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Biochemistry Grad Wins Marie Claire Front Row College Challenge

Biochemistry Grad Wins Marie Claire Front Row College Challenge
Recent biochemistry graduate Diya Liu helped bring a little bit of New York style to Austin, and Austin spirit back to New York.

By Jordan Schraeder, The Alcalde

Austin may have landed on GQ’s Worst-Dressed Cities in the United States list, but one recent College of Natural Sciences graduate, Diya Liu, refused to accept that.

Through her fashion blog, In Her Stilettos, and her own eclectic, over-the-top personal style, Liu helped bring a little bit of New York style to the Forty Acres — and for that she landed the top stop in the Marie Claire Front Row College Challenge.

Liu was one of four students chosen from 200 fashion-savvy applicants to participate in the Marie Claire Front Row College Challenge, a contest that required participants to style and coordinate a full-blown runway production using clothing exclusively from LOFT and makeup from additional sponsor, Rimmel.

“Diya has a great aesthetic; she obviously knows how to style,” said Zanna Roberts Rassi, Marie Claire’s senior fashion editor, at Liu’s runway show on Nov. 18. “She views things like an editor, always looking at the bigger picture.”

As one of four finalists, Liu was flown to New York City for a crash course in styling a runway show. When she returned to Austin, she was responsible for picking models, hairstyles, and style of makeup, in addition to putting together 14 different looks using LOFT merchandise, all while going to school.

“I think the hardest part was trying to balance schoolwork and the show,” said Liu, who graduated in December 2011 with degrees in both biochemistry and chemical engineering. “I was just glad to see it come together.”

And come together it did. During her show, the rooftop at The Mohawk Austin on Red River transformed into a true Fashion Week event, complete with a white runway, flashing lights, and big screen televisions that played clips of Liu’s trip to New York City. Rows of chairs lined the catwalk, and Liu’s family and friends got the celebrity treatment with front-row seats.

As the models came barreling down the runway, it was obvious that every look was infused with Liu’s own personal pizazz. The outfits were all about mixing textures, whether it was a leopard fur coat on top of a striped tee or a tweed jacket accessorized with a sequined clutch.

“We loved the abundance of fur,” said Tyler Neal, a UT student and public relations director for the University Fashion Group, of which Liu was a member. “A friend and I were just talking about how much we wanted fur before the show, and here it is!”

As a result of her win, Liu will now have the opportunity to intern in NYC this summer. Despite her success in the fashion world, she is looking forward to pursuing a career in — who would have guessed — patent law.
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