Mon09152014

Schools

Creating wearable art : Local parents host fashion summer camp at Covington

Photo Elliott Burr/Town Crier

DezignKidz founder Durga Kalavagunta, right, helps student Audre McClintock sew a dress she made at the fashion camp last week.

Local campers are getting a taste of Fifth Avenue at Covington School this summer.

Almond School parents Durga Kalavagunta and Kathy Bonte initiated DezignKidz three years ago seeking a different way for children to express themselves.

“We try to teach the kids the whole process (of fashion design) from concept to completion,” Kalavagunta said.

Children 6 to 12 years old attend the DezignKidz 2011 Seventh Avenue Summer Camp at Covington School in Los Altos. There are two classes, Fashion Design 1 (half-day camp) for second- and third-graders and Fashion Design 2 (full-day camp) for fourth- through sixth-graders. There is also an accessories half-day class that younger students can take to schedule a full day.

Each weeklong camp takes the students through the design and completion of a garment they designed.

Kalavagunta and Bonte discuss fashion history and the art of turning inspiration into design on the first day of each session as they introduce the students to developing their own design sketch.

Throughout the week, the young designers make patterns, cut fabric and sew by hand and sewing machine to produce their own wearable art.

Bonte said the students in the younger class work on skirts, and the students in the older class make a variety of garments from tops to tunics and dresses. Accessories include silk scarves dyed with Kool-Aid, jewelry and messenger bags.

“This camp adds to the students’ self-esteem and confidence,” Kalavagunta said. “It makes them feel very empowered because kids leave the camp knowing they can actually make an idea happen.”

In addition to completing an article of clothing, students work with counselors who are design students themselves. Young fashion designers come and speak to the students about the trade.

“Our goal is to inspire the kids to create,” Kalavagunta said.

The camp, which ends Friday, culminates in the Seventh Avenue Fashion Show, a final opportunity for each class to show off its clothing collections.

“There is a big gap in Silicon Valley,” Kalavagunta said. “It is all about computers and technology. We want to bring a bit of New York City to Silicon Valley.”

Kalavagunta and Bonte will continue their work through after-school programs at local schools, birthday parties and Girl Scout Merit Badge programs.

For more information, visit www.dezignkidz.com.

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