boutique at Fashion Island.

It's something to which 16-year-old Jenna Shapiro was particularly looking forward to.

"We have a lot of speakers, and I'm excited to learn their channels into the fashion world and how they got to be where they are," she said.

In between reshaping T-shirts and hearing first-hand experiences from designers, the students, who meet at Orange Coast College, will also get the chance to create a fashion magazine using their own professional photos, visit the L.A. Models agency, attend a fashion show and do "cool hunting" at The Grove in Los Angeles, Bianchi said.

Cool hunting is term used for scouting fashion trends among shoppers.

"They go out on the street and search for trends and they take pictures and dictate the trends," Bianchi said. "There (are) big agencies that do cool hunting. A lot of it is in Japan and London and New York."

Not all the students at Fashion Camp attend OCC, but all 10 were interested enough to learn about the industry and paid the $500 per head fee.

While Caroline Tran, an OCC student who plans to study psychology, she's also interested in learning about all elements of fashion.

"I wanted something to open my eyes to different sides of fashion — not just the designing sides, but also the other creative sides to it," she said.

One thing Tran, 20, loves about fashion is being able to express oneself through articles of clothes and accessories.

"Two people can wear the same thing, but you can make it so different and make it your own," she said.

And then there's Bonnie Cravens, who plans to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, (FIDM) in Los Angeles.

Cravens, 19,

plans to major in visual communication at FIDM.

"I'll be working on photo shoots, set designs for movies, TV shows, window displays — it's about selling the product using computer graphics and picking clothes to complete the whole picture," she said. "What we're going to be doing in the next week seems relevant to what I want to learn."

Enjoying fashion and finding a niche in the industry doesn't mean becoming a designer, and it's something Bianchi wants to instill in her students.

"I want to show these students how many opportunities they have," she said. "They don't have to go to New York to make it in the fashion industry. They can be here in Orange County."

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