Senior design student draws on her own life force as inspiration for fashion show line-up

By Sarah Appel, CAHNRS Academic Programs

“I want my people to feel powerful. I want them to put on my clothes and feel as though that they could take over the world,” said WSU student Madison Norman.

Madison wears a hat and t-shirt, posing with a phanny pack stuffed full of thread, needles, and other sewing and design equipment.
Madison Norman shows off the tools of her trade as she works on her collection for the upcoming AMDT Fashion Show.

Madison, a Fashion Design major, is one of the 16 senior designers preparing to have their designs walk the runway at the upcoming Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles (AMDT) Mom’s Weekend Fashion show on April 12.

The Mukilteo, Wash. native is busy drawing, sewing, and perfecting every little detail of the nine designs that will be modeled; designs she hopes will project her into the rest of her career.

Since falling in love with designing and sewing after entering college, Madison has pushed herself, experimenting with fabrics, designs, jewelry, and everything in between. Now, she is creating her collection from French couture as her design inspiration for the fashion show. Her collection, The Danse Macabre, focuses on the circle of life: the fact that regardless of one’s station in life, there is beauty to be found in contemplating our beginnings and endings.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, what you look like, nothing. Because the one thing that unites humanity, is the fact that we live and we die,” Madison said.

It’s this viewpoint that pushes Madison to pursue her dreams and to provide a clothing line that’s both beautiful and pushes the edge of fashion. She strives to give any human the confidence to walk any sidewalk like a runway.

“When you wear my clothing, I don’t care who you are as long as you are a good person that wants to feel good about yourself,” Madison said.

Before coming to WSU, Madison never expected to enter the world of design. As an identical twin with a sister who she considers to be the artist in the family, Madison stayed away from most forms of art while trying to differentiate herself.

A piece of black cloth with the words DANSE MACABRE in red letters stitched on it.
A small sample of Madison Norman’s collection Danse Macabre, which will be featured in the AMDT Fashion Show.

“I thought I was going to be a buyer for Nordstrom,” Madison explained, laughing.

It wasn’t until her advisor, Shanna Hiscock, put her in a sewing class that Madison realized her passion and potential. She remained hesitant until she met Dr. Carol Salusso, one of the AMDT professors.

“She changed my life forever,” Madison said. “She pushed me to be the best that I could be, and she always encouraged me. She was probably the number one person who believed in me at that point.”

Every crazy idea, every challenging project, Salusso was there supporting Madison and helping her get to where she is today and will continue to do so for years to come. Madison knows that today is only a step in the grand scheme of what she wants to do within the fashion industry, and she looks forward to the challenges she will get to face to achieve her goals.

“I want to be one of the first American Fashion Houses. I want to found one of the first, especially being a woman. I want to be in that top 5, maybe top 10,” Madison said.

But the fashion world is scary, she admitted, and it takes a determined individual, set in who they are, to succeed.

“As humans, yes, we should grow, yes, we should learn and of course, change with the things we learn and do, but that should never prevent us from remembering who we are and going back to those roots,” she said. “In losing yourself, who are you when you’re gone and lost?”

At the end of the day, Madison is extremely grateful for the people she has around her and hopes to impact others just like those who have impacted her; to use her passion in sewing to take risks with her designs and help those around her.

“That’s my one goal as a designer,” she said, “to help people feel powerful.”

Visit to learn more about WSU’s AMDT Department and to learn more about the AMDT Mom’s Weekend Fashion Show.