UNT Great Grad: Christian Thornton, B.F.A., Fashion Design

Fashion Design | UNT 2023 Great Grad

Christian Thornton posing with two designs on mannequinsHe may not be a household name yet, but Christian Thornton plans to make the fashion industry stand up and take notice. His construction skills have been called flawless by his professors.

“I want to be great,” Thornton says. “I want to be a success. I want to be fulfilled doing what I love the most – being creative.”

Like Bob Mackie to Cher and Hubert de Givenchy to Audrey Hepburn, he hopes to find his muse in someone like Marsai Martin (best known for her role as Diane Johnson on Black-ish) and continue to develop his design style alongside that person as their career develops.

Christian says he always has been intrigued by fashion — the aesthetics, the diversity and the versatility to create unique garments.

But his favorite part?

He loves how the right piece can transform the way a person thinks about themselves, Thornton says. As people find their perfect style, just the right outfit, it can boost their confidence in amazing ways. Fashion can be quiet and tame, blurring the edges like Helmut Lange, or out there like Rick Owens or Mugler. Simply put, fashion can be anything and is everything.

He describes his style as avant-garde, with each piece a work of art that should be studied – an experience for each person who beholds it. He used books with messages he aligned with as starting points for some pieces. Books like Poe’s “The Mask of the Red Death.”

“Once you put art out there, it’s no longer yours to control the narrative. I want people to take it in and interpret it for themselves. I love using books, people and themes as inspiration – not to punch you in the face necessarily with a message, but for you to take a step back and be like, ‘OK. This is interesting.’”

Born in the South, Christian moved around to different states, including Alabama, Georgia and other parts of the Midwest, as a member of a large military family. He credits this movement to opportunities to attend magnet schools and to be exposed to and develop an appreciation of people from different cultures.

While a four-year art school was tempting as he considered higher education, the debt he’d carry with that decision was not. And the relationships he’d been building (some friends he made talking about the great art programs offered at UNT) during his cross-country moves would later lead him to Denton.

He knew he wouldn’t have a traditional desk job, but his first fashion design class made him realize he could make a career of his passion.

With a desire for independence and a proclivity to work hard, he decided to spend some of his time in high school earning his cosmetology license to support himself and go to school without accumulating a lifetime of debt. Thornton says it’s a great creative outlet, and he works four days a week ­– Friday through Sunday – with “no days off,” as he puts it.

Thornton doesn’t mind not having days off since when he isn’t in the salon working, he is at the studio on campus working on his craft and helping others develop theirs. He can often be found helping other undergrads with their projects, perfecting their stitching, or using a technique they may have seen him use in his designs.

Thornton credits his professors, especially Barbara Trippeer, associate professor in Fashion Design, for mentoring him along the way and inspiring his creativity.

Most of all, Thornton says he is proud to be the first male in his family to earn a college degree.

“I know my father and grandfather would be happy for me. I always remember that no matter what my grandfather was doing or how he was doing in his business, he always remained grateful and fulfilled. That’s the same love I have for fashion.”

By UBSC Staff Writers

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