Fashion studies students create candy couture



A dress made entirely of SweeTARTS wrappers is on display at the Candyality museum, 835 N. Michigan Ave., 7th Floor.

By Lauren Kostiuk

Five Fashion Studies students were selected as finalists in Candyality’s first-ever

Unconventional Candy Wrapper Dress Competition. 

The competition, sponsored by Water Tower Place, will display students’ final designs Nov. 18–Dec. 31 at Candyality, located on the shopping center’s Level 7, where visitors will be able to vote for their favorite design. 

“Candy appeals to everybody, so I think the consumers will find it delightful [to see] what these creative students have come up [with],” said Terese McDonald, owner of Candyality, which features a wide assortment of candy. 

The finalist designs were completed by Teresa Evans, a 2014 fashion studies alumna, and current fashion studies majors: freshmen Jordan Kelley and Molly Quinn, sophomore Demerike Palecek and Columbia student Isabella Rosales.

To qualify for the competition, students submitted applications and sketches of dresses. The company received 10 applications, and a panel of judges from Water Tower Place selected the finalists, McDonald said. 

Candyality is known for its several retrospective exhibitions and commissions to create gowns for art festivals and corporate events, like the Sweets & Snacks Expo held every spring at McCormick Place, according to McDonald.  

The competition started when McDonald met with representatives from Water Tower Place to brainstorm marketing strategies for the holiday season. They liked her idea of attracting shoppers by challenging students to design dresses made from candy wrappers, McDonald said.

Candyality reached out to Columbia’s Fashion Studies Department because many of its students work for the company, she said.

“[Columbia students] are the first ones we turn to,” McDonald said. “We figured we would go to the best.”

Evans received Clark Bars as her candy wrapper for the final design competition. She said she had never heard of the candy bar, which made it challenging, but she was excited to work with candy’s color palette of red, white and black and said she never constructed anything with non-fabric items before.

Kelley said she used inspiration from the Renaissance and Japanese street fashion by creating a short, colorful dress with a puffy collar and skirt. She said she was surprised she was chosen because she is a freshman.

Quinn said the competition was difficult, but she enjoyed seeing the finished product come together.

Palecek submitted a flamenco salsa dancer-inspired outfit made from Swedish Fish wrappers for her application. Her final design uses Double Bubble Gum wrappers instead. She said the most challenging part has been working with the wrapper’s color scheme.

All five finalists’ creations will be showcased permanently at the Life is Sweet Candy Museum inside Candyality’s Water Tower Place store. The grand prize winner, chosen by Candyality customers, will receive $500 worth of prizes from select Water Tower Place retailers when the votes are tallied after Dec. 31. 

 “It is going to be a lot of fun [because] people are out and about,” McDonald said. “It is a great time to take a break from shopping and to really appreciate art and fashion and candy.”