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New Richmond graduate pursues career in fashion design

Aspiring fashion designer Emily Osterbauer won first place at a bridal exposition in Madison for creating a wedding dress entirely from paper.1 / 2
Recent New Richmond graduate Mandi Schuna models one of the jackets that Emily Osterbauer designed. Jackets, along with gowns and cocktail dresses, are Osterbauer’s favorite items to create.2 / 2

When Emily Osterbauer received her first sewing machine in second grade, she had no idea that creating clothing would turn into a lifelong passion. But 10 years later, the New Richmond native is still chasing her childhood dream of becoming a fashion designer.

“There was just something about creating that utterly captivated me,” she said. “Going from an idea to a final product is a really rewarding process.”

A 2011 graduate of New Richmond High School, Osterbauer is attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison and pursuing a degree in apparel and textile design. Because her program does not concentrate exclusively on clothing, Osterbauer is required to take classes in sewing, traditional loom weaving, illustration, screen printing, shibori dyeing, hand embellishing and computer textile design.

After developing her skills in Madison, Osterbauer plans to spend her senior year at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City to complete her degree in fashion design.

“I love going to art museums, coffee shops and thrift stores, so New York City is really exciting to me,” she said. “It will be a great source of inspiration for my future work.”

Although Osterbauer has been studying fashion for only two years, she has already seen considerable success in her designing endeavors. She received first-place accolades for a paper wedding dress that she designed and fashioned for a bridal exposition in Madison, and she also won a scholarship for her work patterning and sewing a spring jacket for the clothing company Lands’ End.

While Osterbauer loves using fashion design as a venue for self-expression, she knows her line of work won’t always be easy. The process of creating clothing requires a significant time commitment.

“Fashion design is a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week lifestyle,” she said. “It can take days, weeks or months before a garment is formed correctly.”

Dedication and hard work have propelled Osterbauer toward her goal of creating her own clothing line one day. Because she’ll need a lot of experience, she plans to start her career by working under a design label or in the wedding industry.

“Chanel is absolutely my dream job,” Osterbauer said. “The brand is just really classic, but yet innovative and expressive. It is really similar to my own aesthetic in that it juxtaposes hard and soft design elements.”

While she hasn’t worked her way up to Chanel just yet, Osterbauer did land an internship at Vera’s Bridal Salon in Madison this summer, developing her fitting and alteration skills. She also volunteers at the Children’s Museum by sewing for its exhibit spaces.

She has a long road ahead of her, but each day brings Osterbauer one step closer to realizing her dream. For better or for worse, the ambitious artist is in it for the long haul.

“I never get sick of designing clothing,” she said. “I have been fortunate enough to know that this is what I have always wanted to do with my life.”

Jenny Hudalla
A senior at Bethel University, Jenny Hudalla is pursuing degrees in journalism, Spanish and reconciliation studies. Having graduated from New Richmond High School in 2011, she served as editor-in-chief of the Tiger Rag before taking a job as editor-in-chief of Bethel's student newspaper, The Clarion. After completing her internship with the New Richmond News, Hudalla plans to move on to a career in social justice.
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