Snapping cameras and a lighted runway transformed the Rosenberg Skyroom as 10 student collections made their debut Monday evening during the University of the Incarnate Word‘s 36th annual Cutting Edge Fiesta Fashion Show.

The show is a production of the Juren Sullivan Center for Fashion Management. The Promotional Strategies in Fashion 2 class undertakes model selection, dressing, hospitality, and stage and technical management while senior Collection I and II students present their collections. (See photo gallery above.)

Master of Ceremonies Michael Quintanilla introduces himself to the audience. Photo by Scott Ball.
Master of Ceremonies Michael Quintanilla introduces himself to the audience. Photo by Scott Ball.

“What you just saw was the culmination of over a year of work,” said Michael Quintanilla, master of ceremonies for the event.

Proceeds from the event fund two scholarships for fashion management students. This year students Olivia Willms and Natalia Hendrichs each received a $1,500 scholarship.

In addition to their class grades, collections were judged by a panel of experts based on real market criteria.

Stephanie Rani Maiti-Marquez’s collection Origin celebrated the student designer’s Mexican and Indian heritage blending breezy linens and Indian embroidery in boxy tops, and bold colors on the bottom. The collection won “Best of Show” as well as awards for construction and design. The wearability and depth of the collection was evident to the entire room, as Maiti-Marquez won the inaugural “Pinkie People’s Choice Award” based on text voting at the end of the show.

The Pinkie Award is named for 1946 UIW alumna Mary Helen “Pinkie” Devine Pinner. On Pinner’s 90th birthday her friends created an endowed scholarship in her name designated for fashion management.

The maturity of Maiti-Marquez’s collection may be due in part to the real world experience she has already garnered while a student at UIW. Last summer, she interned in New York City with designer Christian Siriano, one of the most memorable contestants on the popular reality show Project Runway.

The experience gave Maiti-Marquez two key life lessons for a young woman in the fashion world: she took what she calls “a jump,” or a risk, going to New York to work with the notoriously mercurial designer, and she also learned about the creative process while working with people in the real fashion world.

“Its one thing to sit behind a desk, or in this case a sewing machine, and learn,” she said, it was quite another to live in a world where every day brought unknown challenges and many small failures on the way to success.

“You make mistakes, but that’s how people learn,” Maiti-Marquez said.

While all of the collections punched above their weight as college design collections, they also spoke to the unique time of life when a woman is equal parts fun and responsibility. Each contained pieces that celebrated young bodies and carefree afternoons, and pieces that would transition to more restrained and elegant moments as that girls becomes woman racking up success and accomplishment.

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Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog,, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.