| || |
| ||Alexander Julian designed the True Blue gowns to be |
stylish and environmentally friendly. His son, Will;
Justin Tyler, senior class vice president; and Chelsea
Phillips, senior class chief marshal, show off some
of the gowns.
Award-winning colorist and fashion designer Alexander Julian – Chapel Hill native and UNC alumnus – was determined that his son, Will, was not going to graduate in May 2011 wearing an aqua gown. Julian, most famous for his clothing line Colours and for putting argyle on the Tar Heels’ basketball uniform, knows a little something about color. And he knew that the regalia in use at his alma mater for the past several years was not true Carolina Blue.
“As a colorist, ever since Holden Thorp was inaugurated as Chancellor, I have been on him like a wet, dirty T-shirt to let me try to improve the true blueness of the robe color,” Julian said.
The robe also wasn’t green, as in sustainably made. With so many students concerned about the environment, the time was right for a gown that might only be worn once in a lifetime to be made from recycled materials.
At the first home football game of the 2010 season, Julian got approval from Chancellor Holden Thorp to go ahead with his idea for true blue, truly green regalia. Over the next few months, Julian worked closely (and gratis) with Oak Hall Cap & Gown, supplier of UNC regalia for decades, Carolyn Elfland, associate vice chancellor for campus services, and John Gorsuch, interim director of campus merchandising for Student Stores, to create the first designer regalia in the country. The designer added fashion details such as white piping along the yoke and two white panels in front. He also removed one of the pleats in the gown for a more flattering fit for most figures. Other extras include a tassel that is 75 percent blue and 25 percent white instead of solid blue, topped with an Old Well medallion that is colored silver instead of gold.
Most important, after many dye tests, the cloth is finally what the Tar Heel-trained eye of Carolina’s “unofficial color czar” judges to be the perfect shade of Carolina blue. “There’s a bin in my studio in Connecticut that is filled with dye tests,” Julian said.
At the same time, the team worked hard to make sure the True Blue gown was also truly green. Oak Hall offered a fabric made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. (It takes 23 plastic bottles to make each gown.) But the fabric was manufactured in Asia, which didn’t fit the UNC team’s idea of sustainable. Oak Hall was able to find a manufacturer with mills in North and South Carolina, and the fabric will be sewn into gowns at the company’s facility in neighboring Virginia. The information that tells you the gown is sustainable is suitably printed directly on the cloth, without the use of an extra label.
Julian’s son Will approves of the new look. “I think they’re awesome,” he said, after a photo shoot with his father. “He’s got some skills.”
At $54.99, the True Blue gown will cost students $5 more than last year’s aqua model. (Students with old gowns can bring them in for a $5 credit on the new gown.) Additional accessories include a 2011 tassel attachment ($5.99) and a customized white stole ($29.99), often given to a parent in appreciation after the Commencement ceremony. The new regalia will make its debut at Commencement Information Day on March 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Student Union.
For more information about Commencement, visit http://commencement.unc.edu/may.php.
News Services contact: Susan Houston, (919) 962-8415,