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UPDATE: December 1, 2011

Diya Liu is the WINNER of the “Marie Claire Front Row Challenge”

With the growing popularity of fashion realty TV shows, the topic of  fashion and everything related to fashion has grown right a long with it.  Like any business, figuring out what your next great ad campaign will be is, at best, a shot in the dark. So when fashion magazine, Marie Claire, decided to create a promotion to give the “real life” fashion experience to a university fashionista, the Front Row College Challenge was born.

The concept?…to find the best college-age fashion lovers, style fanatics, and shopaholics and let them put on a  fashion show using LOFT’s Fall collection with make-up and hair styling provided by Rimmel London.  Hundreds applied and the final four were selected from top universities across the country.

Austin’s own nationally-recognized fashion blogger Diya Liu was selected to represent the University of Texas.  Diya leads the ultimate double-life living in chemistry labs and engineering buildings by day, but by night she is all about fashion.  Her fashion blog called “In her Stilettos” journals her fashionable ensembles with a uniquely Austin flair.  Her blog has been featured on, Chictopia, Teen Vogue and more.

The four Front Row Challenge finalists flew to New York and met with the Marie Claire editors and magazine executives and learned first-hand about the magazine and styling business.  The final assignment was to style the collection from LOFT and direct the  hair and make up for a hometown fashion show.  In keeping with the Austin vibe, Diya chose The Mohawk as her venue choice and turned the upstairs outdoor deck into a fashion show catwalk.  Her models, featuring the LOFT Fall collection, strutted the runway with sophisticated layering featuring bold colors and stripes, Fall fur accents and glittery bangles.

Three Marie Claire executives attended the fashion show. Publisher Nancy Bergan Cardone, Web Site Director, Abbey Gardner, and  Senior Fashion Editor, Zanna Roberts Rassi arrived in Austin to judge the last of the four fashion shows. Roberts Rassi and Gardner  shared that they were impressed with the Diya’s styling of the fashion show and agreed that they would wear many of the looks she presented on the runway.  They both commented on how they loved the “Austin vibe” and enjoyed seeing attendees “styled-out”.

Update: The winner of the Front Row Challenge was announced on December 1. Diya Liu of the University of Texas won and received summer internships at LOFT, Marie Claire and Rimmel London.

Interview with Marie Claire Executives and Finalist Diya Liu

Runway Collection from Diya Liu, University of Texas Finalist

Photo / Video credit: Gregg Cestaro Photography

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