by Audrey Hertel
When Hannah Lajba was a freshman at Marian in 2010, she struggled to find shops in Omaha that had clothing to suit her style. So she did something that not many others would do.
She made them herself.
“The first garment I ever made was this straight shift dress made from this white cotton with diagonal ruffles. It had 2-inch straps and little snowflake topstitching in neon green thread…yikes,” Lajba said, describing the dress.
This dress was the beginning of a bright future for Lajba.
In her junior year, Lajba was asked by a friend to bring one of her looks to a cocktail hour at Omaha Fashion Week. “I, of course, say yes and with nothing to show make a plaster dress in a week that eventually turned into a light,” Lajba said.
After this experience, Lajba joined the Kent Bellows Mentoring Program and developed more skill as a designer. In 2014, Omaha Fashion Week had a runway show in which Lajba showed a three-piece collection inspired by the electronic band Gusgus. Lajba later developed this collection into menswear.
She graduated from Marian in May of 2014 with plans of attending the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City.
After moving to New York, Lajba made several collections and even won the Associates Degree Critic’s Choice Award for a gown inspired by Jane Eyre.
Lajba was surprised when she won the award. “Winning felt odd, I was convinced my friend Katie would get it so I was really shocked when she said my name. But I started my design process wanting to win the award and that fueled my process,” Lajba said.
Finishing a collection, according to Lajba, is relieving but also stirs a panic because, “You know that next week you’re going to have to come to class with an entire new concept,” Lajba said.
The concept that Lajba is working on at the moment is her pre-collection. It is an “introspection into youth and the wanderlust and imagination that a child has,” Lajba said. She stated that there will be an emphasis on foreshortening the form, layering and a play of colors and textures.
It is evident that Lajba has experience in fashion design, but she also has skills in costume design as well.
“I’ve had an interest in costume design ever since I did the ones for Marian’s ‘Romeo and Juliet,’” Lajba said.
Her relationship with costume didn’t end with Marian’s 2014 spring play but continued onto a larger stage, both metaphorically and literally; Broadway.
While attending FIT, Lajba had an internship with Parson Meares, a costume company in New York.
“While I interned there I worked on multiple big Broadway shows. I cut out pockets for Hamilton, beaded for Lion King, pulled out the fur on the seams of a coat for Wicked and helped with some of the Rockettes’ costumes,” Lajba said.
Lajba said she hopes to combine her fashion and costume design worlds into one to “bring a new perspective to design.”
Lajba is currently a senior at FIT and describes it as difficult, sometimes more than medical school. “Rather than having papers, presentations and quizzes, you will have all of that, plus lab hours of sewing, painting, photoshopping and designing,” Lajba said.
For any Marian girls thinking about going to design school, “Constantly have an open mind that can absorb everything around you,” Lajba said. She also said that there are many times when designers get burnt out or lose inspiration, but she deals with it by saying, “It’s going to be okay. It grounds you.”
She said to never give up and to never take the easy way out. “You’d be amazed how far you can push your own limits and then surpass them,” Lajba said.