Page 1

Alumni Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology

volume 5 | number 3 | summer 2012

Alumni Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology

Hue is the alumni magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology, a State University of New York college of art and design, business and technology. It is published three times a year by the Division of Communications and External Relations, 227 West 27 Street, Room B905, New York, NY  10001-5992, 212 217.4700. Email: Vice President for Communications and External Relations Loretta Lawrence Keane Assistant Vice President for Communications Carol Leven Editor Linda Angrilli


Managing Editor Alex Joseph Staff Writer Jonathan Vatner Editorial Assistant Laura Hatmaker Art Direction and Design Empire Design Studio


Hue magazine on the web: Get involved with FIT and your fellow alumni. “Like” the FIT Alumni page on Facebook and follow @FITAlumni on Twitter. Email the Office of Alumni Relations at and let us know what you’ve been up to.  

Environmental Savings for summer 2012 77 trees preserved/planted 223 lbs waterborne waste not created 32,852 gallons wastewater flow saved

Features 8 Bright Stars: Commencement 2012 The day FIT students became alumni

16 Seal Walk An illustrated primer on pinnipeds


18 Crowd Pleasers Four landmark designs from Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects who won this year’s Israel Prize

Who’s Got a Job? Oh, the places these graduates will go!

3,635 lbs solid waste not generated 7,157 lbs net greenhouse gases prevented 54,780,800 BTUs energy not consumed Printed by Monroe Litho Inc. on Mohawk Inxwell Super Smooth Eco White FSC®-certified, 100% post consumer waste reclaimed/ recycled fiber, made with 100% renewable energy; manufactured chlorine free; certified ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management System. Please recycle or share this magazine.


7 Made in Japan FIT crosses the Pacific for its first international alumni event 12 Hollywood’s Secret Weapon Blockbuster film directors hire Monty Granito ’02 to “previsualize” their movies

20 Enhancing Behance How do you improve a networking site? One handshake at a time


16 20 18 DepartmentS 22 It’s Showtime! Five seasoned alumni help students get their garments runway ready

4 Hue’s News


26 An Unsentimental Education What happens when an FIT class spends three weeks in India?

10 I Contact

11 Footprint

11 Faculty On…

28 Alumni notes

31 Sparks

hue’s who

Joshua Schwartz, Fashion Design ’12, designed this hand-knit cotton jacket, jacquard cotton Stoll-knit dress, and intarsia cotton/wool skirt (his sketch is below). The jacket combines recycling and DIY techniques: strips cut from a cotton sheet and mattress pad were spun into a ball of thread, antiqued with tea, and knitted together. “It was inspired by taking apart old furniture and putting it back together,” Schwartz says. “It’s what my dad does for a living.” Schwartz’s creation was selected to appear in the BFA show, the Future of Fashion. For a peek at how five other students created award-winning garments, from sketch to runway, see page 22. Photo by Matthew Septimus.

Business Training Program Kicks Off

The 2012 Art and Design Graduating Students Exhibition adorned FIT’s campus from May 9 to 22, with work from all 17 of FIT’s Art and Design majors. Fine art filled the Great Hall, accessories lined a display case in the Marvin Feldman Center lobby, and packaging prototypes were arranged outside The Museum at FIT. One highlight, to remain through September 3 in the Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center, is The Pink Issue, an interdisciplinary installation in which students from five majors (Fashion Design, Interior Design, Jewelry Design, Photography, and Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design) based outfits, doll houses, window displays, and more on the world of Barbie and Ken. Mattel, which sponsored the exhibit, awarded a total of $50,000 in cash prizes to 15 students.

Photos: Lorenzo Ciniglio

what’s happening on campus

Graduating Students Display Their Work

Top: The Design Entrepreneurs NYC kickoff event. Above: Associate Professor Shawn Grain Carter and Sarah Carson Cloud, a student in the program.

Top left to right: The Pink Issue installation; Loreal Prystaj, Photography ’13. Middle: Stephanie Matos, Illustration ’12; Jenna Mayers, AAS Accessories Design ’12. Left: Vincent Ventola, Toy Design ’12.


hue | summer 2012

Design Entrepreneurs NYC, a program created by FIT in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to help emerging designers develop their businesses, launched May 24 at the Andrew Marc Showroom near Times Square. President Joyce F. Brown; Seth Pinsky, president of the NYCEDC; Steven Frumkin, dean of FIT’s Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology; and Jeanette Nostra, president of G-III Apparel Group and the program’s industry liaison, spoke to the participants. The 36 students, including 12 FIT alumni, were chosen from 165 applicants; their creations range from children’s wear to intimate apparel, swimwear to jewelry. All have more than one year of experience and have demonstrated traction in the industry. Read reports from the intensive weekend seminars—on such topics as licensing, contracts, and media relations—at Also check out the Fashion.NYC.2020 report (, which analyzes current challenges in New York’s fashion business climate and describes the six programs, including this one, that aim to enhance the city’s position as “the world’s fashion capital.”

Classic Garments on View

MFIT Exhibition Receives Award


Jennifer Farley and Colleen Hill, co-curators of 2010’s Eco-Fashion: Going Green at The Museum at FIT, lectured on the exhibition at the Costume Society of America National Symposium in Atlanta in June. Eco-Fashion, which brought historical depth to the sustainability trend, shared the Costume Society’s prestigious Richard Martin Exhibition Award for 2011 with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity.

>> In April, named FIT one of “The Top 10 Schools for Fashion Journalism, PR, Marketing and More,” citing The Museum at FIT, the reasonable tuition, lifetime job-search assistance, and the impressive representation of alumni in the industry. >> Four FIT students were honored as 2011-12 Scholar Athletes, a SUNY award given to 79 students this year. >> A $2.5 million renovation of the Morris W. and Fannie B. Haft Auditorium was completed in June. The 775-seat theater features new lighting, audiovisual and alarm systems, code-compliant wheelchair spaces and access ramps, and cherry-red seating.

The Museum at FIT

The Museum at FIT

>> Jay Baker, for whom FIT’s Jay and Patty Baker

Eco-Fashion: clothes by John Patrick Organic, Alabama Chanin, and Bodkin.

Check out Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of The Museum at FIT, Part Two, on view through November 10, to see this digitally printed dress by Alexander McQueen for his final collection, in 2010. The show presents a selection of 20th- and 21st-century garments from the museum’s permanent collection of some 50,000 pieces. A companion book to the two-part exhibition will be published this fall.

Are you reading Hue Too, our new blog? Everyone else is!

School of Business and Technology is named, has been reappointed to FIT’s Board of Trustees for a seven-year term. Baker, former president of Kohl’s Department Stores, and his wife Patty, gave the college a $10 million gift in 2001. >> William P. Lauder, executive chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies, and William T. Dillard III, vice president of Dillard’s, were celebrated at the college’s annual gala on March 15. The event raised almost $2 million for FIT’s Educational Development Fund. >> FIT was named to President Obama’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for projects undertaken by the Student Volunteer

Five Students Win Carolee Jewelry Competition

Community Service, the FIT honors programs, the Toy Design program, and extracurricular clubs. It is one of 16 SUNY colleges on the list. >> Renée Cooper, Global Fashion Management ’07, associate professor of Fashion Merchandising Management, won a Fulbright scholarship to teach at KEA, a school of technology and design in Copenhagen, next spring. Another Fulbright went to Erika Rohrbach, international student advisor, allowing her to participate in the U.S.Japan International Education Administrators Seminar in Japan this summer.

In honor of its 40th anniversary, the high-end fashion jewelry company Carolee held a design competition for FIT students. Creations by the five winners, including these metallic pieces by Christine Gonzalez, Jewelry Design ’13, Advertising and Communications ’99, will be sold at Bloomingdale’s this fall.

>> For The Triangle Factory Fire: Then, Since, Now, an exhibition running through July 7 at The Museum at FIT, Illustration MFA students drew their impressions of the 1911 disaster. View selected artworks: From top: Bil Donovan’s recent work, the class of 1962 as a word cloud, the Pet Fashion Show, a 2,000-year-old Nazca textile from Peru.


VIPs at FIT events this academic year














Daphne Guinness opening: 1. Zac Posen. 2. Lorry Newhouse, designer. 3. Hamish Bowles, Vogue. 4. André Balazs, hotelier; Linda Fargo, Bergdorf Goodman. 5. Mary McFadden, Susanne Bartsch. 6. John Bartlett*. 7. Valentino, Oscar de la Renta. 8. Denise Rich, songwriter. 9. Yaz Hernández, Alexandra Lebenthal, both Couture Council. 5




IMPACT: 50 Years of the CFDA opening: 1. Norma Kamali*. 2. Kate Winslet. 3. Michael Kors. 4. Tommy and Dee Hilfiger. 5. Alexander Wang, Waris Ahluwalia, jewelry designer. 6. Kenneth Cole. 7. Vera Wang. 8. Yeohlee Teng.


