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RISD Student Wins Boston’s Project Beethoven Fashion Competition

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Designer Maria Canada made Rhode Island proud recently when she took home top honors at Project Beethoven, a unique fashion contest featuring frocks inspired by the music of Ludwig von Beethoven presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall.

“The idea behind Project Beethoven is to pair various art forms with classical music to illustrate the multitude of ways that music can inspire. We have had also engaged curators from the MFA Boston to discuss fine arts and music and have had lecturers from Harvard discussing texts and classical music,” said Sarah Manoog, BSO director of marketing and the creator of the project. “In addition, we hope to engage students in the activities of the BSO in order to broaden our audience and our overarching aim is always to provide entertainment for our patrons to enhance the overall concert experience.” Past competition titles included “Project Mozart” and “Project Tchaikovsky.”

Best In Show

Ten talented fashion students from the Boston and Providence metropolitan areas competed but Canada, a sophomore in RISD’s Apparel Design program, stole the show with a floor-length formal gown featuring a flowing attached neck scarf in the same hue and four rows of gathered tiers pairs with a ¾ length black opera cloak with white lining. "I wanted something classic and beautiful with a modern twist," explained Canada, a Seattle, Washington native. "The gown I designed was directly inspired from an iconic Beethoven portrait as opposed to a specific piece of music. I went directly to 'the master' for my inspiration, drawing on colors and mood portrayed in the image. I wanted to pay homage to the ideas and feelings aroused when one thinks of the legacy he left us all by way of his incredible music. Beethoven's music evokes contemplation and inspiration, and so should good design."

Owen Young, BSO cellist and one of five judges at Project Beethoven said Canada’s winning design was chosen due to the execution of the original design. “The black velvet jacket over the red flowing gown was compelling and beautiful,’ he said. “The contrasting colors, materials and shapes seemed to create an energy and flow that I felt was in the spirit of Beethoven and his unique genius.”

Looking Ahead

Canada would like to someday have hands on role in developing sustainable practices and infrastructures with design firms while creating clothing of the utmost quality and style. “Currently, I’m still developing creatively, and my hope is to eventually be a force for good, taking into account all aspects of clothing production and seeking positive adjustments and whenever possible sourcing from environmentally conscious vendors," she explains. "...Creating sustainable beauty and quality pieces is something I will strive for. My time at RISD is a time for growth, and I am so fortunate to be here. Who knew the doodles and make shift costumes of my youth would have lead me down this path, but I am ready for the challenge and I hope to learn to be a great designer someday.”

Canada’s Project Beethoven prizes include a full page photo in the April issue of Boston Magazine, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 12.1 MP digital camera, a fashion photography session including a pre-production planning meeting, full-day shoot with makeup and hair stylist, and having her dress displayed in the window of L'Elite boutique on fashionable Newbury Street for one week.


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