The Student Faces of Omaha Fashion Week

Writer: Aaliyah Wells


From Feb. 27 to March 3, independent designers from all over the Midwest will coalesce to display their designs in the tenth annual Omaha Fashion Week. This year, several University of Nebraska-Lincoln fashion and design students will get the chance to display their designs during the UNL Student Showcase. Collective Culture was given a chance to sit down with some of the student designers to get a sneak peek into what is expected from the showcase.


RILEY NAUGHTON – Senior textiles, merchandising and fashion design (textile and apparel design) major

Riley Naughton was first introduced to design at the age of seven when her grandmother taught her how to sew. As she got older, Naughton began creating outfits out of any fabrics she could find, including blankets and random fabrics she found around her childhood home. Her love of fashion and design followed her as she got older, when she realized it was something she wanted to pursue professionally.

I was constantly drawing designs, and it was in high school that I realized it was what I wanted to do,” Naughton said. “I was also around performance arts and got to help with those costumes and fell in love with that too.”

Now a senior textiles, merchandising and fashion design major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Naughton feels prepared to display her designs for audiences at Omaha Fashion Week.

Naughton created a leather romper and dress with multiple shades of ocean blues, maroon, a bronzy silver, and accents of orange scattered throughout. The color palette was inspired by coral reefs and manta rays during a trip she took to the Bahamas, according to Naughton.


MELISA SPILINEK – Junior textiles, merchandising and fashion design major (textile and apparel design and merchandising) major

Melisa Spilinek, a junior textiles, merchandising and fashion design major was also drawn to fashion from an early age, finding ways to create outfits and designs since childhood.

“When I was a little kid I would go into my mom’s room and drape my towel around myself and pretend I was on Project Runway,” Spilinek said.

Originally from Wichita, Kansas, Spilinek says she decided to attend UNL because she was drawn to how interactive and immersive the university’s fashion and textiles program was.

“Everyone here is so nice and genuinely cares, so it is nice to learn from people who really want me to succeed,” Spilinek said.  

Spilinek wanted to emphasize femininity in her fashion week garment, opting to create a white and black dress with pleats in front to emphasize the chest area.


CHLOE DECOITOSenior textiles, merchandising and fashion design (textile and apparel design) major

Although Chloe DeCoito always loved fashion and design, she first realized she wanted to pursue it as a career after working in retail for several years. Starting school at UNL with an undecided major, DeCoito decided to shadow a few textiles and apparel design classes with a fellow student. She immediately loved the program and has been working on designs ever since.

Her design for the show was inspired by a mood board she created entitled: Galactic Cowgirl. The garment she created is a mini princess seam line strapless dress made from the remnants of a  magenta vintage leather jacket.

“For me a huge thing is fabric,” DeCoito said. “I love getting inspired from the colors and textures of them.”

She hopes that UNL student designers, herself included, will gain more exposure by having their designs displayed during the showcase.

“I just think it’s a great opportunity to display my work to a new group of people,” DeCoito said.

  1. Riley; I am as always so impressed with your ability to create from all materials available to you, with your great sense of imagination and vision.. You’re up to the challenge before you. Wishing you continued success as you go forward wit your passion for fashion and design. Grandma Shirley.

  2. As always so impressed by what you have been able to create through the years, using your skills and imagination and fabric at hand. Wishing you continued success as you meet the challenges and advance in working at that which you love… So thrilled for you !

    Grandma Shirley

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