Desireé Kurtz has known for years what she wants to be when she grows up. When she was 11, she began sketching clothes and recording her design ideas in notebooks. When she was 14, she decided to design and sew a skirt for her first stake dance because she didn’t have enough money to buy a new one. After that, she was hooked and began planning for a career in fashion.
Now 17, Desireé, from Tawa, New Zealand, is studying clothing design and fashion at Massey University. In preparing for a career, she has made an important decision to always follow a pattern of obedience to gospel standards.
Putting the Lord First
In high school, Desireé decided she would always make the gospel her top priority. She once had to choose between going to the temple with the young men and young women in her ward or competing in a regional design competition.
“It was really hard because I wanted to enter the competition,” she says. “But since the temple is almost nine hours away, I don’t get to go often. I didn’t want to miss out on that opportunity.”
After a lot of praying, Desireé came up with a solution. She rode with the young men and young women to the temple on Friday, performed baptisms for the dead, and was on a plane headed for home by 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
She returned home just in time to enter the competition, where she won the “Young Designer of the Year” award for northern New Zealand. Doing well in this competition qualified her for a national design competition, where she placed in the top three.
Desireé says she will continue to put the Lord first when she begins a career by not working on Sunday and by making her family and the Church her top priorities.
Sticking to Standards
Desireé made a second important decision in high school—a decision to always dress modestly. Before a high school formal dance, she spent countless hours looking for a modest dress without success. So she decided to make her own formal dress from scratch. She designed the dress, made a pattern, picked out material, and started sewing. The result was a beautiful formal gown.
“I knew I couldn’t wear something that was immodest,” she says.
Now, as a design student, Desireé knows that in order to keep her commitment to modesty, she will not design revealing clothes. “I always design clothes that I would be comfortable wearing,” she says. “I know this is where the Lord wants me to be because there is a need for modest clothes. That’s my main reason for doing all of this.”
Desireé’s commitment to design only modest clothing has not always been easy to keep. Once, her design-school teachers gave her a class assignment to create a sleeveless dress. “I didn’t know what I was going to do,” she says. In the end, Desireé explained to her teachers her reasons for not wanting to design immodest clothing. Her teachers listened and agreed to let her modify the dress by adding sleeves.
“Most people I work with are actually pretty good about respecting my beliefs,” she says. “I just had to let them know the things that were important to me.”
Through her example, Desireé has been able to bless the lives of others. Teachers and peers from the design school have noticed her commitment to doing what is right. “They ask me why I’m different, and this leads to a lot of opportunities for gospel discussions,” she says.
One day, Desireé’s designs may also bless the lives of Latter-day Saint youth by giving them choices for modest clothes.
So how has Desireé managed to ignore the popular trends in the fashion industry and obey gospel standards instead? “I made the decision that I was going to stick to my values long before I began design school,” she says. “I know I have to remember where I want to go and not let anyone change the things I believe in.”
“Get all the schooling you can to qualify yourselves in your chosen vocations. … These are the great days of your preparation for your future work. Do not waste them. Take advantage of them. Cram your heads full of knowledge.” —President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Life’s Obligations,” Ensign, Feb. 1999, 2.
Desireé Kurtz knows it’s hard to find modest clothing sometimes, but she has some ideas for easy fixes that will help you dress more modestly.
—Get a plain, long singlet (camisole or tank top) with a modest neckline, and wear it under shirts that are too short or that have necklines cut too low.
—Learn to sew. If a top you want to buy is too short, buy it a few sizes bigger so it will be longer, and then take in the sides.
—Learn the art of layering. Layering your clothes means you will get not only more outfits from your wardrobe but more modest outfits.