1 2



4 1



FIT Foundation Gala: 1. Jane Hudis, Estée Lauder; President Joyce F. Brown. 2. Leonard Lauder, William P. Lauder†, Estée Lauder; William Dillard III†, William Dillard II, Dillard’s.













Future of Fashion BFA fashion show: 1. Calvin Klein*. 2. Joe Zee*, Elle; Patrick Sleem*, Victor Alfaro, LLC. 3. Dennis Basso*, Michael Cominotto. 4. Josie Natori.



Couture Council Luncheon Honoring Valentino: 1. Anna Wintour, Vogue; Valentino†. 2. Nina Garcia*. 3. Kobe Bryant, Vanessa Bryant. 4. Iris Apfel, style icon. 5 . Yaz Hernández, Eleanora Kennedy, Alexandra Lebenthal, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Liz Peek, Charlotte Moss, all Couture Council. 6. Shala Monroque, model.


Fashion Icons and Insiders symposium: 1. Daphne Guinness; Valerie Steele, MFIT. 2. Eric Gaskins; Eric Wilson, The New York Times. 3. Joseph Altuzarra, designer; Patricia Mears*, MFIT. 4. Sophie Theallet, designer. 5. Laura Brown; Glenda Bailey, Harper’s Bazaar.


Other VIPs at FIT events: 1. Joe Gromek, Warnaco; President Joyce F. Brown. 2. Francisco J. Sanchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce.




The Museum at FIT’s Fashion Culture programs: 1. Andrew Bolton. 2. Diane von Furstenberg. 3 . Olivier Theyskens, designer. 4. Maria Chandoha Valentino, photographer. 5. Hal Rubenstein, In Style; Valerie Steele, MFIT; Bob Mackie, designer. 6. Gordon Espinet, MAC; Paul Julian Smith, professor; Tanya Melendez, MFIT; David Delfin, designer. 7. Franca Sozzani, Vogue Italia. 8. Simon Doonan, Barneys. 9. Stan Herman, designer.

*FIT alumna/us; †honoree


hue | summer 2012

made in japan For FIT’s first international alumni event, President Brown led a visit to Tokyo

At the Tokyo reception, an alumnus showed Ohara, left, and President Brown a sweater from his FIT days.

Co., Ltd. (Daimaru and Matsuzakaya Department Stores); Tsuyoshi Monden, FBM ’91, president of Agnes B Japan; Takahiko Miyake, FBM ’92, president of Sanei International; and Hiroko Ito, Fashion Design ’90, designer and owner of HISUI, whose work appeared on one of the key visuals for Japan Fashion Week. “FIT and its Japanese alumni have maintained a close relationship for more than 43 years, thanks in large measure to the efforts of Yoko Ohara,” Dr. Brown said. “We at FIT value those ties—and the remarkable melding of tradition and creativity that is a Japanese hallmark.” The special seminar was simulcast via livestreaming media, also a first for FIT, to alumni and friends gathered at the SUNY Global Center in Manhattan, and to students in FIT’s dining hall. At the Tokyo event, Dr. Brown gave the keynote address, and Dr. Steele spoke on contemporary Japanese fashion. Tadashi Yanai, CEO of Uniqlo and founder and president of Fast The FIT group visited Hiroko Ito ’90 in her showroom. Above, Retailing, Inc., discussed the Steele and Ito. challenges facing Japanese businesses in a global economy. He said that in the ’80s, early in his career, he attended one of the Asahi/FIT seminars that Ohara helped organize to teach Japanese executives and industry professionals about the American fashion industry. “I took a lot from that seminar,” he said. “It opened my eyes.” Duncan said the visit was enthusiastically received. “People are completely energized by the fact that we did this.” She is planning similar events, both domestically and internationally. Duncan said, “In addition to making sure they’re invited back to campus, we want to gather and celebrate our alumni in the places where they live and work.”

THE NY Connection The president of New York’s Japan Student Alumni Association, Yoshiko Sugimoto, Marketing: Fashion and Related Industries ’97, played an important role in the simulcast event at the SUNY Global Center. She collected items such as a Marc Jacobs jacket, donated by an alumnus who works at the firm, for a raffle that raised funds for tsunami relief. Sugimoto, who has been president for seven years, uses Facebook and a listserv to bring together alumni and current students for professional and social purposes. After the 2011 earthquake, she organized a booth to sell items donated by alumni for a street fair. They raised $3,000. For a relief benefit event at FIT, participants were invited to fold paper cranes; for each crane received, the children’s wear company OshKosh B’gosh sent an item of children’s clothing to Japan. “At FIT, we folded 1,800 cranes,” Sugimoto says. “It was amazing.”

At the simulcast in FIT’s dining hall, more than 200 students ate sushi and drank green tea, and about 50 of them decorated dolls to cheer up children in Japanese hospitals. Happy Dolls, a charity started by Japanese Americans in January 2011, provides cloth doll forms that can be embellished, and sends them to children in challenging circumstances around the world.

Lorenzo Ciniglio

In March, FIT celebrated the global reach of its alumni network when President Joyce F. Brown traveled to Tokyo for the college’s first international alumni event. She was accompanied by Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT; Dawn B Duncan, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations; John Jones, president of FIT’s Alumni Association; and Allison Oldehoff, manager of Alumni Relations. They went to show support for more than 500 Japanese alumni and Japan’s fashion industry; the visit was timed to coincide with the beginning of Japan Fashion Week. They also paid their respects on the anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Dr. Brown and Dr. Steele spoke at a special seminar about Japan fashion and globalization, and Dr. Brown hosted a reception for FIT alumni and the fashion industry, sponsored by FIT’s Alumni Association in partnership with Ralph Lauren. After the reception, held in the Ralph Lauren Tokyo store, guests were encouraged to shop; 20 percent of sales went to the region of Japan most affected by the earthquake. The FIT contingent also visited a department store owned by a graduate, saw fashions designed by alumni, and toured the Institute for the Fashion Industries, a school founded with key assistance from Yoko Ohara, Fashion Buying and Merchandising ’67. The Japan FIT Alumni Association (JFAA) was founded in 1969 by Takao Shimizu ’62, Katsuhiko Ikeda ’67, and Ohara, the organization’s president. Its members include Tsutomu Okuda, FBM ’76, chairman and CEO, J. Front Retailing


Bright Stars: Commencement 2012 The day that students officially became alumni

A college commencement is always an important rite of passage, but FIT’s is even more special. As Samantha Ann Kloeckener, the president of FIT’s student association, remarked at the 67th commencement exercises on May 22, “Today is the only day when it is socially acceptable for us all to wear the same outfit.” Well, mostly the same: individuality found expression in hip eyewear, towering heels, and—an FIT tradition—elaborately tricked-out mortarboards. More than 4,000 graduates and their loved ones attended one of the two ceremonies at the Javits Center North—the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology and the School of Liberal Arts in the morning, and the School of Art and Design and the Graduate School in the afternoon. By the end of the day, students from 44 majors had received AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees. At the morning ceremony, Leslie Blodgett, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing ’85, gave the keynote address and received an honorary degree. Blodgett, executive chair of the enormously successful cosmetics brand Bare Escentuals, shared fond memories of attending FIT in the mid-’80s, “when we called dorm life ‘totally rad.’” She advised the graduates to find the source of their passion for the industry. “We do work that makes people feel beautiful and empowers them,” she said. “So don’t let naysayers make you doubt your choices. Make them confidently, boldly, and unapologetically.” The afternoon keynote was given by Davin Stowell, founder of Smart Design, the company that created OXO Good Grips,


hue | summer 2012

a widely lauded product line that incorporates universal design principles. Stowell described a design he developed early in his career, for a different company—a saucepan elegant enough to be eaten out of, like a bowl. Though the company he designed it for didn’t want it initially, it became their best-selling product for a number of years. “If you believe in your ideas, stick with ’em. See them through,” he said. Both Stowell and storied fashion designer Carolina Herrera received honorary degrees. At both ceremonies, President Joyce F. Brown spoke about the values (both tangible and abstract) of a college education, and graduates’ civic responsibilities. Kloeckner, in a speech full of up-to-the-minute references, confessed that, while writing it, she was looking up words online, and realized she hadn’t seen an actual dictionary since grade school. “You can survive the Hunger Games of real life,” she concluded. But perhaps Herrera summed up the day’s sentiments best. When accepting her honorary degree, she said, “The moment you have a bit of success, you’ll want a lot more. Welcome to the fashion world.”

Herrera, President Brown, and Stowell.

President Brown, Blodgett, and Liz Peek, vice chair, FIT Board of Trustees.

Got a job? I’m a project manager at Young & Got a job? I work at Array Healthcare Facilities Solutions,

Rubicam. Sounds impressive. I run new business

which handles everything from schematics to construction.

pitches. It’s a lot of work, a lot of hours. But it’s fun.

Favorite project so far? I’m working on Zucker Hillside,

Ed McMillan, Advertising and Marketing Communications

a psychiatric hospital that’s part of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. This new project is going to be LEED-certified!

