Many student success stories have come from the teachings of Fashion Merchandising &
Design professor Dr. Michael Mamp. Undergraduate senior LaDyra Lyte is no exception. Lyte’s designs were recently accepted for exhibition at the annual Costume Society of America meeting on May 24 – 29, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Dr. Mamp was Lyte’s project advisor throughout the process and helped her push the boundaries of design.
Lyte’s collection, entitled K.M.W.M.Y.K. (Killing Me Won't Make You King), is inspired by the injustices many African Americans face in society. The first look called “DON’T SHOOT” was designed to reflect the encounters Black or
Brown individuals often experience with authority figures. The pockets on the garment were strategically placed to symbolize the stars on the American flag and the objects Black or Brown individuals have reached for before being shot by police. Lyte
shares, “My goal in construction was to interpret the American Flag in my own stylistic way by emphasizing the brutal traumas, adversities, and unjust systems my community faces to this day.”
The second look in Lyte’s collection, entitled "I CAN'T BREATHE", is inspired by the traumatic murder of George Floyd in 2020. The puffer vest was intentionally designed on a larger scale to emphasize the choking Floyd endured. The look also includes
Floyd’s last words which are accompanied by the encouraging symbolism of the Pan-
African flag. “My intentions towards the
receivers/observers are to encourage them to critically self-reflect and enact in some sort of change, whether that be societal or personal”, wrote Lyte.
Growing up in a household where activism was encouraged, it was important for Lyte to work in a field where she could use her “voice” while staying authentic to herself and her beliefs. As a fashion designer, she does just that. Lyte is excited
and honored to have her work accepted for exhibition at the annual Costume Society of America, sharing “I am honestly just very grateful that Dr. Mamp exposed me to the opportunity… [he has] been so supportive in pushing me as a designer.”
Dr. Mamp encouraged and pushed Lyte throughout the entire design process, from developing the sketches and mood boards to constructing the pieces and preparing them for display. Dr. Mamp is excited that the K.M.W.M.Y.K collection will be exhibited
and reach an even greater audience, sharing, “LaDyra's work helps to further illustrate how fashion can be a tool of social engagement, education, and an embodied practice of social justice and activism. I could not be prouder of her accomplishments.”
It is success stories like this that drive Dr. Mamp.
At CMU We Do Creative, We Do Real World
Story by ORGS intern, Hailey Nelson