Appalachian student works across disciplines to bring designs to life

By Mary Anne Savage

From her senior year of high school to her senior year at Appalachian State University, Sarah Bischoff, a senior apparel design and merchandising major in the Department of Applied Design from Cary, has transformed her career and is ready to take on the “real world.” Back then, she was sewing her own prom dress without a pattern. Now she’s the head pattern cutter and draper for the Department of Theatre and Dance’s costume shop.

Over the past four years, Bischoff has gained the educational and practical experiences to prepare her for life after college. Her mindset coming to Appalachian was, “You can’t just float through school, you need to work hard and take advantage of different opportunities.”

She hit the ground running and began to volunteer at the costume shop her freshman year. Since that time she has participated in numerous competitions, constructed costumes and worked in high fashion while studying in Paris, France.

Each one of her endeavors has taught her valuable lessons about the industry and forced her to overcome her fears. While in Paris, she learned how to communicate despite a language barrier, adjust to a new style of teaching and work for Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab.

In October 2017, Bischoff created a piece for the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Ebony Fashion Fair runway show, where she was the second runner up out of of 35 student designers.The experience allowed her to apply what she was taught in the classroom and put it into practice.

“You need to pay attention to deadlines, you need need to stay organized, you need to know when your fittings are and how to progress after them,” she said.Now she’s jumping between her full class load and an internship with Jennifer Ackland, who runs the costume shop. She will also participate in the apparel design and merchandising program’s senior showcase this spring, where she has designed a four-piece line inspired by her mother.

“You could just take your classes and be done with it, or you can participate in contests, study abroad experiences, internships and more,” she shared. “During my four years in the program, I learned so much and I got to do a lot of really cool things.”

About the Department of Applied Design

One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department Applied Design at Appalachian State University fosters excellence in design education, design research and professional placement. The department balances theoretical and pragmatic approaches while exploring an awareness of impact through design decisions on the global community. Faculty focus on a holistic approach to creative problem-solving by integrating sustainability and ethical responsibility in teaching and practice. The department offers bachelor’s degrees in apparel design and merchandising, industrial design and interior design. 

About the Department of Theatre and Dance

The Department of Theatre and Dance is one of seven departments housed in Appalachian’s College of Fine and Applied Arts. Its mission is to facilitate transformative experiences for students and the public, which cultivate compassionate, creative and collaborative communities through theatre and dance. The department also offers coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Its dynamic co-curricular production program provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

Sarah Bischoff
Published: Feb 8, 2018 11:07am