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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
<p>2012 marks Francine Elizabeth’s second showing at Gainesville Fashion Week.</p>

2012 marks Francine Elizabeth’s second showing at Gainesville Fashion Week.

From the looks of Francine Elizabeth’s bedroom, she seems like a typical teenager. A bulletin board covered with photos of her friends hangs above her bed; signed concert T-shirts line the red wall; and her rabbit, Pickles, hops around in her cage.

At 18, Elizabeth, a freshman at Santa Fe College, has accomplished more than most of her peers as a talented fashion and jewelry designer.

Her designs will be on display in a runway show on April 12 at Villa East, 301 N. Main St., as part of Gainesville Fashion Week.

This is Elizabeth’s second time showing off her creations on the runway. Last year, she celebrated her 18th birthday on the first day of fashion week, making her just old enough to participate. This year, she turns 19 a week before her show.

Although Gainesville Fashion Week was Elizabeth’s first major exposure as a designer, she has been sewing since she was 7 and designing and selling jewelry since she was 5.

When she was 10, she won a competition with Sew Young Sew Fun. In return, A-1 Sewing gave her an embroidery machine that now sits in the workspace in her room next to her sewing machine and royal blue mannequin.

The first garment she ever made was a T-shirt with a bunny on a quilted square on it, which she says was “horrible.”

Elizabeth has come a long way from that bunny shirt, now designing dresses, skirts and tops for females ages 14 to 30. She describes her design style as “kind of sexy but still sophisticated.”

Her 26-piece collection for this year’s show is full of teals, golds, bronzes, blacks, khakis and silvers in a mix of sheer and solid fabrics with lots of beadwork, all made by hand.

“It has an Egyptian feel to it,” she said.

“There is a lot of different shapes, but the collection’s fairly cohesive with the colors and the textures.”

Elizabeth says she has to overcome a lot of challenges regarding her age and level of experience as a young designer.

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“People don’t take you seriously unless you’re, like, over 30,” she said. “You just have to show that you can do it and prove yourself because the product is what people look at.”

Despite being young, Elizabeth works hard at her hobbies. Just last week, she was accepted to the Savannah College of Art and Design for jewelry making, which she considers the defining moment of her career thus far, and she plans to attend starting next year.

“I just do it for fun,” she said. “It’s kind of a hobby that turned into selling stuff to people, and then it kind of just built up.”

Elizabeth’s fashion and jewelry designs are available for purchase on her website, thumperdesigns.com.

In her collections, she incorporates her jewelry with her fashion, matching the tones in the fabrics with beautiful, handcrafted earrings and necklaces.

“I do a lot of stuff with gemstones and different metals,” she said. “Most of it is all beaded and woven together.”

Elizabeth says her talent stems from her artistic family, which includes musicians, goldsmiths, architects and art professors. She plans to keep participating in Gainesville Fashion Week as long as she is able to, and she hopes to end up in a creative profession.

“I want to have a big name for something, either jewelry or design,” she said. “I mean, I’ve already come this far.”

Until then, she plans to be a regular college student in Gainesville, attending Taco Tuesday at Tijuana Flats, $2 burger Wednesday at Mother’s Pub & Grill, playing poker, attending rock concerts and hanging out with friends.

2012 marks Francine Elizabeth’s second showing at Gainesville Fashion Week.

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