Alumni Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology
volume 6 | number 3 | summer 2013
Alumni Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology
Hue is the alumni magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology, a State University of New York college of art and design, business and technology. It is published three times a year by the Division of Communications and External Relations, 227 West 27 Street, Room B905, New York, NY 10001-5992, 212 217.4700. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Vice President for Communications and External Relations Loretta Lawrence Keane
Assistant Vice President for Communications Carol Leven Editor Linda Angrilli Managing Editor Alex Joseph, MA ’13 Staff Writer Jonathan Vatner Editorial Assistant Laura Hatmaker Art Direction and Design Empire Design Studio
Hue magazine on the web: fitnyc.edu/hue blog.fitnyc.edu/huetoo Get involved with FIT and your fellow alumni. “Like” the FIT Alumni page on Facebook and follow @FITAlumni on Twitter. Email the Office of Alumni Relations at email@example.com and let us know what you’ve been up to. Environmental Savings for summer 2013 87 trees preserved/planted 252 lbs waterborne waste not created 37,098 gallons wastewater flow saved 4,105 lbs solid waste not generated 8,082 lbs net greenhouse gases prevented 61,859,994 BTUs energy not consumed Printed by Monroe Litho Inc. on Mohawk Inxwell Super Smooth Eco White FSC-certified, 100% post consumer waste reclaimed/ recycled fiber, made with 100% renewable energy; manufactured chlorine free; certified ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management System. Please recycle or share this magazine.
18 Features 7 the big event Boldface names turn out for FIT’s gala 8 Status Update: Graduated A thoroughly modern commencement ceremony 9 Pumps and Circumstance A fabulous feast of fashion-forward footwear! 12 Judgment Day Selecting designs for the Future of Fashion runway
14 American’s Revolution Behind the rebranding of the world’s largest airline 15 The Business of Fashion The founders of Men’s Wearhouse and Rent the Runway visit FIT 16 Trick Shot Allen Ying ’04’s totally sick skateboarding magazine 18 The Militant Modernist (Almost) everything we’ve ever wanted to ask Michael Kors
Leslie Peck, Illustration ’87, painted this issue’s cover, set just across the river from
Manhattan, in homage to the classic romance novel. She worked from the above photo, left over from a shoot from her heyday of publishing assignments. The novel covers were done in oil on 22-by-30-inch illustration boards, but Peck used a Masonite board for Hue so that the original would last. To see more of her steamy scenes, turn to page 24.
16 Departments 22 The Stars of Macy’s Six successful alumni in buying, planning, and product development 24 Following Her Passion “Sleepworthy” art from a top romance novel illustrator 26 Funny Business The owner and namesake of Carolines comedy club looks back
4 Hue’s News 6 Hue’s Who 10 I Contact 11 Faculty On… 28 Alumni notes 31 Sparks
In May, students celebrated during Grad Week. Congratulations, class of 2013!
Film and Media Program Launches Beginning in fall 2014, FIT will offer a new undergraduate degree program in Film and
Roman and Williams Wins Interior Design Honor
what’s happening on campus
Media. Students will study filmmaking, including screenwriting, cinematography, and editing, as well as film theory, history, and criticism. This interdisciplinary major offers
On April 4, the Interior Design Department honored
12-credit specializations that allow exploration of areas of interest, such as storyboarding
Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, principals of Roman
and character design, and film studies, including major directors and world cinema.
and Williams Buildings and Interiors, with the 2013
Graduates will be prepared for careers in a range of film-related industries including
Lawrence Israel Prize, an award given annually since
entertainment, advertising and marketing, journalism, education, and the arts. For their
1998 to an individual or firm whose ideas and work enrich
final project, students will make a short film to be screened at an FIT film festival. Visit
FIT Interior Design students’ course of study. The two
fitnyc.edu/filmandmedia to learn more about the curriculum.
met while designing Hollywood sets, and in 2002 they began creating emotive, ageless spaces like the New York
A Taste of Graduates’ Work As has become a May tradition at FIT, the creations of graduating students in 17 Art and Design majors were displayed all around campus,
locations of the Standard Hotel and the Ace Hotel. “I believe the future of design is not about style,” Standefer said, in the lecture she gave upon accepting the award. “We should be able to create things with an ethos of eclecticism, of timelessness and beauty.”
from the Marvin Feldman Center lobby to The
Museum at FIT. Here are some highlights.
The Boom Boom Room at The Standard Hotel New York.
Lessons for Sustainable Business and Design The Seventh Annual Sustainable Business and Design Conference, “People, Planet, and Prosperity: The Sustainable Balancing Act,” attracted record attendance in FIT’s John E. Reeves Great Hall on April 9. Ethan Nichtern, founder of the Interdependence Project, opened the conference, offering a secular Buddhist perspective on the problem of producing too much “stuff.” Mark Orlowski, founder and executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, shared case studies of schools that have seen remarkable returns on investment when greening Clockwise from top right: Sunna Yim, Illustration; Abagail Wagner, Accessories Design; Ye Yan, Toy Design; Kathleen Gamboa, Packaging Design; Gowon Lee, Jewelry Design; and Chris Arena, Photography.
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their facilities. Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) presented The Book of Ice, a multimedia project inspired by the sound of melting ice in Antarctica. To experience this project, visit blog.fitnyc.edu/huetoo.
