CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Homecoming weekend is the perfect time to pull out the Panther gear.
There are purple T-shirts and sweatshirts, football jerseys and prom dresses to be shown off.
Yes, that's right, prom dresses. The University of Northern Iowa's textiles and apparel program hosted the first "Project Runway: Dome Edition" on Saturday as part of the annual Panther Festival. Each of the eight entrants were given a vintage UNI Panther jersey and a formal dress which they had to use to create a new design steeped in Panther pride.
Ashley Quick, a senior in textile and apparel, said the quick timeline and limited materials made the challenge even more fun.
"It's just a different way to celebrate homecoming," said Quick, who both designed and modeled her creation "Cat Call." The dress earned high marks from the judges and secured Quick the "Most Panther Pride" title.
Pat Allen, a guest judge and President Benjamin Allen's wife, said it was tough deciding who should receive that title.
"They were all so good. But that costume was just great, and she really put a lot of spirit into it," Allen said.
Several textile and apparel program alumni returned to campus for the festivities and offered their expertise on the judging panel. Natalie Mormann, a 2005 graduate and owner of the Brides Corner in Waterloo, said it was fun to see what the students came up with.
"It's a unique way to use the jerseys and stuff and get some school spirit out through design," she said.
But, the judges favorites didn't always align with the voice of the audience. Eight-year-old Magdalen Coon --- who had a few runway moves of her own --- said her favorite for the day was "TuTu Cute."
"I like the stripes on her skirt," she said.
Designers Cheryl Stewart, a sophomore, and Paula Schultz, a senior, were flattered to have a crowd favorite.
"It was a lot of pressure and we worked on it late into the night," Schultz said. "But, I think it turned out pretty cute."