Just a few minutes of talking with Bear River High School
sophomore Heidi Peinthor and it becomes easy to understand why the 15-year-old Lake of the Pines resident is already notching out a place for herself in the high-profile world of fashion.
Her passion for the subject and an organized and determined attitude could well mean she is moving on to much bigger and better things. Even at her young age, she has already proven she has talent, as evidenced by her inclusion as one of five teen finalists in a fashion design program called Generation Next, an event sponsored annually by O’Neill and Teen Vogue magazine.
“Fashion is something I’ve always wanted to do, and when I saw (Generation Next), I thought it would be perfect for me to try,” Peinthor said. “I applied along with thousands of girls, and I wasn’t exactly sure if I would get it, but when I did, I was really excited.”
Peinthor says that from a very young age, she has had her eye on establishing a career in fashion.
“I have sketch books from when I was even younger, doing designs,” Peinthor said. “I used to watch designers on TV shows and always wanted to be just like them.”
According to Peinthor, the process of being chosen as a Generation Next finalist was a bit nerve-wracking and included a trip to the big city.
“I applied on the O’Neill website, and (the judges) interviewed me several times, while they were narrowing down the contestants,” Peinthor said. “Then I was interviewed in person, along with 30 other girls in San Francisco, and I went there, and they said, ‘OK, if you make it, you’ll be called back tomorrow.’”
Peinthor was later notified she had been chosen as a finalist for the show, to take place Nov. 3 from 6-9 p.m. at the Galleria of Design in San Francisco.
“Sitting in a room with 10 people at a table, all asking questions and you sharing with them your creativity, is kind of putting yourself out there,” Peinthor said.
For the final event, each contestant has been tasked with designing a dress, specific to a particular decade.
Peinthor was given the job of creating a dress with a 1970s theme and worked with a mentor from O’Neill on its design and construction.
Because her creation has not yet had its debut, Peinthor says she is not able to go into much detail regarding the dress she has made but will say that it’s “long and has bell sleeves.”
“It’s a very traditional dress for the 1970s but is very fashionable for this time as well,” Peinthor said.
The plan is for Peinthor’s dress to be showcased on Victoria’s Secret fashion model and the face of O’Neill Elyse Taylor during the Generation Next Fashion Show.
“This is a huge opportunity for me because I live in a small town, and the other contestants all go to large private schools,” Peinthor said.
“To have this opportunity is awesome.”
Adding to the excitement of the Nov. 3 show is the inclusion of five girls from Bear River, who were chosen by Peinthor and O’Neill to serve as O’Neill summer collection models. The locals taking part are Shalyn Klauer, Rebecca Stevenson, Sabrina Camerer, Rachel Olsen and Jenna Betz.
Peinthor is very excited about the prospect of being chosen a winner at Generation Next.
“If I win, it would mean that I would get an internship at O’Neill and that my dress would be sold in the O’Neill summer collection for the next year,” Peinthor said.
“It would be huge to have my design alongside all of the real designs, and I would also win a scholarship going toward my future education. It would be a total dream come true.”
Peinthor’s advice to other young would-be fashion designers: “I would say not to doubt yourself just because of where you come from or what you might think your abilities are because anyone can do it with hard work.”
In the tradition of American Idol, the winner of the Generation Next event is chosen by a text-to-vote system.
To find out more about how you can help support Peinthor’s efforts, call her at (408) 500-8301.
Tom Kellar is a freelance writer living in Grass Valley. Contact him at [email protected].