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Young Designers Strut Their Stuff in Runway Show

Jan 26, 2020 08:30PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
It was a glamorous afternoon at Grand View Elementary School on Sunday as a group of young teen and tween designers walked a "runway" to model their latest creations. 

The girls, ranging in age from elementary to high school, are all students of Manhattan Beach's Manhattan Design Boutique. The fashion classes give young designers a chance to dream up, sketch, craft, sew, and then model the fashions that they create for a runway show.

Sunday's show marked the culmination of eight weeks of classes for the winter session. The designers have worked on their pieces "from concept to runway," said Manhattan Design Boutique founder Lisa Tyler.

Manhattan Design Boutique

Tyler, known as "Miss Lisa" to her hundreds of devotees across Manhattan Beach, has run Manhattan Design Boutique for eight years.  In that time, she has become a celebrity of sorts, as her students from all over town will run up to her to talk about ideas, show her their latest creations, or give her a hug. 

Tyler's eight-week classes culminate in a runway show, and her one-week camps end with a glamorous photo shoot. During the class, students run through the entire process of designing a piece of clothing, from sketching it, to selecting materials, to making a pattern, to sewing it from scratch.

Sunday's show featured 27 students and two dogs (for whom students had created special outfits).

Tyler said that even though she is on hand to provide guidance and help with some trickier stitching, even the littlest students do about 80 percent of the sewing themselves.

"I want them to have the confidence of owning their design and their idea," said Tyler. "And then if someone else doesn't like it, they can have the confidence to say, 'Who cares?' As long as you put your 'love stamp' on it, that's what's important. That applies to fashion design, and just about anything else in life."

Embracing a Growth Mindset

"Lisa is amazing, and she is so patient," said Christina Ibrahim, a parent of two of Tyler's students. "She teaches skills to the kids, and then teaches them to mentor others. She really embraces the whole growth mindset." 

"It's such a safe place to fail, and then try again," added Ibrahim. 

Ibrahim's daughter Isabella proudly modeled her creation, a dress made of gold velvet and satin. She said she got the idea from a dress she saw a picture of, but the dress in the picture was made of leather and not "kid-friendly."

"It was 'showy-showy,'" said Isabella.

Tyler helped her recast the idea for her dress in a more workable fabric and cut. "The class is really fun because she always listens to your ideas," added Isabella.

Life Lessons In Design

Tyler introduced Sunday's show by noting that when a design doesn't work out, a designer has three choices: put it in the "circular file" (trash can), rework it, or "send it out on the line."

In fact, one of her students had changed her mind about the design she was working on, and  decided to rework it rather than model it in the show. However, embracing a positive spirit, the student donned one of her earlier creations and served as emcee instead.

"So many times in a designer's life, this is the kind of thing that they will have to work through," said Tyler. "And 'messing up' is just going to happen."

Tyler added that the design skills that students learn apply to more than just fabric and fashion. 

"If nothing else, you're developing a skill. You understand the idea of sketching something out on paper and then making it come to life. It doesn't matter if your canvas is fabric, or buildings, or apps - it's all the same concept."

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