by Emily Vontom, Published December 26, 2012
Fashion design is her dream and she hopes to transform society by bringing a sense of color and humor back into our clothing.
Her name is Nikki Lomonaco, a 17-year-old Eastern Michigan University freshman from Grand Rapids, Mich. and she feels she has a unique vision to offer to the fashion industry.
She is also one of 16 recipients of Eastern's Presidential Scholarship, an elite four-year award that pays 30 credit hours per year of in-state tuition, room and board and mandatory fees.
"I spend all of my time sewing. People ask where my inspiration comes from and I tell them the truth," says Lomonaco, a fashion design, merchandising and textiles major. "I have so much excitement inside of my soul that if I didn't express it, I would explode."
Lomonaco's interest in fashion design came after she left a uniform-required Catholic school and began attending Wyoming Park High School. She "felt ugly" wearing jeans and T-shirts and began to make her own clothing, she says.
"My mom had always sewn and taught me construction skills as I began to make my own clothing," Lomonaco says. "I classify my personal design aesthetic as 'sophisticated whimsy,' which combines well-constructed silhouettes with lighthearted prints and bright color combinations."
While Lomonaco does design and wear a great deal of her own clothing, she doesn't wear her own designs exclusively. She still stops at stores for basic items.
"I make the majority of my clothing, like my leggings and skirts," says Lomonaco. "My favorite pieces of clothing are definitely ones that I've made myself."
In addition to designing her own clothing, she sells her designs and offers alteration services to other students at Eastern. She admires Elsa Schiaparelli, a "risk-taking" Italian fashion designer in the 1900s, and her "beautiful clothing with whimsical themes."
Lomonaco, has enjoyed her time at Eastern so far, in large part to the great culture and diversity she has been exposed to. This year, she has learned about the Islamic and Jewish cultures, including how to sing in Hebrew, she says.
"I love becoming friends with people who view life differently than I do, who have a different sent of values that they choose to live by," Lomonaco says. "I value individuality and open-mindedness. I love the diversity and community atmosphere of Eastern's campus."
Presidential Scholars are selected during Eastern's annual Presidential Scholarship Competition in December. Awards are based on a competitive exam. To compete, high school seniors must have either a 3.7 GPA, with a minimum of a 25 ACT or 1,150 SAT score. Each scholarship winner must also complete a successful interview.