Ready to work? Yes. I interned at T: The New York Times Style

Maria Lluberes, Interior Design

as a fashion assistant at W magazine. Biggest challenge?

Magazine in the men’s fashion department, and I just started To learn about women’s clothing, ha-ha. I actually started the job during finals week. That was intense.

What’s next? Going to Vermont’s Sandglass Theater to

Pia Rahman, International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries

study puppetry with Eric Bass. Puppets! Yeah. My mentor at FIT was Bonnie Erickson, who invented Miss Piggy. Got work? I’m an assistant at the Vogue digital

I created a puppet named Aidel Maidel*. She has her own Facebook page and 327 friends. That’s more than I have!

archive. Long-term goal? To curate fashion

You’re a serious puppet person. Yes. I’m starting a puppet

for a museum. What’s your dream show? An

theater company with three other people from my program.

exhibition of fashion using photographic prints.

Devora Reiss, Illustration

Anna Yanofsky, MA Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice

Who’s Got a Job? As the graduating students prepared to march at commencement, Hue conducted a highly unscientific survey of their plans after graduation

Got a job? I’m a content developer and visual effects editor

Ready to graduate? Yeah, I’m glad. It’s time for some-

for Stink Grenade Studios. What are you working on?

thing new. Got a job? I’m working for Estée Lauder’s

Webisodes for Axe body spray—little how-tos. Also tutorials

Beauty Bank as an administrative assistant to the

for how men can style their hair. Long-term goal? I want to

VP of education. What’s the goal? I want to become

become a well-known developer.

a field-training manager.

Jessica Chin, Fine Arts

Rebecca Cady, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing

Got a job? I’ll be merchandising at Henri Bendel. I see

Now what? Interning at Details,

you’re wearing Christian Louboutins. Won’t your

working on layouts. What’s the goal?

feet get tired? They’re already tired. I interned there,

To be an art director. Dream feature

so you’d think I’d be used to them by now.

is about….? The beach—clotheswise, foodwise, and all the best beach

Alexandra Tango, International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries

spots. What’s the best food for the beach? Watermelon.

What’s next? The Stern School at NYU, to study marketing. You’ll be

Kevin Mazeski, Graphic Design

representing FIT there with your fashion sense, no doubt. Yep. Today I’m wearing a club collar, and I had my pants tailored so they taper above the ankle. What’s the long-term goal? Department store executive. Chris Echevarria, Fashion Merchandising Management

*Read more about Aidel Maidel:


New Directions Stephanie Roy Art History and Museum Professions ’13,

a student in first person

Fashion Design AAS ’11

Which museum profession do you plan to go into?

I don’t necessarily want to work in a museum, but I want to know how art can be organized and how prices are negotiated. I come from a family of artists, and I’m interested in going into that world, both creating my own art and being a part of others’ projects. For example, I want to create a space for underprivileged urban artists to perform and showcase their art. What’s been your biggest challenge in the program?

I was surprised by how difficult the language of art is. I see words like “interpellation” and “semiotics” everywhere. Come again?

Interpellation is how ideas are created and entered into our consciousness without our even knowing it. Semiotics is a tool used in studying signs and symbols in the context of a particular culture. You got in to FIT through SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program. How has it helped you? It starts as a precollege summer boot camp. If the EOP decides you’re ready for college, they help you get in. Then it becomes a support system. We meet four times a semester, and the office door is always open. With the EOP, I can talk about art, life, boyfriends, jobs, whatever. I hear you have a weekend job at Stuart Weitzman— and sold shoes to Barbara Walters. What was that like?

She came in twice but actually didn’t buy anything. She was very specific about what she wanted— comfortable flats—and she didn’t find a pair she liked. What’s the secret to selling shoes?


hue | summer 2012

Matthew Septimus

Not talking about shoes always helps. At most stores, people feel pressure to buy stuff. Instead, we compliment their jewelry or hair.

Deep Impact In 2006, fearful for our planet’s future and feeling powerless to help, Colin Beavan tried reducing his environmental impact to zero. For a full year, he and his family walked and biked everywhere, stopped buying new things, didn’t watch TV, and ate only local, unpackaged food; to their surprise, the seeming deprivation made them much happier. An influential book and documentary, both called No Impact Man, followed.

insights from the classroom and beyond

Beavan spoke at FIT’s sixth annual Sustainable Business and Design Conference on March 27. Hue caught up with him after the conference. Hue: How did your No Impact experiment change your life?

Beavan: The center of gravity of my family’s lives shifted from consumption to community. We used to park our daughter in front of the TV, order Chinese or Korean food, and shovel it into our faces in front of the TV before going to bed. Now I bike or walk to the farmers’ market and cook something, and friends start arriving unannounced to have dinner. Matthew Septimus

Hue: Do you still not watch any TV?

Beavan: I don’t have a TV but I do watch a few hours a month on my computer when I want to be brain-dead, something stupid like Grey’s Anatomy. I’d rather play with my daughter.

Ground Rules

Hue: You’re running for a Brooklyn seat in the U.S. House

of Representatives. Why?

Eli Kince, associate professor Communication Design

Beavan: The Democrats and Republicans are arguing about how to shore up our current economic system when the system’s days are numbered, just by virtue of the fact that we’re going to run out of oil. The level of change required is so dramatic, I don’t think anyone can articulate a plan. But one thing we can do is put communities before corporations. Let’s keep our wealth in our communities by supporting local businesses. It will also go a long way toward solving our environmental problems, as local businesses use fewer resources.

You have to slow students down and get them to really look. That’s the only way they’ll learn to truly see and appreciate texture, form, shape, proportion, and edges. In design, attention to detail is extremely important, but it can be time-consuming. So I have to shift students from the immediacy of creating on the computer to the design process itself. It’s like, How do I get them to stop running and look at the ground they’re running on? I start with some strict rules: For instance, when they pin their designs up in front of the class, they have to be placed no closer together than three sixteenths of an inch, and no farther apart than three eighths of an inch. It may take 90 minutes, the first time, to get it right. During the first few classes, I critique every piece of work—every scratch, smudge, and space—and explain how anything can be a design element that affects the overall look and effect. However, after four or five weeks of thorough critical analysis, if the work is crooked, bent, or dirty, I won’t even look at it. From the first day, I try to get students to understand that we’re striving for excellence, and what that standard of excellence is. I show them work by past designers, like Paul Rand, who designed the original logos for IBM and UPS. Each element of these designs worked together—nothing can be added or taken away. They’re perfect.

Lorenzo Ciniglio

steps toward a sustainable future

An eco-pioneer speaks at FIT


Hollywood’s Secret Weapon Monty Granito, Computer Animation and Interactive Media ’02,

maps out movies before the sets go up By Jonathan Vatner

Portrait by Max Gerber

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures


t the beginning of I Am Legend, the main character, played by Will Smith, chases a deer through New York City in his roaring red Mustang. After he skids to a stop on 42nd Street, the camera slowly rises to reveal streets full of abandoned cars: The city is empty. Fans of the 2007 blockbuster might recognize this moment as one of the film’s most haunting. Few know, however, that the ideas for many of those shots came not only from the director or cinematographer but also from previsualization artist Monty Granito. Previsualization, generally shortened to previs (pronounced PRE-viz), is a 3D animated storyboard that helps the director, producers, and visualeffects team figure out how to pull off complicated, expensive scenes. By animating these action sequences before filming begins, the director and previs team can block out where each character, human or computergenerated, will stand, where the cameras will be placed and how they will move, and even which lenses to use. “We make our own version of the movie before the movie,” Granito says. Traditional storyboards are drawn quickly to work out the shots that make up each scene. Previs comes later and takes longer. It choreographs the action and helps the director decide exactly how to shoot it. “With a storyboard, the director can flesh out ideas in a broad scope and start the discussion, but it’s not going to tell you time and space,” Granito says. “That’s where previs comes in.” It’s also “in a totally different universe” from CGI, according to Granito. CGI, which created the monsters in I Am Legend and the robots in Transformers, is a final effect, animated after a movie is shot. Getting a CGI character to look real requires thousands of moving parts called key frames, whereas a previs character, which doesn’t need facial expressions or smooth body movements, uses only about 15. “We just try and get the point across as efficiently as possible,” Granito says. Planning movies out with previs shrinks a movie’s budget because it reduces the number of days spent shooting. An action film from a major studio employs hundreds of people on set, adding up to hundreds of

A shot from Granito’s previs, top, and a movie still, above, from an early scene in I Am Legend.

thousands of dollars per day. A previs team consists of a handful of artists in a computer lab, costing at most a few thousand a day. It also shows producers where their money is going. Most movies exceed their budget. When the director knocks on the producers’ doors for more money, the previs reel makes a case for spending more. Sometimes it’s used to get a movie greenlit, a practice dubbed pitchvis. Granito did this for the 2007 Transformers. “We’d make cool sequences, and [director] Michael Bay took them to the producers and said, ‘This is what your money is getting you,’” Granito says. “If you feel the excitement of a scene at this level, without rendering, you can only imagine how good it’s going to look when it’s really shot.”


Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures

Previs image, top, and movie still, above, from a fight between Optimus Prime and Megatron in 2007’s Transformers.


revis is a very new field, though just how new is up for debate. Perhaps the first movie to map out sequences using a computer was The Boy Who Could Fly, a 1986 drama featuring Fred Savage and Bonnie Bedelia, according to Brian Pohl, secretary of the Previsualization Society, a three-year-old association with about 800 members. That movie used rudimentary vector graphics to animate the characters flying over an amusement park. Pohl says that the Star Wars prequels, released from 1999 to 2005, were the first films to be “previzzed” in their entirety. For I Am Legend, Granito and his team animated 40 minutes of the film. Nowadays, previs isn’t just for big-budget spectacles; it’s used for smaller films, TV shows, and commercials. “There’s a whole range of industries jumping on the previs bandwagon,” Pohl says.

Granito entered the field almost by chance. He got his AAS in Illustration at FIT in 1997, aiming to become a comic-book artist. But when he interned in Marvel’s submissions department, he found that talent and hard work didn’t seem to correlate with success. “There was no rhyme or reason to how someone got a job in comic books,” he remembers. “I’d judge these submissions that were so much better than I could ever draw, and the editors would hire a friend, even if the work was horrible.” At that time, FIT’s Computer Animation and Interactive Media program was just launching. When a friend in the program showed Granito a robot he designed in a 3D virtual world, Granito fell in love with 3D media. He returned to FIT to get his BFA. “He was all-around talented,” Terry Blum, director of the program, remembers. “And he’s such a relaxed and easygoing person. There’s nothing grandiose about him, and his character hasn’t changed as a result of being in Hollywood. People like that are few and far between.” “If she hadn’t started the major, I’d still be waiting tables,” he says. “It was the only place I could learn these skills for less than $20,000 a year.” Not long after completing the program, he responded to an internet ad looking for a 3D animator to previs the Brooklyn Bridge for the 2005 Ewan McGregor vehicle Stay. He didn’t even know what previs was. After a few weeks of work, he had enough experience to get another job, and before long, he was climbing the ranks at Proof, one of the five major previs studios in the industry. He became a supervisor in 2007, after working on I Am Legend.


he previs process is fast and filled with opportunities for creativity. First, the director gives the previs artists a storyboard and tells them how he envisions the scene. The team starts by making a digital model of the set to exacting specifications. For I Am Legend, Granito and his team uploaded a scan of New York City into Softimage (formerly known as XSI), a 3D animation program, and snapped photos and took measurements of Grand Central Terminal, the site of a pivotal scene. For Tropic Thunder, featuring Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr., the team made a model of Kauai using Google Earth.

Monty Granito’s Filmography






tropic thunder

Charlotte’s web

“To work on Transformers was a dream. Optimus Prime was the first thing I ever drew as a kid. We were working on this battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron, and the director hadn’t had a lot of ideas. On a Friday, my supervisor at Proof said, ‘Now’s your chance. Come up with something.’ I spent that Saturday in a diner, drawing up ideas on a pad to previs the next day. Some of them got into the movie.”

“Tropic Thunder was my first job as a supervisor, and I was nervous to be in the same room as Ben Stiller, who directed it. I decided to stick to the storyboards religiously, and even though the boards were great, they didn’t translate well to 3D. In this business, you can lose a job in a day. If the director doesn’t feel confident that you can do what they want creatively, he’ll fire the whole company. For this complex chopper scene, I animated the helicopters and shot them as if I were the cameraman, and the ideas started to come. You have to take the leap and trust yourself.”

“Before Charlotte’s Web, previs was very much about measurements and data. When I worked on the ‘Some Pig’ sequence, Proof wanted us to fully animate the spider and web. We pushed the level of what previs could look and feel like. Later on, we sent the camera specifications and animation to the CG lab, and they used it to make the scene.”

I am legend


hue | summer 2012

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Once the 3D world has been created, they animate the scene, sticking to the director’s vision but using their own intuition to decide on the particulars. In I Am Legend, if director Francis Lawrence wanted Neville to be surrounded by monsters, Granito figured out how many monsters to use and where they should stand. Not only did this information help Lawrence shoot the scene, but it also helped Will Smith act in a roomful of CGI enemies. Next, the previs artists “film” it, deciding which cameras and lenses to use and where to place the cameras. This choice affects the shape and perspective of the shot. Granito might film a scene from 10 perspectives to give the director options. For example, in Transformers, when Optimus Prime and Megatron are fighting, they fly through a building. Granito figured out that the camera should be placed 10 feet high looking 30 feet high and should move at 25 miles per hour. Then he discovered that an explosion would have to go off in the building to make the stunt look good. The previs team edits the clips together to make a sort of movie for the director to watch. “He might say, ‘This is not what I had in mind at all,’” Granito says. “But sometimes he gets ideas from it.” The previs team revises the clip according to the director’s wishes, and the animation shuttles back and forth a few dozen times until the director and producers are happy. Whereas “previzzing” a 30-second scene takes two or three days, working out all the expensive scenes in an action movie and editing them to a director’s taste can take months or longer. The whole process for I Am Legend took about a year. For this summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man, Proof spent close to two years on the previs. (Granito worked on the final battle with the Lizard.) “Most people hire us for two months,” Granito says, “but when they see how cool and cost effective it is, we end up staying longer.” Granito loves the collaborative aspect of previs, half a dozen animators in a roomful of computers sharing ideas for making killer scenes. And he loves that he works in a purely creative environment, when the movie is still a magnificent possibility. “By the time things get frustrating and political, we’re not there anymore,” he says. “We get to make our own perfect movie. Then we’re out.”

Previs image, top, and movie still, above, from a climactic scene set in Washington Square Park in I Am Legend.

But the greatest high comes when he watches the movie, a year or more after his job is done. Toward the end of I Am Legend, the monsters attack the home of Smith’s character, and he detonates a bomb, setting Washington Square Park on fire. The camera takes in a field full of fallen monsters, with a car in the background. As the camera advances, the car blocks the view of what lies beyond. Then the camera rises—an echo of the first scene in the film— revealing a horizon full of monsters, scrabbling toward the car and leaping over it. Sitting in the theater, watching the action play out just as he had imagined it, Granito felt immense pride. “It was the exact choreography that I set up,” he says. In the end, the director gets—and deserves—all the credit, but I’m happy knowing I added to the filmmaking process.” 




in the pipeline

bedtime stories


The hunger games

42 (biopic of Jackie Robinson)

The amazing spider-man


alice in wonderland

“For Rio, I did layout, which is what animation houses call the previs process. Blue Sky Studios had never really used previs to lay out an entire act of a movie without storyboards. They gave me some video of carnival and a couple of concept drawings, and then I had free rein to animate, set cameras, and build the edit.”

Ice age: Continental drift


American oystercatcher

A lesson in pinnipeds from an FIT professor who knows them well Illustrations by Bri Hermanson, MFA ’11

Text by Alex Joseph

One foggy spring morning, Hue traveled to Cupsogue Beach, on the western end of Westhampton, Long Island, to look for seals. Arthur Kopelman, president of the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island (CRESLI), met a group of about 30 visitors in the Cupsogue parking lot. CRESLI offers this “seal walk” to people interested in marine wildlife and ecology. Maybe, like us, they also happen to think seals are really, really cute.

Harbor seal

To Kopelman, seals are more than cute. He’s studied them for years, trying to interpret their behavioral patterns. At FIT, he teaches biology, ecology, and a course called Ecology and Human Impact for the master’s degree program in Sustainable Interior Environments. For his CRESLI work, he was appointed Distinguished Service Professor, the highest honor conferred on instructional faculty by SUNY. In addition to seal walks, CRESLI leads whale- and birdwatching cruises, and coordinates research and conservation of coastal ecosystems. Kopelman addressed the group via portable amplifier. Though he wore an unassuming gray hoodie and a groovy gold earring shaped like a whale’s tail, we sensed that we were supposed to pay serious attention. Here’s what we wrote down:

Cupsogue Beach


hue | summer 2012

“Seals belong to the group of mammals with flipper feet, called pinnipeds. Their closest relatives are bears. There are 30 species of pinnipeds, made up of three families: walruses; eared seals; and ‘true’ seals, which live here in the Atlantic. (All seals have ears, but true seals have a flap of skin that covers theirs.) True seals can’t rotate their hind limbs. They move on their bellies, using their claws to make their way on land. They’re hydrodynamic—torpedo-shaped— and propel themselves through water at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. They lead a semi-aquatic existence and ‘haul out’ to give birth or socialize. They’ve got blubber, fur, and an advanced heating/cooling system. If they get too hot on land, they ‘dump’ heat by spreading out their (blubber-free) flippers.”

