The Alumni Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology
volume 6 | number 2 | spring 2013
Letter from the Editor Alumni Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology
Welcome to Hue’s special textiles issue.
Textiles are art and technology, design and business, wildly creative and entirely
practical—exactly like FIT. What’s more, every human, from birth to death, spends just about every moment in, on, or near textiles. Fabrics and fibers are a vast topic, touching 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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
many industries, and with an enormous impact on the lives of people who produce and use them, on resources like land and water, on economies around the world, and, ultimately, on the health of the planet.
Hue rarely does a theme issue; we usually highlight FIT’s diversity by featuring an
assortment of alumni from a wide range of majors. But we kept finding alumni who are involved in the textile industry in various ways, all with impressive careers. It just made sense to gather some of them together in one issue. Alumni work in large and small companies as designers, developers, manufacturers, marketers, and conservators. They work with fabrics and fibers ranging from traditional to high-tech. So there was plenty of diversity after all.
If anything deserves a theme issue, it’s textiles. Resistance is futile.
So here it is: a feast of fabrics! A fabulosity of fibers! And an amazing smorgasbord of
images that make us happy: a first-century Peruvian tunic … Kirk Douglas in Acrilan … a “snagger” that looks like a medieval mace in miniature. For some related content, I invite you to check out Hue Too at blog.fitnyc.edu/huetoo. Then email us at email@example.com and let us know what you think about textiles or anything else.
And if you don’t love the smiling alpacas on page 23, well, I just don’t know what to
say to you. Best regards,
Art Direction and Design Empire Design Studio
Hue magazine on the web: fitnyc.edu/hue blog.fitnyc.edu/huetoo
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you’ve been up to. Environmental Savings for Spring 2013 85 trees preserved/planted 246 lbs waterborne waste not created 36,188 gallons wastewater flow saved 4,004 lbs solid waste not generated 7,884 lbs net greenhouse gases prevented 60,343,200 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.
Cover The fabric on the cover of our textiles issue was designed by William Storms, Textile/ Surface Design ’13, and fabricated in FIT’s knitting lab by classroom assistant Kathryn Malik, Patternmaking ’84 and Production Management: Textiles ’86. (The two are shown here with Ann Denton, Textile Development and Marketing faculty member and knitting lab coordinator, far right.) They worked hard to render the Hue logo in the right place, in the right font. Malik imported Storms’s design file into a CAD program that converted each pixel into a stitch for the Stoll CMS 340TC 5.2-gauge knit-and-wear machine. (Gauge is the number of needles per inch on the machine, an indicator of how heavy a fabric it can produce.) The blue-green yarn is cotton, the purple is acrylic.
Malik added extra yarn to tighten the knit structure. “It’s the cover of a magazine, so ‘drape-ability’ isn’t an issue,” she says. Storms says of the result, “I think it has great rhythm and is reminiscent of the ombré effect I was aiming for.”
6 A Close Look A sumptuous shawl from The Museum at FIT’s textile collection
22 Soft Focus In companies large and small, alumni produce a broad range of fabrics
10 Material World Behind the scenes with Dorothy Cosonas ’85, creative director at Knoll Textiles
26 Textiles and the Environment Lightening the industry’s impact
14 Testing Ground Secrets from FIT’s state-of-the-art textile testing lab 17 Seven Fibers that Changed the World Polyester! Spandex! Marketing these and other innovations to the masses
28 Textile Treasures from the American Museum of Natural History Selections from past and present
4 Hue’s News 8 I Contact 8 FootPRINT 9 Faculty On… 32 Alumni notes 35 Sparks
World-renowned designer and FIT alumnus Michael Kors has donated $1 million to establish an all-inclusive endowed scholarship for one promising Fashion Design student each year, in-state, out-of-state, or international, who demonstrates financial need. The scholarship, which begins this fall, covers all costs associated with an associate and bachelor’s degree, including tuition, housing, and books, even study abroad in Italy. Winning students will also be given an internship at Michael Kors, with mentorship by the designer himself. “It makes me so excited to see the potential talent that has been helped by this school, and I look forward to seeing that continue,” he said.
what’s happening on campus
Kors Donates $1 Million to Endow Scholarship
Why Did You Choose FIT? On January 29, FIT’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations kicked off a major campaign to create connections among alumni and rekindle attachment to the college. More than 300 alumni signed up to attend the inaugural event, held at the Strand Hotel. So why did they choose FIT? Here are a few responses. “After I got my degree in design from a private school, I said, man, I should have come to FIT the first time!” —Shawn’ta Samuels, Production Management ’12 “I came to this country in 1988 from Poland with political asylum, with a dream to have a fashion business.” —Mariola Przetakiewicz, Fashion Design ’93 “For the city campus.” —Brooke Hagel, Fashion Design ’03 “The advertisements convinced me. I’m a visual person.” —Leon Raymond Mitchell, Photography ’75 “I didn’t want debt.” —Katie Cole, Interior Design ’12
FIT to Train More Emerging Designers Following the success of last year’s Design Entrepreneurs NYC program, organized by FIT and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the program will enroll a second class of designers this June. The free, intensive session teaches up to 35 emerging designers skills for launching and expanding their fashion labels. FIT faculty and industry executives, headed by Jeanette Nostra, president of G-III Apparel Group, will cover marketing, operations, and financial management; students will graduate with a business plan and the opportunity to present it to a panel of influential fashion leaders. Visit designentrepreneursnyc.com for more information.
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“I chose FIT because it’s the real deal.” —Maritza Rivera, Illustration ’00
Sustainable Packaging Design Program Launched
Congratulations, Miss America!
A 12.5-credit certificate program in Sustainable Packaging Design will launch this fall. Not a design program per se, it is geared toward professionals with at least one year of experience in a related field: design, production, materials, marketing, among others. In just one year—two evening/weekend courses in fall, one in winter, and two in spring—students learn to integrate sustainable principles into the packaging development process. For more information, visit fitnyc.edu/SPD.
“The girls at FIT have the best fashion sense.” —Ania Palermo, Interior Design ’09
Mallory Hagan, an Advertising and Marketing Communications student, became Miss America on January 12. She advocated for the awareness and prevention of child sexual abuse, and she rocked out to James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing” in her tap shoes.
President Brown Earns Accolade
and rigorous peer evaluation, FIT has been reaccredited with commendation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The “commendation” is a rare accolade that means no follow-up report is necessary.
helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds earn their degree, is number one in student community colleges with an EOP program. In fall 2012, 40.4 percent of FIT’s EOP students achieved a GPA of at least 3.0.
Shoe Obsession, a love letter to impractical footwear, was a hit at The Museum at FIT with more than 150 envy-inducing styles by Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen, and other star designers. The show ran until April 13. Visit fitnyc.edu/hue to see a feature about the exhibition. Another footwear-focused show in the museum was Boots: The Height of Fashion, a capstone exhibition by students in the MA program in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice. It closed April 6.
Toy Design Professor Honored
>> FIT’s Educational Opportunity Program, which
retention (98 percent) among the 14 SUNY
Prada, Spring 2012.
President Joyce F. Brown.
>> Following a five-year process of self-study
The Museum at FIT
Dr. Joyce F. Brown, president of FIT for the past 15 years, was one of 25 public- and civic-minded women to receive City & State magazine’s 2013 Above and Beyond Award, for her achievements as an educator and academic administrator and for her advocacy for public higher education. City & State, which covers the politics, policy, and personalities of New York City and New York State, established the awards in 2011 to recognize female leaders in business, public service, journalism, nonprofits, and labor advocacy.
>> Barnes & Noble awarded 12 of FIT’s Presidential Scholars a total of $25,000 for independent study and travel projects last summer, from protecting sea turtles in Costa Rica to painting a mural at a French hospital. >> Pioneering African-American fashion designer Stephen Burrows ’66 is the subject of a retrospective, currently on view at the Museum of the City of New York. >> FIT is co-sponsoring a contest to design a memorial that will hang on the building where the Triangle Shirtwaist fire claimed 146 lives
Parents Day Brings Families to Campus
in 1911. For more information, visit Remember TheTriangleFire.org. >> Patricia Tovar, Jewelry Design ’14, and Sun Hyang Ha, Jewelry Design ’13, won Silhouette Optical
Judy Ellis, the tireless, inspiring founder and chair of FIT’s Toy Design baccalaureate program— the first in the field—was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in February, joining such industry greats as George Lucas and Milton Bradley. An estimated 3,500 products have been designed by Toy Design alumni, including Hasbro’s Elefun Busy Ball Popper, Mattel Fisher-Price’s Sing-a-Ma-Jigs, and Crayola’s Crayon Town.
Ltd.’s first design contest at FIT, which came with a $2,500 prize. Tovar created a twist on the cat-eye glasses frame, and Ha designed a rimless pair using a mixed metal called mokume-gane, originally used in Japanese swords. >> Tiffany Spagnuolo, Fashion Design ’13, won first prize and $5,000 for her lingerie creation, Dark Bloom, at the 2013 Femmy Awards Student Design Contest, held at Cipriani 42nd Street on February 5. >> The Tomodachi Initiative, a partnership between the U.S. and Japan to invest in Japan following the earthquake of 2011, has joined Jerry Speier
forces with fast-fashion powerhouse Uniqlo
Alan Hassenfeld, vice president of Hassenfeld Family Initiatives and chairman of the executive committee of Hasbro, Inc.; Ellis; and Neil Friedman, president of Neil B. Friedman Associates and former president of Mattel Brands, Mattel, Inc. Watch a tribute to Ellis at fitnyc.edu/ toydesign.
