The Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology
volume 8 number 2 spring 2015
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ON THE COVER
Commemorating FIT’s 70th anniversary, this collection of 68 photos from the college’s yearbook, Portfolio, represents a progression from 1946 (top left), the first year the college granted degrees, to 2014 (bottom right). Researcher Julianna Dow, Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice ’08, scoured the decades for the pictures that best captured the styles of their times. We love yearbooks for the nostalgia factor and unintended humor, but in the age of Facebook and other social media, the traditional yearbook has become obsolete, and FIT has discontinued the venture. Alas, Portfolio is no more. But we think these ’fros and flips, beehives and ’staches, Princess Dianas and flat-top fades will live forever.
Moira Bailey is a writer based in Brooklyn. She is a transplanted Midwesterner who’s worked in the South, Northeast—and for five-plus years in London—for media companies including Time Inc., Gannett, the Associated Press, and the Tribune Company.
The Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology Hue is for alumni and friends of FIT, a 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.
Vice President for Communications and External Relations Loretta Lawrence Keane Assistant Vice President for Communications Carol Leven Editor Linda Angrilli Managing Editor
NOW PLAYING AT HUE.FITNYC.EDU
Alex Joseph, MA ’13 Staff Writer Jonathan Vatner
Stephen Gardner, Illustration MFA ’11, is an award-winning artist. A member of the Society of Illustrators, he has painted more than 200 book covers and countless baseball cards, and his portrait of Joe DiMaggio hangs in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He also teaches at FIT.
Editorial Assistant Laura Hatmaker Art Direction and Design Empire Design Studio Email: email@example.com 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 Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you’ve been up to.
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>> A web exclusive about Mad Men,
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featuring commentary by faculty
Ebola hazmat suit that Jill Andrews
FSC-certified, 100% post consumer waste
experts and a behind-the-scenes
’89 helped design
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peek at a related exhibition at the
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>> A stunning underwater video by
>> A look at how a mural gets painted >> An interactive timeline celebrating
Keith Ellenbogen, assistant
FIT’s 70th anniversary, featuring
professor of Photography
historical photos, audio, and video from the college’s archives
Nick Parisse, Photography ’09, shoots for editorial and advertising clients all around the world, including Playboy, The Travel Channel, Pollen Brands, and Net-A-Porter. He is also a beekeeper.
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Assistant Professor Keith Ellenbogen photographed this giant manta ray (Manta birostris) in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. The five sharksuckers attached to the manta’s belly aren’t just hitching a ride; they’re feeding on its leftovers. See more of Ellenbogen’s marine photography starting on page 20.
Features 8 A LEGACY IN THE MAKING A conversation with FIT’s pioneering president
11 70 YEARS OF FIT (And we don’t look a day over 35.) Facts and photos provide a nostalgic trip
16 A SUITABLE SOLUTION A wedding gown designer puts her skills to use in the fight against Ebola
20 WATER WORLD Hold your breath for this stunning collection of marine photography by a faculty member
24 BUYER BEWARE How to spot a Chanel ripoff
4 HUE’S NEWS 17 I CONTACT: STUDENT 32 ALUMNI NOTES 35 WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
26 A FINE FOUNDATION Laurie Van Brunt ’79 expands an intimate apparel powerhouse
28 THE WRITING ON THE WALL Alumni muralists take to the streets
18 FANTASTIC VOYAGES Fulbright recipients researched and taught in locations around the globe
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This Norman Norell wool coat and two-piece dress, which Bacall wore in the 1964 film Sex and the Single Girl, was on display in Lauren Bacall: The Look, a graduate student exhibition at The Museum at FIT.
Between 1968 and 1986, iconic actress Lauren Bacall, who died in 2014, donated 700 of her garments to The Museum at FIT. This spring, the graduating class in the Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice MA program presented Lauren Bacall: The Look, an exhibition exploring her career and style. “She was relaxed and direct, with an implied sex appeal, and these characteristics were expressed in her personal style,” Christina Frank ’15 explained. “Her wardrobe featured impeccable tailoring, menswear-inspired looks, and effortless dresses with just the right amount of glamour.” To show off her trademark look of ease and self-confidence, the students paired photographs and film clips with a dozen garments, including a vivid pink wool coat by Norman Norell that Bacall wore in the 1964 film Sex and the Single Girl, a Pierre Cardin minidress, and a Christian Dior evening gown she wore in the 1968 CBS television special Bacall and the Boys.
GETTING THE LOOK
FIT VIDEO LIBRARY IS AVAILABLE ONLINE FIT Archive on Demand (blog .fitnyc.edu/archiveondemand) is an online video resource curated by the Gladys Marcus Library that provides access to recent lectures, events, and exhibitions at the college. Highlights include alumna Tae Smith, Museum Studies: Costume and Textiles ’04, discussing costumes for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby; an autobiographical oral history by former Vogue editor Grace Mirabella; and past Future of Fashion student runway shows.
Outpassage book jacket by Vincent Di Fate, digital artwork, 13 by 19 inches.
FRESH POINTS OF VIEW For the second year in a row, FIT presented New Views, a curated selection of work by FIT’s renowned School of Art and Design faculty in the John E. Reeves Great Hall. The exhibition included more than 90 works, including masks, photographs, collage, interactive media, and apparel. New Views ran from March 7 to 22. Visit fitnyc.edu/newviews to see more art from the show.
QUICK READ FIT was ranked number six in Fashionista.com’s 2014 ranking of the “Top 50 Fashion Schools in the World,” up three spots from 2013.
President Joyce F. Brown was appointed to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Fashion Working Group, which is developing an action plan to support and grow New York City’s fashion industry.
“Eight Insanely Cool Fashion Jobs You’ve Probably Never Heard of,” a story on Teen Vogue online, featured FIT faculty and students reporting on niche careers ranging from textile forensic scientist to fashion real estate agent.
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Shekhar Yadav/India Today Group/Getty Images
DESIGNING A DECADE
At the start of her trip to India with President Obama on January 25, First Lady Michelle Obama looked stunning in a printed crepe dress and a silk-and-wool cutaway coat from the spring 2015 collection of Bibhu Mohapatra, Fashion Design ’99. “This is a major moment for me and my brand,” he told WWD. “I feel like I now have come full circle, with Michelle Obama arriving in my homeland in clothes designed by me.”
Number of countries FIT students hail from Top 5 countries with the most students
These two pajama sets—the one on the left in printed silk crepe by Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, c. 1970, the other in printed crepe de Chine by Halston, c. 1976—underscore just how similar the designers’ aesthetics could be. The Museum at FIT owns both pieces.
Addressing Sexual Violence on Campuses On December 15, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined a panel of activists and educators at FIT to discuss ways to stop sexual assault at colleges. “Too many rapes are taking place on campuses today, and not enough justice is being delivered,” Gillibrand said. “A lot of survivors don’t believe justice is possible.” In response to recent federal and state guidelines, FIT has strengthened its sexual assault policy to provide for prompt, effective, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution of complaints of sexual violence. Also, faculty, staff, and students will participate in a new annual sexual assault prevention and response training program.
Eduardo Cuba, Illustration ’15, paints a floating golem as part of ChalkFIT.
Chalk a Block
South Korea China Canada Japan India
The number of international students from South Korea
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (right) with Tricia Bent-Goodley, director of the Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program at Howard University.
FITTigers.com, the new website for the Athletics and Recreation program, includes schedules, coach profiles, and action photos from FIT’s teams.
FIT was one of 766 U.S. colleges—and one of 19 within SUNY—named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Notably, student engagement at FIT has increased 35 percent since 2011.
First Lady Wears an Alumnus’s Design in India
The President and First Lady with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s, on view at The Museum at FIT through April 18, examines the careers of these two designers, one French, one American, who were enormously influential in shaping the look of the 1970s. Though the two are often considered diametrically opposed— Saint Laurent as a great colorist who imbued his clothes with drama and fantasy, versus Halston, the master of modernism and minimalism—the aesthetic similarities between their creations are undeniable. This exhibition marks the first in-depth comparison of the two designers, juxtaposing, for example, two menswear-influenced pieces, Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking woman’s tuxedo and Halston’s Ultrasuede shirtwaist dress. Patricia Mears, deputy director, and Emma McClendon, assistant curator, drew the 80 ensembles and 20 accessories exclusively from the museum’s archive, which contains the most comprehensive Halston collection in the world.
In the fall, for the second year in a row, 45 Illustration students and 10 alumni created chalk murals on the exterior of the Pomerantz Center, impressing passersby with all manner of subjects, including an anxious ostrich, a galloping grim reaper, and an epically messy cheeseburger. Rather than drawing with chalk sticks, most students painted with a chalk suspension, giving them more control and a more even tone.
Dr. Deirdre Sato, Fashion Design ’79, has been named Dean for International Education, a new position that supports FIT’s goals for a stronger global presence and a student-centered environment for international students.
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Rep. Maloney Lauds Fashion Industry at FIT U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney chose FIT as the site of a February 6 press conference to announce a report that she developed with the congressional Joint Economic Committee, showing that New York Fashion Week contributes $856 million to the metropolitan area, more than the U.S. Open ($700 million), last year’s Super Bowl ($500 million), and the New York City Marathon ($340 million). Maloney unveiled the report alongside City Councilmember Daniel Garodnick, State Senator Brad Hoylman, CEO of the CFDA Steven Kolb, and President Joyce F. Brown. The event also spotlighted Karolina Zmarlak, Fashion Design ’07, a successful designer who had received a bridge loan from the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s new Fashion Production Fund.