He continued: “Perhaps 400 seals come to Cupsogue each season to escape harsh cold in the gulf of Maine, Canada, or the Arctic. They usually arrive in December and stay through May. I can identify about 30 individuals by their color and markings.” Kopelman had been to Cupsogue 30 times since September. We pictured him bundled up against the January wind, with binoculars, counting seals. He led the group down a sandy path through the pine barrens to a bluff overlooking a sandbar where seals haul out. We had been told to stay quiet and keep our distance because seals are easily disturbed by humans. Plus, their bite can transmit seal pox or seal herpes. But we weren’t afraid; the seals were a long way away. We quietly reviewed our notes:

Double-crested cormorants

Ninety-five percent of seals at Cupsogue are harbor seals. They can swim from birth, though they drink mother’s milk for about six weeks. They eat fish, seabirds, and crustaceans. Males reach up to 250 pounds, females up to 200. Around four percent of the Cupsogue seals are gray seals. In 2006, Kopelman discovered a gray seal rookery in Long Island; previously, the nearest gray seal pupping area was thought to be in Nantucket Sound. The number of seals around New York is increasing. Since Congress passed the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, it’s illegal to hunt seals or own seal parts. Garbage remains an issue, however, and it’s not uncommon for seals to get strangled by plastic netting. A tiny percentage of the Cupsogue seals are Arctic seals. For 30 years, they’ve been expanding their range south. No one is sure why, but the Arctic is changing. Some melting is a natural result of a phenomenon known as the North Atlantic Oscillation, but it’s exacerbated by global warming.

Gray seal

“We have changed the climate system on this planet,” Kopelman said. “We can’t change it back, but we can slow it down.” Through a telescope, we watched a junior gray seal loll around on the sandbar, furling and unfurling its flippers. Nearby, an adorable harbor seal bobbed in the water. A few American oystercatchers inspected a nearby outcropping of rock. A fleet of double-crested cormorants swam past, fishing. We enjoyed the silence. We thought about how much we loved animals. Just then, a hapless-seeming kid approached: “I forgot my pen,” he said loudly. “Does anyone have a pen? Do you have a plastic bag?” Plastic? Here? Really? We struggled to conceal our irritation. Animals, great. Humans? Maybe not so much.  For more information, visit See more sketches by Hermanson at Professor Kopelman


Crowd Pleasers Diller Scofidio + Renfro, winners of FIT’s Lawrence J. Israel Prize, invite the public into their creations

Charles Renfro, partner of the interdisci-

example, he described one building as

plinary architecture and design firm Diller

“an instigator” and another as “brand

Scofidio + Renfro, was halfway through

new language.”

his lecture at FIT when he stopped to read

For DS+R, the best architecture invites

aloud a text message from a friend. “Mary

public involvement. Their museum designs

Ellen says, ‘I just drove in from Brooklyn….

give passersby a glimpse inside, and their

traffic….hope it went well.’ Should I tell her

public spaces call for plenty of free seating.

it’s still happening?” he asked playfully.

No surprise, then, that Renfro shared the

He typed, to the crowd’s amusement,

content of his text messages.

“Still going on.” Renfro came to FIT on March 15

By Jonathan Vatner

The firm’s design process is also democratic. The entire 100-person staff

to accept the 2012 Lawrence J. Israel Prize,

collaborates on ideas until the best ones rise

which FIT’s Interior Design Department

to the top. “It makes us very early-heavy,”

awards annually to an individual or firm

Renfro explained. “And we’re never really

renowned in the field. Every year, the recip-

happy until the client says, ‘Stop working!’”

ient also delivers a talk. In his speech, which

During his closing remarks about

he dubbed “the Whitman’s Sampler of our

“personal and social performance” in

practice,” he summarized the company’s

public spaces, Mary Ellen walked in.

most remarkable recent projects. His quirky

“She made it,” Renfro said. The audience

phrasing was often a joy to decode. For

heartily applauded.

Museum of Image and Sound, Rio de Janeiro, 2013 Copacabana Beach, where this museum is being built, is the ultimate democratic space: wealthy beachfront property owners mingling with impoverished residents of the nearby favela. DS+R wanted to design a democratic building to accommodate the entire economic spectrum. “The exterior gives itself over to the public, who can ascend the building and look into the galleries free of charge,” Renfro said. The outside stairs go all the way up to the rooftop cinema and restaurant. The plans also call for a clerestory view into a theater that will allow the public to see and hear performances. Paying guests will get an additional treat: Given the majesty of the beach, the ocean, and nearby Sugarloaf Mountain— together creating one of the five most famous vistas in the world, Renfro claimed—they wanted to make it part of the experience from inside. “We decided that the architecture would deliver the view drip by drip like an IV as you climb from the bottom to the top,” he said. “It does this with perforations of the skin, made with angled tubes. The tubes slowly let you see different views, curating the view the way the building curates the media content.”

Blur Building, Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, 2002 For the 2002 Swiss Expo—essentially a world’s fair—DS+R was asked to design a media pavilion. Never willing to settle for the expected, the architects did the opposite. “Media typically involves verisimilitude, technology, representation, digital clarity,” Renfro said. “Instead, we wanted to make blur, confusion, obfuscation, formlessness.” They built a structure the size of a football field, elevated it 60 feet above Lake Neuchâtel, and filled it with water vapor, creating a cloud. “We gave to Switzerland something it didn’t need,” he said. Visitors walking around inside the cloud could see almost nothing. “Everything is wiped out, all in the name of vision. What does it mean to lose your vision? How dependent are we on vision?”


hue | summer 2012

Lincoln Center, New York City, 2012 To DS+R, Lincoln Center was iconic, beautiful, and special, but it was also poorly laid out, boxy, and forbidding. A delivery road ran right in front of it, and the fountain in front of the Metropolitan Opera House was “a plodding, heavy thing.” They won the project “by trying to make it more Lincoln Center than Lincoln Center,” Renfro said. In the main plaza (not shown), the team sank the delivery road, spread out the stairs over it, and replaced the fountain. They designed a cantilevered entrance for Alice Tully Hall and renovated the interior, veneering the walls with a “skin” made from a single log of African Moabi, shaved so thin it can be backlit. They also created the Hypar Pavilion, a public lawn that sits atop a fine-dining restaurant called Lincoln. “It’s a merging of the democratic surface of public space with something that is clearly not democratic, a very expensive Italian restaurant.”

The High Line, New York City, 2011 “This derelict railway, built in 1934 and abandoned in 1982, had shadows and rats, but it also was quite sublimely beautiful,” Renfro said. “It was an ecology very much about and of New York City.” A group of

Images on facing page courtesy of Diller Scifido + Renfo. Images on this page by Iwan Baan.

activists, including Renfro, successfully petitioned Mayor Michael Bloomberg to save it. The mayor rescinded a demolition order from the Giuliani administration on his first day in office. “We realized we had an opportunity to present a new kind of public space to New York City,” Renfro explained. “We didn’t want to romanticize its gritty past, but we did want to take advantage of the fact that this stuff was growing naturally. We invented a cast concrete plank that tapers on one end, to allow for green and concrete to merge in a way we hadn’t seen before, and to allow for pathways to be fuzzy. The plank peels up to become benches, water fountains, and the other accessories that make the Line complete.”


Enhancing Behance Alex Krug, Advertising and Marketing Communications ’03, handles the business side of a site that helps creatives and employers connect By Greg Herbowy

In 2006, a mutual friend introduced Alex Krug and Scott Belsky. The two men turned out to have much in common. Both were young and ambitious, both interested in the business side of design. Both had recently switched careers. Krug – a Kansas native, then three years out of FIT – had left a position at Coach to become a recruiter, placing creatives at advertising, design, and fashion companies. Belsky had left a finance position at Goldman Sachs to develop an idea that could make Krug’s recruiting job obsolete. Belsky’s idea was a website called Behance (a blend of “be” and “enhance”), launched that year. Like LinkedIn, Behance is a platform for networking and professional development, a site where people can connect, advertise their experience, recommend each other’s work, and find new opportunities. But Behance is expressly for creatives such as architects, illustrators, stylists, or videographers, enabling them to show their work. “There’s no need for middlemen to bring together designers and businesses,” says Krug, who joined Behance as a vice president in 2008. “We’re giving creatives the tools to take control of their careers.” He is sitting in the sunny conference room of the company’s SoHo office, showing off the latest version of the site, introduced in March, on his laptop. Behind him is a glossy white wall, covered with notes written in erasable marker. Beyond a glass wall,