Parents Day, which was moved to February 23 because of Hurricane Sandy, went off without a hitch. Despite the threat of a snowstorm, about 115 families attended the campus tours, club performances, and classes.
to offer the $1.6 million Tomodachi-Uniqlo Fellowship. Each year for the next three years, Japanese students will get the chance to study Global Fashion Management at FIT and enroll in similar programs at other colleges.
A Close Look
Designers and researchers love The Museum at FIT’s textile collection Textiles embody culture, economics, and social history. Take the wool-and-silk shawl shown at right, with its curved shapes and resplendent colors, from The Museum at FIT’s textile collection. As early as the 17th century, colonialism resulted in a variety of goods flowing to Europe from the East, and an “exotic” aesthetic became fashionable. Handwoven shawls from Kashmir, India, were prized by the aristocracy, and featured in portraits by artists like David and Ingres. With the Industrial Revolution, and the invention of the jacquard loom, designs with many colors and intricate patterns could be mass produced. There was a craze for shawls like this one, from the 1850s. Their sinuous, budlike motif, called boteh, acquired the name of the Scottish town known for producing them: Paisley. The museum’s collection offers a wealth of such insights into the history and meaning of textiles. Since 1969, FIT students, faculty, scholars, and industry professionals have come to do research and find inspiration. Others have, too. For instance, Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios found fabrics and patterns to adapt for settings and characters in the films Up and The Incredibles. The permanent collection comprises some 30,000 apparel and home furnishings fabrics, laces, embroideries, quilts, and shawls, along with pieces by noted designers such as Sonia Delaunay, William Morris, and Junichi Arai. In addition, more than 100,000 swatches are grouped into categories such as wovens, prints, abstracts, and “conversationals” (novelty prints, with motifs like elephants or cats).
Email email@example.com for details about design memberships, which offer access to the collection.
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trend spotter Colby DeMarco a student in first person
Fabric Styling ’14, Fashion Merchandising Management ’12
Your hair is really striking. What’s the story behind it?
I used to have it parted to one side and shaved underneath, but one day I let it hang down as a bowl cut, and I kinda liked it. Then I saw the music video for “Alejandro” by Lady Gaga; all the guys have bowl cuts. Random people are always calling me Alejandro. What exactly does one learn in Fabric Styling?
Styling is about choosing clothes or home furnishings that work well together for photo shoots or individual clients. We make a lot of trend boards, but we also design textiles; we either use a computer or we paint. I think most of us want to do either styling or trend forecasting. I want to become a creative or art director for editorial. What trend boards have you done?
I did one on kimonos from the Han Dynasty that have been showing up on designers’ runways. Fashion is always repeating itself—that’s one reason I’m doing a minor in art history. Like the bad clip art and graphic design from the early ’90s that’s coming back right now on T-shirts. Sometimes fashion can trick you into wearing ugly clothes. You interned in the fashion department of Men’s Health. They have a fashion department?
Everyone jokes about who picks the T-shirt on the cover, but the magazine does include fashion, especially on the website. The editors bought me a camera to photograph street style during Fashion Week, and I wrote the site’s Look and Learn features, where I took sloppily dressed celebrities on the red carpet and said what they did wrong and what people could learn from it. I also helped with the Grooming Awards. All these companies sent in their newest products, and we tested them out and picked winners. I still use products from Men’s Health from almost a year ago. You also interned at Stylesight, the trend forecasting company. What did you do there?
I did a whole report on the color pink. We found a pink coffee pot, and the pink gymnastics floor at the Olympics, and the September covers of Elle, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. Pink was having a moment. Where are you working now?
Organic Avenue, a vegan raw food and juice shop. There are ten in the city, and they’re expanding really fast. It’s not the Americanized version of health, where everything is low-fat. It’s about nutrition and a raw-food lifestyle. Are you vegan?
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I’m vegetarian, but most days I’m vegan because I eat at the shop.
The Mia Maxi, made of cotton/spandex jersey, is part of 100% NY’s spring 2013 collection.
Pattern cutting is essential to fashion, but ever think about the leftover fabric—typically 15 to 20 percent of the total used to make a garment? Instead of recycling it (more expensive), the industry throws it away, adding countless tons of textile waste to landfills the world over. But Daniel Silverstein, Fashion Design ’10, departs from this unsustainable practice with his line of contemporary sportswear, called 100% NY, which produces zero fabric waste. To accomplish this, he incorporates a pattern’s remainders into the garment as appliqués, such as the columns of vertebrae-like embellishments on the sleek gray-blue “Spine” dress worn by Jennifer Hudson on a British late-night show in 2011. (The singer’s stylist spotted the dress while Silverstein was showing his first collection to a Soho boutique.) Silverstein’s eco-friendly but chic looks are getting a much bigger audience now, thanks to his role as a contestant on Season 2 of NBC’s Fashion Star, a fashion-design reality show with a retail focus. “‘Eco’ has such a negative connotation in fashion, but zero-waste design doesn’t have to look eco,” the New Jersey native says at his Park Slope studio, a curvilinear henna tattoo on his right biceps peeking out from underneath a trim henley. (He has a real tattoo—of a sewing machine—on his lower back.) So instead of hemp, which looks decidedly crunchy, Silverstein uses high-end sustainable fabrics like cupro, which feels like silk but is made from the byproduct of cotton ginning, and Repreve, a nylon mostly composed of recycled plastic bottles. And as the name 100% NY suggests, the line is produced in New York City, or within “doubledigit miles” of it. In the future he’d like to go “vertical” and produce everything in house. Pieces range from a blouse or skirt (from the mid-$100s) to gowns (from $800) and can be found online at Shopbop and, this spring, on Bona Drag, as well as at the Washington, DC, shop C.A.T.Walk. They can also be purchased through 100% NY’s own site, often at a discount. Silverstein expects more retailers to come aboard after Fashion Star; he is planning to move to a bigger studio in the Garment District to handle the anticipated demand. “I don’t think about it as sustainability in fashion,” he says of his work. “I just think about zero waste as the future of the industry.” —Sean Kennedy
insights from the classroom and beyond
steps toward a sustainable future
Back to the Drawing Board Karen Gentile, chairperson Textile/Surface Design In this industry, we’re always looking for fresh ideas. Each student has an individual way of looking at things, but often they don’t realize it. So I encourage them to always keep an inspiration book. Something you can sketch or paste things into, like swatches of fabric, magazine tear sheets, or photographs. I’m big on sketching and photographing—textures, color, shapes, graffiti, or store windows. A rusty appliance lying on the street can be great for thinking about texture. I tell them: It’s always good to have your sketchbook in your lap. Even when you’re on the phone, save those doodles! Surface designers have to have fresh ideas all the time, and they can use any medium to create the original art: drawing, collage, painting, or the computer. On a job, they might be asked to come up with an original take on a familiar theme. In class, I’ll give them one, like “nature”—and see what associations they make. That’s when their inspiration book comes in handy. They might come up with images of lizards and plants; or they might use more eclectic juxtapositions. They might draw floating fish, with keys drifting in the background. The designer Piero Fornasetti was famous for this kind of surrealism: an image of a Greek column might end up on a necktie, or an eyeball might appear on a plate pattern. Once, I took my class to a design firm, and the people giving the tour were FIT grads. They said they showed their inspiration books during the interview, and it helped them get hired. Now the company asks all their designers to keep one.
Dorothy Cosonas, Fine Arts ’81, Textile/Surface Design ’85, creative director for Knoll Textiles, fashions fabric from mass to luxe By Alex Joseph
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ou don’t have to leave FIT’s campus to see work by Dorothy Cosonas ’85, the creative director of Knoll Textiles. Just go to the Haft Auditorium and look at the seats. In 2011, they were reupholstered with a fabric called Harrison, in a red colorway that fairly glimmers in the cavernous space. “It was one of the first textiles I did here,” says Cosonas, who’s been at Knoll eight years. “It’s a classic wool. A nod to our past.” That past includes the history of the famous Knoll company, founded in 1940 by Hans Knoll and known for producing iconic modern furniture in collaboration with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Eero Saarinen, among others. His wife, Florence Knoll Basset, founded the company’s textile division in 1947, eventually becoming president of the entire firm. The company became a highly influential proponent of textile designs for modern interiors. They collaborated with artist weavers such as Anni Albers and Sheila Hicks. They also produced innovative designs by FIT alumni Jhane Barnes, Fashion Design ’75, and Suzanne Tick, Textile Design ’82, who served as the firm’s creative director from 1997 to 2004. Today, renowned Knoll furniture, such as Saarinen’s Womb chair, comes specified with Knoll fabrics. Knoll Textiles can also be found in offices, like the Exxon Mobil headquarters, in Houston; in hospitality and health care settings; in quirkier projects like cross-stitch upholstery for a line of Vans sneakers; in residences; and at institutions like Northwestern University— and, of course, FIT. Cosonas, smart, lean, and upbeat, is wearing a black vintage Chanel jacket with white trim. She comes across as thoughtful but not dreamy. “There’s an emotional side to textiles—the things we respond to in a fabric,” Cosonas says, but she has a head for business, too. If she creates upholstery with a novelty yarn she loves but it doesn’t hold up to standard industry tests, it must be redesigned to get it right. Designing textiles for Knoll, Cosonas is constantly finding new ways to explore the firm’s tradition of classic, modern design. Sometimes that means revisiting the archives. Harrison, for example, is based on the Knoll archival fabric Prestini (1948). Praised by Florence Knoll as “the sort of simple and direct design we are looking for,” Prestini was trend-resistant enough to stay in the line (with tweaks to fiber content and finishing) for 35 years. In 2007, to commemorate the firm’s 60th anniversary, Cosonas introduced the
From Sketch to Finished Product Cosonas still makes pencil sketches for her designs, like this one for Icon, an upholstery fabric inspired by current ethnic and embroidery trends in fashion. Icon comes in several colorways and can be specified for Knoll’s Tulip chair, designed by Eero Saarinen in 1955-56.