Rep. Maloney and Dr. Brown.
Yekaterina Burmatnova, Fashion Design ’17, Fashion Merchandising Management ’11, won a contest in the fall to design a costume inspired by the circus-themed fourth season of the hit FX show American Horror Story. The 800 submissions were judged by Lou Eyrich, the show’s head costume designer; Stephanie Gibbons, president of marketing and on-air promotions for FX; and designer Christian Siriano. Burmatnova’s winning ringmaster costume— in black, white, and red, her favorite colors—is encased in a birdcage and embellished with decorative birds. She won $5,000 and her design was featured in the show’s social media. Burmatnova’s winning costume is composed of a red stretch satin dress, a textured leather jacket with neoprene sleeves, and a metal belt and cage.
Students Invited to Clinton Global Initiative University This year, two Textile Development and Marketing students participated in the Clinton Global Initiative University, an organization that brings young people together to take action on some of the world’s most pressing problems. The students, Lydia Baird and Willa Tsokanis, presented an innovative proposal at this year’s conference, March 6 to 8 at the University of Miami, to compost discarded muslin and other natural fabrics as a way to reduce landfill waste and add nutrient-rich soil to our environment. They plan to use the compost on FIT’s natural dye garden, created by the students who participated in CGIU last year.
Made in NYC City Source New York, a biannual expo in the John E. Reeves Great Hall, connects designers with more than 50 local patternmakers, sample shops, trims manufacturers, embroiderers, and other companies to help them produce their goods in New York City. The expo is particularly useful for small fashion companies and emerging designers who might need extra guidance in jumpstarting a line. This year, the expo’s fifth, saw the introduction of free one-hour workshops taught by FIT faculty, in subjects ranging from pattern and sample making to creating tech packs in preparation for manufacturing. The next City Source will be held July 22. For info, contact Christine_Helm@fitnyc.edu.
Designer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Kimora Lee Simmons has established a $1 million scholaship fund, half of which will be used to provide 85 FIT scholarships over five years for first-year students from underrepresented groups. The former CEO and creative director of Baby Phat announced the fund at an October 21 FIT event with President Joyce F. Brown, and she answered questions from students about her career.
STUDENT WINS HORROR STORY DESIGN CONTEST
KIMORA LEE SIMMONS FUNDS SCHOLARSHIPS
A SCHOLAR AMONG US Wen “Jenny” Zhao, an eighth-semester Textile Development and Marketing student from Sydney, Australia, won a $30,000 Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. The Geoffrey Beene Foundation underwrites four such scholarships annually to encourage “gifted and enterprising young people to pursue careers in design, merchandising, retailing, and business,” according to the YMA FSF. Five other FIT students won $5,000 awards.
QUICK READ Seasons Greet-Inks, a tattoo-themed holiday pop-up thrift shop created by Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design students, grossed $15,500 for the Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, an organization that raises funds for cancer research and patient care. 6
For the second year in a row, FIT hosted the New York City regional championship of Poetry Out Loud, a national high school recitation contest. Poet Amy Lemmon, professor of English and Speech, was one of the judges.
The Museum at FIT was named among Condé Nast Traveler’s Ten Best Small Museums in New York City, which offer “plenty of history and culture in smaller, easily navigable spaces.”
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Meet the Alumni Working at Haddad Brands In the fall, FIT’s Office of Alumni Relations hosted an evening reception at the midtown headquarters of Haddad Brands to celebrate the more than 40 alumni who work there. The company produces licensed children’s wear under the Levi’s, Nike, Jordan, Hurley, and Converse brands; Sam Haddad, its principal, is a director of the FIT Foundation.
“Retail math was my favorite class at FIT.”
“I love going to meetings with buyers. I’m very sociable, and I love customer service.” —Anesha Miller, International Trade and Marketing ’12, account associate
“I work with our design team to ensure the design elements are not only aesthetically pleasing but there’s not an element that’s going to harm a child.” —Lindsey Zwiebach, Textile Development and Marketing ’11, product integrity analyst and RSL (Restricted Substances List) lead
“My team designs assortments for our 30-plus regions across the world. I make sure that Russia has outerwear and Mexico has baby clothes.” —Kristina Keenan, Fashion Design ’07, senior global designer
“I provide my team of 18 artists with seasonal direction for graphics as
“I love the versatility of knits. High-tech knits are a huge trend in activewear.” —Meghan Navoy, Textile Development and Marketing ’14, fabric coordinator
—Molly McBrien, Fashion Merchandising Management ’12, finance manager for Levi’s
“We always have each other’s back. If something needs to be done, we do it.”
well as oversee all the production, working with the factories to ensure quality.” —George Mutschler, Illustration ’05, vice president of graphic art
“I use numbers to tell a story and figure out a problem.” —Kaitlin O’Neill, Fashion Merchandising Management ’13, associate planner
“I started seven days ago—this is my first job. I studied merchandising and product development—I didn’t see myself in a production position. But I’m really happy here.”
“I generate original art for all our tops and bottoms, including spot prints on T-shirts, all-over prints, embellishments, embroidery, and patches.”
—Julianna Storno, Fashion Merchandising Management ’14, global sourcing coordinator
—Filipe Pinheiro, Menswear ’04, graphic artist
—Lauren Scott, Fashion Merchandising Management ’11, global coordinator
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A Legacy in the Making Dr. Joyce F. Brown, FIT’s sixth president,
Seventeen years is a significant period in the life of any institution, but especially at FIT, where changes in technology, the fashion and related industries, and the culture of New York are constant reminders of time passing. The college’s sixth president, Dr. Joyce F. Brown, has been its steward since 1998. She has overseen a significant expansion of FIT’s footprint—additions and renovations to campus buildings, laboratories, and a new residence hall; an increase in full-time faculty; and new initiatives to address diversity, sustainability, and the pedagogy of the future, among many other upgrades and improvements. The first woman and the first African-American to hold the position, Dr. Brown has also provided a roadmap in the form of a comprehensive strategic plan. This vision of the college has contributed to a shift in the campus environment, with a new emphasis on dialogue and collaboration. “Hopefully people see a little bit of themselves in the things we’ve gone about trying to achieve,” she says. What drives her commitment, however, and inspires her greatest passion, are the students. “They are truly the best part of the job. So talented, and so driven. You hear the same thing all the time: I wanted to go to FIT my entire life.” What does it take to helm a huge, heterogeneous public college through the fluctuations of 17 years? Hue sat down with President Brown recently to find out, and to discuss some of the highlights of her administration. 8
reflects on 17 years of progress
THEN AND NOW
President Brown with her husband H. Carl McCall, chairman of the SUNY Board of Trustees, and her dog Bebe.
When Dr. Brown arrived on campus, she saw opportunities everywhere. “I knew we could be more than we were then,” she says. “It wasn’t that we were not good. It was simply that there was so much potential.” The college’s technology infrastructure was out of date, and curricula needed serious attention. Her role, as she saw it, was providing strong, focused leadership. “Without somebody creating opportunity to move forward, things stagnate,” she says. Dr. Brown was up to the challenge. She came with extensive experience, as a deputy mayor for public and community affairs during the David Dinkins administration, and as a vice chancellor at CUNY and acting president of Bernard Baruch College. Her PhD in psychology (from New York University) also helped—“I often teasingly tell people if they’re not careful I’ll bring in my couch,” she says, but she is serious when she says the training helped make her a shrewd listener. “You have to care about what you’re listening to,” she says, “and help people find ways to articulate what they want, and be willing to pay attention to it.” Today, many of the changes visible on West 27th Street are products of contemporary life, she says. “I am certain that the students all emerge from the womb with an iPad. Their attention span is different, the way we teach and learn is different.” To get a sense of the real transformation that has occurred,
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During her time at FIT, Dr. Brown has mingled with boldface names from the fashion and creative industries, not to mention FIT’s brightest students. Some highlights are shown on these pages. Above, she appears with alumnus Michael Kors, who spoke to students in 2013.
‘I have an idea for research, something that needs an interdisciplinary kind of solution. I am not sure there is a single place in the world where my idea can be realized. Rather, it needs to draw on a rich reservoir of resources.’ That’s where the whole notion of creating an innovation center comes from,” she says. The plan lays out the center’s key components— an R&D “think tank,” an “incubator,” a “laboratory” designed to move projects from concept to reality, and a “collective” that promotes collaboration between the college and other New York educational institutions, governmental agencies, nonprofits, and businesses. The word “interdisciplinary” is all over the plan, and Dr. Brown says FIT is the ideal environment for combining modes of study. After all, she points out, “we have a school of business but no one’s coming here for an MBA. They are coming to do the business of the creative industries.” She envisions ever more opportunities for students in the Baker School of Business and Technology to interact with the School of Art and Design. Faculty
of the Future, an initiative Dr. Brown spearheaded in 2011, assures that new faculty hires will be flexible enough to teach these courses—and diverse and tech-savvy as well.
Francisco Costa ‘90, Leslie Blodgett ‘85, fashion journalist Kate Betts, and William P. Lauder, executive chairman of Estée Lauder, at commencement in 2008.
Calvin Klein ‘63 and Carolina Herrera at a 2010 BFA fashion show reception.
