Senior recognized for faith-inspired designs

Fashion student honored for hard work, says she draws motivation from Catholic motifs



“I call my design process a prayer process because of how many ideas come to me during prayer.” Maria Wanner, senior majoring in Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles said.

CHLOE GRUNDMEIER, Evergreen reporter

For Outstanding Senior Designer in the Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles program Maria Wanner, her designs are inspired by her Catholic faith. She said many of her ideas come to her through prayer.

“Visually, my designs are nature-inspired, but actually there are levels beneath that because I love having multiple meanings and multiple layers below that,” Wanner said. “Deep down, my faith is my inspiration.”

Wanner believes she received the Outstanding Senior Designer recognition largely due to her work ethic, she said. Along with her AMDT studies, Wanner is a member of the Honors College and has only received one A- throughout her college career, she said.

“Being outstanding is being different from everyone else, and I feel I’ve done that,” Wanner said. “I’ll listen to feedback, but if it doesn’t line up with my vision, I won’t do it because I will always stay true to who I am and where I think the design should go.”

Wanner received an award during the annual AMDT Mom’s Weekend fashion show during her junior year for a dress she designed, a feat “basically unheard of for juniors,” she said. She is really proud to have received this recognition because the AMDT students regularly don’t receive the credit they deserve, she said.

“There are only 16 senior designers, and we’re all just struggling and trying to survive together,” Wanner said. “I don’t give myself credit for what I do, so it’s kind of nice to hear from other people that what I did is amazing and that I deserve recognition.”

Three of Wanner’s designs were shown in this year’s Mom’s Weekend fashion show. The dresses that walked the runway were designed as a part of Wanner’s Nueva Eva, New Eve, Collection and were nicknamed the Trinity Collection, for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Wanner said.

“The ‘Father’ dress went through the most changes,” she said. “Each version did not feel quite right until the one I decided on, which visually fit with the other two. And then I realized how fitting it was because no one knows who God is, so like, no duh I can’t figure this out.”

Wanner’s Nueva Eva Collection has been through several changes over the months, she said. Her ambition initially drove her to design seven dresses, as the number seven is recognized in Christian denominations as God’s number. She chose seven names of Hebrew origins with meanings she felt close to and paired them with seven flowers also with strong meanings before adding seven poems that she had written prior as her inspiration for the dresses.

“I call my design process a prayer process because of how many of my ideas come to me during prayer or prayer-like experiences,” Wanner said. “I’m sure the name Nueva Eva came to me in prayer. It was just given to me.”

She chose the three dresses to represent the Holy Trinity and determined they would be what she’d create for the fashion show. She said she knew realistically that she wouldn’t be capable of putting together seven dresses in time. Later, she looked over the collection and felt it wasn’t finished, so she added on five more dresses and the collection thus represented the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Wanner says many of her designs are inspired aesthetically by nature, as many of them have a soft, flowing aspect and are made with shades of greens, blues and whites.

Wanner is a costume designer at the Regional Theatre of the Palouse and says she loves creating her own designs from scratch, but problem solving for the theater and working with what’s available is a fun challenge for her.

However, her favorite part of the design process is concept work, Wanner said, when she gets to turn nothing into something. After the idea is out of her brain, the sewing part is quick and generally pretty easy, she said.

“I can draw something, digitally usually, and I know what I’m seeing on the person as I’m making it in a 2-D format,” Wanner said. “I can go from that image and make the pattern for it and make the garment almost exactly like the image, and you can very much see the ideas I had throughout the process.”