Dan Lecca, courtesy of Rodarte
Above: Cosonas’s Harrison fabric. She says, “It’s a hopsack pattern, woven in Scotland on a custom-colored warp combined with a bi-colored weft, allowing for a clean, clear palette.”
Left: Cosonas helped the designers behind Rodarte translate their hand-dyed ombré gowns into a concept for the Knoll Luxe fabric Auden, opposite. All images courtesy of Knoll except where otherwise noted
Cosonas’s Kamani (in three colorways, right) for Knoll Luxe was handwoven in India. Above: Using old-world screen-printing techniques, artisans carefully distribute their weight to create an even pattern.
Nick Parisse ’09
Archival Collection, for which she restyled six classic Knoll textiles, including one by Anni Albers. She added five new colorways to Cato (1961), the company’s longest-produced fabric. The collection was well received—Metropolis magazine called it “a virtual primer on Modern textile masters”—but Cosonas has also contributed a number of ideas all her own. In 2008, she launched Knoll Luxe, a brand focusing on the high-end residential market. She designs most of these drapery and upholstery fabrics herself, though she has also collaborated with up-and-coming American fashion designers, and thus cultivated one of her deepest passions. “When Vogue magazine shows up at my
“I try to live up to the Knoll name, not off it,” Cosonas says.
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house, my husband will say, ‘The Bible arrived today,’” she says. “Fashion is the one discipline that still has an edge.” One of the first Luxe projects was a collaboration with Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler. For the 2010 collection, Cosonas sought out Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the sisters behind Rodarte. “There aren’t a lot of designers I would approach,” Cosonas says. “They have to have the right aesthetic. It’s not about a designer who knows how to cut a jacket. I need a designer who understands color, texture, and pattern.” Rodarte, known for distressing the fabric of their garments by tearing, burning, and sanding, fit the bill. “I was relentless about getting them. My gut told me these girls were right for us.” Using her technical expertise, she helped Rodarte translate some of their designs, including a “spider web” dress with shimmering Lurex strands, into eight fabrics, each named for a poet they admired—Auden, Cummings, Byron. (Auden appears on page 10.) The resulting collection was praised in The New York Times for its “meticulous attention to detail and keen sense of texture and structure.” Although Knoll Luxe is a new brand, it is also, in a way, a reference to tradition. One of Florence Knoll’s first innovations was to repurpose men’s
suit fabrics for office furniture. Fashion provides a direct inspiration for Luxe, but it’s also present in the more mass-market Knoll Textile brand. The firm doesn’t use color trend forecasters, for example; Cosonas, who is known for her clean, clear use of color, takes her cues from the runways. “No matter how ‘global’ we get,” she says, “fashion houses still allow us to feel excited and get inspired.” The Knoll Textiles management team meets quarterly to discuss what is needed for the line. Then Cosonas and her team of six, including three FIT grads (“They call us ‘The FIT Mafia,’” she laughs), get to work. It takes a year to move fabrics from concept to sales floor. Each collection requires decisions about fiber, structure, and color, and it all has to say “Knoll.” Overly shiny fabrics, for example, aren’t sophisticated or timeless enough. And she’s never going to design traditional damask (birds and flowers) for the firm; it’s not sufficiently urban or masculine. Cosonas considers color exhaustively. “If it’s designed ten years ago or tomorrow, and woven at a mill in Scotland, New Zealand, or the U.S., it has to be speaking through a color idea.” The company works with 90 mills around the world. It would be impossible to match yarns perfectly across such a wide array of manufacturers, but
Cosonas makes sure they’re all part of the Knoll color story. While a certain turquoise might thrill her, she’s always wondering if it’s right for everyone else. “Bill Blass used to say, ‘Wealthy women outside of New York don’t always wear black,’” she says. How, one might ask, does Cosonas draw the line between, say, “bold” and “garish”? With a wry smile, she says, “Sometimes you gotta trust your gut.” The Long Island native came to FIT for Fine Arts, but returned for Textile/Surface Design to please her practical-minded father. She lived at a boarding house run by the Ladies Christian Union in the West Village and liked the structure of two meals a day and curfew. She studied art history with Richard Martin and weaving with Nell Znamierowski. Instructor Karen Randall introduced Cosonas to Sina Pearson, then creative director for Unika Vaev, who hired her. Cosonas started as an administrative assistant and “sample girl”—if someone wanted a UV swatch, she retrieved it. Pearson, she says, took her under her wing. “She was my graduate school.” Cosonas stayed with the firm 21 years, the last ten as design director. Among her many designs for them was Look, inspired by a checker-
board illustration by designer Alexander Girard. It’s still a best seller. Despite her fascination with fashion, the quality Cosonas most admires in a fabric is longevity. She speaks reverently of Cato, still in production 50 years later. “That’s not even classic anymore,” she says. “It’s timeless.” But this admiration is tempered with an understanding of how ordinary people live their lives, and the strange alchemy that a thoughtfully made textile can create. “I think textiles just add happiness to a space,” she says. “People in the industry still say to me, ‘Are you the one who designed Look?’” Cosonas says. “That’s fame in the contract-textile world.”
Cosonas’s mother’s needlework, below, was an inspiration for Marquee. Right: A collection of Knoll upholstery fabrics, including Mod Plaid, Marquee, and Tryst, won a gold award last year at NeoCon, a premier trade event. Cosonas’s work is also in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s permanent collection.
Testing Ground Professor Sean Cormier, Textile Development and Marketing ’92, shows off FIT’s new textile testing lab By Jonathan Vatner
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hat’s more disappointing than a beautiful shirt tearing when you cross your arms? Or the color from a sofa rubbing off on your pants? Assistant Professor Sean Cormier has built his career on preventing textile mishaps like these. He worked in quality assurance at Liz Claiborne for 18 years— overseeing a billion dollars of clothing at one point—before becoming director of quality assurance at slipcover manufacturer Sure Fit six years ago. Cormier sums up his job by saying, “Designers make pretty things, and I make sure it all works.” When he joined FIT’s faculty in 2009, he expanded and modernized the textile testing lab. The new state-of-the-art lab, which opened in 2010, is more comprehensive than many testing labs he’s seen in the industry. There, 2,500 students per year from ten business and design majors learn how to test garments for durability, flammability, color transference (called crocking), wrinkle-resistance, and more. Knowledge of the testing process, Cormier explains, is crucial for almost anyone working in the fashion industry. There is no universal quality standard for textiles. But two organizations—the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists and ASTM International (formerly the American Society of Testing and Materials)— publish guidelines for hundreds of materials, for use in everything from hosiery to upholstery, from drapes to capes. The standards are updated every year as testing methods and clothing technology improve and as laws and public expectations change. Using those guidelines, each manufacturer and retailer sets its own rules, and all the products are tested at least once— and usually two or three times—before hitting shelves. “More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better,” Cormier warns. “Consumers are paying more for the brand and the fit than the durability.” These pages offer a peek inside FIT’s testing lab.
The snagging machine rotates the fabric under a medieval-looking spiked ball, about the size of a golf ball, to test how badly it will snag.
The tensile strength machine stretches a swatch until the fabric or seam rips; the monitor displays how many pounds of tension were applied. Because knits will stretch rather than tear, a ball attachment punctures the fabric instead.
Lab photos by Matthew Septimus
An ordinary microscope is used to investigate the type and quality of fibers in a fabric. For example it can be used to tell when a “cashmere” sweater is actually acrylic.
To test colorfastness, Cormier puts the fabric into a canister with ten steel balls and a standardized detergent and runs it in the Launder-Ometer, a machine that simulates five home washings at once. The swatch above shows how cotton, polyester, and other fibers absorb color from the test fabric.
The pilling and abrasion machine rubs swatches for a prescribed number of rotations—3,000 to 9,000, depending on fabric weight. Then the sample is inspected for pilling and wear. ﬁtnyc.edu/hue
A crocking machine tests how much color rubs off of fabrics. Cormier slides a white swatch over the fabric in question using the manually operated machine, which looks like an industrial stapler. Ideally—for the sake of white pants and sofas everywhere—the swatch won’t pick up any color.
By law, all fabrics used in clothing must meet flameretardancy standards. When Cormier burned a swatch of ramie, or Chinese linen, in the flammability hood, right, it went up in flames. Bad sign.
Light is necessary for us to perceive color—and the type of light in which we see a color affects how it looks to us. The light box (also called a Macbeth box, after a company that manufactures them) shows designers, producers, and buyers how fabrics would look in fluorescent and incandescent light, as well as in daylight. Many textiles, including these samples, look significantly different under different light. Most companies would avoid producing such fabrics.