In 2002, the college broke ground on a new conference center and new dining hall on 28th Street, the first major additions to campus since 1975. Dr. Brown has also overseen the construction of additional laboratory space, and the acquisition of a new residence hall. “We do not fulfill our promise to students if we don’t continually try to have stateof-the-art facilities and equipment,” she says. A new, nearly 100,000-square-foot academic building planned for the north side of the Marvin Feldman Center, and designed by the award-winning architectural firm SHoP, has been funded by the state; construction is contingent upon city matching funds, and Dr. Brown continues to seek those funds from the city administration with a focus on securing mayoral support. In addition to addressing a space
however, it’s necessary to talk to people in the community. That’s when an important shift in thinking emerges. “People are very invested in changing the curriculum, running their classes so that students are used to the way businesses are run,” she says. There’s a real sense that the work here matters, and a related feeling of expectation, and excitement.
From the start, Dr. Brown appreciated FIT’s uniqueness, and she understood the affection long-standing members of the community have for it. She wanted to respect their feeling while making progress. That, she knew, would require participation across the board: “If you believe the way to move an institution is to have a shared vision, and a shared set of objectives for reaching it,” she says, “then you devote the time to establish the goals together.” Hence the strategic plan, drawn from people at every level of the college—faculty, staff, students, administrators, FIT trustees, and FIT Foundation directors—who contributed ideas through working groups, committees and group discussions. First drafted in 1999, updated twice, and now called Our Legacy, Our Future: FIT Beyond 2020, it outlines core objectives for the institution, and sets the stage for the next half century. The plan includes measures to ensure academic and creative excellence, and describes ways to empower students (more on that in a moment). Yet the part of the plan that Dr. Brown is most eager to discuss relates directly to the founders’ original idea of the place; they named it FIT because they wanted “an MIT for the fashion industries.” Dr. Brown says MIT’s reputation as a reservoir of research and innovative ideas does indeed provide a good model for the college. “People—industry, entrepreneurs, investors—ought to think of FIT as a destination where they can come and say, ‘I have an idea for a product and I’d like you to help me develop it,’ or
Karl Lagerfeld, winner of the Couture Council’s 2010 Fashion Visionary Award.
Pierre Cardin in 2003.
Dr. Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT, and Giorgio Armani in 2008. hue.ﬁtnyc.edu
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Dr. Brown honors the FIT Student Association award winners in 2013.
in her attention. The phrase, which signifies a commitment to create a supportive environment and to centralize and streamline student services, turns up numerous times in the strategic plan, and its spirit is felt in many of the initiatives she has put forth. Creating a community that prepares students to be cooperative, contributing members of society requires attention across a broad spectrum of issues, including diversity of faculty and staff. “There’s a richness in different points of view that is educational and can be shared, different customs to be respected,” Dr. Brown says. “We owe it to ourselves as well as to the students to see that diversity is reflected in the administrative and academic hierarchy. That is the world they will experience when they leave here.” In 2007, she established FIT’s Diversity Council, whose members, among other objectives, oversee the administration of grants totaling $15,000 annually to members of the community for diversity-themed projects that are educational at their core. They also organize events designed to raise an awareness and appreciation for diverse points of view. The updated strategic plan includes sustainability as part of the college’s mission, and that is
Tipping off the homecoming game in 2009.
shortage, the structure’s innovative layout creates opportunities for the interdisciplinary interactions she has long envisioned. “The faculty and students continue to express a desire for a place to congregate, where they can have an exchange of ideas, and an environment conducive to collaboration,” she says. It is central to the objectives of the strategic plan. It can be tough to expand in Manhattan, where it seems like every street corner is the locus of some turf battle. Some universities, Dr. Brown says, have shifted their focus to distance and online learning, but FIT still needs non-virtual, on-site classroom space. “FIT is very tactile,” she says. “A major dimension of our interactions is an appreciation for all the nuances and intricacies of textiles, of construction, of the mathematical dimensions of garments and the inner workings of equipment and the application of technology. All of those things really require a presence that exceeds the virtual experience.” So, FIT will continue to require state-of-the-art facilities, no matter how much time we spend in cyberspace.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren at FIT’s 2010 gala.
PUTTING STUDENTS AT THE CENTER
More than perhaps any other project, Dr. Brown’s focus on student-centeredness is front and center
Photographer Gordon Parks receives an honorary doctorate, presented by Edward Cox, former SUNY trustee.
A President’s Picks FAVORITE NEW YORK CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS:
“Lincoln Center is magnificent, elegant, and a wonderful cross-section of cultural outlets. I’ve always loved the Museum of Natural History. I liked to go there as a child, and still do. It seems as if there’s always a lot to learn.” FAVORITE BOOK: Toni Morrison’s Beloved. “It’s so
well written, the melody really carries you. She weaves this story and pulls you along.” FAVORITE NON-HUMAN : “I’ve always been a dog
person. Bebe [her bichon frise] is going to be 12 in March. Little puppies give unconditional love. And they’re smart, they make you laugh. They can do everything but talk, and they think they can do that too. Bebe has no idea he’s a dog. None!”
deliberate, Dr. Brown says. “I think we have an obligation to protect the planet. We have been extremely wasteful as a society.” FIT has adopted curricula that teach ecologically sound values and ideas in Packaging Design, Production Management, and the new MA in Sustainable Interior Environments, and the college’s annual sustainability conference has grown immensely in stature since it began in 2007. Meanwhile, the college itself has become increasingly eco-conscious. In 2013, it met—and exceeded—Mayor Bloomberg’s “carbon challenge,” reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent. When asked what concerns her about the future, she speaks about the state of the world into which we are sending our graduates. “The violent and inhumane acts recently broadcast in the media tend to undermine our sense of stability. The internet creates immediate access to mass audiences, and it can be used for good or for evil. We want our graduates to be contributors to the common good and to be productive citizens. We want them to have the core strength and conviction to counteract the forces that compromise our social fabric. It’s a major reason that we have worked to emphasize the liberal arts in our business and design curricula.” In our ever more boundary-breaking, interdisciplinary environment, it is important to comprehend other cultures, and that’s one way the liberal arts are valuable: “They help in terms of critical thinking and analytic abilities,” she says. “They create a construct, an environment, for problem solving and understanding.” The greatest gift she can give students is the sense of how they fit into a much broader context—of the industry, New York, and the world.
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70 Years of Hue looks back as we move forward This academic year marks FIT’s 70th anniversary. As institutions go, 70 is relatively young. But the college has come a long way from that tiny trade school back in 1944— 100 students in borrowed space in the Central High School of Needle Trades—to the FIT of today, an internationally renowned college with a ten-building campus, nearly 10,000 students, 48 associate, bachelor’s, and master’s programs, and thousands of successful alumni who infuse the industry with energy and insight.
But some important principles remain the same. A com-
mitment to innovation and excellence, as well as close ties to industry, are still defining qualities of FIT. The seeds that were planted in 1944 continue to bear fruit, and enable the college to shape its own future, taking exciting new directions while honoring our best traditions.
In the following pages, Hue is pleased to share this inspiring
collection of milestones and achievements, not to mention pure nostalgia.
While FIT’s past has been very, very good, our best days
are still to come.
1944 Before it had its own building, FIT was located in the Central High School of Needle Trades.
1944 Dr. Mortimer C. Ritter (left), Max Meyer, and other garment center leaders are granted a charter to develop a technical institute for the New York apparel industry.
1948 The State University of New York is established. A student fashion show, “S.S. FIT.”
1946 First commencement is held, with 65 graduates. hue.ﬁtnyc.edu
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1957 FIT is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, now the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Shirley Goodman with Mayor Wagner (left) and Morris W. Haft at an FIT fundraising gala. 1958 The cornerstone is laid for FIT’s first building, on West 27th Street.
Students set up model sewing machines in a course on manufacturing plant layout.
1964 FIT establishes a technical assistance program with Shenkar College, Israel— FIT’s first international partnership.
1960 This Alcoa ad touts FIT’s use of the company’s aluminum building exteriors.
Times have changed: Students take a cigarette break in a stairwell.
1958 FIT’s first building opens. The auditorium is named for cloak and suit manufacturer Morris W. Haft and his wife, Fannie B. Haft.
1953 The FIT Alumni Association is founded. 12 hue | spring 2015
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FIT is authorized to grant bachelor’s degrees.
1979 FIT alumna Janelle Commissiong, from Trinidad and Tobago, is crowned the first black Miss Universe.
An FIT marketing image communicating its diversity of majors.
A student fashion show.
1971 Marvin Feldman is appointed FIT’s fourth president.
1970 1969 Mayor John Lindsay, second from right, and former ILGWU president David Dubinsky, to Lindsay’s right, at the groundbreaking for four new buildings, including the Dubinsky Student Center.
1969 The Brooklyn Museum’s costume and textile collections (Edward C. Blum Design Laboratory) are loaned to FIT to support its programs and the fashion industry. The Design Lab will be the foundation of The Museum at FIT.
1962 FIT’s first residence hall, named for Isidore Nagler, vice president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, opens.
1973 FIT alumni Stephen Burrows ’66 and Calvin Klein ’63 share the Coty Award for best women’s wear. Burrows is the first black designer to win a Coty.
Students and faculty protest the Vietnam War, October 15, 1969.
The pen used by Governor Hugh Carey to sign assembly bill authorizing FIT to issue bachelor’s degrees, July 1, 1975.
Calvin Klein reviewing student work. hue.ﬁtnyc.edu 13
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Noted designers speak at FIT.
1993 The Design Laboratory is named The Museum at FIT.
1998 An exhibition highlighting the work of Claire McCardell at The Museum at FIT. Michael Kors
1989 FIT establishes the world’s first BFA in Toy Design.
1987 Mildred Custin, president of Bonwit Teller, with Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, and Pauline Trigère at the dedication of the Mildred Custin Fashion Forecast room in the Gladys Marcus Library.
