On paper, someone who’s never met Jackie Fogarty might write her off as a nerd.
Jackie, a senior at Providence High, is currently valedictorian of more than 500 students, will have completed 11 Advanced Placement courses by May and is the president of the school’s math honors society chapter, Mu Alpha Theta. She was the only girl who took Providence’s first engineering class, and last summer, went to N.C. Governor’s School for French.
But that’s not the full picture.
“It is pretty funny when people find out I’m a fashion designer; they get a little thrown off,” said Jackie, who turned 18 on Sunday.
While Jackie loves French, math and her other academics, her biggest passion is art.
“I’ve always been fascinated by fashion,” she said. “It’s a part of everyone’s life, but it’s also a wearable art form.”
After teaching Jackie math for two years, teacher Charlotte Lamm said she thought she had Jackie figured out as a “math head.”
“But then when she came out with all this artsy stuff, I was like, ‘Honey, here’s this whole other side to you I didn’t know existed.’ ”
Jackie got her first sewing machine in third grade, when she was 9 – and “she never stopped,” said her father, Pat Fogarty. She made her first dress in seventh grade and her graduation dress for eighth grade.
The summers before her freshman, sophomore and junior years of high school, she stayed with relatives in Long Island and attended classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
In September 2012, Jackie sent models down the runway – hers followed those wearing the Saks Fifth Avenue collection – as the youngest designer who had ever shown at Charlotte International Fashion Week. She got into the show because she emailed the director, Anthony Simons, the spring before, and he agreed to meet with her.
Simons said he was impressed with Jackie, then 16, and that she came prepared with sketches, fabric samples and concepts. “She was very well put together when I met with her,” he said.
Her 14-piece, eight-look collection, called “Future Classics,” won these words from Whitney Hodge of Charlotte Style Magazine: “The most impressive of the Charlotte International Fashion Show hands down,” and “her line was beyond impressive, and her prints were incomparable. I can guarantee that within the next year or so you will see her in New York Fashion Week.”
A couple of months later, Jackie showed the collection again at a local fashion show for charity.
By the end of 2012, she decided she wanted to do something for others with art. She researched art therapy, which she said people with post-traumatic stress disorder often use, and noticed there weren’t any sewing-only programs available.
“It’s almost like meditating. It’s very soothing,” Jackie said. “I wanted to bring that feeling to people who could definitely use it.”
So she created the Urban Threads Project, which aims to teach people how to sew and give them a confidence boost.
In November 2013, she posted 11 video tutorials online that begin with threading a sewing machine and end with the completion of a drawstring backpack. She is talking with the American Art Therapy Association about opportunities for attracting participants, and hopes to some day teach art therapy classes (she already teaches sewing).
Jackie was also the guest designer and judge on Charlotte’s Next Top Model local television show in 2013.
At Providence, it took Jackie the first two years of high school to establish the Textiles and Fashion Industry Club. She had to get 150 signatures of interest, write a constitution, name possible advisers and potential officers and have her proposal approved by a committee. Now the club has about 30 members.
Jackie said she’d like to post more Urban Thread tutorials, and she definitely wants to create more fashion lines. She’s waiting to hear from colleges and said she’d like to attend a liberal arts college where she can major in fashion or costume design and also study French, art history and architecture. Her dream is to someday create her own fashion company and brand.
Jackie said she sometimes feels like she leads parallel lives between fashion and academics, but she said she enjoys meshing the two: She designed T-shirts for the math club and likes to make videos for the clubs and organizations she’s involved with.
“I like breaking the stereotype of being really nerdy,” she said. “If you’re interested in something, you should be able to do it and not be scared of looking a certain way.”
Ruebens: 704-358-5294; Twitter: @lruebens
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