Student Spotlight: Jenn Atmaja

Jenn is a third year Classical Civilizations major from Santa Maria, California and will be showing her collection at this year’s fashion show; Sanctuary. 

What is your Sanctuary?


My sanctuary changes as I do. Each struggle, joy, and moment of peace takes place in different sanctuaries. But if I had to pick just one, architecture in general is my sanctuary. Whenever I seek peace, I can find a structure to suit my needs, a quiet bedroom with hyacinth walls to calm myself and just breathe, an outdoor garden where the vines climbing the painted white trellis can bring my mind to a state of meditation. Whatever I am feeling, there is always a structure that’s aesthetics, accommodations and ambiance to resonate with my own emotions. Architecture is created by us, for us, and to constantly adapt to our needs, making it the most fitting sanctuary.

What is the inspiration behind your collection?

Architecture is one of two inspirations behind this collection. We tried to apply the way architecture is customized to fit the needs and luxuries of the inhabitants to the way garments should be customized to the ones wearing them. One of the dresses in our collection takes on a more literal sense of incorporating structure into its design. The dress has a skirt that mimics the cage of a bird, a structure seen as both a home and a prison. While we often can feel confined in a structure, it may still be our home, our sanctuary of familiarity and comfort. The dress symbolizes this idea of being confined by the fabrics in clothing, yet simultaneously feeling comfort in the idea of expressing ourselves through eccentric designs. The jumpsuit and two of the dresses incorporate rigid shoulders to emphasize that part of the human body, which acts as a frame for the rest of the body. This takes on a less literal incorporation of architecture into the collection by considering the architecture and structure of the body in our designs. 

The aesthetics and colour scheme chosen for our design came from our second inspiration for this collection: film noir, and more notably, the role of the femme fatale. Women’s independence and prominence in the world is still relatively novel, and we wanted to celebrate this and channel the strength and energy of the femme fatale into our garments. A structure prevails because it is needed, because it is  strong, because it asserts itself into empty space. The enigmatic femme fatale does this as well, only more subtly. We decided on a monochromatic colour scheme to channel the film noir mood, and incorporated rigid structures to enhance parts of the body that gave off the appearance of confidence and fierceness. Broad, strong shoulders highlights tall posture and confidence. Feminine touches are added as elegance to mask some of the masculinity, channeling that subtlety of the femme fatale.

When did you first start designing/sewing?
I first started messing around with sketching clothing designs when I was a little girl. I believe I was around 11 when I started looking at fashion brochures from boutiques I would visit, and then I would come home and just sit down for hours and draw my own styles or improve the ones that were already there. I used to make little paper dolls from card stock and make outfits to clothe them in. I started sewing on a small scale and would cut out fabrics and make clothes for my barbie dolls once I felt that 2 dimensional paper designs weren’t good enough. I began sketching gowns later on during my high school years. My first costume I designed, and was fortunate to see brought to life, was during Halloween of my Junior year in high school. I had sketched a dress for a circa 1800s circus girl and brought it, along with chosen materials, to a tailor who then sewed it into reality. The next year I designed another costume, but this time I borrowed my aunt’s sewing machine and decided to sew it myself. My second year at UCLA I sewed my own halloween costume as Katerina Petrova in 1860 from the Vampire Diaries. Aside from that, I really don’t have much experience with sewing or creating sketches on a professional level.

What is your dream job?
My dream job would to be a designer, but not just of clothing or digital media or interior spaces. I would like to do a little bit of everything. I want to get my Masters in Architecture so I can become a licensed architect and design buildings or homes on a smaller scale, and then I want to be able to do interior designs for those buildings. I would also like to do commercial designing for clothing, furniture, accessories, etc. I know it is a very ambiguous dream job, but I can’t settle for just one department. I would get bored!

The Blog Team

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