some 30 employees work at computers. In six years, almost wholly through word of mouth, Behance has steadily gained users and traffic – its monthly page views regularly top 65 million – and the company’s offices have grown accordingly. When Krug started, he was one of a half-dozen employees, including Belsky and cofounder Matias Corea, who worked out of an apartment on 17th Street. In 2009, the company moved to a larger office downtown. Two years later, having outgrown their space again, they moved to their current location. (Krug, whose default mood seems to be restlessness, is already thinking about the next move.) For both businesses and creatives, Behance is easy to use, sophisticated in detail, and broad in scope. Members upload their projects into multimedia galleries that potential employers and other members can browse, comment on, and, by clicking a thumbs-up icon, “appreciate.” Members can track the number of visits to their profile. They can also “follow” each other and get updates of activity on their favorite accounts. Work that appears on the site’s rotating selection of front-page galleries is awarded a badge, which prioritizes that work within search results. Those results can be filtered by specifications ranging from general, such as “FIT alumni” to specific, such as “photographs taken with a Nikon 18-105 millimeter lens.” Behance also hosts “micro-sites” specific to particular fields, such as packaging design or typography, or curated by third parties like the advertising agency R/GA or the Art Directors Club. Companies wishing to hire someone they’ve discovered on Behance get in touch with the member directly, through contact information provided on a profile page. If a member provides the option, people who simply want to buy a print or an original piece of art can do that, too. “A lot of agencies are looking for freelancers now,” says Loretta Volpe, professor of Advertising and Marketing Communications, who taught Krug and has brought him back to campus to speak to her students. “Behance is a wonderful resource for them.” It’s a valuable resource for artists too, according to Julia Galdo, one half of the Los Angelesbased photography duo JUCO. Their clients include The New Yorker, Target, and Sinclair Jeans, which hired JUCO after seeing their work on Behance. “It’s one of the more gracefully designed sites,” Galdo says. “It’s really intuitive and easy to use.” This accessibility extends beyond Behance and its offshoots. Though a basic account is free, members can, for a fee, select from a set of flexible templates to build their own websites, which can exist under their own domain names. Whenever members update their main account, these sites update automatically, saving time, effort, and even money. As Krug points out, this cohesion and efficiency serve creatives who aren’t technologically inclined. “If you’re a sculptor, you don’t need to hire a web designer.” Krug works Behance’s business side, selling ad space and persuading ad agencies and companies like AOL and Nike to list jobs and sponsor competitions on the site. These contests solicit already-completed projects from members. Behance frowns on competitions that require new work “on spec,” as most submissions are never used or paid for. It’s a common practice but, he says, “a terrible model for creatives.” Krug also licenses Behance’s platform to other organizations – professional design associations like AIGA, colleges like the Rhode Island School of Design, and even LinkedIn. Those organizations can host Behance galleries on their sites, filtered to show only work by their members or alumni. Or they can curate their galleries according to something more conceptual, as is the case with The Creators Project, a joint venture between Vice magazine

“We’re giving creatives the tools to take control of their careers.”

Portrait by Nick Parisse ’09

Search results on Behance, filtered by “FIT.”

and Intel that brings together tech-minded artists to create innovative works for exhibitions and events. Jonathan Hunt, Vice’s global marketing director, calls Behance “an authentic, existing community,” one where people separated by great distances are able to connect, inspire each other, and even collaborate – just the type of 21st-century creativity The Creators Project aims to showcase. Perhaps the most important of Krug’s responsibilities, however, is attracting investors to help Behance expand and enhance its operations. Until recently, the company had, he says, “boot-strapped”– sold ad space and branded merchandise (mainly bound-paper organizers and digital apps), and hosted an annual conference on best practices for creative professionals, called 99% (a reference not to Occupy Wall Street, but to the famous inspiration-versus-perspiration aphorism). But this year, Krug explains, Behance’s rapid expansion has made external funding a logical next step, to make possible some “key hires” in engineering and data management and improve the site’s speed and usability. In May, the technology news site TechCrunch reported that Behance had raised $6.5 million from Union Square Ventures – whose other investments include Etsy, Foursquare, and Twitter – and other prominent investors, like founder Jeff Bezos. “We don’t care about ideas,” Krug says, by way of explaining Behance’s pragmatic, results-oriented approach. “There are millions of ideas. What we care about is how people make it work.” And, as the site’s growing popularity shows, this is a philosophy both businesses and creatives can get behind. 


It’s Showtime! HUE Follows fi v e Fa shion Design st uden ts a s the y perfect their ga r men ts for the ru n way

Every spring, some of New York’s most successful designers coach graduating Fashion Design BFA students in creating two complete looks for the annual fashion show. This year, ten of these “fashion critics,” including five FIT alumni, devoted many hours to working with students. Each designer then chose one outfit to receive a coveted “Critic Award.” Once the last hems were stitched and the garments pressed, five judges from the fashion media selected 72 outfits created by 59 students to appear in the show. The extremely selective process ensured that every garment would pop on the runway, drawing industry and media attention. On the evening of May 2, the sleek, intimate set and professional models displayed the clothes in their best light. This polished production was made possible with a $1 million gift from Calvin Klein ’63, matched by an additional $1 million from the company he founded, Calvin Klein, Inc. His gift will fund a decade of fashion shows. (Watch this year’s runway show at In the following pages, Hue chronicles the semester-long design process, from sketch to runway, for the five looks Winning students: Tara Ricci, Shannon Green, Andrea Lucchese, that won awards from alumni critics. Rosa Ng, Mimi Prober.


hue | summer 2012

Runway photos, Lorenzo Ciniglio; designer photos, Smiljana Peros

By Jonathan Vatner



Mimi Prober Special Occasion

Amsale Aberra ’82 Amsale

Bl ack silk pa n el dress w ith a n tiqu e l ace a n d jet be a ding

Process: Aberra wasn’t sure how

Runway: “The dress is beautiful, and

someone was going to get in and out

more importantly, Mimi had a clear

of the dress, so she suggested adding

point of view,” Aberra says. “And the

a row of hooks and eyes on the upper

detail and workmanship are incredibly

Sketch: Prober constructed her dress from antique

back, with tape to hold them. She also

impressive. It looks vintage yet it is

lace she bought at auctions and hand-sewed together

recommended a nude underlayer to

very sexy. It doesn’t remind me of any

using old silk embroidery thread. “I like the old world,”

highlight the lace. Prober tea-dyed

other designer.”

she says. She couldn’t plan out the dress with muslin

the underdress to accent the lace and

because she had to work with the pieces she had.

bead detailing.


Rosa Ng knitwear


Wenlan Chia ’99 Twinkle by Wenlan

Multicolored cot ton/moh a ir v est, cot ton bl en d/st eel top, boy shorts

Ng made this shirt on her sewing machine at home, doing a lot of time-consuming transfers to create the holes. For the shorts, she used

Sketch: “The attitude and color of Rosa’s sketch

really caught my eye,” Chia says. “I could see exactly

Process: “In the fashion industry, everything’s

yarn made from a recycled sari. “The

so quick,” Ng says. “I wanted to slow down and

big jacket was very sweatery,” Chia

focus on the process.” For the vest, Ng dyed the

says, “so with the shorts, I wanted

yarn on the stove with Kool-Aid, then double-

something cleaner to balance the

Runway: “Her garment explores all different

crafted it with machine-knitting and then hand-

look.” She suggested that Rosa lower

kinds of techniques and textures of knitwear,

knitting to create a chunky effect.

the waist and add a black waistband

and she’s not afraid of color, but she finds a way

to make it more modern.

to balance it,” Chia says. “It looks very trendy,

what the final garment would look like.”

and it’s totally wearable. I would wear it with black tights and heels, or wear just the jacket and sheer top with jeans.”




Tara Ricci Children’s Wear

Michelle Smith ’92 Milly

Pew t er satin-faced orga nz a crysta l -encrust ed peta l dress Sketch: Ricci wanted to create a sophis-

ticated yet playful take on children’s wear. “The dress is almost a tutu,” she says. “It has lots of horsehair and crinoline underneath, and I came up with my own techniques to get it to stay up.”

Smith loved what she saw but thought the dress would look better with a greater variety of beads. When Ricci had a problem Process: Ricci sheared 24 yards of

finding tulle that matched her fabric, Smith

organza to get this detail at the bottom.

directed her to a place that Milly uses.

Runway: Smith found Ricci’s dress light

and cute but very sophisticated. She also thought the color read well on the runway.


Andrea Lucchese Special Occasion


by Victor Alfaro ’86 Victor Victor Alfaro

Blush nov elt y chiffon ensemble w ith t ull e embellishmen t Sketch: Lucchese wanted her dress to

have an organic shape, so she draped lines all around the dress, not just the front and back. “I wanted it really airy and soft but with lots of texture,” she says. Process: Originally Lucchese planned

to add a modesty neckpiece made of lace, but Alfaro thought it would detract from the shape of the bodice.

“It took a lot of hand manipulation—and a lot of horsehair—to get the peplum and breast cups to hold their shape,” Lucchese says.

Runway: Alfaro recommended a slit down the

front to help the dress walk better on the runway.


hue | summer 2012



Shannon Green Knitwear

Dushane Noble ’06 Helmut Lang

Beige a n d n eon con v ertible dress w ith sca rf

“I tend to use a natural beige,” Green says. “Then I found this yellow yarn at Loopy Process: Green draped the garment first in

Mango in Nolita, and I thought it was the

an organic jersey cotton. “I work best through

coolest color I’d ever seen.”

draping—that’s where my concepts evolve,” she says. Originally the piece could be worn as a hooded sweatshirt or a sweater dress, but

runway: “Shannon’s garment has an

Noble asked her to rethink the concept. “The

innovative shape, her knitting techniques

Sketch: “I was going for convertibility, letting one

hood felt a bit too tricky to convert,” he says.

reduced unnecessary seams, and her simple

garment be worn in a lot of ways,” Green says. Her

“She changed it to beautiful scarf-like panels

style demonstrated a great restraint,”

goal was to create the outfit from one long knit piece

that floated across the back.”