Colors fade in sunlight. Instead of leaving swatches outside for a few weeks, the process is speeded up with a Xenon Fade-Ometer. In order to satisfy most quality standards, indoor fabrics must not fade more than a few shades after 20 hours in the Fade-Ometer; outdoor fabrics must withstand 60 hours of intense light.
If a customer buys slipcovers for a sofa and dining room chairs in one color, they must look exactly alike. But slight mismatches can be difficult to detect in a light box. That’s where the spectrophotometer comes in. It measures the exact color of a fabric sample under the three most common types of light (incandescent, fluorescent, daylight) to remove subjectivity from the color-reading process. In this readout of three samples, two matched and one did not.
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See a video of the lab at blog.fitnyc.edu/ huetoo.
7 Fibers WORLD that changed the
Until the 20th century, all textiles were natural. Wool, linen, cotton, and silk were the essential ingredients of the fashionable world, and all could be found in a wide range of qualities from coarse to luxuriously refined.
Increased textile production capacity after the
Industrial Revolution led to a search for fibers that could be produced in larger quantities, without disruptions from weather or plant and animal diseases. The emerging chemical industry turned its experiments to textile fiber in the late 19th century, and by the dawn of the 20th century, the age of manmade fibers began. These inventions would revolutionize the fashion industry; today, more than half of all textile fibers produced in the world are synthetic.
To take these new fibers from laboratory to
marketplace, manufacturers actively marketed them directly to consumers. Vintage ads of the 20th century reveal how the synthetic fiber industry gave its products status in the eyes of the public. In response, producers of cotton and other natural fibers began to advertise directly to consumers in order to survive.
During World War II, nylon was restricted to military use. After four years of rationing, it was reintroduced in ads like this one, from 1947. To the public, nylons meant legs.
By Patrice George, associate professor, Textile Development and Marketing, and Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice ’14 Research: Julianna Dow, Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice ’08
Rayon Rayon fiber, the first manmade alternative to silk, is created from a solution of wood pulp and chemical solvents that is forced through small holes in a metal plate known as a spinnerette. The earliest rayon, patented in 1855, was extremely flammable and weak; nonflammable rayon, sometimes marketed as “artificial silk,” was introduced in the 1890s. Natural silk imports from Japan and China were cut off during World War I, making rayon indispensable to the textile industry. In the U.S., commercial rayon production began in 1910, and its popularity increased through the 1920s and ’30s. Elsa Schiaparelli was one of the first couture designers to recognize that rayon draped and took colorful dyes beautifully.
However, rayon fabrics did not stretch and recover well and
tended to shrink after laundering. In this 1943 ad for Cannon Hosiery (right), rayon stockings are promoted because silk was rationed during World War II. The ad cautions that these stockings need to air-dry for 36 hours!
NYlon This year marks the 75th anniversary of the invention of nylon, by DuPont chemist Wallace Carothers. The first completely synthetic fiber, created from petroleum derivatives, nylon was stronger than any natural fiber, lustrous, resilient, and quick-drying.
DuPont, the firm responsible for the slogan
“Better Living Through Chemistry,” introduced this miracle to the public at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Recognizing the purchasing power of women and their need for an affordable, durable substitute for silk stockings, DuPont built a knitting plant to produce ladies’ hose in Wilmington, DE.
After an extensive introductory advertising
campaign, the first nylon stockings went on sale on May 15, 1940. On the first day, 780,000 pairs sold.
During World War II, all nylon production was
for government use, for parachutes and other military gear. When the war ended, DuPont partnered with designers like Christian Dior to turn nylon stockings into a status symbol. Meanwhile, nylon began to be incorporated into sportswear, lingerie, accessories, and other textiles in need of strength and durability.
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Polyester Six decades after DuPont introduced it to the U.S. market, polyester accounts for about 75 percent of all synthetic fibers produced worldwide.
Why? It’s strong, wrinkle resistant,
doesn’t shrink, and dries quickly. It’s thermoplastic, meaning that it can be shaped and molded to create permanent creases, like the pants in the ad (right) in which a happy housewife celebrates her husband’s iron-free slacks. Specialty variations wick away moisture in activewear, and provide safe, flame-resistant fabrics for home and industry.
But polyester’s real fashion value was
its ability to add wash-and-wear properties to natural fibers, especially cotton. Galey & Lord, a major American cotton textile manufacturer, was the first mill to weave cotton/polyester blends, in the mid-’50s. That launched the era of easy-care fashion, as seen in the Dacron and flax dress in the 1958 DuPont ad (far right).
Polyester fiber is, however, derived from petroleum, a non-
renewable resource. Today, “recycled” polyester, created from recycled plastic bottles, reflects our 21st-century desire to create products with less impact on the environment.
Acrylic Rayon and nylon fulfilled the consumer’s desire for a silk substitute, but wool was out of test-tube range until the petrochemical acrylonitrile was successfully extruded into acrylic fiber in 1942. In 1950, DuPont began to produce acrylic fiber in the U.S., while the German firm Bayer followed with acrylic production in 1954.
Acrylic was created to be an easy-care, non-allergenic,
mothproof alternative to wool. Through attractive consumer ad campaigns for branded acrylic fibers like DuPont’s Orlon and Chemstrand’s Acrilan, it quickly replaced wool as the fiber of choice for mass-market sweaters, knit fashions, carpets, gloves, home textiles, and hand-knitting yarns. Modified acrylic fiber (modacrylic) is used for wigs, faux fur, outdoor fabric, and plush toy animals.
Chemstrand gave acrylic a handsome, rugged image by
draping the young Kirk Douglas in a gold Acrilan blanket (right).
LUREX Throughout history, humans have craved textiles that shine. Early on, the glitter came from metal foils, wrapped in strips around another fiber for strength. The most luxurious fabrics incorporated gold and silver, and there was a quest for materials that would perform better, at lower cost. In 1946, the Dobeckmun Company sealed aluminum vapor between two layers of plastic film, creating a shiny fiber they called Lurex. Lightweight, flexible, and washable, it was an instant success with fashion designers and was soon incorporated into upholstery, accessories, and automobile interiors. Hollywood and haute couture embraced the sparkle, as in Thierry Mugler’s 1987–89 polyester and Lurex gown (below).
San Francisco textile designer Dorothy Liebes may be the person most responsible for the success of Lurex. Known for unexpected materials like feathers, plastics, metallics, and ticker tape, she was a consultant to fiber producers DuPont, Dow, Bigelow-Sanford, and Goodall Fabrics; her clients included Frank Lloyd Wright and the King of Saudi Arabia. This 1954 Vogue ad (right) features Lurex accessories made with fabrics MFIT
SPANDEX Since it was first produced by DuPont in 1959, spandex has shaped the fashion world more than any other fiber. DuPont’s trademarked name for it is Lycra.
Spandex can be stretched up to 500 times its original
length without breaking, returning easily to its original shape. Just 2 to 5 percent spandex will give a fabric excellent stretch-and-recovery performance.
Spandex was introduced to the consumer in the early
1960s in the form of lightweight support garments, like the 1961 Lady Marlene foundation-wear advertisement (far left).
Soon, spandex moved from its supporting role in under-
garments to shaping the silhouette of sport and exercise fashions. Well-toned celebrities like Christie Brinkley (right) and Jane Fonda popularized spandex leotards for aerobic workouts through their video and television appearances. Moving the aerobic look into couture, Jean Paul Gaultier chose nylon/spandex fabric for his 1996 catsuit (left). Today,
spandex is used to add a sleek silhouette to everything
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from activewear to automobile interiors.
Cotton With the growing popularity of synthetics threatening their industry, American cotton growers realized they needed to market directly to the public in order to regain market share. In 1970, they founded Cotton Incorporated to renew consumers’ bond with the fiber. The “Seal of Cotton” logo was created for labels on apparel and home tex-
tiles, to transform cotton from commodity to status “brand.”
T S ST
FOOD Ostrich meat will replace beef as a culinary treat for hungry families everywhere.
The enormously effective “Fabric of Our Lives” campaign was
launched in 1989. Prime-time television ads featured gingham-clad children, cowboys in denim, and laundry flapping in the wind, with a heart-tugging theme song performed first by Richie Havens, later
T R A N S P O R TAT I O N Cars will be made out of soybeans and old dishwashers and will run entirely on decomposed rubbish.
by Aaron Neville, and recently by Miranda Lambert. Cotton was portrayed as natural, comfortable, and authentically American.
Meanwhile, Cotton Incorporated has invested in extensive
research and development, to make cotton agriculture more efficient, and the fabric easier to use and care for. New plant varieties need less water, chemicals, and acreage to grow; new fabric treatments keep
HOMES The American dream will be constructed from prefabricated components made of polymerized resins, mulch and old hip-hop CDs.
cotton’s natural wicking ability and prevent excessive moisture absorption.
These and other innovations have boosted cotton’s market share,
to approximately 75 percent of U.S. apparel and home furnishings from a low of 33 percent in 1973. This year, the U.S. cotton industry will produce $6.86 billion in revenue, and approximately four of the 24 million tons of cotton produced globally. CLOTHING Tomorrow‘s designers will shun space-age fabrics for natural fibers such as 100% cotton. The look? Comfortable, practical and totally fashion forward.
