SCIO — Many great fashion designers have had to sacrifice to boost their careers to the next level.

Fifteen-year-old Kate Miles, a sophomore at ScioHigh School, has learned that lesson early in life.

After successfully showing her couture fashions at the Portland Fashion Week in December, she was invited to participate in the Vancouver Fashion Week March 16-22. But even with a 25-percent discount on entry fees and earnings from working on the family farm last summer, it meant the young designer was going to need to do something major.

So, she sold her horse, Belle, a 16-year-old American quarter-horse paint. The two used to go camping on summer nights, and especially enjoyed riding in rivers. 

“I sold her back to the woman who raised and trained her. She has children who now are old enough to love her just as much as I do. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, and with the addition of some summer earnings, I put together enough money for the entry fee,” Kate said. “I miss my horse so much, but I guess the transition between little girl and woman has to start somewhere. Sometimes you have to let go of old dreams to really kindle new dreams.”

The last few months have been a blur, Kate admits.

“I am ecstatic,” Kate said of the invitation to British Columbia. “I never would have guessed that I would be going from a little girl in overalls helping her dad on the farm to becoming a fashion designer in one of the world’s largest fashion shows in such a short time.”

Kate said her collection will focus on couture/bridal fashions.

“I am going to take some favorites from my past collections and add several new looks as well,” Kate said. “I will have 16 total designs on the runway.”

Although she’s still a student at Scio High, Kate is taking 16 credits through Linn-Benton Community College, plus private French lessons.

“So, I’ve been extremely busy with homework,” Kate said of trying to juggle the upcoming show with schoolwork. “Somewhere between the agony of math problems and a 22-page research report, I have managed to squeeze in some new outfits. I am going to continue to sew new dresses until the day before the show because I want to make sure to select my very best work.”

Kate said she was contacted by the Vancouver officials after the Portland show.

A press release about the show quoted Kate as saying, "Color and texture have always been a whole other language to me. I read them like poetry. Drape and movement speak to me, and the dress just takes shape in my mind. Ideas lie in everything from a brick wall to a flower in my garden. Sometimes I will sketch it out, but usually I just pick up my scissors and go for it. My designs are always a juxtaposition of vintage with a modern edge. I love taking the delicate fabrics and laces from old garments and paring them with newer and bolder aspects to create something timeless, but exciting."

She will travel to Vancouver March 16 and “after my 8 a.m. biology exam.”

She has to have her model fitted by 5:30 p.m.

“At the opening gala, each of the dozens of designers will be sending one ‘preview’ look down the runway, followed by a meet and greet with buyers and industry professionals from around the world,” Kate said. “Then I’ll have rehearsals and fittings Wednesday morning and the show that night. The rest of the week I’ll be doing interviews with local bloggers and some magazines.”

March 22 she will have the opportunity to develop a sales launch with international buyers.

“I’m not sure that I’ll sell anything, but it should be a great chance to learn how the industry works,” Kate said.

Kate credited her mother, Rebecca, with her opportunities.

“She is so supportive and is great about hauling me around and helping me keep everything organized,” Kate said.

She also thanked Kel Ward Photography and Jeff Wong Photography, Reyna Vilanueva and Jordan Young.

“And, I’m grateful to God for the gifts He has given me and I can’t wait to see what He has next for my life,” she said.

The 15th annual Vancouver Fashion Week will be held at the Queen Elizabeth Plaza.

The opening gala will showcase the creative talents of more than 30 designers from all over the world.

 “We are looking forward to sharing amazing creativity this season, with Vancouver shining the spotlight on lots of great local and international talent,” said founder Jamal Abdourahman. “We love to celebrate the diversity of fashion culture, and Vancouver provides this perfect platform to support emerging talent.”

Designers will come from Peru, Hong Kong, Korea and more as well as Vancouver designers Connally McDougall, Grandi’s Atelier and Sara Armstrong.

Tickets are available at http://vanfashionweek.com/event.

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Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.