Not many people can say that they are a successful art teacher and an award winning costume designer, but then again, not many people are Mrs. Serafina Kenwood. LCHS’s own arts and ceramics teacher received an award in the Opening Ceremony and Costume Contest of the Metropolitan Fashion Week on September 28. Her winning entry, a dress which she did everything from designing to making, was inspired by “Alice in Wonderland”’s infamous Queen of Hearts.
Mrs. Kenwood is no stranger to designing beautiful pieces of clothing. Graduating with a degree in costume design, she immersed herself in various costume crafting projects in New York before moving to Los Angeles. Here, engulfed in the land of film, she was the assistant costume designer for two movies. But she had never just done pure fashion.
“Costume and fashion are very different, and I had never done fashion,” she said. “So, I had to turn a costume into something more fashiony, and not as practical, but that was also the fun of it, in a way.”
At the beginning of the summer, Mrs. Kenwood was alerted by email regarding the competition. After sending in a few sketches, she was invited to a portfolio review, where she was chosen to compete in the contest. She then had a few weeks to finalize her design, and two months to bring it to life.
The theme of the competition was Colleen Atwood, the Academy Award-winning costume designer who has contributed to movies such as Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” and “Into the Woods.” The design had to be based on one of Atwood’s movies. Mrs. Kenwood also had to make sure that her dress would be comfortable to wear in the warm weather expected during the outdoor showing.
“Originally, I wanted to do Red Riding Hood, from ‘Into the Woods,’ with the cape and the fur,” she explained. “But once they said that [it would be outside], I had to change it.”
After she finalized her design, Mrs. Kenwood had to wait until the casting call on July 26–where she chose her model, Vartuhi Oganesyan–to actually begin sewing. This gave her until September 28 to prepare the dress for the spotlight. Things were running smoothly until school began, after which she had to have to double task between teaching classes and finishing the dress.
“I would work in the morning for an hour, and I wouldn’t go home until I was absolutely done with grading, so I would have two hours to work at night,” she recalled. “Then I would work on it all weekend.”
When the dress was finally completed, Mrs. Kenwood was surprised by the positive reaction she got from her family and friends, as well as her model, who was excited to wear it. However, even more surprising was when the audience of the show voted to give her creation the People’s Award.
“It wasn’t my intention to win,” she admitted. “I just wanted to see her walk down the runway in my dress!”
As a prize for winning, Mrs. Kenwood got to attend the second night of the show featuring the work of professional designers, which she found to be very impressive. However, not everyone was looking at the experts: during both showings she was approached by multiple people, including a movie director, who showed interest in working with her.
Her students have been very excited and supportive. “For the first time, I really got to share my art with my kids,” Mrs. Kenwood said. “It was nice for them to see that I have something outside that’s a practical way to do art.”
So what comes next? Mrs. Kenwood isn’t sure. “I wouldn’t do this contest again, but maybe I would do something else, maybe a little play, or a little movie,” she said. But no matter what her future holds, LCHS should be proud to have such a talented woman on campus.