1998 Dr. Joyce F. Brown is appointed FIT’s sixth president—the first woman and first African-American to hold that office.
1982 The computer graphics lab opens.
Norma Kamali ’65 with a student.
1996 Tickle Me Elmo, designed by Amanda Friedman, Toy Design ’91, is released by Tyco Preschool.
1984 The School of Art and Design is accredited.
New York Is Fashion, with (left to right) President Marvin Feldman, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Jay Mazur, former ILGWU president and former FIT trustee.
1986 The Art and Design Center is named for Fred P. Pomerantz, founder of the Leslie Fay Company.
Tommy Hilfiger autographs a shirt.
1983 Yves Saint Laurent visits FIT.
Bob Mackie with Carol Burnett at The Museum at FIT’s show of the designer’s work.
1991 Geoffrey Beene serves as a critic for the student fashion show.
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1998 ibition e work rdell at at FIT.
2000 President Brown announces unprecedented five-year, $21.3 million investment plan to address initiatives identified through FIT’s first strategic planning process.
2012 The Museum at FIT is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
2013 FIT reduces its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, exceeding its commitment to the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge by almost ten percent.
2002 Ralph Rucci ’80 is the first American designer in more than 60 years invited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture to show in Paris. The FIT Tiger makes a friend in the dining hall. 2012 Calvin Klein ’63 and the company he founded, Calvin Klein, Inc., donate $2 million to support the annual BFA Fashion Design runway show.
Groundbreaking for a new dining hall.
2000 FIT assists in establishing a fashion college, Zhejiang Institute of Fashion Technology, in China. 2001 Tiffany & Co. endows the Elsa Peretti Professorship in Jewelry Design, with a $750,000 gift.
2002 Arnold Scaasi, First Lady Laura Bush, and Dr. Joyce F. Brown, visit Scaasi: Exuberant Fashion exhibition at the museum.
2005 First liberal arts degree program begins.
2013 The Jerome L. Greene Foundation endows $1 million fund to support study-abroad opportunities for students in the Presidential Scholars honors program.
2012 Design Entrepreneurs NYC, a joint program of FIT and the NYC Economic Development Corp. that equips emerging designers with tools to advance their businesses, welcomes its first class. 2014 Textile Development and Marketing students present a sustainable natural-dye garden proposal at Clinton Global Initiative University, and install the garden at FIT.
2005 The School of Business and Technology is named for Jay and Patty Baker.
2002 FIT receives a $1 million bequest from Bill Blass.
2006 George S. and Mariana Kaufman Hall, FIT’s fourth and largest student residence, opens.
2010 Fourteen state - of - the - art labs, including Toy Design, textile testing, and the Annette Green Fragrance Foundation Studio, open in the Dubinsky Student Center.
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A Suitable Solution
How wedding-gown designer Jill Andrews, Fabric Styling ’89, Fashion Buy ing and Merchandising ’87, used her skil ls in the fight against Ebola BY JON ATH AN VATNER
Clothes are rarely a matter of life or death, but in the case of Ebola, they can be. The virus, which causes profuse bleeding, is so contagious and lethal that more than 300 health care workers have died of the disease in the past year. Medical personnel wear hazmat suits to prevent contact with patients’ bodily fluids, but the suits are notoriously ineffective. A team from the Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design has created a better hazmat suit to protect health care workers from infection, and Jill Andrews, a Baltimore-based designer of wedding gowns, was instrumental in the process. Before she designed gowns, Andrews created costumes for dancers, figure skaters, and Broadway performers. Considering that costumes need to be durable, flexible, comfortable, and easily removable, she realized that some of the stickiest challenges were questions not for a virologist or engineer but for a clothing designer. And though she joined the project on a whim (a friend working at Johns Hopkins forwarded her the email calling for volunteers), her skills in patternmaking and garment construction proved invaluable. “I knew the zipper in the front had to be addressed right off the bat,” she recalls. “Pints and pints of bodily fluid are all over the front of you, so we had to get the closure to the back of the garment and reduce the number of seams to keep contamination from getting in.” The new suit is full of thoughtful details. The extra-large face shield gives patients a clear view of their doctor or nurse, and two vents in the helmet keep it from fogging up. To take off the suit, the wearer simply pulls apart the tabs on the upper back, releasing a waterproof breakaway zipper (designed for scuba divers). Then the wearer steps on tabs on the sleeves and stands up, emerging in one clean motion. On December 22, the prototype was sent to the White House and approved by Ron Klain, the “Ebola Czar.” The project was also called out in an online slide show released in tandem with President Obama’s State of the Union address. The suit will be produced, though the specifics are confidential. The experience has opened Andrews’s eyes to the need for empathic design for all protective clothing. “Health care workers and the people in charge of taking care of the dead are putting their lives at risk,” she says. “Working on this project helped me understand the safety they deserve.” Watch a video about the suit’s features and the removal process at hue.fitnyc.edu.
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Andrews presented the prototype at New York Fashion Week in February at an event co-sponsored by the International Rescue Committee, General Electric, and Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins that provides health care and education throughout the developing world. (Jhpiego helped fund the suit’s development.) Though she sells her own line of gowns, Andrews had never shown at Fashion Week. “In a million years, I never would have expected that I’d go with a yellow suit,” she says.
The risk of Ebola infection is highest while health care workers are taking off, or “doffing,” the hazmat suit. Since the suits are most often used in tropical climates without air conditioning, workers are bleary and soaked in sweat by the time they start doffing the blood-drenched suits at the end of a shift. The new suit is much more comfortable to wear and easier to remove.
PORTRAIT BY NICK PARRISE ’09
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i contact: student
Good Company Yui Yasuda Global Fashion Management MPS ’15
Tell me about Hokkaido, the island you’re from in Japan. It’s the second largest island in the country, and it’s famous for two reasons—the seafood and the beauty of the countryside. The capital is Sapporo, known for sightseeing. The atmosphere is a bit like Toronto. The island is also known for its ramen. Do you miss that when you’re in New York? The noodles here are either too salty or boiled too soft. There is one good place to get Sapporo ramen—Misoya, on Second Avenue. Is your family in the fashion industry? No, my hometown is in the countryside. My parents own an animal hospital. When I first became interested in fashion, in high school, I would wear Martin Margiela, or this avant-garde brand called G.V.G.V. Here in the U.S., everyone wears whatever they want. But in my hometown, people said, “Are you crazy?” Fashion gave me confidence. You’re one of the first recipients of a Tomodachi-Uniqlo Fellowship, sponsored by the company Uniqlo and the U.S.-Japan Council. For all three semesters of your FIT program, your room, board, and expenses are covered. What made your application stand out? Uniqlo is a leader in corporate social responsibility, which I’m very interested in. When I applied to the program, I wrote an essay about it.
Through their recycle-reuse program, Uniqlo donated hundreds of thousands of garments to refugee camps in the Philippines and Jordan. My fellowship includes an internship with that part of the company this summer. What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on in the Global Fashion Management program? For one presentation we researched what it would take to launch Michael Kors Collection in Brazil. My group was very diverse. One was a fashion designer, another had a production background, one worked in editorial, and I come from merchandising: I was a buyer for Brooks Brothers Japan for more than two years. What was it like to collaborate with students from all over the world? Japanese always want to make something in a professional style, so I organized everything for my team. Some people are really good speakers. Some people are better at collecting photos than writing. The hard thing is, how do you organize everyone’s good characteristics? Have you changed since you came to New York? I first came a few years ago to get an associate’s in merchandising at Parsons. At first I thought Americans talked too much. For Japanese, it’s hard to express strong opinions. Now that I’m in this program, I’m learning how to be more assertive.
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Fantastic Voyages FITâ€™s Fulbright Scholars studied all over the world. This is what they learned
STEVEN FRUMKIN DEAN, JAY AND PATTY BAKER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY
In the prestigious Fulbright Program, scholars travel around the world to do research and carry out projects that improve understanding between nations. Some grants last a few weeks; others may be extended over years. FIT currently has nine faculty members and administrators who have benefited from various types of Fulbright funding, and who have, in turn, spread knowledge of their field in faraway places. Hue asked them to share their stories in brief. Eight appear on this spread; the ninth begins on page 20. ANNA BLUME PROFESSOR, HISTORY OF ART, AND ASSOCIATE CHAIR, ART HISTORY AND MUSEUM PROFESSIONS
For two years, I traveled throughout the mountainous northern landscape of Guatemala to learn about how and why the Maya of the region used images of Catholic saints in their church and home altars. This research became the basis for my Yale University History of Art doctoral thesis, The Afterlife of Images. Through this immersion into rural Guatemala, I learned about the importance of images in peopleâ€™s everyday struggle for self-expression and survival. I also learned about how the Maya continue to find ways to remain connected to their long and complex past through images and ideas. To witness these kinds of intentional and aesthetic negotiations of the past, present, and future was a profoundly humbling experience that has shaped every aspect of my understanding.
SUSANNE GOETZ ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, TEXTILE/SURFACE DESIGN
After graduating with a BA in textile design from a university in Germany, I earned a Fulbright to study at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. I graduated with an MS in textile and apparel technology management. I had never been to the United States before. I learned a lot about American culture, Puerto Rican culture (from my roommate), and the South. The degree was also something of a new direction for me: I had studied design at a tiny, 200-year-old university of applied science and moved on to a management degree at a brand new, expansive campus of a big, state university.
