Murrieta resident April Yang has always loved fashion and dressing up.
Little did she know, her talents would elevate her to national acclaim through her local shopping center, Promenade Temecula.
Yang, a 19-year-old fashion design student at Palomar College in San Marcos, was selected as the national winner of the shopping center's Project Style contest, it was announced Friday.
Project Style is an online fashion competition which garnered entries from more than 600 fashion hopefuls throughout the nation, according to a news release.
“Winning this competition is a dream come true,” Yang said. “I have been interested in fashion since I took my first sewing class in high school. The opportunity to share my own style with a national audience while also being recognized by leaders in the fashion industry is something I will never forget.”
As the winner, Yang will receive an all-expense paid trip to New York Fashion Week 2013, where she will interact with top fashion experts. Plus, she will receive personalized attention from "Project Runway" celebrity designer Nick Verreos.
As part of her prize, Yang will attend a runway show with Verreos, and will spend a day shopping with him in SoHo. Verreos will also create a personalized gown sketch for Yang, the news release stated.
Yang explained that during the final round of the contest, she was given a $200 gift certificate to the mall. From there, she said she tried on many outfits until she found the "right mix" that also complemented her figure.
Though Yang said her favorite store at Promenade Temecula is Cotton On, she selected her winning look from a variety of other shops. The outfit included a denim top ($21.33) and silver bracelet ($7.80) from Forever 21; heeled boots ($45.24) from Reflection; a body-con dress ($50.86) from Macy’s; a clutch ($21.97), ring ($7.97), necklace ($9.97) and earrings ($6.43) from Charming Charlie, and sunglasses ($7.95) from H&M.
Her outfit, which she was tasked with showing off in a video, was inspired by architecture—hard lines, soft curves and ornate details, she said.
“I wanted to focus on the principles of design, including balance, emphasis, rhythm, proportion, and harmony,” Yang said. “Using each of these elements, I created a look that is structured, but still feminine.”
Her video, titled “Fashion is Art,” was reviewed alongside 15 other semi-finalists throughout the U.S. by national judges, including Verreos, The Style Network’s host of "How Do I Look?," Jeannie Mai, and Jane Lisy, senior vice president of marketing at Forest City, the company that owns Promenade Temecula.
“Each Forest City shopping center is committed to bringing unforgettable experiences to local shoppers, and Promenade Temecula is no exception,” said Lisy, who has been recognized by the industry for her award-winning retail leadership and technology experience with shopping centers.
“We were excited to have hundreds of stellar participants in this year’s contest," Lisy said. "Each semi-finalist’s video was judged based on the contestant’s understanding of style, presentation, and design, and April emerged as the clear winner."
Yang also started a fashion and do-it-yourself YouTube Channel, which has garnered at least 3 million views and is followed by more than 30,000 subscribers.
“My videos inspire people to be creative and different by personalizing their clothes and mixing up their wardrobe,” Yang said. “This is exactly what I hoped to accomplish through the Project Style competition as well. My hope is that through me, people can see that fashion, like art, can be interpreted in many ways.”
Yang, a 2011 graduate of Vista Murrieta High School, follows another fellow student who has been recognized for fashion design: Grace An, a 2011 winner of O'Neill clothing line's Next Generation design contest.
Yang said she remains close friends with An, as both are products of the Vista Murrieta fashion design program. Yang said she took the classes—taught by Kay Mueller—during her sophomore and junior years.
"She (Kay) always motivated me," Yang said. "I was lost when I first started high school; it was hard for me to admit that I wanted to do fashion because it was so different, it wasn’t something I could imagine ever doing. But now I love it, it is amazing."
It was her instructor at Palomar College, however, that gave her the idea to enter Project Style, Yang told Patch.
"She suggest that I be in the competition at the mall, so I did when the time came again and I saw signs posted at the mall," Yang said.
Yang plans to complete her associate's degree at Palomar College; after that, she is not sure.
One thing she is certain of though, is she is taking her sister, Melissa, 20, with her to New York City. The contest allows her to take one guest.
"We are very close, she helps me a lot, " Yang said.
The trip is in February, she said.