North Texas Daily

Student designs, dances and does makeup for a cause

Student designs, dances and does makeup for a cause

Student designs, dances and does makeup for a cause
November 14
15:10 2013

Christina Ulsh / Senior Staff Writer

Measuring, cutting, styling and pinning fabric to a mannequin in the Welch Street Complex, a design student prepares menswear until 11 in the evening. When she is not fulfilling her responsibilities as a fashion designer, she is a plus-size model, a licensed cosmetologist, an artist and a burlesque dancer.

Fashion design senior Iliana Vera, 27, said she aims to instill confidence in people of all sizes, ages, types and genders through her fashion as well as her performances as a dancer. All forms of her work advocate atypical beauty standards.

“Ultimately, I’d like to make a positive impact on women’s lives and just people in general that struggle with trying to fit a norm,” Vera said.

Out of all of Vera’s duties, fashion design and burlesque dancing take up the most of her time. On stage, Vera is known as Frostine Shake.

“Burlesque is a form of strip tease done in a very comedic and lighthearted way,” Vera said. “The burlesque world is more open to a variety of different sizes [of people].”

More than 90 percent of people who go to burlesque shows are women. The women go to see other women that look like them and that are otherwise not shown positively in mainstream media, Vera said.

“If you go to a burlesque show, you’re going to see all types of women that are presented in a glamorous and beautiful light through all kinds of performances,” she said.

Vera said her mother, Liz Vera, is the most influential person in her life. Her mother said her Vera’s endeavors are fabulous and would never want her to settle for anything.

“I want her to explore every avenue she has before her,” Liz Vera said.

Liz Vera said she lives vicariously through her daughter since her own traditional upbringing prevented her from doing anything similar to what her daughter does.

“I told her, ‘The biggest risk, Iliana, is not taking any at all,’” she said.

Iliana Vera said she would like to work for or start a fashion line dedicated to merging plus sizes and smaller sizes. She said she wants fashion sizes 0 through 20 to be on the same rack.

“When you isolate people—for example, women that are plus size –they go to a different store or their clothing is in the back,” she said. That doesn’t say anything positive about people that are plus size.”

Vera creates her own ensembles for her burlesque performances. For each new routine, she creates a new costume.

Design professor Myra Walker said Vera is one of the most talented students in fashion design because Vera has a sense of visualizing what she wants to create.

“I have not seen too many burlesque performances, but it is theater, just as runway fashion is fashion theater. The costume and the accessories have a great importance,” she said. “By being a performer, [Iliana] actually understands design better. It has to move. It has to function. It has to work.”

Vera juggles various responsibilities and jobs, which display her sense of dedication, Walker said.

“Iliana has a lot of ambition and talent and heart,” Walker said. “These are qualities in a person that is part of reaching for your own success that are not necessarily taught in school.”

Vera said her biggest struggle is balancing time for everything, but she recognizes that she brought these activities upon herself.

“I didn’t have to come to school. I didn’t have to be a burlesque performer,” she said. “I choose to do all these things because I love them and it’s all going to be worth it.”

Vera said she would continue burlesque until she is no longer capable of doing so.

“I don’t see burlesque as something separate from me,” Vera said regarding her character and persona. “I see it as an extension of myself.”

Vera checks out her make up and dress in a mirror. Vera advocates for atypical beauty standards in all forms of her work.  Photo by Harris Buchanan / Staff Photographer

Vera checks out her make up and dress in a mirror. Vera advocates for atypical beauty standards in all forms of her work. Photo by Harris Buchanan / Staff Photographer

Fashion design senior Iliana Vera applies some blush to her face as part of her burlesque dancer costume. Iliana works as a makeup artist at Ulta in Denton at the Benefit Cosmetics brow bar. Photo by Harris Buchanan / Staff Photographer

Fashion design senior Iliana Vera applies some blush to her face as part of her burlesque dancer costume. Iliana works as a makeup artist at Ulta in Denton at the Benefit Cosmetics brow bar. Photo by Harris Buchanan / Staff Photographer

Vera shows off a typical burlesque pose in her handmade dress and feather head piece. For each new routine Vera performs she creates a new outfit. Photo by Harris Buchanan / Staff Photographer

Vera shows off a typical burlesque pose in her handmade dress and feather head piece. For each new routine Vera performs she creates a new outfit. Photo by Harris Buchanan / Staff Photographer

Feature photo: Fashion design senior Iliana Vera dons a burlesque dancer outfit that she designed and made. Vera is an artist, plus-size model, a designer and a cosmetologist. Photo by Harris Buchanan / Staff Photographer 

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