Fashion Design Major Storm Dolfi Channels Her Painful Past Into Bold Apparel

The sophomore at Kent State was inspired by her mother, a quilt maker, to create works of art that you can see and touch.
February 22, 2017
7 mins read

For Storm Dolfi, fashion always comes first. While most other college-aged students aim for optimum comfort with their wardrobes, Dolfi wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of sweatpants or a pullover hoodie. But, then again, she wouldn’t settle for an average jeans-and-a-t-shirt wardrobe, either. It has to pop. It has to scream, “Here I am! I’m different!”

One of Dolfi’s staple outfits includes some killer shoes, a dress and a jean jacket inundated with colorful metallic pins. There are also days when she feels like wearing a fur vest and a faux bolo tie, just ‘cause. Other days, she wants to wear all black with a studded choker. It just depends on her mood.

Dolfi is currently a sophomore in the Fashion Design program, as well as part of the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising at Kent State University. While she chose to pursue her passion for fashion in high school, she said she knew she was different ever since she was in junior high. “Sometime in middle school, I started to experiment with what I wore, mostly as a way of expressing myself,” Dolfi says. “As I tried on new outfits, I realized how much what I wore on the outside effected how I felt on the inside.”

Fashion Design Major Storm Dolfi Channels Her Painful Past Into Bold Apparel
Kent University student Storm Dolfi

However, for the first time, Dolfi said she finally feels at home at Kent, where she is consistently challenged to try and do new things within her field. “Every day I am challenged to create something new and different, and the program definitely makes it exciting,” Dolfi says. “As I grow in the program, my courses become more intense and my skills develop every day.”

Dolfi was raised in one of those creative households. Her dad, Dana, is a world record holder for inventing the world’s loudest instrument. Her brother, River, is a brainiac himself. And as for Dolfi’s mother? Well, she explains her best.

“Growing up around my mom’s creativity was something I look back at so fondly. She was a quilter, in particular, and I was always watching her create these beautiful but usable pieces of artwork,” Dolfi says. “I think the fact that I could both look at and wrap myself up in that type of artwork really stuck with me. It was beautiful and it served a purpose, something that fashion and quilting most definitely have in common.”

It was 2006 when Dolfi’s mother passed away, but she said she’ll never let the memories she has of her fade. “I even use some of my mom’s old sewing tools at school,” Dolfi says. While many things in her life have shaped her into the woman she is today, Dolfi gives almost all the credit to her parents. She said they taught her so much about life, including one of her life’s best lessons—independence. “My mother’s life and passing shaped my past more than anything I could have ever imagined,” she says. “My father’s rise to Mr. Mom and his take on parenting definitely shaped my personality too. As a child, he showed us that the best way to learn was always to experience something for yourself.”

Dolfi is a bright girl. She’s always been that way. She grew up in the gifted program throughout school. She landed huge scholarships and was on the honors list from freshman to senior year. Her report cards were always as star-studded as her outfits. As one could imagine, nothing’s changed since Dolfi stepped onto Kent’s campus. Well, actually, she might be even better now. As an Honors College student and a familiar name on the Dean’s List, Dolfi’s making quite well for herself. But her academics aren’t all that she’s excelling in at Kent.

“This past December, Modista Fashion Group put on our annual fashion show. This year’s theme was, ‘The Elements of Life,’” Dolfi says. “As an executive board member, I had a really large part in making the show happen. I specifically led our PR team, and coordinated all marketing efforts for the production.”

On top of being part of the inner workings of the show—and taking 17 credit hours at the time—Dolfi also designed a “three-look mini collection” to be shown. The title of her collection? “Snowstorm.” As cold and powerful as the designer herself. “Snowstorm” included three looks, a two-piece dress with over 1,500 beads—which she hand-beaded herself—a satin slip dress with a chiffon kimono jacket and a floor length, open back gown. “The experience of making clothing to fit a unique person was really hectic and fun. I was blessed with three beautiful and helpful models, who are now my friends too,” Dolfi says.

Fashion Design Major Storm Dolfi Channels Her Painful Past Into Bold Apparel
Models from Dolfi’s show, “Snowstorm”

In fall 2017, Dolfi plans to study at Kent’s NYC Studio, where she’ll take 12 credit hours and (hopefully) have an internship, all while living in what she regards as one of the greatest cities on earth. And, in 2018, Dolfi will have the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy, through the fashion school.

For Dolfi, finding out about landing both of these programs was definitely a “holy shit!” moment. “Once I received news that I was accepted into both of the [study abroad] programs, I was so overjoyed,” she says. “Since going to school full time in New York wasn’t a feasible option for me, I’m extremely excited to at least spend a semester there.”

Today, Dolfi’s still killing it. She somehow finds a perfect balance between schoolwork, friends, killer social media pages and an obsession for The 1975/Cole Sprouse. Ya know, normal teenage stuff. After graduation, Dolfi hopes to start at a well-developed high-end, ready-to-wear company. “Think of the brands they sell at Nordstrom,” she says.

But for now, Dolfi hopes to hush the negative perceptions about her major and the fashion industry in general. “People think that those who go to art school aren’t ‘smart,’” Dolfi says. “Fashion Design, and I’m sure other art based majors, require extensive planning, a lot of mathematic formulas and attention to detail. We don’t get to color all day, I promise.”

She also wants to embrace the fact that she’s different. She wants others to embrace it, too. “A lot of people giggle and find me ‘quirky’ or ‘weird,’ which I am most definitely not denying, but they don’t know the root cause of it all,” Dolfi says. “As someone who went through a childhood as tragic as mine, and still struggles with anxiety and bouts of depression, I use a humorous approach to life to help me stay sane.” But for now, she’s embracing the haters by pretending the whole world is her runway. She’s happy rocking all black and some studded combat boots, no fucks given.

Mattie Winowitch, Waynesburg University

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