C O T T O N : T O D AY. T O M O R ROW. T H E FA B R I C O F O U R L I V E S �.
�R e g i s t e r e d S e r v i c e M a r k / Tr a d e m a r k o f C o t t o n I n c o r p o r a t e d . © C o t t o n I n c o r p o r a t e d, 2 0 0 0 .
COTTON INCORPORATED. CARY NC, NEW YORK, LOS ANGELES, DALLAS, BASEL, OSAKA, SHANGHAI, SINGAPORE, MEXICO CITY.
Ad No.: GE-00-14A Job No.: K01366 Client: Cotton Product: General Ad Title: Amazing Trends This Advertisement Prepared By: Ogilvy & Mather To Appear In: WWD Size/Color: Page B/W Live: 10" x 13-7/8" Print Producer: J. Gregorio Traffic Manager: K. Cole GSI No.: K01366 Di2 A2
______ ______ ______
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Exec.Creative Director ______ ______ ______ FILENAME: K01366
DATE: 2/29/2000 TIME: 6:09
CLIENT: Cotton CONTACT: K. Cole LOCATION: GSI:GSI Production: A-G:Cotton:K01366: DESCRIPTION: Amazing Trends PUBLICATION: WWD FIERY MODE: n/a RESOLUTION: 1200 O&M Job No.: K01366 OT/GE OPERATOR: le OUTPUT: 1 Film NEG (RRED) 2 Veloxes SCREEN: 100 TYPE: XB Memphis ExtraBold 10/18, XB Memphis ExtraBold 16/18, M Memphis Medium 9/13, M Memphis Medium 9/11, FC-Bluejack-Mdm 9/11, M Memphis Medium 9/-, FC-Bluejack-Bld 9/11, XB Memphis ExtraBold 9/11, FC-Bluejack-Bld 14/28, FC-Bluejack-Lgt 11/10, FC-Bluejack-Lgt 9/10, FC-Bluejack-Lgt 6.5/16, FC-Bluejack-Lgt 13/16, B Helvetica Bold 9/11, Helvetica 9/11, Helvetica CondensedBold 8/14, Helvetica CondensedBold 8/-, Helvetica CondensedBold 6/1, Helvetica CondensedBold 8/1, Helvetica CondensedBold 12/16, Helvetica 12/auto GRAPHICS: The O&M logo K.eps, sluglogo, textured shape.tif, Cotton.outline.ko�.eps, space car.tif, space couple.tif, wide load.tif, solid shape.tif, Ostrich King 3.tif, amazing.tif, amazing.tif, "trends" type.tif, "trends" type.tif, "trends" type.tif, "trends" DATE JOB CREATED: 12:40 PM - 9/17/99 00 AA / 00 ED / 00 PE PROOFREADER:
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Client ______ ______ ______ Revision: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Final
Images courtesy of Corbis, The Museum at FIT, The Hagley Museum and Library, Lurex®, Monsanto Co.®, and Cotton Incorporated.
Soft Focus Cultural carpets. Alpaca mittens. Embroidered coverlets. Stretch denim. Four profiles of alumni in diverse areas of the textile industry
Textile/Surface Design ’96, Illustration ’94, principal and creative director of Malene B Custom Handmade Carpets Each of Malene Barnett’s graphic rugs tells a story from her worldwide wanderings. Papunya, swirls of raised brown pile surrounding islands of colorful points of light, is inspired by the dot patterns of Australian aborigines. Wolof, rows of bell-shaped figures bedecked in bright clothing and jewelry, celebrates the Wolof people of Senegal. And St. Vincent interprets the shifting blues of Caribbean waters around the island where Barnett’s mother was born. “I’m trying to give people a global experience through carpet,” she says. She founded her namesake company (maleneb.com) in 2009 after cutting her design teeth at rug giant Nourison Industries, working on collections for Nicole Miller, Liz Claiborne, and Martha Stewart. Though she enjoyed working for others, she wanted the creative freedom of owning her business and fashioning her company culture. “I was taking a big chance with bold designs in a world where most carpets were quiet and simple,” she says. When ordering a Malene B rug, customers choose between hand-knotting and hand-tufting by artisans throughout Asia. Hand-knotted carpets, crafted from thousands of knots of wool, are costly but can last for generations. Hand-tufted carpets, made by firing loops of yarn with a tufting gun into a stretched canvas backing, are less expensive but still carry the prestige of being handmade. This year, Barnett is presenting an even more affordable option, as Surya, a well-known manufacturer of home accessories, began including her designs in its retail collections. These rugs, also handmade (either tufted or woven), start at $599. Her carpets have been a runaway critical success, earning articles in Interior Design, House Beautiful, and Elle Decor magazines and finding their way into homes and hotel lobbies alike. “My customers look at my carpets as works of art,” she says. “Some want them for their walls instead of their floors.” Left: Barnett in her Brooklyn studio.
Background: Mehndi is based on her experience getting her hands hennaed before a friend’s wedding.
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Fashion Design ’81, founder and creative director, Simply Natural Clothing Faced with the choice between shelling out $300 for a single sweater or for ten different garments, how many consumers will choose the former? “The past couple of generations have been programmed to think fast fashion, that they have to wear a new outfit every day,” Holly Henderson says. Getting back to the quality and durability of years past is one reason Henderson started Simply Natural Clothing (simplynatural clothing.com), producing natural-fiber garments— mostly alpaca—from concept to manufacture, exclusively in the United States. “Yes, I’m spending $300 on a sweater, but I’ll be able to wear it for ten years because it’s special and it won’t fall apart after a couple of washings,” she adds. “I think this shift in mentality is starting to happen.” With 30-plus years in the industry, Henderson has seen more than a few shifts. She’s worked as a fashion illustrator and a knitwear designer, but gained renown as a tech expert, programming computerized knitting machines. In 1987, Henderson opened Deerwood Designs, the first independent CAD and production development studio, where she worked with major companies like Liz Claiborne, Macy’s, Tommy Hilfiger, and Jones Apparel Group. She became an adjunct faculty member in FIT’s Textile/Surface Design Department in 1997. A nature and animal lover, Henderson was inspired when a friend started an alpaca farm in her hometown of Clarence, NY. “It was kind of a joke at first,” she explains. “I said, ‘One day I’ll make something out of their fleece.’” Encouraged by the results of her initial “experiments” with the shorn fibers, which possess superior durability and softness, she launched Simply Natural in 2011, offering a line of drapey, artisanal-yet-refined gloves, leg warmers, scarves, and capes. Henderson programs her designs on a computer, inputting measurements, stitches, patterns, yarns, and other technical data, creating realistic 3D renderings, and producing her sweaters and fashion accessories on a wholegarment knitting machine. Despite their luxurious look, the mostly seamless pieces range from just $36 to $495. “Because we don’t produce a lot of extra inventory, and we don’t create a lot of waste, we’re keeping costs manageable,” she says. Henderson’s farm-to-fashion philosophy focuses on sustainable materials, supporting the local economy, and even upcycling used items, and the company employs direct sales and marketing. Her lean business model minimizes waste and maximizes growth, all while producing beautiful, style-conscious products. For Henderson, it’s a natural. —Robin Catalano Above: Henderson wearing Simply Natural Clothing at Diamond Alpacas in Clarence, NY. Background: A close-up of an alpaca mitten.
Nick Parisse ’09
Textile/Surface Design ’00, director of fabric operations, Ralph Lauren Home David Drozdis is one of those rare souls who think with both sides of their brain. He encourages Ralph Lauren Home’s designers to dream while considering the limitations of offshore production. In the same breath, he pushes factories to improve quality and shave costs. And somehow, while solving a crisis a minute, he manages to deliver on time. The soft goods he oversees—bedding and towels, for example—end up in 800 department stores around the world. “I see the veins that connect design with reality, and I find a way to join the two,” he says. Sometimes the design team asks him to develop fabrics for specific projects, but he’s much happier working proactively to offer the designers textiles they hadn’t dreamed of. To that end, Drozdis challenges suppliers to return to handwork, the way textiles used to be produced. He learns about indigenous embroidery techniques and trains Ralph Lauren’s factories to reproduce them. If a vendor offers him a machine-made tie-dye, he asks instead for a fabric dip-dyed by hand. Sometimes he brings in complicated handwork just to prove that it can be done. “I want something that reflects the human hand,” he explains. “That’s going to be on my tombstone.” His left brain comes into play as he finds clever ways to meet consumer demand for lower prices. He negotiates discounts on cotton and silk, simplifies weave structures, and tests machine-made embroidery that looks handwrought. Slight imperfections thrill him. Nature inspires him, from the play of light across surfaces to the way colors change throughout the day. Before enrolling at FIT, he studied to be a forest ranger but couldn’t stomach the paperwork. He often skipped class just to walk through the woods. The chance to escape into nature puts his life into perspective. “I often think, ‘What’s the importance of my work?’ If our customers knew about all the details that went into creating these fabrics, they wouldn’t care. But I remember that, sometimes on a subconscious level, the beautiful product we create enhances their lives.” Above: Drozdis in the Ralph Lauren offices. Background: A mercerized cotton dobby weave developed in 2012 for a throw or blanket.
