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FAST 2022: Lauryn Ilasco encourages self-discovery, creativity with whimsical collection

Fourth-year human biology and society student Anna Jovin (left) and second-year undeclared student Lauryn Ilasco (right) model clothes from Ilasco’s new line “Coming of Age.” Inspired by movies that showcase growing up as a daring and transformational time, she said the line embodies the exploration that occurs during a coming of age. (Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)

By Mindy Luo

May 23, 2022 6:30 p.m.

This post was updated May 25 at 10:03 p.m.

No longer “Playing Dress Up,” Lauryn Ilasco is “Coming of Age.”

After debuting in 2021 with “Playing Dress Up” – a garment line that explores childhood nostalgia – the second-year undeclared student will be returning to the Fashion and Student Trends at UCLA catwalk with her new collection, “Coming of Age.” Ilasco said since learning to sew a decade ago, she has been teaching herself fashion design by studying the construction of her own store-bought clothes. With three collections under her belt alongside other projects, she said she documents her progress and sells her original designs on her personal blog – Love, Laur.

“Now that I’m maturing, I feel this collection is just the grown-up version of my last collection,” Ilasco said. “I think it’s really interesting because every single collection I do builds off of the next one, so you can still see me through each collection.”

Referencing Hello Kitty, Squinkies toys and other endearing tokens of her childhood, Ilasco said “Playing Dress Up” was about the reliance on familiar comforts to ease the anxieties of growing up. However, in “Coming of Age,” she said this departure from adolescence is revisited with a more daring outlook – one that is emboldened by the prospects of a promising future and a journey of self-discovery. Channeling films such as “Lady Bird,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Little Women,” Ilasco said she was inspired by how the coming-of-age genre depicts adolescence as a contradictory time in which one may simultaneously feel invincible yet lost in their identity.

(Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)
Ilasco stands in a layered white outfit with heeled leather boots. She said her runway this year can be seen as a grown-up version of her previous collection, “Playing Dress Up,” which capitalized on childhood nostalgia. (Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)

[Related: UCLA student uses platform to cast authentic image of self, modeling industry]

Likening the journey of finding one’s authentic self to a search for personal style, Ilasco said the collection’s capability to be mixed and matched is representative of her penchant for experimentalism in fashion and undefinable design aesthetic. Having produced 20 separate garments for six looks, she said each outfit can be deconstructed after the official exhibition and reassembled into various wearable combinations.

“The whole point of the mix-and-match pieces is that you continue to mix and match until you find what you like, and I feel that’s what growing up is,” Ilasco said. “You try out all these things in order to find what’s the real you.”

Incorporating crocheted and knitted textiles, Ilasco said she aimed for “Coming of Age” to be diverse in its textures. She said for one look, which consists of a lace miniskirt, tube top and long leg warmers, she opted for more opportunities to accessorize by crocheting a wrap skirt and hand knitting a hat with decorative yarn strands that reach the model’s knees. Looking forward to strutting in Ilasco’s feminine yet edgy designs, model and fourth-year human biology and society student Anna Jovin said she found the collection’s conceptual foundations to be relatable in how it celebrates clothing as a medium for self-expression.

Attentive to the versatile nature of individual garments, Ilasco said her mix-and-match approach to fashion design is not unlike her endeavors as a stylist to manipulate clothing in innovative ways. Frequent collaborator and singer-songwriter BxRod said she found Ilasco’s eye for styling valuable in curating slick, video game-inspired looks for her music video “Play!” When they reunited to promote her song “BBY,” BxRod said Ilasco pulled together thrifted and designer pieces for an ethereal, fairylike ensemble.

“Being a (fashion) designer and visual creative, she just definitely brings an extra layer and needed element on a shoot or a video and just the creative process in general,” BxRod said.

(Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)
Jovin stands in a green jacket and skirt ensemble adorned with a star and small hearts. She said she appreciates how Ilasco’s multi-piece runway acts as a medium for self-expression. (Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)

[Related: LA Fashion Week 2022: Andrew James blurs lines with vibrant, versatile pieces in eclectic show]

The whimsical and playful quality of “Coming of Age” is meant to inspire runway spectators to recognize their existing closets as opportunities for creative experimentation, Ilasco said. Discouraged by the high consumption of fast fashion, she said she hopes her audience will invest in truly special statement pieces and learn to appreciate the sentimental value in handmade clothing. Choosing to see each collection as a time capsule of her ever-evolving identity, Ilasco said for as long as she is experiencing growth and transformation, her projects will likely always encompass elements of young adulthood.

“I definitely know as a designer I want to make pieces that are super special that haven’t been made,” Ilasco said. “I’m not going to make another basic T-shirt that has been out in the world a million times. I want to really focus on pieces that feel meaningful and have purpose.”

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