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Posted on Nov 14, 2014

QHS grad making her mark on fashion world

A local woman is among three Central Washington University fashion designers whose work is on display this week at a national competition in North Carolina.

On Wednesday, a model walked a runway, wearing the creation of CWU senior Ryanne Durfee at a live fashion show in Charlotte, N.C. Titled “Walk the Line,” the black dress that Durfee designed was among  105 selected from more than 300 accepted submissions to the 2014 International Textile and Apparel Association competition, one of the most prestigious design competitions in the world.

Durfee, a 2009 Quincy High School graduate, won’t be able to attend the competition because she is studying for a semester in Mulan, Italy. When reached via email, Durfee wrote she is studying at IED (Istituto Europeo di Design) Moda, where she is taking fashion management, fashion styling and the history of photography classes.

“My experiences in Milan have been incredible,” she wrote. “Since I have been here, I have been able to attend fashion week, where I was able to attend the Kristina Ti fashion show. I also attended Antonio Marras’ fashion and art exhibit. I have been able to see and study fashion in the city that lives and breathes it.”

The Quincy native also has been doing some traveling, visiting Paris, Germany, Austria, Florence, Verona and Venice.

But the enthusiastic Durfee didn’t always know she wanted to work in the fashion industry.

“I knew that I loved fashion and how clothing reflected an individual’s personality, but I didn’t know if I wanted to make it my life,” she wrote.

After high school, Durfee attended Bellevue College, earning her associate degree. During that time, she realized she wanted to study fashion. She later enrolled in CWU, where she is majoring in apparel, textiles and merchandising.

Durfee created three garments for the competition. Of the three, she submitted a design titled “Walk the Line.” Durfee worked closely with her professor Andrea Eklund on the entry, so Eklund is a co-designer on the piece. Because Eklund is a co-designer, the entry was judged on a professional level rather than an undergraduate level and went through a more vigorous review, Durfee explained.

The winners of the competition were to be announced Wednesday after the fashion show.

While designing “Walk the Line,” Durfee was inspired by photos of Paris and a common theme of elegance, she wrote. She also relied on much personal perspective.

“It’s telling a story about a woman’s journey into finding herself between a young woman and a sophisticated adult,” she said. “This relates to me immensely because I am also taking this journey where I am finding myself in this world. The woman to wear this garment is fearless and confident but has grace and elegance. She never lets anything get her down and is always looking at the positive aspects of life.”

Durfee’s mother, Leah Wells of Quincy, said her daughter uses fashion as an extension of her personality.

“I’m very proud of her,” Wells said. “And she has always been driven to using fashion to show her personality.”

As young as the first grade, Durfee insisted on putting her outfits together herself, Wells said.

“It wasn’t always what everyone else liked,” her mother said.

But she’s excited to see her daughter, who has a gift for design, follow her passion, Wells said.

“She has always been an individual with her fashion,” Wells said.

Durfee returns to the country in mid-December, graduating at the end of winter quarter.

— By Jill FitzSimmons,