When I received my Fulbright in Kyrgyzstan, I had worked in Central Asia previously and was to continue my Department of State, United States Agency for International Development initiatives by educating local business owners and bringing sophisticated business best practices to the region. Having used the Soviet Union planning model for decades, the region was lacking in business modeling, strategic thinking, and managerial controls, as the concept of privatization was still new. My role was to educate business leaders in how to make and implement a business plan within a free market system. I worked with farmers, shopkeepers, restaurateurs, personal service companies, and large factories. One such large factory had an average of 25,000 employees per shift, while one organization had three employees, all family members. For the farm project, my mission was to divide a large state farm into ten smaller workable farms, create a business model, and craft an organizational plan.
PATRICE GEORGE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, TEXTILE DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING
I spent a winter at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, Finland as a Fulbright Guest Lecturer in computer-aided textile design. Although I had lived and studied in Sweden, I was surprised to find that Finland was very different. The local Fulbright officers introduced us to the history of Finland and its long struggle to be an independent nation. To teach design in Finland it is essential to understand sisu, the Finnish spirit of strength and resilience. Finns believe beautifully designed products are a human right, not just an assortment of products.
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RENÉE COOPER PROFESSOR AND ASSISTANT CHAIR, FASHION MERCHANDISING MANAGEMENT
I was a guest lecturer at the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA) in Denmark. I collaborated with design and marketing lecturers on an interdisciplinary project in which I taught fashion marketing and sales, presentation skills, and business planning. I also participated in an industry panel about English as the language of business and was the key speaker at an event titled Retail Revolution, where I discussed embracing omni-channel. I came to regard Denmark with respect and admiration; there’s a reason it’s been rated the happiest place on earth to live.
MELANIE REIM ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AND ASSOCIATE CHAIR, ILLUSTRATION MFA
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, ADMISSIONS, AND DIRECTOR,
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT SERVICES
HISTORY OF ART
I applied for the Fulbright International Education Administrators Program in Japan to learn why FIT’s Japanese enrollment had been plummeting and what could be done to reverse that trend. We visited colleges and universities and cultural sites, met with representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Education, and heard lectures by experts on the Japanese educational system. I learned that our drop in Japanese enrollment was part of a nationwide trend—and may be attributable to a number of factors, most of them out of our control: a number of Japanese corporations looking to hire recent college graduates do not look favorably on students taking time from studies at home to be educated abroad; the timing of the Japanese academic calendar doesn’t mesh well with the Western calendar; and the expense of study at FIT is significantly more than the cost of Japanese higher education. However, our alumni association in Japan is very active (over 300 strong). Their efforts and enthusiasm have helped our Japanese enrollment rebound a bit. In 2012, we had 28 Japanese students; today we have 51, and we’d like to see that number continue to rise.
My Fulbright Scholar post was at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, China, where I taught courses on American studies and American art history for undergraduate and graduate students. The program also sent me over to mainland China and Hong Kong to give lectures. I couldn’t possibly sum up everything I learned abroad in short form, so I wrote a book: Lessons From China: America in the Hearts and Minds of the World’s Most Important Rising Generation. Every day of my year in China brought new realizations regarding both the vast differences and similarities between China and the U.S.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY STEPHEN GARDNER MFA ’11
The entire Fulbright experience is a rich learning experience. It begins when you apply—you learn what you have to offer, and what you yearn to seek in your own life’s work. I was awarded a specialist grant in the Dominican Republic at Altos de Chavon School of Design. I was asked to help develop an assessment plan and curriculum, as well as teach an intensive drawing workshop, a workshop on the design and illustration of the poster, and lectures on the history of American illustration, both in La Romana and Santo Domingo. Additionally, I continued my personal visual documentary on the process of sugar cane production and life in the bateyes (sugar workers’ communities). My experience expanded my appreciation of the beauty of communication through art, gesture, smiles, and acts of kindness when language differences impede our usual means of communication.
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WATER WORLD Keith Ellenbogen’s camera captures—and helps protect—a sea of beautiful creatures BY MOIRA BAILEY
Keith Ellenbogen’s extraordinary images, featuring endangered animals and plants in marine settings, help the viewer feel connected to the world beneath the sea and to fragile ecosystems worth saving. “I try to show there’s a social, environmental, or conservation angle in photography,” says Ellenbogen, an assistant professor of Photography at FIT. “You begin to care; care turns into conservation.” The Boston native, who as a teenager volunteered at the New England Aquarium, took his first undersea shots off Cape Cod with a Nikonos V camera from his grandfather, an amateur photographer. Ellenbogen explored further through an underwater thesis for his Parsons School of Design MFA and a “pivotal” 2006-07 U.S. Fulbright fellowship “to create environmental awareness about Malaysian coral reefs.” Now a senior fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), Ellenbogen routinely tackles daunting logistics to reach exotic destinations. Using a Canon 5D Mark II with varying lenses and strobes, he reveals stunning creatures and undersea settings that headline environmental initiatives aimed at awareness and action. His images appear on the site for Ocean Health Index, a scientific assessment of the oceans’ capacity to sustainably provide resources such as food, coastal protection, and biodiversity. He has also contributed to ecological video projects, such as Oceans at the Tipping Point, narrated by Harrison Ford. (View the trailer at hue.fitnyc.edu.) Ellenbogen urges his students to find their own focus, whether it’s conservation, art, or fashion. “One of the things I can do is inspire them,” he says. “They won’t go underwater necessarily, but there are plenty of things on the surface.”
Ellenbogen found these otherworldly floating orbs in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. On assignment for Conservation International and the Ocean Health Index, he was searching for images emblematic of biodiversity. Swimming in the warm water of a remote lake, he felt “lots of little love kisses, very soft” from clouds of stingless jellyfish. Ellenbogen shot them bobbing near the surface to catch the sun’s rays, enabling the symbiotic algae living within their bodies to photosynthesize. His goal: “Making sure you could actually see the light coming through the water—those rays are important to me.” 20 hue | spring 2015
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At a depth of 50 feet, Ellenbogen waited for a fortuitous flow of current and anemone tentacles to capture this inch-and-a-half-long shrimp living inside its anemone host, also in Raja Ampat. “Many times [photography] is a matter of being patient.” Patient, that is, until his lens was finally afforded a glimpse of the translucent shrimp’s body, complete with its pencil-point brain and eggs, and a compelling codependency. “It’s a symbiotic relationship: what’s good for the shrimp is the anemone has [a] spillover of extra food and what’s good for the anemone is this little shrimp fends off other fish.”
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Ellenbogen’s Fulbright allowed him face time with an endangered green sea turtle on Malaysia’s Sipadan Island. Ellenbogen says it took round-the-clock, sleepless surveillance for this close-up, taken when the 5-foot-long turtle was “resting over me.” The proximity helps convey familiarity in the turtle’s features: “skin, wrinkles, a feeling of someone older”—and, most important, “through eye contact, a feeling that we can relate to this animal. I try to get people to relate so we develop this connection.”
On assignment in Mexico for the International League of Conservation Photographers, Ellenbogen spotted frigate birds, which catch fish by snatching them from the ocean surface. “They come in at fairly high speed, then almost stall, and then flap their wings very quickly while their head goes in the water and grabs the fish. It’s amazingly precise.” Ellenbogen stood still in about 5 feet of water for most of a day, equipment ready, waiting for the moment when the bird dove. He got the shot using “a combination of strobes flashing above and below the water to illuminate the bird and stop the motion. This picture shows the bird catching the fish while maintaining flight.”
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First designed in the 1920s, Chanel’s “2.55” bag is now referred to by the month and year she redesigned it.
24-karat-gold gilded chain
“Mademoiselle” lock Diamond-quilted pattern is aligned Graceful functional curve
BY ALEX JOSEPH
Chanel’s “2.55” bag has often been imitated, never equaled. Here’s how to sniff out the counterfeit
When Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel designed her “2.55” purse, she created an icon. A very desirable icon. Like a lot of high-end designer merchandise, the bag became a target for imitators and forgers; copies are probably for sale on Canal Street at this very moment. The counterfeit industry nets $600 billion annually, according to independent news source World Trademark Review, yet counterfeiting is only one way that the value and integrity of designs are damaged. An exhibition at The Museum at FIT, Faking It: Originals, Copies, and Counterfeits, explored the spectrum of inauthentic designer goods.
Diamond-quilted pattern is aligned
Compact pocket Lipstick pocket
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Forged fashion existed even before Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895) pioneered the role of couturier, says Ariele Elia, assistant curator and organizer of the show. A pair of 18th-century shoes adorned with paste jewelry attests to the early existence of imitation high style. Yet the couture system, which treats designers like artists and enshrines their creations, makes knockoffs almost inevitable: Once a singular look debuts on a Paris runway, it’s only a matter of time before something similar shows up at Zara. Over the years, some fought the trend—Madeleine Vionnet, for example, used her thumbprint as her label, rendering it inimitable. Others were more practical: Dior authorized licensed (and more affordable) versions of his creations for retail. The show was developed with consultation from Susan Scafidi, founder of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University; and Valerie Salembier, CEO of the Authentics Foundation, an international organization dedicated to raising awareness of the counterfeit industry. It turns out it’s not benign to buy an imitation Chanel bag; Salembier says child labor is often involved in the production of the goods, and profits may be funneled into all sorts of sinister activities, from organized crime to terrorism. In France, shoppers can be fined €300,000, or serve three years in prison for owning a fake, but the U.S. has no copyright law protecting fashion designs, a subject of endless debate. Most counterfeit items are purchased online now, and Elia says the websites that pass them off as real are shockingly sophisticated. Even fake versions of the überluxe Hermès Birkin bag have sold. Chanel herself was famously sanguine about her imitators. “The very idea of protecting the seasonal arts is childish,” she said. “One should not bother to protect that which dies the minute it is born.” Idiosyncratic details in her work, however, mean that a keen eye can discern the master’s hand. Fashion experts know that Chanel’s designs frequently include veiled references to her autobiography: The “mademoiselle” lock on the authentic “2.55” bag is a reminder that she never married. Yet it’s the couture-quality materials and attention to detail that ultimately distinguish it. “From the outside, fakes can fool the eye,” Elia says, “but once you open them up and look at the craftsmanship, you can tell.”