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Marketing: Fashion and Related Industries ’91, senior director, fabric research and development for Chico’s
Fashion Merchandising Management ’01, fabric R&D manager
Melissa Dunlay Kossmann
Fashion Merchandising Management ’00, fabric R&D manager For most clothes shoppers, the look and feel of the fabric is key. At Chico’s, the Fort Myers, FL-based apparel chain of 600 boutiques, a 12-person team (that includes five FIT alums) is devoted to discovering, developing, and testing the newest, softest, most beautiful fabrics in the world. They scour textile trade shows in Paris, Shanghai, and New York, and work with mills to create fabrics using cutting-edge textile technology. “We have to be ten steps ahead of everybody else,” says Nina Terzian, who oversees the department. “Our customer looks for one-of-a-kind items, and we look for one-of-a-kind fabric.” When selecting fabrics, the team thinks like the Chico’s customer, a 40-plus woman who will spend a bit more for style and slimming features and wants to look fashionable yet comfortable. “She wants to look updated, not trendy,” explains Melissa Kossmann, in charge of bottoms, including denim. “I look for super-stretch, not too heavy, and great hand-feel.” Often, their work involves developing affordable facsimiles of pricey fabrics. When Jin Lee, in charge of fabrics for knit tops and for Chico’s outlets, fell in love with antique lace from a Paris flea market, she helped develop a mass-producible version. And when cotton prices spiked in 2011, the team researched spun polyester yarns that felt like cotton at a fraction of the cost. “Our job is to make the beautiful, complicated stuff into something we can afford,” Lee says. Chico’s design and product teams focus on creating easy-care styles that require little to no ironing and no dry cleaning. Ornamental fringes, which were lighting up runways, won’t be seen on a Chico’s rack because they scrunch up in the dryer. Chico’s develops, tests, and purchases hundreds of fabrics per season. Once Terzian has approved each one, she communicates her excitement to Chico’s designers and buyers. The team is knowledgeable in fabric science, but much of their work relies on instinct. “You touch it, you feel it, it’s luxurious,” Terzian riffs. “It sings to you.” Right: Lee, Terzian, and Kossmann at a recent denim trade show.
Nick Parisse ’09
Background: This leopard-print knit, developed in a mill in Korea, was used in a best-selling crewneck top that debuted in fall 2012.
How the industry is committing to sustainable production By Jonathan Vatner extiles are essential to every aspect of our world. “There is rarely a minute we are not in contact with a textile, from our birth to our death,” says Sass Brown, Global Fashion Management ’07, assistant dean of the School of Art and Design. “There’s almost nothing in our environment that this industry doesn’t impact.” According to Textile Exchange, a nonprofit committed to sustainability, more than 60 million tons of textiles are produced every year worldwide, 20 pounds for every human on the planet. (Four fifths of that comprises apparel and home furnishings.) The sheer amount is hard on our environment, from creating the fibers to disposing of them. Here, sustainability experts discuss the ecological cost of textiles throughout their life cycle and how manufacturers and consumers are lessening it.
Raw material extraction. Each fiber has a different ecological story. Polyester production consumes 70 million barrels of oil each year, and it breaks down very slowly—if at all—in landfills. Growing cotton is pesticide- and water-intensive. Jeffrey Silberman, chair of the Textile Development and Marketing Department, says that genetically modified cotton needs less water and less pesticide, and is easier to harvest. However, Shona Quinn, International Trade and Marketing ’00, sustainability officer at Eileen Fisher, worries about the long-term consequences of genetically modified crops. “Engineering crops is not always considered good,” she says.
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Organic cotton, which is grown without pesticides, is also catching on. H&M, the largest buyer of organic cotton in the world, aims to source all its cotton sustainably by 2020. Recycling reduces environmental impact considerably. Polyester can be melted down and reused, but not if it was blended with a natural fiber. Polyester fabric can also be made from used plastic bottles; the recycled fiber Repreve is one example. Nylon from carpets can be recycled, too. Ajoy Sarkar, associate professor of Textile Development and Marketing, says that the recycling of synthetics has become a major source of new product. Another source, he says, is plant-derived polymers, such as PLA and Sorona, which are used in apparel, upholstery, and carpeting. Cotton and wool can be recycled as well but must be unveiled a coat made of recycled wool that is less mixed with virgin material for strength. expensive than most of its virgin wool coats. Companies are beginning to take recycling “The rather daunting challenge in the next seriously. U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer recently five, ten, and 20 years will be to scale these shifts
barrels of oil go into polyester production annually
across the textile industry,” says Heidi McCloskey, senior director of communications and resource development at Textile Exchange.
The Average American throws away
68 lbs of textiles each year
Production. According to Textile Exchange, one trillion kilowatt hours are used yearly in the manufacturing process: spinning, weaving, dyeing, cutting, sewing, and shipping. The carbon footprint from this energy use adds up to 10 percent of the global total. Dyeing is a major polluter. “You’re basically putting the fabric in a tub of water with some chemistry and some colorants, and you heat it up and treat it and heat it some more,” Quinn says. “You get a really beautiful fabric—and a lot of wastewater with toxins in it.” The World Bank
60 MILLION tons of textiles are produced worldwide each year
estimates that 20 percent of industrial freshwater pollution comes from textile treatment and dyeing. The dyeing process also consumes a great deal of water. Textile production uses more water than any industry in the world except agriculture. The embedded water content of an object is the amount of water that went into producing it. Brown says that the embedded water content for the average pair of jeans, from creating the fiber to washing it before it’s shipped, is 3,000 gallons. Multiply that by the 450 million pairs of jeans sold every year in the U.S., and that’s 1.4 trillion gallons of water. “We think of water as a renewable resource, but we have not been working within nature’s limitations,” Brown says. Solutions are on the horizon, though. For example, factories that recycle the water used in dyeing— called closed-loop dye houses—are becoming more prevalent globally. At just about every stage of the manufacturing process, from fiber left on the cotton plant to fabric
discarded after cutting, Brown considers 15 percent waste to be the norm. That adds up to a massive amount of discarded fabric. Some designers, including those at Eileen Fisher, are experimenting with zero-waste designs. (For another designer’s take on it, see page 9.) Quinn says that 98 percent of apparel in the U.S. is imported, and shipping consumes a significant amount of petroleum. Though it’s not always fast enough for fashion, transporting products by sea has a much smaller carbon footprint than by air. “If a company is shipping by sea, that’s a huge step,” Quinn says. “If they’re producing locally, even better.”
gallons of water are needed to make one pair of jeans
Maintenance. Consumers use considerable amounts of energy, water, and chemicals when cleaning textiles, especially clothes. From this perspective, polyester is a winner because it dries quickly and doesn’t need ironing, as are products like blazers and curtains that don’t need to be cleaned frequently. End of life. The average American throws away 68 pounds of textiles every year, totaling 25 billion pounds. Only 15 percent of that is recycled, either donated to developing countries, shredded for car upholstery stuffing, or reused as rags in factories. Eventually, all of it is incinerated or buried. One solution is to create timeless investment pieces that are made to last. Silberman points out Patagonia’s refreshing “Buy Less, Buy Used” campaign, which encourages customers to repair their garments instead of buying new. Another
the More than 1 TRILLION kilowatt hours used annually in textile manufacturing could power
87 MILLION homes for a year.
tack is to wear used and vintage clothes. Green Eileen, for example, is Eileen Fisher’s new clothing recycling program, which donates its profits to women’s and girls’ initiatives. But for fashionistas who pride themselves on wearing the most current colors and styles, reusing is a difficult sell. There are more global solutions amid all these statistics. Brown says it’s about connecting with our clothes and furnishings. If we care about where our things came from and who made them, they won’t seem as disposable. Silberman believes that improved efficiency has cleaned up textile production. “If you’re running your business well, you’re probably wasting less,” he says. “I see a lot of movement in terms of good practices.” Quinn says companies have the power to reduce the environmental impact of textiles by up to 70 percent through their decisions; they just need to find ways to create eco-friendly designs that are beautiful and therefore desirable. “I would like to think this industry can be a leader for our environment,” she says. ﬁtnyc.edu/hue
Treasures American Museum from the
of Natural History
Selected by Mary Lou Murillo ’09
By Tracy Jenkins, MA Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice ’12
An anthropology collection contains not only “masterpieces,” the finest examples of a culture or technique that stand alone on their aesthetic merits (though the museum has many such works). Every possible object, from the everyday to the exceptional, is collected and documented. Tools, unfinished pieces, and researchers’ field notes are among the approximately 400 catalogue records added each year. New objects must fill in a gap or enhance a collection, and tell a story about the way people live. Textiles are categorized as ethnographic (collected from living peoples) or archaeological (made by ancient peoples and excavated). Murillo helps find the best ways to store and retrieve objects, maintains catalogue records, and cleans the pieces and the spaces in which they’re housed. She also assists researchers who come to study the collection. Sometimes she witnesses epiphanies. For example, a curator descended from the A’aninin tribe of the Plains Indians was studying a muslin tipi liner that depicts the tribe’s greatest warriors and their brave deeds in battle. The curator realized he’d seen a key that an anthropologist had created to explain the liner’s imagery at a museum in Berlin. The curator not only reunited the liner with its key, but was able to identify his great-great-grandfather in several scenes.
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Indigenous artists work with the collection, too. In her first months on the job, Murillo met a Colombian artist who came to study the museum’s chumbe, woven belts worn by Inga women, and compare them to belts by native peoples of the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes. By observing the chumbe firsthand, the artist was able to bring knowledge of old weaving techniques and symbols back to his community. On the following pages, Hue presents five highlights from the collection, selected by Murillo.
