• YEAR: Senior
  • MAJOR: Apparel Design and Technology, minor in Theatre Design and Production
  • HOMETOWN: Jacksonville, Florida

Paige Tomfohrde

As a high school student, Paige Tomfohrde wore black, white and red to school nearly every day. She dressed like an edgy 1950s housewife, loved polka dots and full skirts and was emerging from a childhood in which she watched Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music" daily for years. Might this all foreshadow a career marrying fashion and theater? Bingo.

For this Style Maker, the clothes and presentation say it all: "Style," she says, "is the best way to speak to everyone you meet without ever saying a word."

Art and science

Paige was a good student in grade school. She excelled in math and science. She was on the English academic team and student council. She competed in shot put. After years of academic and athletic success, though, she felt something was missing.

"I was seriously lacking a creative outlet," she recalls. "I ended up settling on fashion because it combined art with a more logical and sensible structure that felt comfortable to me because of my academic background."

Future perfect

Paige took part in the department's visiting student program at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. During the year there, she says, her creative side flourished, complementing the business background provided by her Purdue studies. She hopes to combine the two experiences in the world of fashion trend forecasting or concept design.

"Both of these involve researching cultures and characters and coming up with the next big thing," she says. "It is a very small and challenging field, but one that I hope to eventually enter."

On costume design

As costume designer for Purdue's fall 2012 production of "The Understudy" and Civic Theatre of Lafayette's winter 2013 production of "Arcadia," Paige's design skills took center stage.

"The job of the costume designer is to take the vision of the director and help breathe life into the characters of that world. While we do extensive research about the time period in which the production is to be set, oftentimes the costumes are a more heightened or skewed view of the time period," she says. "I love the highly skewed productions most of all, because they give you the opportunity to imagine something that never really was."

The Tomfohrde look

High-end, androgynous femininity with luxurious fabrics, simple neutral based colors, and an artistic, unusual juxtaposition of pieces. Is this what she designs for herself, then? No way.

"Wearing clothing that I have made feels a bit like walking around on the streets carrying a large canvas of my own work," she says. "After you have created a piece from beginning to end, you oftentimes see the flaws more so than the beauty of the piece. That makes it quite a bit harder to put it on in the morning."