Content EditorDrawing in class is a favorite pastime for many young students, but few of them ever get the chance to show it off. This was not the case for Nisha Btesh, whose clothing designs have caught the eye of her teachers at San Francisco's Academy of Art University Fashion School. According to the Union Tribune San Diego, Nisha was one of 13 students chosen to submit their designs to New York Fashion Week, and have their dreams come true as they're seen by thousands. The MFA program is highly selective about whose designs will be taken to the next stage, and very few undergraduates ever make it. But Nisha was surprised when she became "one of only two undergrads invited to participate this year," according to Keanette Peach, the Academy spokeswoman. The Del Mar native admitted to being overwhelmed. Being one of a small group of students picked to go to Fashion Week is a very big deal, and she found it all very emotional. In an interview in New York on Tuesday, Nisha said it's hard to stay grounded with all of the excitement since the 13 students received word. “It’s exciting to see all of our hard work coming to life before our eyes. We’re just trying to stay in the moment and focus on the workload. I’m so excited about it, but I can’t dance and raise my glass of Champagne until the show’s over.” From an early age, Nisha found herself surrounded by art. Between her artistic family and her time at Canyon Crest Academy, a public arts school in Carmel Valley, she felt inspired to follow her dreams. "As long as I can remember, I have been around a lot of prints in out house and I've always been influenced by colors, fabrics, and designs." Nisha credits a lot of her passion to time at CCA, where the teachers allowed her interests to grow into something bigger than she had initially hoped. As a CCA alumna myself, I can tell you the staff and faculty are phenomenal, and spare no expense to help their students reach their full potential. Nisha graduated CCA in 2009, and for the past 4.5 years has been quite busy at the San Francisco fashion school. In that time she has created her own T-shirt line, Company Cream, as well as help a local Bay Area charity, St. Vincent de Paul Society, with repurposed clothing for the auction, Discarded to Divine. But the designs were truly a team effort. Jaci Hodges (Austin, TX) drew out the designs while Nisha put her own colorful spin on their clothes, inspired by the fashions of the 1960s and 70s. Their collaborative pieces have been described as "quirky" and "whimsical," and remind Nisha of Frida Kahlo. She spoke fondly of Kahlo in an interview with Fashion School Daily. “My inspiration for this collection stems from one of the most fabulous women in the world, Frida Kahlo. Through her art she explored a fascination and an obsession with self identity. She has ignited in me a fire, to discover what makes me tick as both a woman and as an artist.” Nisha also claimed inspiration from her paternal family tree. Panamanian in origin, the culture is full of bright colors and natural accessories. “I had the opportunity to visit Panama recently and I was inspired by the Kuna Indian women and their beads and colors and prints. I’m also a huge fan of Frida Kahlo and her big bold oversized prints. Jaci and I are coming from opposite ends of the spectrum but the clash of these two inspirations worked very well together.” It took them many long months of shibori (an involved process of fabric manipulation similar to tie-dye), but both artists feel they have done their best, and will represent their school well at Fashion Week. In all, there will be five designing teams and three solo designers, coming together from different parts of the world. Later this year, Nisha is set to graduate, but she's already scouting ahead for the perfect job. Her skills leave her open to working as anything. She could work in design, sourcing, or even owning and running her own company. The possibilities of fabric are endless! Nisha and Jaci will be showing their designs alongside several other teams in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week showcase at Lincoln Center. For those of you who cannot attend the show Friday at 8pm, there will be a live webstream at 5pm (PST). From one CCA Raven to another, Nisha--congrats!
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