Assistant Curator Ariele Elia purchased this knockoff for $38 on Alibaba.com, a Chinese e-commerce site with a history of selling counterfeit merchandise. Thicker quilting to account for thin synthetic fabric
Interlocking “C” logo
Vinyl imitating caviar leather
Less elegant curve, not as functional
Quilted pattern is not aligned Smaller, more compact logo Silver magnet
Smaller pocket is not centered Metal coating chipped Nonfunctional pocket
Red lining, not burgundy
The exhibition closed April 25. View the online version at: exhibitions.fitnyc.edu/faking-it
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A Fine Foundation As brand president of Soma, Laurie Troske Van Brunt, Fashion Buying and Merchandising ’79, crafts strategy for this intimates powerhouse BY MOIRA BAILEY
Laurie Van Brunt remembers passing a Dallas store window several years ago and spotting a picture of a model seated atop a washing machine, holding a bra. The idea was a “wash-and-go bra,” but Van Brunt thought the messaging was all wrong. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, it looks like a Sears Kenmore ad! And what woman wants to be reminded she has to do her laundry?’” That store was a branch of Soma Intimates, launched by its corporate parent Chico’s FAS in 2004. Chico’s, a specialty retailer of private label women’s clothing known for unique, “expressive” design, began in 1983 as a Florida beach boutique and has since grown to a four-brand family (including White House Black Market and Boston Proper) across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. But by 2010, Soma hadn’t reached its growth goals. That’s when Van Brunt came to Soma as brand president, following merchandising and brand management roles at companies from Petite Sophisticate and Lane Bryant to Chadwick’s of Boston and J.C. Penney. Van Brunt had intimates experience—building Lane Bryant’s Cacique brand, for one—and she’d had her eye on Soma. Her goal: to help Soma find direction.
“We want women to feel that Soma is their store no matter what their body type.”
Laurie Van Brunt in the Soma Intimates trend workroom, affectionately called the Get Gorgeous room, at Chico’s corporate campus in Fort Myers, FL. 26 hue | spring 2015
Van Brunt set out to understand the Soma customer and tailor the brand’s approach. To do that, she’s had a say in decisions from store layout and design to fabric. She’s an accessible executive, eager to share her experiences, quick to laugh and blunt when necessary. Her stories about Soma, now with 280 stores, are case studies in brand positioning, customer service, manufacturing—and she delivers a business seminar in the course of a conversation. When Van Brunt arrived, the Soma customer—affluent and 50-something—was confused. Soma’s brand positioning had changed multiple times. “There were so many different aesthetics in the store—we had a lot of apparel that looked like it should be in Chico’s, some like BCBG,” she says. “Most of the time the windows didn’t even have lingerie; they had some kind of sportswear.” The bottom line: Soma didn’t look like what it was trying to sell. “You get a lot of people really ticked off at you,” says Van Brunt, who studied customer focus groups and worked Saturday store shifts for firsthand feedback. Soma’s layout was also part of the puzzle. The stores were physically linked to Chico’s, although with separate storefronts, and weren’t drawing a broad enough consumer base. “Talbots customers, Coldwater [Creek], Ann Taylor, Banana [Republic]—none of those people were walking in the door.” So Van Brunt started by eliminating some of Soma’s clothing stock, including sportswear. “We had a sweater table at Christmas; we’re a lingerie store,” she notes wryly. While engaging loyalists who had hung on through Soma’s changes, Van Brunt looked for potential customers who weren’t being served. BRIAN TIETZ
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“I mapped out all the competitors, both national brands and department stores, and looked at where there was an opportunity for another specialty store.” Though Van Brunt agreed with criticism that Soma was looking “matronly,” her mission was never to turn it into Victoria’s Secret. “They own ‘sexy’ and obviously they do very well,” she says, matter-of-factly pointing out that Victoria’s Secret does “more business in the malls than all the other retailers who sell intimates added together. We had to find our own customer.” Research revealed a broader target audience of “real women” ages 30 and up, averaging in their mid-40s. “They don’t all have perfect figures, they’re not all Barbie dolls,” Van Brunt says. The Soma customer is a “beautiful, sensual” woman who “dresses more for herself. As we say, she’s beautiful underneath.” Van Brunt aimed to keep “amazing personal service,” a staple of Chico’s corporate DNA, and essential for intimates. She also made fitting rooms spacious enough to accommodate both a customer and a store associate—key in selling a product that 80 percent of women wear in the wrong size. “Most wear the same size they wore in college,” despite changes in pregnancy, midlife, and beyond. The larger fitting rooms help make an often awkward bra-fitting experience more successful. Soma broadened its size range—32A to 44G—and added maternity and post-surgery bras, allowing a customer to start and stay with the brand. “We are trying to help her throughout her life,” Van Brunt says. “We want women to feel that it’s their store no matter what their body type.” Beyond sizing, Van Brunt also updated the brand’s prints and colors, while improving Soma’s atmosphere. “We worked
Above: This holiday 2014 entrance display featured the limited-edition Grandeur and Sensuous Scroll collections in trend colors medieval blue and black. Both linen and glossy mannequins were used for textural variety, and the goldfoiled brand images tied back into Soma’s mailer design. Above right: Soma’s Butterfly Chemise is made with the proprietary Cool Nights breathable rayon/spandex knit, which retains its shape and silky drape when machine-washed.
with our internal design team to create a store that supported our brand position: warm, modern, beautiful, luxurious—and looked like a lingerie store.” Ideas for the brand have come from beyond the executive suite. An operations department employee came up with the name for Soma’s best-selling Vanishing Edge panties, which don’t show panty lines. “The secret is in patent technology and silicone,” says Van Brunt, who’s a wearer (“I’m hooked”) and credits quality and durability for the product’s popularity. Another best seller resulted from store associates’ reports that customers wanted a bra that would be invisible under clothes, and make the back look smooth. “So we started working,” Van Brunt recalls. A knitted fabric helps achieve the desired effect. Van Brunt has learned that bras are more complicated than they look. “People don’t realize how hard they are to make,” she says. Most bras have at least 30 components, involving time-consuming sourcing and manufacturing. Bra design also requires technological expertise, to provide the latest innovations in comfort and support. New products debut only after they’re wear-tested on Soma’s Fort Myers, FL, campus. While bras and panties are Soma’s stars, Van Brunt says sleepwear, all-knit loungewear, and a fragrance line are popular as well. Van Brunt’s retail roots run deep. She worked at Macy’s while attending FIT, and less than two years after graduation was promoted to buyer—something she credits to her education. The basics, including retail math, she says, “are still part of you.” Van Brunt returned to FIT this spring, when Soma served as the sponsor of the Fashion Merchandising Management program’s senior capstone project. Student teams conducted Q&As with an executive panel and developed a plan for building Soma’s business. In addition to winning a cash prize, the top team will present their plan to Soma’s executive board in Florida. In discussing her path from FIT’s classrooms to Soma’s boardrooms, Van Brunt sounds like her own best customer: someone who, thanks to a good foundation, is confident in her own skin.
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From Bushwick to the Bowery, from Hunts Point to Greenpoint, New York City neighborhoods feature some of the most eye-popping murals in the world.
Street art arose from graffiti culture and now encom-
passes many kinds of outdoor paintings and sculptures, both legal and not—but the term connotes a certain level of aesthetic merit. Graffiti has traditionally been the bane of real-estate owners and city government, but some artists use their spray cans to beautify, rather than deface, exterior walls.
“Historically, property owners and developers have
tended to consider graffiti a sign of decay that lowers property values,” urban anthropologist Elizabeth Greenspan wrote in a May 2014 article for The New Yorker website. “But that was before people started finding grittiness really cool.”
SOL AR TIST S A L U MNI A E R O IE S OUT SIDE BRING G ALLER tner by Jonathan Va
Nowadays, murals cover up graffiti-ridden walls and
draw visitors to up-and-coming neighborhoods. Corporations hire street artists to add urban chic to store openings, condo developments, and office interiors. And they provide a creative outlet—and a steady income—for a tight-knit community of artists, including the FIT alumni whose (legal) work is displayed on these pages.
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Nick Parisse ’09
Chris “Robots Will Kill” Chillemi Fine Arts ’98
Of the alumni featured here, Meres is the most closely linked to traditional graffiti culture. In this subset of street art, practitioners “write”—i.e., spray-paint—more and more elaborate versions of their street name. They begin with a tag, or simple signature, and slowly learn to write “pieces,” larger works complete with backgrounds. “Wildstyle,” the highest achievement for graffiti artists, uses jagged, dimensional letters embellished with arrows and other extensions. By this point, the letters are inscrutable to most people, but the effect is mesmerizing. Meres writes in wildstyle. He originally chose “Mere” as his name because he liked writing those letters, then added the “s” to make it more complicated. Now he’s Meres One “because I’m the only one!” he says. He creates upwards of 100 pieces a year. His art has been shown on Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model, in ads for Heineken and Fiat, and in the 2013 movie Now You See Me. He has also painted walls in hotels and restaurants, including a number of pieces for the N’vY Hotel in Geneva, Switzerland, which he did with fellow alumnus Luis “Zimad” Lamboy, Textile/Surface Design ’87. But Meres is most proud of being the founder and curator of 5Pointz, which was possibly the most recognizable street art gallery in the world before it was demolished in 2013. (See “The Rise and Fall of 5Pointz” on page 31.)