Dushane says. He also praised the colors.

that connected in a few places.

“That highlighter yellow against the oatmeal tone convinced me of her mature color sense and high degree of taste.”

V is for Victory

8 1

2 6 5


7 4


Bruno Staub


FIT’s annual BFA runway show, The Future of Fashion, attracts more media attention each year. The 2012 show was featured on Eyewitness News,,,, and many other media outlets. The day after the show, V Magazine sent Bruno Staub to FIT to photograph all 10 of this year’s Critic Award winners with their garments, for the fall installment of its Powerhouse series. The students are 1 Shannon Green, Knitwear, 2 Mimi Prober, Special Occasion, 3 Lorna Laurentino, Intimate Apparel, 4 Mallory Williams, Sportswear, 5 Yen Hua Wendy Chen, Sportswear, 6 Andrea Lucchese, Special Occasion, 7 Tara Ricci, Children’s Wear, 8 Rosa Ng, Knitwear, 9 Anya Shakhmeyster, Sportswear, and !0 Joshua Myrie, Sportswear.


Caitie McCabe, Photography ’10

Patrick Yanez

Animals roam Varanasi streets.

An Unsentimental Education

A New Delhi street.

On a trip to India, an FIT class learns more than they bargained for By Jonathan Vatner Caitie McCabe

In the first week of January, 19 students studying International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries got off a plane in New Delhi—and were treated to a massive culture shock. Horns bleated constantly as cars and trucks whizzed past animals and rickshaws on the streets. Sidewalks and alleyways were clotted with people, crowds of onlookers surrounding the group while beggars brushed up against the students to plead for money. “There’s no garbage pickup; it’s burned by people in the streets to keep warm,” Sophie Miyashiro said. “When you blew your nose, it was black. It seemed like there was no soap anywhere.”

Caitie McCabe

Bathing in the Ganges River.


hue | summer 2012

Caitie McCabe

At night in Varanasi, mourners burn bodies and toss the ashes into the Ganges. The Jama Masjid, the principal mosque of Old Delhi.

Larry Byrd, Advertising and Marketing Communications ’12

Caitie McCabe

The National Institute of Fashion Technology’s campus.

A textile lab at NIFT.

Caitie McCabe

The group traveled to India to experience the emerging market firsthand. They visited the U.S. embassy to learn about Indian currency and security; they also saw factories, markets, and an orphanage. Every year since 2005, Assistant Professor Patrick Yanez has led a three-week practicum to such countries as Argentina, Turkey, and China. Next year, he will take a group to Vietnam. “Our mission is to prepare entry-level executives in this very international industry,” he said. “India is an apparel-manufacturing powerhouse with a heritage in textiles, fabrics, jewelry, embroidery, and leather—not to mention its rich cultural history.” One highlight was a visit to a Shahi Exports factory, where clothing for Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, and H&M is made. The company, which has 65,000 employees, was the first to install ATMs in its factories, allowing the mostly female workers to deposit their paychecks before their husbands could take their earnings. On unscheduled days, students researched individual projects, which they presented at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, which FIT helped found. Miyashiro analyzed the Indian consumer market to figure out what types of stores were in demand. She noticed that even homeless people owned cell phones, suggesting further potential for internet and cell phone providers. She also saw an opportunity for selling portable stoves, water filters, and soap. “They need a Rite Aid desperately,” she said. Alexandra Kimmel ’13 studied the country’s roads and rails and concluded that improving them is vital to further development. “Even on the highways, people are walking cows across the street, or you’d get behind an elephant. It took us seven hours to go 100 miles.” “You cannot be in a hurry,” Miyashiro echoed. “To buy a train ticket takes the entire day.” But they began to realize that the lack of hurry also meant that the locals rarely seemed anxious or angry. And the students were so taken with the markets and fabrics, the temples and tombs, they started to overlook the grime. By the end of the trip, a few were already planning to return. “It’s chaos,” Miyashiro said, “but it’s fun!” 

Caitie McCabe

To enter the Jama Masjid, women had to cover themselves with these robes. The beggar children in the lower right sneaked into the photo.

Workers doing marble inlay at a factory in Agra.



Banking on Women

Apparel Design,

has been

painting and teaching painting for two decades, after a career designing ball gowns for Hanover House Industries (now Hanover Direct, Inc.). In addition to portraits

news from your classmates

on commission, he paints the flora of Florida,

Bird of Paradise, acrylic on canvas, 24 by 18 inches.

including banyan trees, bamboo, and exotic flowers.

1975 Polly Mills Whitehorn, Fashion Design,

is the director

of events and community outreach for eCareDiary, an online resource to help coordinate care for an aging loved one. Her brother started the company in 2009, and her sister handles the marketing. Whitehorn most recently oversaw event planning and outreach for the Arthritis Foundation. An avid photographer, she also teaches classes on incorporating photography into quilting.

Avalon Beach, digital print, 8 by 13.5 inches.

1978 Alexis Kyriak, Fine Arts,

has been a visual artist for

25 years. She draws and paints the female form, surrounding it with the light and color she sees in the hills of Vermont, where she moved in 1991.

Sinrich told Hue about her experience establishing one of the first banks for women. In the ’70s, when discrimination against women was coming to light, I got deeply involved in the women’s movement. There were enormous obstacles for women who wanted capital or credit. We were expected to have a husband or father to sign off on transactions. Some divorced women, to get their own credit card, had to pretend they were still married. In 1975, author Betty Friedan and fashion designer Pauline Trigère joined other feminists to open the First A 1980 ad for the bank in the Price & Lee’s Women’s Bank and Trust Company in New York. Some Greenwich City Directory. friends and I explored the possibility of opening a similar bank in Connecticut, where we lived. We applied for a state charter and raised $2 million in stock. My job was to compose stories about the need for this bank and create ads to help sell the stock. I had plenty of experience in writing and marketing. For years I’d worked in the marketing departments of two resident buying offices. Small stores used to rely upon buyers like us for merchandise, and I kept these stores abreast of the latest trends. Connecticut Women’s Bank opened in Greenwich in 1977. (Later we changed the name to Connecticut Community Bank, because some men didn’t want to write a check from a “women’s” bank.) We were a regular commercial bank that also offered seminars to help women take control of their finances. Once we opened the bank, our competition started running ads about their female tellers and women’s programs to attract this market they had been ignoring. This only helped our cause. Our bank was eventually swallowed up by a larger one, and I moved on to a successful career in public relations. But the bank accomplished what we intended. We wanted to educate women In 2001, Sinrich began a career as a photographer. about economic independence and move them Her photographs of mannequins around the world were selected for A Changing World: Women Respond, into the mainstream of credit and financial a group show at the UConn Stamford Art Gallery in success—and we did that. the spring.

Two of her paintings were included in Engage, an exhibition of work by artists with disabilities, in the spring at the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery in Burlington. For her, the show was part of her “coming out” as an artist with psychiatric illness.

Rainforest Nude, acrylic on canvas, 42 by 36 inches.


hue | summer 2012



Mark Shipley, Advertising and Communications,

Renee Carothers Cholmondeley, Fashion Design,

is co-founder, president, and chief strategic

opened Amused, a fashion boutique catering

officer of two sister advertising agencies in

to women of all sizes, last fall in Baldwin,

Troy, NY. Smith & Jones represents hospital

NY. She left the Garment District after three

networks and large physician practices, and

decades because she felt that overseas prod-

Wanderlust works with destination resorts

uction took the fun out of the retail process,

and convention and visitors bureaus. Recently

as longer turnaround times and larger

Smith & Jones won a national award from

quantities pushed buyers and manufacturers

Planned Parenthood for “Thank You, Planned

to pick safer, less fashion-forward clothing.

Parenthood,” a local campaign in which patients

Now she takes risks on emerging designers

expressed their gratitude to the nonprofit

with trendier product.

for offering them lifesaving preventive medical care.

Courtesy of the Greenwich Historical Society

Phyllis Roizman Sinrich, Fashion Design ’50

Alfred (Allen) Medina,


The Business of Beds

Sharon Binder Romero, Marketing: Fashion and Related

Liz Undersinger Brodar, Fashion Buying and Merchandising ’82

Industries, Fashion Buying and Merchandising ’78, owns

Around the Collar, a company that sells upscale collars, leashes, carriers, and jewelry for dogs and cats. The collars, which are manufactured in Suffolk County, NY, come in 20 colors and can be embellished with Swarovski stones or metal studs. Her creations rely on skills she learned

Christian Giannelli

designing belts for Calvin Klein and others.

Left, Brodar scooping cookie dough. Right, the living room of the inn.

