Contact: Tonya Lowentritt
Date: May 13, 2013
FASHION PASSION – Jackie Didier, left, instructor in Southeastern Louisiana University's fashion marketing program, makes an adjustment to the dress worn by senior Angelle Burt of Mandeville. Burt is pursuing a career in the fashion industry and credits Didier with inspiring her in her career choice.
HAMMOND – For Southeastern Louisiana University student Angelle Burt, fashion is her passion.
Fully aware of the intensely competitive field of fashion merchandising, Burt is intent on pursuing a career in the highly charged, very visible arena of the fashion industry.
The senior from Mandeville, a third generation student at Southeastern, took a major step into the business when she participated in New Orleans' Fashion Week, an event where local designers and boutiques can showcase their work.
While it doesn't have the reputation for fashion that New York or Paris may offer, Fashion Week is an event held in various cities and features the work of local designers.
"Vendors travelled from all over to see what New Orleans had to offer, so it's a pretty big deal for everyone involved," said Burt. "Fashion Week creates a lot of jobs within the fashion industry, and people don't have to move all the way to Los Angeles or New York to have a career in fashion; they can stay in New Orleans if they'd like."
Burt was asked to submit a design for Fashion Week after she participated in itsCareer Day and entered a piece in the student design competition.
"I entered a piece I designed for a fashion design class at Southeastern," Burt said "I went to Goodwill, found a dress from the 80s and completely redesigned it to look modern. I'm proud of how the dress turned out and was really excited to see it on the runway with photographers snapping shots of all the hard work I put into the dress."
Burt said she has always been a huge fan of fashion from a young age, but became really interested in design when, years ago, she started watching Project Runway, the same reality television show on which Southeastern alumni Matt Arthur recently competed. She has wanted to design ever since.
Burt credits Southeastern faculty with encouraging her throughout her academic journey.
"The faculty at Southeastern really care about whether we are learning in our classes and want us to succeed in our future endeavors," she said. "They know what the real world is like and want us to be prepared."
"Angelle is a creative thinker and a risk taker. She has a talent for transforming her thoughts into either actions or a tangible object," said Jackie Didier, instructor in the fashion merchandising program. "She also wisely uses her mistakes as a stepping stone to the next level of perfection. All of these attributes are essential to achieving success in the volatile and very fickle fashion industry. I fully expect to see her name in the limelight in the future."
Although Burt admits all her instructors at Southeastern have been helpful, she specifically cites Didier as one who has inspired her the most in her chosen career.
"Jackie Didier is the most outstanding teacher in my opinion," she said. "To encourage and inspire us, she has guest speakers come and talk to the students about how they got started in their fashion careers, professionals like Northshore personal stylist Patti Beal and one of the QVC founding women, T.J. Reid.
"She also keeps in contact with so many graduates and is more than happy to help them with any conflict they may come across," Burt added. "She literally does everything possible to give us the tools we need to succeed."
Burt currently holds an internship with Tabitha and Miciah Bethune of New Orleans. The designers own and design for a men's wear company called The Wildlife Reserve, which focuses on bringing back styles and materials not often used today.
Burt helped the company prepare for Fashion Week.
"I helped sew dancer's costumes together, helped with model fittings and attended photo shoots to make sure everything ran smoothly," she said. "It was really demanding, but I absolutely loved every minute of it. They are keeping me on as an intern next semester."
Burt acknowledges Southeastern and her experiences with her sorority, Theta Phi Alpha, for teaching her valuable life lessons as well.
"I feel like I can leave Southeastern after graduation and accomplish anything I set my mind to," she added. "Southeastern has provided me with great lifelong friends and amazing teachers, and I believe that is the foundation for getting through life."
Burt is set to graduate Southeastern in December 2013.