With her roommates frequently out of town, Gallatin senior Elizabeth Bellotti was free to transform her apartment into a repository of sewing machines, fabrics and materials as she prepared pieces for her final Gallatin Fashion Show. The theme was “Dreams and Dreamscapes,” and Bellotti had decided on the horizon as her inspiration. Silky textiles in sunset hues transformed into dresses and skirts that captured her vision of the sky. Bellotti experimented with silk painting and dip-dying for hours upon hours, developing her collection “Liminal Space – Colors on the Horizon.”
Her hard work paid off. The crowd’s applause was deafening as her creations flowed with the models down the runway. Bellotti beamed as she posed for pictures after the show. When explaining the source of her vision, she gave credit to her mother.
“My mother gave me this idea of the horizon as being something that is a dreamscape but is grounded in our reality,” Bellotti said. “I liked the dichotomy a lot of the ground versus the sky, and the ground signifying reality and being grounded, whereas the sky is more a limitless space for our dreams to exist.”
Growing up in the suburbs of Boston, the student designer was taught how to sew by her aunts at eight years old. She has been enthralled ever since. Bellotti had always loved to draw, and her aunts helped to guide that artistic affinity toward clothes as well. She continued to develop her skills, and once she got to NYU, she discovered a new platform on which to showcase her work.
“When I had just gotten into Gallatin and I was a senior in high school, I saw that the Gallatin Fashion Show was a thing and I was really excited to be a part of it,” Bellotti said. “My freshman year, I sent in a proposal and did a collection called ‘Raw Data.’ That ended up being the cover of the lookbook, and I was just so amazed at the response I got from my designs. That really empowered me as a designer.”
However, this early devotion to design and confirmation of her skills did not prevent the budding designer from developing other interests. Bellotti actually initially came to NYU to study journalism, and after joining the mock trial team as a sophomore, Bellotti discovered her passion for law and criminal justice reform. She adapted her concentration to focus on political narratives and their reconstruction. In her words, it’s essentially a “psycho-social study of politics.”
Once she graduates this spring, Bellotti plans to work as a paralegal and then attend law school. She’ll be working in public interest law and hopes to represent immigrants and other underserved communities.
“I am very passionate about immigration reform, especially considering recent events and the Trump presidency, so I hope that in two or three years, I’ll be able to go to law school and actually become a lawyer and be able to pursue that as an attorney,” Bellotti said.
Although this is her current career path, Bellotti has no plans to abandon her original passion.
Once she has more disposable income, she hopes to start a fashion line or continue to pursue her designs. She also acknowledged the possibility of having to blaze her own path and synthesize her interests to develop a career path that doesn’t yet exist.
“I don’t want to lose any of my fashion sense when I’m stuck in a corporate office,” Bellotti said. “I think my hope is to have each of the parts of myself enhance the other so even if I am advocating as a criminal justice reformer as someone who works in law, I don’t think I have to sacrifice anything about the other parts of my personality or my femininity.”
Bellotti will have a lot on her plate in the future, and it couldn’t have been easy to execute design projects as a pre-law student. When describing her motivation, a specific mantra from her mother came to mind.
“If you don’t look in the front row, you’re never going to park there,” Bellotti said. “Just dream big and don’t be afraid of that, because the only people who get to where they are is because they dreamt of it.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, May 6, 2019, print edition. Email Bella Gil at [email protected]