Liz Brodar wakes up early every morning and bakes. Then, as guests of the Inn at English Meadows in Kennebunk, ME, stumble downstairs, she whips up cardamom-orange French The Churchill collar, leather with spikes, studs, and Swarovski stones, $106.

1988 Jane Bell, Interior Design,

toast, smoked-salmon-and-arugula benedict, or whatever else suits her fancy. The rest of her day whizzes by in a blur of grocery shopping, gardening, more baking, chatting with guests, booking rooms, and blogging. Most days, she and her husband, Eric, carve out a few minutes

is a residential designer in

for a stroll to the beach with their dog.

Westchester County and New York City. She bills by the

The Brodars are rookie innkeepers. In 2010, after decades in the Garment District, most

hour instead of by the project and doesn’t charge a markup

recently as a vice president of sales and merchandising at Li & Fung for the Levi’s Red Tab

on purchases so that clients feel welcome to do their own

division, Liz was ready for a change—and Eric was ready to retire. Both veteran travelers,

shopping. She also assigns them the “homework” of bringing

they wanted to marry the charm of a bed-and-breakfast with the freshness of a boutique hotel.

in magazine clippings of inspirations to help her understand

Also, Liz had studied at the French Culinary Institute and was excited to cook for guests.

their aesthetic. “Sometimes my hourly rate is spent counsel-

They were all set to close on an inn on Cape Cod, but the deal collapsed when the appraisal

ing,” she admits. “The one thing FIT could have added to

fell $200,000 short of the selling price. Their real-estate consultant suggested an inn for sale

their program was a little psychology!”

in Kennebunk. They had never been to Maine. “It was a huge leap of faith,” Brodar says. “But we’re much happier here.” They bought the 10-room inn in the last days of 2010 and embarked on a gut renovation, working with a local decorator to replace the dark, chintz-heavy interior with a contemporary palette. To buy the fabrics, tableware, and furniture, she approached wholesalers, unsure if they would sell in such small quantities. No one turned her down. Her knowledge of sales and merchandising helped. “Knowing how to source and develop brands has made it easy for us to run the inn as a business,” she says. “Otherwise we’d be buying our sheets and towels at Macy’s.” Her degree hadn’t prepared her for one aspect of the new career, though: social-media

Kara Stewart

marketing. “The business is run from Facebook, Twitter, and our blog,” Brodar says. “I haven’t even tried Pinterest.” The living room of a Bronxville, NY, home that Bell designed.

Suzanne Perron, Fashion Design,


who has worked for

Ann-Sofi (Fiffi) Snickars Maycher, International Trade and Marketing,

Wang, now designs bridal, debutante, and Mardi Gras gowns

Fashion Merchandising Management

in New Orleans. She focuses on clients who can’t find what


they need at retail, perhaps because they need to coordinate

department at URBN Inc.’s Free

the dress with an heirloom veil or require a nontraditional

People brand, a bohemian-style

color or a specialized fit. She published a book, Designing

clothing line geared toward

in Ivory and White (LSU Press), about the process of custom

women in their 20s. In less than

Jason Cohen

Carolina Herrera, Anna Sui, Chado Ralph Rucci, and Vera

sewing, in March. Some of Perron’s sketches.

runs the international sales

a year, she expanded Free People

Ellinor Stige


into department and specialty stores in 10 new countries.



Financing Fashion

Abimbola Ishola, Advertising and Marketing Communications,

Suzanne Meadows, International Trade and Marketing ’04

hosts Culture Shock: Nigerians

in America, a radio show that profiles successful

Fashion designers looking to expand

Nigerians in diverse careers and works to paint a

their labels often aren’t established

realistic picture of life here for listeners in Nigeria.

enough to secure bank loans and can’t

“They think the U.S. is a rosy place where money’s

promise the kind of growth that would

always flowing,” Ishola says. She is also a producer

attract investors. Factors support these

for CUNY TV Channel 75.

businesses, offering financing based on the invoices received, then collecting the loan. The factor also checks buyers’ credit ratings in advance and provides insurance in case buyers do not pay. Right out of FIT, Suzanne Meadows worked in business development for Hilldun Corporation, a factor that worked with Tommy Hilfiger and

John Smock

news from your classmates

directly from the buyers to pay back

Marc Jacobs—and Jason Wu, whom she brought on. the San Diego

Andrew Grant

showroom for Bulthaup, a high-end supplier of

Issa AlKindy

But despite earning a Master of Aleka Kim, Accessories Design, manages

Finance degree from Baruch College after graduating from FIT, opportuniThree-quarters of Dubai residents are expats, so it wasn’t too hard for Meadows to adjust to life there. “Dubai’s financial center is sort of like the Hollywood version of Wall Street,” she says.

Bauhaus-inspired kitchens.

ties for advancement in the U.S. were

She also does the design

limited. She shipped out to Dubai and

work in clients’ homes. In

in early 2011 was hired to launch a

2011, to offer something

factoring services division of the United Arab Emirates branch of Coface, a trade credit

for customers who can’t

insurer that operates in 66 countries. Local banks provide the financing, and Coface offers

afford Bulthaup, she

the factoring management expertise.

opened a retail annex in

As a business line manager of the division, called Facto Services, she devises and revises

the showroom called The

the business plan, negotiates contracts with the banks, teaches bank employees how to sell

Kitchery, which offers a

factoring services, implements risk policy, and supervises the IT system. At the same time,

range of whimsical

she works with an associate to run the day-to-day operations, such as auditing potential

kitchen objects.

clients and processing invoices.

2007 Peter Hoffmeister, Fine Arts,

Her clients come from a range of industries, from food to electronics—but not fashion. She is committed to Coface, but she hopes to reconnect with the fashion industry someday. has exhibited at the

The work comes with a significant responsibility. “If the business line doesn’t succeed,

Walter Wickiser Gallery, M55 Art, and the Morris-

I don’t succeed,” she says.

Jumel Mansion, and he co-founded The Moonshiner,

Adapting to business customs in Dubai has proven a challenge, too. British English is

a newspaper that covers civil liberties issues. He

spoken, so, for example, “turnover” means revenue, not employee attrition. And her interna-

also serves as a security officer at the Metropolitan

tional clients require different kinds of introductions and negotiations: some want to talk

Museum of Art, where many writers, visual artists,

about her family over tea, others want to haggle 50 percent off the asking price.

and musicians work as guards. There he helped

Also, many Muslims do not touch members of the opposite sex who are not family. If an

found SW!PE Magazine, which features art,

Islamic man does not extend his hand, she places her hand on her collarbone. “I remember

writing, and music by museum guards from all

hearing about these things in my first International Trade and Marketing class,” she says,

over New York.

“but it’s different to experience it.”



Matthew Fiel, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing,

12.29.1845, acrylic and ink on paper, 50 by 58 inches. Hoffmeister’s current work explores how maps inform our cultural consciousness.


hue | summer 2012

is a digital marketing manager at

Alessandra Berg, Technical Design,

is an

assistant technical designer for menswear at

Kenneth Cole. Keeping in mind the company’s

Calvin Klein, Inc. She focuses on woven shirts

business strategy and distinctive brand voice,

and T-shirts for Calvin Klein’s White Label,

he designs an online storefront that evokes

overseeing the fit and grading of samples,

the richness of a brick-and-mortar store. The

correcting patterns, assembling technical

web shopping experience must be flawless,

packages, and communicating with factories

he says, because there are no sales associates

all over the world.

to assist customers.

sources of inspiration

Local Color Enrico Casarosa Illustration ’97

Even though I work as an artist at Pixar, I often feel frustrated that I’m not drawing enough on paper. A few years ago, I pushed myself to the limit on a whole-day marathon of sketching. I filled almost 20 pages of my sketchbook with pencil and watercolor—and it made me stop and see things just a bit deeper than I normally would. I knew other artists walked around with their sketchbooks in their bags but rarely used them, so I put a call out on the internet to do a worldwide “SketchCrawl” on a specific day. I was in Kyoto, Japan, that first time, and a dozen people showed up. The next day, people from many cities shared their sketches online. We started announcing SketchCrawls four times a year, and over time, groups formed in almost 100 different locations.

I’ve done it in San Francisco with 90 people and in Venice by myself. We’ve created a world community with our passion. Sketching has influenced my work at Pixar. There’s a perfection to computer animation that sometimes comes across as cold. Working on La Luna, we tried to bring in the feel and texture of hand-drawn work. We scanned in a pastel painting to use as the sky, and for objects in the foreground, we’d make watercolor paintings and map them onto our 3D geometry. The imperfection of traditional media brought warmth and texture into the movie. Casarosa’s animated short, La Luna, was nominated for a 2012 Academy Award. He is head of story for an untitled dinosaur film from Pixar Animation Studios, scheduled for a 2014 release. Visit


227 West 27 Street New York, NY 10001-5992 return service requested

Double-crested cormorants by Bri Hermanson, Illustration MFA ’11, page 16.

Hue Summer 2012  

volume 5 | number 1

Hue Summer 2012  

volume 5 | number 1