2017-10-11 / Local News

Voorhees teen has her designer debut during AC Fashion Week


Photo by John Staples of JBMS1 PHOTOGRAPHY. Photo by John Staples of JBMS1 PHOTOGRAPHY. FAMILY: Parents Helena and David; sister Gabrielle, 21

AGE: 17

HOMETOWN: Voorhees

SYNAGOGUE: Temple Beth Sholom

FAVORITE TV SHOW: Project Runway

FAVORITE MOVIE: “The Devil Wears Prada”

Passionate about sewing, Tara Tobin is naturally hooked on Project Runway. The Eastern High School junior is both inspired by the sartorial skills and creativity of the up-and-coming designers and caught up in the drama of their pressure-cooker situations.

In August, she got her first taste of what its really like to create one-of-a-kind outfits to fit professional models destined for the fastpaced runway. She and two other South Jersey teens from Cattell’s Sew and Vac Academy in Medford participated in Atlantic City Fashion Week’s student showcase, which took place at the Showboat Hotel on Sept. 14.

“It wasn’t at all like Project Runway,” said Tara, who was disappointed and relieved at the same time. “Everyone was really nice and it was really exciting.”

For the teen who has been hooked on sewing since her first stitch in the fifth grade and has been teaching classes for adults and kids alike at Cattell’s for the last two years, the showcase was like a trial by fire into the world of fashion design.

“The first thing we did was meet the models for the first time to have them try on the clothes,” Tara noted. “My alterations turned out pretty good. I only had to fix one of the dresses to make it smaller.”

Told one of her models was being switched just 10 minutes prior to her show, Tara kept a cool head, altering the clothes in the knick of time for the runway start.

Backtrack a couple months prior to the show and Tara was still on the fence about even participating. Although she loved making clothes, the leap from following patterns to designing her own was a huge one—and there wouldn’t be much time to make it happen. Once she decided to submit her application— and was accepted—she had a month and a half to put together three unique outfits inspired by her chosen theme: Dream catchers and bohemia.

“When I wasn’t at work, I was at the sewing machine day and night,” she said, noting that not only did she need to make the clothes, headdresses and other accessories but also put together a professional portfolio of the work.

In the end, it was a great learning experience and a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by other teens and young adults as passionate about creating clothes as she is. Tara was already invited to participate in next year’s show and is more serious about pursuing a career in fashion design.

Helena Tobin said that, since the show, her daughter seems more confident in her own ideas and skills.

“I watch her and I don’t even get it,” said Tobin, who does not sew. “I would be so frustrated. With her, if she makes a mistake, she just rips up the seam and tries again. She says it’s relaxing.”

Deborah Barcello, owner of Cattell’s, said she encouraged the teens to participate in the show in the hopes of both challenging them to be more creative and to expose them to possible scholarship and prize money in design. She said Tara has blossomed from a shy student to a capable, patient teacher who is coming into her own as a designer.

“Tara has been with me since she was a little girl,” she said. “To see her go from learning how to sew to taking it to this level, it was awesome.” 

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