When ChrisRWK was first taking his comic-inspired work around to galleries, he heard the same thing over and over: “Come back when you have more showing experience.” Since this door in the face left him no chance for a foot in the door, he and a friend launched RobotsWillKill.com, a website for both fine and graffiti artists to show their work. The name refers to the kind of repetitious, robotic life that could kill a person’s creativity. The site not only created a community for fledgling artists but also became ChrisRWK’s calling card and bolstered his career: he has shown work in galleries from New York to Belgium. His street art shares themes and characters with his fine art. For the mural above, spray-painted on a Bushwick wall that Chris and his collaborators have painted and repainted for years, he depicted his signature robot, PoBoy (Prosthetic Organic Bot of Youth), as well as some wide-eyed kids who engage the viewer while repelling attempts to understand them. The piece was an instant hit. The paint dried right before Hurricane Sandy shut down New York in October 2012, and even before public transportation was restored, pictures of the wall started popping up on Instagram.
Nick Parisse ’09
Christopher L. Inoa
Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen
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Darwin “Sienide” Bharath ’09
Darwin “Sienide” Bharath Illustration MA ’09, BFA ’09
Now I Deliver Ether, with “Iz” honoring the late Iz the Wiz, a legend in the graffiti world. Decades later, he still paints murals, recently brightening up the walls of a post office, hospitals, courthouses, and the Children’s Aid Society, all in the Bronx. He often gets work by approaching the owners of heavily tagged walls with a digital mockup of how the wall would look once the graffiti has been covered by his art. More often than not, they give him the green light. In this mural, on the rooftop of a hardware store in the Bronx, he depicted his musical heroes, including salsa star Ruben Blades, shown here. He sketched on paper, then spray-painted freehand on the wall. “Street art should relay a message and inspire people,” he says. “I try to go out there and say something, contribute something to the world, make somebody feel something: anger, disgust, happiness, or sadness. If they don’t, I’m doing something wrong.”
Nick Parisse ’09
Francisco Molina Reyes II
Sienide received his first commission, $500 to paint a video store in the Castle Hill neighborhood of the Bronx, when he was just 13. His street name is an acronym of Success Iz Everything
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Luis “Zimad” Lamboy Textile/Surface Design ’87
Zimad, who has been hired to paint all over the world, got the name Zimad when he was just 14. It references a graffiti writer he admired named Mad2. Rather than sketch, he just lets the wall “dictate what it wants,” keeping in mind rules of balance and proportion. Animals and plants, particularly birds, bring life into the work. He also incorporates textures and patterns, using techniques he learned as a Textile/ Surface Design student. “I’m a gallery artist, graffiti artist, and street artist in one,” he says. This trippy wall in Bushwick represents “an ancient alien creating nature on a fifth-dimensional plane.” The bird with a crown, based on Ancient Egyptian birdheaded gods, is one of his signature characters, and the mushrooms recall an Alice in Wonderland wall he did at 5Pointz, the graffiti hub in Long Island City that was torn down in 2013.
5Pointz, an abandoned factory in Long Island City covered in murals, was possibly the most famous outdoor gallery in the world. In 2013, when the building’s owner whitewashed it in preparation for tearing it down, New York lost one of its artistic treasures. The building had been a graffiti mecca for decades. In the ’90s, it was referred to as the Phun Phactory, a place where graffiti artists could practice legally. But as the neighborhood gentrified, the Wolkoff family, who owned the building, wanted to improve the quality of the work on display. In 2002, FIT alumnus Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen, was brought in to curate the space, inviting artists from all over the world to cover the building in murals. He called it 5Pointz, marking it as a place where the five boroughs could come together. “When we reached our peak,” Meres says, “every mural was museum quality. We got six to ten tour buses every day. 5Pointz was hands down the biggest tourist attraction in Queens.” But in fall 2013, with real-estate values in Long Island City skyrocketing, the Wolkoffs announced plans to build apartment towers on the site. Before preservationists could rally, the walls had been painted white. “There was no warning, no chance to salvage something,” Meres laments. “There was so much history there.” Despite the gallery’s demise, 5Pointz remains a cultural touchstone for New Yorkers and an Alamo for street artists. And Meres is proud of what he facilitated. “It was a place where anyone could paint,” he says. “If I died today, I’d be ecstatic that I left my mark.”
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1978 Cindy Avroch, Textile Design, paints and sculpts in her studio in Long Island City. Texture unifies her work, whether it’s oil paintings, plaster-and-bronze statues, or encaustic creations. She worked as a textile designer and art director for 22 years but left the industry 15 years ago to raise her son.
Irving Geduldig, Scientific Management, has sold industrial sewing machines and other automatic devices for the home textiles industry for 62 years. He began working when he was 13 at his father’s dress factory on 26th Street. After FIT, he was employed briefly in New Bedford, MA, then opened Irving Geduldig, Inc., on 25th Street in Manhattan. He has run the business out of Boynton Beach, FL, since 1989.
The Happy Couple, plaster with bronze patina, 16³⁄₈ by 11 by 6 inches.
1985 Dena Lowell Blauschild, Fashion Buying and Merchandising, opened the Cook and the Cork, a 40-seat restaurant in Coral Springs, FL, with her husband Keith in June 2014. Dishes are based on comfort food from various cultures: fried chicken and waffles, Korean spare ribs, pierogies, and Mexican corn salad. She considers herself the stylist, formatting the menus, decorating the interior, choosing fashion-forward uniforms, and managing the restaurant’s public face.
Geduldig’s FIT yearbook photo.
1976 Laura Assumma Parisi, Fashion Design, is a “food shaman” who has studied integrative nutrition and Chinese and ayurvedic medicine. She helps clients explore their relationship with food, their bodies, and their health. “It’s not just about eating broccoli and whole grains and quinoa,” she explains. “It’s also about learning how to eat not from imitation or habit or theory but by connecting to that instinctive intelligence that we all have.” Parisi also teaches conscious cooking classes and designs linen aprons and pottery.
Lobster mac and cheese with white cheddartarragon sauce at the Cook and the Cork.
Parisi teaches conscious cooking to all ages.
Roger Hinds, Marketing: Fashion and Related Industries, Apparel Production Management ’83, has been a patternmaker, sample-maker, dress designer, and tailor in Boston since 1996. With his business, Hinds Lines and Designs, the Trinidadian jack-of-all-trades helps fashion designers evolve their ideas from sketch to final product. He also creates custom formal wear for men and women.
PAST MASTER Richard Wainwright, Fashion Buying and Merchandising ’98
“Los Angeles is the best place to shop for vintage in the world,” Richard Wainwright proclaims. His L.A. showroom, New/Found, sells vintage pieces—mostly accessories and jewelry— to American and European designers and stylists hunting for inspiration. Among recent finds: a raft of avant-garde Alain Mikli eyeglasses frames and an oversized bangle resembling an industrial gear from a Gianfranco Ferré runway show—all from the ’80s. “L.A. has a disposable fashion culture, so there’s a lot of stuff out there,” the Wainwright was photographed in the Cooper Design lifelong collector explains. Space in Los Angeles, the site of A Current Affair, his “It’s not like New York where vintage trade show. people are dressed in black all year. Here, people wear trendy things for events, parties, and shoots. And because L.A. doesn’t really have a fashion scene, it had to develop its own identity, and that’s heavily influenced by vintage.” Ironically, because it’s such a vintage mecca, competition for unique items is fierce, and Wainwright surfs vintage shops in San Francisco, the Carolinas, and Texas to find fresh objects to inspire his high-profile clients, who prefer to remain anonymous. “I look for things I’ve never seen before, things with interesting details, important designer pieces, or things that ring a bell for me, things I’ve loved over the years. But there’s also something I can’t put into words, something I feel in my gut. The second I see it, I know if I want it. And it’s not just me— everyone responds to those pieces.” Most everyone, at any rate. Recently, he stumbled on a strapless, beaded dress in hunter green and chartreuse that reminded him of a Versace ad campaign featuring model Karen Elson. He bought it, Wainwright recently came across this dress raced home, and confirmed that it from a fall 1997 Versace ad campaign shot by came from Gianni Versace’s final Richard Avedon. couture collection. “It almost looks like a towel wrapped around her body. It’s amazing.” He put the dress on display at A Current Affair, a vintage trade show he co-produces in Los Angeles (and is bringing to Brooklyn May 30 and 31). It was promptly snatched up, but not before Elson herself wandered into his booth. Astonished, he showed her the dress and reminded her of the ad campaign. She wasn’t impressed. “Oh, there have been so many dresses,” she sighed, and walked away. Lani Trock
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GETTING THE LOOK
Monica Russo Frisbie, Accessories Design, launched Mondrina, a line of bags produced by artisans in Peru, including prisoners, who use the income to support their families during their incarceration. She favors Peru for the quality of its raw materials, particularly alpaca, pima cotton, and leather. Mondrina is sold at boutiques in New York, California, and Texas, and at monthly trunk shows at Bloomingdale’s in Soho. The Uma satchel won the 2014 Most Socially Responsible Handbag award— sponsored by FEED, Lauren Bush’s charitable bag company—at the Independent Handbag Designer Awards.
