Melanie McLintock’s design work combines art with environmental consciousness. Whether it be a moralistic attitude to reduce and reuse or sheer economics, it always starts with necessity. The necessity presents itself and a good designer meets the need, she says. “I began using recycled umbrellas once I was educated on the profound effect their waste was having on the environment. Walking the streets of New York on a rainy day and seeing hundreds of broken, abandoned umbrellas screams of need. Something had to be done. People like pretty things. The trick is taking something that is once considered trash and making it treasure.”
Most of Ms. McLintock’s designs are one-of-a-kind or very small production. She designs what she wants, when she wants and then takes them to shops for approval or puts them on her website, www.aiaigasa.com. “The collection I am showing at the Tenth Annual Fashion Show is really about art, education and pushing my limits.”
Fashion design has been a calling since Ms. McLintock was eleven years old. She had a sketchbook full of designs, including several layouts of her dream shop. At that early age it was called “The Firmament” because she dreamed it was her little slice of Heaven. With her shop Ai Ai Gasa the dream was realized. The name directly translates from Japanese as “love love umbrella” but is actually a symbol of true love, an umbrella with two names written side by side beneath. At the time, the double meaning of the name had not fully materialized. “Only later when I started using recycled umbrellas religiously did the name bring on its double meaning,” she says. The shop itself was in a warm, hip neighborhood in Brooklyn and featured the lines of independent NY designers.
Ms. McLintock is mostly inspired by her friends and fashion compatriots that she carried in her shop. Some of them are Feral Childe, umsteigen, Box 185, Sumie Tachibana, and Better Than Jam. “On a global and more recognizable level I think there is one really shining star and that is John Galliano. He never gives up the theater and I admire him for that,” she adds.
Ms. McLintock graduated from VCU Richmond in 1996, with a BFA in Fashion Design. She then spent a year studying textiles and design in Northern Ireland at the University of Ulster. She is currently in Qatar as Assistant Professor of Fashion Design teaching a term at VCUQatar. “I have always hoped I would teach fashion design some day and especially give back to VCU for giving me such a great breath of knowledge. I felt it was important to get out there first and do something, so I could confidently say to my students, ‘All is possible. Dream a big dream.’ It didn’t hurt that my favorite professors from VCU Richmond were here, the opportunity knocked, and I feel honored to be teaching alongside them,” she concludes.
The fashion show is part of the annual activities of VCUQatar’s fashion design program to develop the country’s growing fashion industry, with support from Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. The theme for this year’s show is entitled ‘Hekayat’ and comprises the stories the senior students weave together as they present their myriad collections. Doha is one of the most multi-cultured cities in the world and these influences are reflected in the show. The fashion show, hosted in the VCUQatar atrium, starts at 7:00 PM on 30 April, 2009 and is open to the public. Doors open at 6:00 PM.