The American Museum of Natural History is among the most venerable scientific and cultural institutions in the world. Its 32 million objects—essential to the study of the universe, nature, and human culture—are researched, catalogued, stored, and preserved by experts, such as the museum’s scientific assistant for textiles, Mary Lou Murillo, MA Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice ’09. Murillo works in the anthropology division, where she’s in charge of 13,500 textiles found all over the world in clothing, accessories, and domestic goods. “I get to see a huge range of techniques and materials, and ways that people solve basic problems of how to attire themselves, or decorate,” she says. “There’s so much variety here.”
Catalogue number 70/2280
Man’s Summer Coat (Shanghai, China) Date: 1850-75 A.D.
This robe features dragons in metallic couch work,
cate it as a court garment, unlike less ornate copies
an elaborate and time-consuming method of
made for the marketplace. The influence of China’s
embroidery that incorporates costly gold and silver.
Manchu conquerors can be seen in stylistic changes
Gilt paper is wrapped around a cotton core to make
to the shape of the robe. “The contour of the collar
threads that are secured, or “couched” to the fabric
and the way it overlaps from left to right echo the
with small stitches at regular intervals. Collected in
shape of the hide garments of the Manchu horsemen,”
1901, the robe dates from 1850-75, placing it during
Murillo says. “Manchu influence is also apparent in
China’s final dynasty, the Qing. These dates and its
the horse-hoof-shaped cuffs, designed to help protect
luxurious materials and construction all authenti-
the ungloved hands of riders on the windy steppes.”
Catalogue number 41.2/8604
Tunic (Wari, Peru) Date: 600-1000 A.D. How have 1,500-year-old textiles survived to the present day? In the case of this Wari tunic (detail, right), geography and luck. The Wari people were found chiefly in the highlands of Peru, but most of their textiles survive because they were brought down to coastal burials, where the semi-arid climate provided pre-modern preservation. The museum’s collection of archaeological textiles is predominately pre-Columbian and Andean, largely for this reason. Tunics like this one, a standardized elite garment, are thought to have been woven on short, wide looms, although no such looms survive. This is because of the unusual direction of the warp threads: horizontal rather than vertical. (Warp threads are held in tension on a loom and usually run vertically; weft threads are woven over and under warps.) “Lazy” lines, or subtle variations in the weave, indicate that multiple hands probably worked on a single piece, much easier to do on a loom that was wider than it was tall. Fibers of cotton warp and animal-hair weft are woven in extraordinarily fine interlock tapestry. A single tunic comprises an average of six to nine miles of thread.
Catalogue number: 50.2/6706
Child’s Pictorial Blanket (Navajo, New Mexico, USA) Date: 1880s The AMNH has a large collection of Navajo blankets, but this traditionally woven child’s blanket from the 1880s has an atypical motif: trains. “Navajo weavers witnessing changes to the world around them, such as the transcontinental railroad, incorporated these themes into their textiles,” Murillo says. The railroad, an emblem of industrialization, is paired here with the traditional Navajo symbol of the thunderbird. A unique construction detail makes this blanket unmistakably Navajo: its edge, or selvage, has a distinctive pattern of small diagonal white stripes (far left). These are warp threads, normally unseen, but visible because Navajo weavers twist their warp threads at the selvage approximately every quarter inch.
hue | spring 2013
Catalogue number: 90.2/9922
Wax-resist fabric (Dutch) Date: contemporary This recent acquisition adds to the history of Dutch wax-resist fabric. In the 19th century, Dutch merchants traveled and traded along the West African coast on their way to the Dutch Indies. In the mid-1800s, they began to trade and produce Javanese-style batik, or wax cloth, initially deemed a failure because the Indonesians would not buy the Dutch-made versions. When they docked in Africa, however, the Dutch discovered that the cloth appealed to West Africans, for whom it quickly became the height of fashion. By the early 1900s, Dutch manufacturers were producing “African-style” Javaneseinspired wax cloth for this new market. Vlisco, the firm that manufactured this piece, is one of the original companies. Today, discerning West African women forgo lesser-quality Chinese and Indonesian imitations to purchase genuine Dutch wax cloth from specialty stores. The dice print (right) appealed to the museum’s curator for African ethnology, a games specialist and expert on mancala, a family of board games played around the world. The cracked pattern in the background was an imperfection in the early fabrics that appealed to West African customers, so the Dutch continued to incorporate it.
Catalogue number 70.1/5272
Man’s Hemp Jacket (Bagobo, Mindanao, Santa Cruz, Philippines) Date: circa 1900 A.D. The Bagobo of the Philippines have a reputation among anthropologists as a tribe who invested almost all of their creative energy into adorning themselves. This jacket of abaca cloth and cotton is a stunning example of Bagobo decoration. It features elaborate glass beadwork, metal sequins, kalati shell disks, and embroidery. Laura Watson Benedict, the second woman in the world to receive a PhD in anthropology, did fieldwork among the Bagobo in 1906-07. She described how, during their journeys through the forest to visit neighboring tribes, they kept their best clothes packed safely in elaborately beaded bags. Just before they reached their destination, they changed into their finery and made a grand entrance. Benedict pioneered ethnographic collecting methods that have evolved into the present day holistic approach. A page from her notebook appears at left.
Jan Milsinovic Rollenhagen,
Ski Holm, Fine Arts ’80
paints gourds in western Nevada. The gourds, called lagenaria, are grown for ornamental reasons; farmers pick them and leave them in a furrow for a few months, occasionally rotating them, while they dry out. Rollenhagen scrapes them clean, then Owl on a Branch, 28 by paints and sometimes carves 14 inches, $1,000. or burns them. She often teaches the art at gourd festivals on farms in California. Earlier in life, she designed undergarments for handicapped people, artificial breasts for mastectomy patients, and lingerie and swimwear for Olga, a leading brand.
news from your classmates
1971 Jayne Dalton-DiPierro, Fashion Buying and Merchandising,
Marvin Carney, Photography, designs and shoots photos for the Delaware Beach Book, an annual tourism guide to the southern Delaware coast, which he co-founded with his wife and their friend. The hardcover book, which features a handful of stories about local people plus listings of restaurants and other attractions, has been a success: each year, 90 percent of advertisers from the previous guide return.
Karl Rivenburgh, Photography, is a freelance photographer in East Northport, NY, who worked for Canon USA doing product, corporate, and event photography for ten years. A champion skeet shooter, he has written and photographed more than 40 stories for the Skeet Shooting Review.
In February, Ski Holm held a solo exhibition of paintings of the past three decades called Cemetery: The Unintended Subject, at Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, PA. Most of the works, including Cemetery at the Bend, above, depict a graveyard he has painted 20 times. For this version, he remained faithful to his photograph, though he took out cars and telephone poles and added shadow to the lower left, a technique called repoussoir in which an object in the foreground invites the eye into the painting. “It keeps the painting from sliding off the canvas,” he says. He is struck by the simplicity of gravestones and low walls, contrasted against “these ungodly beautiful landscapes around them.” But the main reason for visiting the cemetery so often, alone and with art classes he teaches, is neither about beauty nor some dark obsession with death. “First, it’s across from my house,” he says. “Second, cemeteries have good parking.”
co-founded two companies with his wife Ruth (see 1987). One is HoneyGramz, selling bear-shaped bottles of honey with a message on the label, such as “You’re so sweet, honey.” They also offer a line of honey-infused natural skincare products called Mee Beauty, named after the Chinese word for honey. Harrigan is pursuing his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Columbia University Medical School, and his book, Body Energy: Unlock the Secrets of the Chinese Energy Clock, has been a best seller on Amazon.com. Matthew Harrigan, Advertising and Communications,
has owned On Your Toes Dancewear in Staten Island for 20 years. When the store opened, most dancers wore the same uniform: pink tights and ballet slippers. Since then, Dalton-DiPierro has widened her selection because dance students can wear almost anything in class. Last fall, she moved her store to a much larger space.
cultivates more than a dozen beehives throughout New York City, including one on 27th Street in Manhattan, in order to harvest honey for the companies she co-founded with her husband (see 1986). For Mee Beauty, she works with a laboratory to develop skincare formulas with as much honey as possible without becoming sticky. She also creates the labels at home and sells the products at local fairs and through a growing number of stores.
A photo of a restored mid-century Willys pickup truck that Rivenburgh spotted in Bridgehampton last summer.
hue | spring 2013
Ruth Ma Harrigan, Fashion Buying and Merchandising,
Top, the line of Mee Beauty Products. Above, Ruth Harrigan with one of her beehives.
Lisa Liscio, Fashion Design, co-owns Bridal Trousseau on Main, near New Haven, CT. The boutique, in a loft-like space that used to be a bowling alley, sells wedding gowns by popular designers such as Matthew Christopher and Pronovias, as well as tuxedos and party dresses. In April, the boutique will be featured on the Season 2 premiere of the TLC show I Found the Gown, by the producers of Say Yes to the Dress.
