Julia Wolfe Deters and Evans Rhett.

Kentucky Meets Crimson for Apparel Design Senior

Louisville, Kentucky, native Julia Wolfe Deters was practically raised on the Kentucky Derby and as a senior apparel design major she’s found a way to have a taste of the Derby right here at The University of Alabama. 

Deters will graduate May 3 and then jet off to New York in the fall with aspirations to one day create a Kentucky Derby-inspired line of clothing to complement her design approach of elevating classic pieces.

This year will be the first since the eighth grade that Deters will miss attending the Kentucky Derby, which is celebrating its 150th year.

“The Derby is such a huge event for Louisville and, of course, Derby fashion is big there,” she said. Deters added she plans to stay in New York at least 10 years, then maybe live in Europe and eventually return home to design for the Derby lifestyle.

“Having someone wear one of my designs to the Derby would be so surreal.”

She believes UA has prepared her well to get there.

“The new Drummond Lyon Hall elevated my work so much,” Deters said. “My friends joke that it has become my home because I’m always here because of everything we have access to.”

Julia Wolfe Deters and Evans Rhett.
Julia Wolfe Deters clips the fascinator to her model, Evans Rhett, to complete the look of her dress, “A Window into the Track.” Wolfe Deters designed this look for the KMAC Couture fundraiser in Louisville celebrating the 150th year of the Kentucky Derby.

The apparel design and fashion retail programs moved from Doster Hall to Drummond Lyon in fall 2023 and houses The Fashion Archive historical garment and textiles collection, a conservation laboratory, exhibition galleries, two cutting-edge studio classrooms, flex space for receptions or lectures and offices for fashion retailing and apparel design faculty.

Deters said being from Kentucky she wanted to stay in the South for college and researched several schools to find her fit.

“I knew I wanted to go to a big SEC school and have that full college experience, and I knew that UA had a great fashion program,” she said. “At first I wanted to do both apparel design and merchandising, but I found that most schools I looked at don’t offer both and UA does.”

Her family who bleeds blue were even OK with her wanting to come to UA.

“They’re all University of Kentucky fans, but they’re not big into football so they didn’t mind,” Deters joked. “They just wanted me to be happy.”

The summer before her freshman year at UA, Deters talked with Brian Taylor, interim chair for the department of clothing, textiles and interior design. She knew then that UA was where she needed to be.

“Mr. Taylor and I talked about what I really wanted to do, the classes here and things like that, and when I actually got here, I just fell in love with it.”

Deters said that conversation and UA offering both programs got her to campus, but so much more has kept her here.

“Being so far away from home, I love that there is a sense of community in the design program,” she said.

Watch: Deters Shares Derby-Inspired Dress She Created

“Mr. Taylor and Mrs. Burney have made the fashion program at UA so special. Their mentorship through the past four years is something I will always take with me. I would not be the designer I am today without their guidance, teaching and support,” Deters added.

“Having great teachers who have so much industry experience that I look up to like Dr. [Marcy L.] Koontz, who curates The Fashion Archive — that has just been amazing.”