Marie Castiglione, Graphic Design ’10
Lynne Hiriak, Fashion Design, created Cardigan New York, a line of casual fashions, based on her love for the buttoned-up sweater (she owns 200 of them). Having specialized in knitwear at FIT, she eventually became knitwear director for Michael Kors before launching Cardigan in 2007. Her graphic, unfussy designs are sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, Scoop, and J. Crew’s In Good Company, a curated collection of partner brands. “What’s wonderful about knitwear is that so much thought and talent goes into the creation of the fabric,” she says. “You’ve already created something before you’ve even started putting it together.”
Pisac poncho, cotton, spring 2015.
1996 Shannon Campbell, Fashion Buying and Merchandising, is a wardrobe stylist and personal shopper in Phoenix. She coordinates editorial photo shoots for magazines based in the area, selecting the photographer, models, hair and makeup artists, and clothes and accessories. She also produces fashionfocused local TV news spots.
Top: Peruvian prisoners weave some of Mondrina’s collections. Above: Uma satchel, cotton and leather, $375.
Marijo Dunn Mena, Fashion Merchandising Management, oversees the sourcing, costing, and production for Pottery Barn Furniture, the brand’s largest category. Her job involves traveling throughout East and Southeast Asia, working with factories to create new products.
Campbell was inspired by the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for the cover of the August 2014 issue of Phoenix magazine.
Jade Huang, International Trade and Marketing, founded StyleSage, which she describes as a “Google Analytics for all of fashion retail.” The company, which launched last fall, aggregates data from 1,000 e-commerce sites, as well as keywords trending on blogs and Twitter, census results, and even the weather, to show its retail clients what clothes people want to buy, in what colors and at what price.
Every time you spot an ad for Bloomingdale’s on a bus shelter or taxi topper, or in a newspaper or magazine, you’re looking at Marie Castiglione’s work. As the design manager for the venerable department store chain, Castiglione oversees all design in public media. “One of the most rewarding parts of my job is being able to walk around New York City with my family or friends and point to an ad and say, ‘I worked on that.’” In a typical day, Castiglione might brainstorm about upcoming themes, hire a photographer, style a photo shoot, consult copywriters, or edit a layout. And with new campaigns taking shape year-round, including two major magazine layouts annually and 30 to 50 newspaper ads a week, she is always on the hunt for fresh ideas. For inspiration, Castiglione looks around her—literally. “I’ve turned my cubicle into a giant, living mood board,” she says. “I’m constantly pinning images up or taking them down.” For special promotional pieces advertising store openings or collaborations, she creates mini-magazines that are sent to consumers. To advertise the NBA All-Star Game in New York in February, she recently art-directed and designed a mailer sponsored by GQ and the NBA. The challenge was to convey the energy of Houston Rockets player James Harden without sacrificing the sophistication that Bloomingdale’s is known for. Her team chose a serious cover shot but added bold type and pops of orange to make it fun. There’s a bit of fate in Castiglione’s journey from FIT to Bloomingdale’s. It was during a student orientation bus tour that she first laid eyes on the flagship store on 59th Street and Lexington Avenue. “Growing up in a small town, I’d only heard about Bloomingdale’s in Castiglione put NBA star James Harden on the cover movies and on TV,” says Castiglione, of a recent Bloomingdale’s promotional mailer. who hails from Lewiston, NY. Fast-forward four years to Portfolio Review Night, Castiglione’s final requirement for graduation; Bloomingdale’s was the last company she met with before the evening ended. She’s worked there ever since. —Marie Proeller Hueston
Goeun Jo, Fashion Design, debuted her line, Goenjo, in 2010, in the famously stylish Gangnam district of Seoul. She collaborates with fine artists to translate their paintings and sculptures into patterns and shapes in her designs. The pieces are sold in boutiques and department stores in New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul; in 2014, she participated in a pop-up showroom in New York, sponsored by the Korea Fashion Designer Association. Ro-he knit top and Bishop flare skirt from Goenjo’s fall/ winter 2014 collection, inspired by the Rorschach test.
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2007 Mai Vu, Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice; Fabric Styling ’04; Fashion Merchandising Management ’01, co-founded Bishop Collective, an online boutique that features only designers who manufacture in the U.S. Last fall, Vu ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to produce “the perfect American-made T-shirt.” “We were having a difficult time sourcing basics, because our designers want to design more interesting things,” she explains. “Kickstarter was a good way to generate buzz and test the product before going into development.”
Bishop Collective’s Perfect American-Made T-Shirt, organic cotton and Tencel.
2010 Sean Madden, Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design ’10, is a freelance display and event designer who has put together holiday displays for Victoria’s Secret and Macy’s. For Madden, Christmas is a year-round event. “January 1 comes around and Victoria’s Secret knows what they want for holiday already,” he says. Last September, visitors to Rockefeller Center could see his information-driven window promoting the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation.
Rachel Prinstein Schostak, Fashion Merchandising Management, founded Styleshack, an e-retail site that sells fashions from many boutiques around the country. Each shopper takes a style quiz and is placed into one of nine categories, such as Boho, Eco Chic, or Romantic, and then receives emails with category-specific recommendations. Schostak hopes the site will give consumers the variety and convenience of a site like Shopbop while enabling them to support small businesses.
CATCHING AIR Kaitlyn Egan, Photography ’10
The BMX Big Air event.
The high-flying bike might be the most exciting element of this photograph—taken at the BMX Big Air event at ESPN’s Summer 2014 X Games in Austin, TX—but Kaitlyn Egan actually framed the shot to capture the GoPro logos at the top and bottom of the half-pipe, then waited for the bike to come into view. Egan shoots the logos, booths, and autograph signings for the sponsors of the games; the photographs are often used in the sponsors’ marketing and advertising materials and on social media. But it doesn’t hurt to include an athlete at the “peak” of a trick. She maxes out the sequence setting on her camera, snaps as many photos as she can while the athlete is in midair, and picks the best one. Sometimes getting a great shot puts her in harm’s way—but so far, she’s been lucky. “I’ve been hit with skateboards,” she says, “but I’ve never been injured.”
Students from P.S. 325 in Harlem where The Fashion Foundation donated $1,500 worth of art supplies.
Amanda Munz, Fashion Merchandising Management, launched The Fashion Foundation, a nonprofit that provides school supplies to schoolchildren in
New York City by collecting and selling designer samples, as well as new and gently used donations from the public. Munz got the idea during an internship with a high-profile designer, where she witnessed brand-new shoe samples being tossed into a Dumpster every day.
Marisa Politi, Art History and Museum Professions, Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design ’11, is executive assistant to the publisher of Brides magazine. She manages the publisher’s packed calendar, responds to her phone calls and emails, and acts as the office manager. Politi also writes A Working Girl’s Guide…, a recipe blog for busy professionals, and prepares meals for
private clients, including some of the Rockettes.
2013 Leah McCormack, Advertising and Marketing Communications, Fashion Merchandising Management ’11, is a merchandising analyst for Wayfair, an e-commerce home decor company based in Boston. She updates hundreds of items on the site every day, to reflect sale prices, changes to products, or sold-out merchandise, and her speed and accuracy are tracked. She was recently featured in The Boston Globe as a “Fearless Workplace Fashionista,” for her colorful outfits in the paper’s “Top Places to Work” issue.
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what inspires you?
Drawing on the Past Carol Gantos, Fashion Design ’87
Frances Neady Collection, FIT Department of Special Collections
It’s been more than 20 years since Associate Professor Harvey Boyd’s premature passing, at the age of 52, but I still remember the first day of his Fashion Design portfolio class. It was a pressure cooker full of students aspiring to fame. And what does he write on the chalkboard? “Nurturing Creativity.” From that moment I knew I was in the right place. Harvey told us, “You’re not here to learn to draw like anyone else.” He pushed us to find our own way of expressing our ideas. This was revolutionary for that setting, where it was all about following the rules of Seventh Avenue. He talked about “breaking the rules” and noticing the glamour on the streets of New York. He saw beyond the work you did to the person you were about to become. Years later, I found myself in a lead design role for Halston, counted on to come through for the next New York fashion show. I had some rough sketches from our creative director, Randolph Duke, scribbled on dinner napkins during his last visit, and I came up with a controversial interpretation of his vision. Let’s just say the beading only covered the parts of the female body that you’d have to cover. Everything else was sheer. You could hear a pin drop as Randolph meticulously reviewed my prototypes. I thought I’d be fired on the spot. Then he stood in front of this slip of a dress, with a constellation of jet beads from front to back, and said, “This is your best work.” Some time after the runway event, I got a startling call from our production guy. He said, “You know that dress you did? It’s now in a movie…The Thomas Crown Affair. They’ve remade the film and Rene Russo is wearing your dress.” I have worked in many professional design settings since then, and I have found that the creative process, encouraged by Harvey Boyd—with his relaxed, confident ease—lives on as a reservoir in me that I can still access today. It’s calm and caring yet defiant and rare. A great teacher lives on through his students. So, I gratefully thank you, Harvey Boyd.
MGM Media Licensing
Boyd, who taught Fashion Design–Art at FIT for 26 years, worked for Estée Lauder, designed for Elizabeth Arden, and sketched for Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Claude Montana, and Sonia Rykiel. Gantos, now a design consultant and educator, has worked for Halston, Reem Acra ’86, and Lilly Pulitzer.
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227 West 27 Street New York, NY 10001-5992 return service requested
Then and Now Above: A look under the skin of FIT’s Seventh Avenue entrance during its construction in 1974. Right: A photo of the entrance as it looks now. Turn to page 11 for many more archival photos in “70 Years of FIT.”
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volume 8 | number 2