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AHS senior makes it to semi-finals of nationwide fashion design contest

Arlington High School senior Sami Smith
Arlington High School senior Sami Smith's design made it into the top 50 semi-finalists of the nationwide 'Sketch Your Prom Dress' contest.
— image credit: Image courtesy of the Smith family.

ARLINGTON — Sami Smith, a 17-year old senior at Arlington High School, recently made it into the top 50 semi-finalists of the nationwide "Sketch Your Prom Dress" contest conducted by Seventeen Magazine and David's Bridal, but she'll need some support from Facebook fans to have a shot at pulling through.

Sami is hoping that her purple dress sketch will earn her the grand prize of a $25,000 college scholarship, a three-day trip to New York City to put the final touches on a sample of her dress, which would be manufactured and sold in David's Bridal stores for the prom of spring 2012, and a $5,000 donation to her high school. The two runners-up will receive a trip to NYC and a $400 certificate to David's Bridal.

Sami traced her interest in fashion back to the Barbie and Bratz dolls she had in elementary school, whose outfits she constantly changed and even cut up to create new designs. A fashion design course during her sophomore year took her to the Art Institute of Seattle's fashion show, where she realized that she wanted to study fashion design in college.

"I enjoy keeping up with fashion trends, and I'm always thinking, 'What's next? What's new?'" said Sami, whose drawing talent was fostered by a studio art class during her junior year. "At home, I spend a lot of my free time sketching models with clothing designs that I would like to wear someday. I would enjoy seeing my creations come to life, to make people look stylish and feel good."

Sami sketched her dress design for the contest the day after she learned about it, and has been working to boost her vote-count on Facebook, by way of "Likes" for her design in the contest's Facebook album, since those "Likes" count for 25 percent of the criteria by which the designs will be judged during the week of Oct. 24. Another 25 percent will be determined based on the design's originality, while 30 percent will be based on style and the remaining 20 percent will be based on commercial appeal.

"You're never going to achieve anything if you don't try," said Sami, who peaked at third place within the semi-finalists based on online votes, before slipping slightly to fifth place by Oct. 13. "Fashion is always changing, and design and creativity are always in demand. I'd love to be a part of all of that."

Lori Smith, Sami's mother, recalled how she and Sami's father, Pete, first noticed her creativity at a young age.

"I remember her organizing her blocks by color, while creating a design with them on the floor," Lori said. "It seemed she always had a crayon in her hand, and one day she decided I needed a mural on my kitchen wall. I framed it with some black construction paper strips to show her dad when he got home from work. She's currently painting a beach scene mural on her bedroom wall for her senior project. This time, she asked for permission first."

To vote for Sami Smith's dress design online, search for Seventeen Magazine on Facebook, click on its "Photos" tab and look for "By Sami, Washington" in the album marked "Finalists." Click on the image of the sketch and then click "Like" to cast your vote.

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