A Visual Feast Valeria Napoleone, MA Gallery and Retail Art Administration ’97 Cooking dinner might seem to have little to do with art collecting, but for Valeria Napoleone, preparing food is integral to the job. While at FIT, the Italian native began having artists over for dinner, using the homemade meals as a chance to build relationships
with them. She continued the tradition when she graduated, moved to London, and started building her
Matthew Goodman, Interior Design, Display and Exhibit Design ’88,
collection. “I host dinners where I put artists in touch
is art director for Center Stage Productions, a firm that designs holiday displays and playspaces for shopping malls owned by publicly traded companies. Once the designs are approved, Goodman oversees installation at night, while the malls are closed. “You get to know every Denny’s and Waffle House everywhere,” he says. Last fall, Center Stage’s decorations for Water Tower Place in Chicago included a light show blinking in time with the music, gigantic stainedglass snowflakes, and a seven-story lighting installation featuring images of the Peanuts characters. Before coming to Center Stage, Goodman oversaw visual presentation at Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, and Victoria’s Secret.
with curators and other galleries,” she says, explaining Jorge Monedero
that her goal as a collector is to promote promising
Napoleone in her home.
young artists who have not yet made a name for themselves. Napoleone’s parents collected antiques from Renaissance Italy, so she grew up surrounded with beautiful things, but in her own contemporary art
collection, “the objects are just a starting point—the relationship is more important.” Today, she hosts six or seven dinners per year of roughly 100 people, plus numerous smaller dinners, at the home she shares with her husband and three children in the upscale neighborhood of Kensington in West London. All of the food is still homemade. Napoleone’s kitchen staff helps her with the savory items, but the desserts—around ten at any given party, including Italian specialties like tiramisu, zabaglione mousse, apple tarts, and marmalade cakes—are her domain. “I don’t trust anyone else with them,” she says, laughing. After one dinner during the 2010 Frieze Art Fair, a
Marian Kraus and Ron Gould
guest urged her to publish a cookbook; the result is Valeria
Center Stage Productions’ holiday display at Water Tower Place in Chicago.
Napoleone’s Catalogue of Exquisite Recipes (Koenig Books 2012). The food is primarily Northern Italian, family recipes from Napoleone’s mother and grandmother, plus a few Sardinian dishes from her mother-in-law. Familiar Italian foods like risotto and eggplant parmigiana appear alongside more obscure dishes like deepfried sage and Lombardy-style minced beef. Napoleone also enlisted 49 artists to illustrate the book with works inspired by the idea of food. “One artist gave me a photo of herself at 5 years old in Communist Poland grinding wheat,” she says. “Another went to a convent in
Dori Oudkirk Fitzpatrick, Production
Hamburg and filmed nuns making bread, and gave me a series of images from that.”
Management: Apparel, sells
Napoleone is known for collecting exclusively female artists, and she credits her time
her crocheted hats and blankets on Etsy. Through an opportunity given by the Artisans Group, a marketing company that specializes in celebrity gifting, one of her newsboy caps was selected to be worn on an episode of The Vampire Diaries. She subNina Dobrer in Fitzpatrick’s mitted it because “it looked trendy, hat on The Vampire Diaries. and I guess I could see a vampire running around in it.”
were incredible women artists being shown in galleries, and you were exposed to the fact that women were under-recognized in the art world.” But the art she collects is eclectic— paintings, sculpture, photography, and video, in figurative, conceptual, and abstract styles—and is not overtly feminist. “It’s not a collection that has a political agenda,” she says. —Christy Harrison
1998 Jill Courtemanche, Accessories Design and Millinery
paints and silk screens T-shirts in her Long Island City apartment, then sells them online and at a number of stores, including the gift shop at the Queens Museum of Art. Each design tells a story, from neighborhood scenes to a photo of her cousin after a dog bit her in the face. She is changing the name from Q77 to Q88 to avoid a trademark conflict.
at FIT for helping shape this decision. She explains that in New York in the mid-’90s, “there
certificate, Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design ’97,
Christina Prudenti, Fine Arts,
Super Vintage Boxer T, $45.
sells feminine, “1940s film star” hats of her own creation and teaches millinery classes, both in her new San Diego shop. Her pieces have been worn by Yoko Ono, Donatella Versace, and the princess of Denmark. She also carries hats by other designers, who, like her, make everything by hand in the U.S. Ideas usually come to her in her sleep, so she keeps a sketchbook on her nightstand. “I’m not well-enough rested,” she admits.
Jasmeen, with veiling, ostrich plumes, and handmade silk flowers, $325.
The Stylish Bride, helping brides find one-of-a-kind wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses, plus bridal accessories such as shoes, cuffs, handbags, and belts. Before making recommendations, she explores her clients’ closets and interviews them to “absorb their style.” In December 2012, she launched The Stylish Dresser, which provides styling services—hair and makeup, bustling the train, and fixing a broken strap, for example—for brides on their wedding day.
Andrea and Marcus
news from your classmates
Julie Sabatino, Accessories Design, runs
It’s in the Bag Nicole Dillon, Fashion Merchandising Management ’06
Student projects generally start and end in the classroom, but for Nicole Dillon, one assignment led to a promising career. For a class project in fall 2005, Dillon and four other students brainstormed a redesign and marketing plan for BergdorfGoodman.com. Around
is “chief underwearist” for Ken Wroy, her new brand of men’s underwear made in screaming prints and bright colors, geared toward the metrosexual. Because the line is still small, she has a cash-and-carry arrangement with a factory in India, and she drop-ships to customers instead of selling her stock to retailers. She finds that much of her customer base is women buying the product for boyfriends and husbands.
that time, Burt Tansky, then the president of Neiman Marcus Group, which owns Bergdorf Goodman, spoke at FIT. Dillon approached him and told him the website needed improvement, to capture the “spectacular fantasy” experience you get in the store. He gave her team an audience with Bergdorf’s senior management. When the day came, though, three of her classmates were out of town and one came down with food poisoning. Remarkably, Dillon wasn’t nervous during her hour-long solo presentation. Afterward, Jim Gold, then Bergdorf’s president, asked where she was planning to work after graduation. She sent him her resume and was hired as an assistant buyer in soft accessories and fur. Two promotions later, she is now one of the store’s three handbag buyers, focusing on European brands like Goyard, Balenciaga, Prada, Bottega Veneta, and Alexander McQueen. She takes four buying trips a year, choosing favorites from the runways of Paris, Milan, and Rome. For a West Virginian who had never been to Europe, the job is a dream. “Ever since high school, I loved reading Vogue,” she says. “Now I’m helping launch the trends.”
Harriet Jung, Fashion Design, is
an assistant designer for Jill Stuart, working on the New York-based designer’s eveningwear line. She also collaborates with Reid Bartelme (see 2012) on costume design for ballet dancers. They recently created 18 costumes based on ’50s beachwear for Paz de la Jolla, choreographed by the 25-year-old Justin Peck for the New York City Ballet.
Buying for a store with just one location allows her the luxury of working hands-on. “If one bag did really well, I’ll often call a manager and ask, ‘Why did we sell so many?’” So what makes the perfect bag? According to Dillon, it’s supple leather, an interior as beautiful as the exterior, and, at least for now, a polished, minimalist look. But a bag, like a person, needs something intangible to succeed. “It has to have an emotional characteristic that makes you fall in love with it,” she says. “It has to be able to contain your life.”
designs dance costumes independently and with Harriet Jung (see 2011); the two connected at FIT over their obsession with Belgian designer Raf Simons. A former dancer with Lar Lubovitch, Bartelme began receiving commissions because, he says, dance costumers are few and far between. His pieces look like minimalist clothing and are made with natural fibers, which must be cut on the bias to allow stretching. No matter how many gussets he adds, though, dancing is very hard on the costumes. “When we put the costume on the dancer, we always say, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if they didn’t have to dance in it?’”
Charu Mehta, Jewelry Design,
is an associate jewelry designer for the Adelington Design Group, part of Fifth & Pacific (formerly Liz Claiborne). Her affordable creations are sold at JC Penney and Macy’s, among other department stores. Read about her design process on Hue Too (blog.fitnyc.edu/huetoo).
hue | spring 2013
Reid Bartelme, Fashion Design,
A dancer from Furiant, a ballet by Justin Peck, costumed by Bartelme and Jung.
sources of inspiration
For Fire Island (9/08), Tick wove together Mylar balloons that she found on the beach. Photo courtesy of Cristina Grajales Gallery.
My dad was a third-generation scrap-metal-yard owner in Bloomington, IL,
of recycled or “green” material, and most of my art has to do with reclamation.
Textile Design ’82
it? I’ve woven together dry-cleaning hangers, the paper from a box of Cowgirl
and I grew up surrounded by recycling. Most of my commercial work is made Instead of throwing things away, why not make something beautiful out of Creamery cheese, and a few bright pink tents left over from Brad Pitt’s Make It Right campaign in New Orleans.
Recently, I started collecting washed-up Mylar balloons on the beaches
of Fire Island. I’ve collected 79 so far. I don’t know why people let them go; either they’re casting a wish into the air, or maybe children drop them. I wash them off and separate them by color, then cut them to make one big strand that I weave together into a large hanging. People don’t know what it is when they see it. The best time to get balloons is after a hurricane, so I named my Fire Island series after the dates of the past few years of hurricanes. It draws attention to the destructive quality of nature.
Tick is an award-winning developer of textiles, carpets, glass, and other materials. Her titles include design director for Tandus Flooring and creative director for textiles and materials for Teknion, a Toronto-based furniture company. She was creative director of Knoll Textiles from 1996 to 2005. Her fine art is represented by Cristina Grajales Gallery in New York City.
227 West 27 Street New York, NY 10001-5992 return service requested
volume 6 | number 2