Reporter: Ellie Mahan
November 10, 2021
The little girl who grew up hot gluing clothing together to make dresses and filming home movies with her little sister had a passion for fashion, modeling and acting that continued over the years. Little did she know, that passion would lead her to attend New York Fashion Week at the age of 16, as the youngest designer and model featured in the show. Amber Lee Hunt, junior at Aquilla High School, showcased her designs and modeled for three fashion designers in September of this year at New York Fashion Week.
Amber Lee found her inspiration for her first design while she was helping clean out her grandmother’s garage and found ties that belonged to her grandfather, who passed away before she was born. She knew when she saw them that she wanted to create something special out of the ties. She made a tie skirt that started with one color and used different color shades and patterns to fade into other colors.
“It’s something to remember him by, something unique that nobody else has,” she said.
When Amber Lee wanted to give up while creating the skirt, she reminded herself that she wasn’t designing just for herself; she knew it would bring her grandmother happiness too.
“My grandma moved two years ago, and we would spend every weekend over there with her. My grandfather passed away in 2001, so it was something special for my grandma too. She could see me wearing it and make her happy, make her day,” she said.
She competed in the 4-H fashion show with her tie skirt, but after making it through the district level, she was prevented from competing further due to COVID-19. However, the skirt went on to be displayed multiple other times and helped her build her line for the fashion show in New York.
Prior to her 16th birthday, Amber Lee had been trying to get in touch with someone who worked for the modeling agency that her friend modeled for, which was Modelemi Talent Agency in Waco. As a 16th birthday present, her aunt was able to schedule a photoshoot for Amber Lee with Modelemi.
“She got in it and just absolutely loved it and was just having a blast,” Monica Hunt, Amber Lee’s mother said. “She was just fun, and he could tell. She wore the tie skirt she made that was showcased in New York. She wore that the first time, and the fact that she was a 16-year-old designer just impressed him.”
From there, she was invited to New York Fashion Week as a model, and then in May she found out that she would also be presenting a line of her own designs. When she received the news, she was overwhelmed with excitement. She had from May to the first of September to create 15 designs, so her summer was full of designing and sewing.
“It wasn’t a whole lot of hanging out with your friends or going to the movies. It was work, work, work,” Amber Lee said.
She went on to say that one of the most challenging parts of her modeling and designing experiences has been giving up the fun activities that normal teenagers enjoy. However, she said she “wouldn’t trade it for anything.”The fashion show in New York was her first fashion show to ever model in or design for.
During fashion week, Friday was fittings, so Amber Lee fitted the models who were walking for her line and got fitted for the designers she was walking for. After the fashion show that night, she went to Times Square to see her billboard, which she said was an amazing experience. She walked for Parachute Goddesss by Laylonna Hurley on Friday night and then was recruited to walk again on Saturday for Vwear by Vilma and Tradishonal by Estella Ljeoma.
Because the size of her models ranged from zero to six, and the age range in models was from 18 to 47, Amber Lee had to make outfits that could be fitting and age-appropriate for a variety of women.
“Being the youngest designer there made me feel so proud. I was so excited. Everybody was like, ‘You can’t be back here yet.’ I was like ‘Calm down. I have my pass. I’m a designer. I can be back here,’” Amber Lee said.
Amber Lee said she was thankful that her family traveled with her to New York to support her. Her younger sister Allie jumped in and assisted her in any way that she could. Amber Lee said she wouldn’t be where she is today without her family and God.
Because the Hunt family lives in a small town, Amber Lee’s mother Monica said, “We have to create opportunities. When this opportunity arose, it was kind of like, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s make this happen. We can help her pursue her dreams, make them a reality.”
Amber Lee is in one act play at school, and she has a love for filming and acting. She wants to study acting in college and minor in fashion design. After her trip to New York, she is considering applying to New York University.
“I loved New York. It was such an experience. I want to go back. I knew that I would love the big city, but I didn’t think I’d love it that much. I might want to go to college there now,” Amber Lee said.
Monica said her daughter lives in a small town, but she has big dreams. She looks forward to watching her daughter accomplish all the goals she has set for herself.
About Amber Lee’s New York experience, Monica said, “It was scary because of the whole thought of what this could open up for her. There were definitely tears from me and her dad. It was definitely a big deal. We’re excited to see more.”
Also in Amber Lee’s future, she has been shooting scenes for a Texas-based TV show that is set to come out in 2022. Because she signed a non-disclosure agreement, Amber Lee couldn’t share the name of the series. She plans to post it on social media when she finds out, as she will have a supporting role in the series that will be accessible on Amazon Prime.
Monica said, “Since she was probably eight, she has always wanted her star on the walk of fame. She has painted a star that is up in her room with a little movie symbol. That’s her ultimate goal is to have her star on the walk of fame. It’s a big goal.”
Amber Lee has been invited back to New York Fashion Week in February, but the event conflicts with the filming of the TV show she is in. There has also been talk of going to Costa Rica, Los Angeles and Paris for their fashion weeks. Meanwhile, Amber Lee continues her studies, participates in 4-H fashion shows, acts in one act play and is a cheerleader. She is thankful to her previous cheer coach Stephanie P. for being there for her since her freshman year and providing guidance whenever necessary.
Amber Lee continues to work on designs, and her latest projects have been based on 90’s fashion. She looks to Friends, Saved By The Bell, and sometimes her mom’s closet for starting points. She is currently working on an overall dress with suspenders on it. One of her favorite parts about designing a piece of clothing is that nobody else has it.
“It’s something that I can make my own and unique. These skirts, you can’t go to the store and find them,” she said. “I like stuff that stands out. I like to be different.”
Amber Lee said if she could give one piece of advice to young girls who want to follow a dream in fashion or entertainment, it would be to never stop pushing themselves to be better, despite the criticism they may receive from others.
“Don’t listen to others, no matter what, ever. They’re always going to talk, whether you’re doing good or bad. I live by that every day. If you want to do something, go for it. They’re going to talk. Let them talk,” Amber Lee said.
She also said aspiring designers and actors should get started now because they have to start somewhere, even if it is in their bedrooms like where she started.
From creating tie skirts in her bedroom to walking New York runways, 17-year-old Amber Lee Hunt has experienced excitement and rapid growth over the past year, and her journey with fashion and acting has only just begun.