The Museum at FIT Looks Back
Remembering the Holocaust Through Art
program, created through a partnership between FIT and the NYC Economic Development
scholar in residence at the Holocaust Resource
Corporation, is educating its second class of
Center and Archives at Queensborough Com-
designers looking to grow their businesses. New
munity College, displayed and spoke about the
this year is $35,000 in prize money, donated
paintings of Seymour Kaftan. Kaftan, a teenager
by G-III Apparel Group, to be awarded in
in Vilnius, Lithuania, when the Nazis invaded,
September to the two designers with the most
witnessed Jews being shot and pushed into mass
compelling final presentations.
process these events, he painted 26 scenes that offer a rare and haunting glimpse of life under Nazi occupation. “Most of the 20 million pictures of the Holocaust depict what American servicemen saw when they liberated the camps,” Aizenberg said. “There are very few pictures taken while it was happening.” MFIT
Career Development Conference, held in Anaheim, CA, in April. > Sehyun Park, Fashion Design ’14, won a $10,000
McQueen for Givenchy Haute Couture that
scholarship from Joe’s Blackbook for her women’s
references 16th-century England. It also matches
wear designs in a national student contest.
up period styles with recent interpretations, such
> The 2013 graduating class of the master’s degree
as a bustle with bustier and decorated jeans by
program in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing Ghetto Orphans by Seymour Kaftan, oil on canvas.
for the house of Balenciaga that connects back
On May 7, FIT’s Office of Alumni and Faculty Relations strengthened one such relationship by hosting a breakfast for 35 alumni at the New York office of Ross Stores. If your company employs a concentration of alumni, contact Allison Oldehoff, manager of Alumni and Faculty Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org), who can organize a similar event.
Fashion Show, Bark-à-Porter, took place May 3
at Collegiate DECA’s 52nd Annual International
as a 1999 painted silk chiffon gown by Alexander
panies often benefit current and future students.
> The fifth annual Pet Apparel and Accessories
Merchandising Management ’13, won top honors
pieces that strongly evoke historical periods, such
FIT alumni, and relationships with these com-
> Nicole Falcone and Alyson Mortimer, both Fashion
contemporary fashion. The exhibition shows off
Many companies employ a large contingent of
of exceptional ability. The award comes with a
Design and Marketing certificate program.
preting, and modernizing past styles in creating
FIT Celebrates Alumni at Ross Stores
the Creative Arts, given to established artists
the Center for Professional Studies’ Pet Product
at FIT, examines the process of adapting, inter-
1989, won a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship in
featured 18 canine looks created by students in
RetroSpective, currently on view at The Museum
Sprouse. RetroSpective can be seen through
> Harriet Korman, Fine Arts faculty member since
in the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre. The show
Alexander McQueen for Givenchy Haute Couture, evening dress, painted silk chiffon, fall/winter 1999.
to the 1980s downtown graffiti style of Stephen
> This summer, the Design Entrepreneurs NYC
the Holocaust. This year, Rabbi Isidoro Aizenberg,
other atrocities. Decades later, as a way to finally
1880s, as well as a 2004 Nicolas Ghesquière dress
Every April, FIT hosts a lecture to commemorate
graves at nearby Ponary, in addition to many
Anna Sui paired with a Victorian fashion of the
and Management presented their capstone projects on June 5. The presentations centered
Exploring the Fashions of Tomorrow
on the role of digital intelligence in marketing
A cloak that renders the wearer invisible. A shirt
strategist for the Obama campaigns, spoke about
that emits a scent to brighten your mood. A “bio-
the importance of social media and “big data” to
designed” dress made from fabric grown in a lab
that degrades completely at the end of its life cycle. They’re not in mass production yet, but prototypes already exist. Such futuristic style was the subject of a symposium held in April at FIT in conjunction with the museum’s recent Fashion and Technology exhibition and co-sponsored by the School of Graduate Studies. Fashion historian Bradley Quinn gave the keynote and moderated a panel of experts, including Suzanne Lee, founder of BioCouture, a
and selling beauty. Also, Joe Rospars, chief digital
> To coincide with Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo in March, the Japan FIT Alumni Association presented its third seminar, “The New Era of Fashion Business: Social Media and OmniChannel,” by Advertising and Marketing Communications faculty member Ted Schachter. > Fashionista.com named FIT among the top ten fashion schools in the world for 2013.
consultancy that researches potentially wearable biomaterials such as fungi, and Sabine Seymour, the director of the Fashionable Technology Lab at Parsons.
VIPs at FIT events this academic year
The Museum at FIT’s Fashion and Technology Symposium: Steve Zades, the Odyssey Network; Suzanne Lee, BioCouture; Sabine Seymour, Parsons; Bradley Quinn, author.
Couture Council Luncheon Honoring Oscar de la Renta: 1. Anna Wintour, Diane von Furstenberg, de la Renta, Sarah Jessica Parker. 2. Nina Garcia*. 3. Martha Stewart. 4. Joe Zee*. 5. Iris Apfel. 6. Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager.
The Museum at FIT’s Fashion Culture Programs: 1. Inès de la Fressange, model, with Valerie Steele, MFIT. 2. John Bartlett*. 3. Roger and Mauricio Padilha, authors of Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex, and Disco with Pat Cleveland and Corey Tippin, models. 1
FIT’s Photo Talks Series, featuring prominent photographers: 1. Martin Parr. 2. Charles Freger.
Shoe Obsession Opening: 1. Alexandra Lebenthal, Lebenthal and Co. 2. Jessica Wade*, Jes Wade. 3. Susanne Bartsch, event producer. 4. Peter Soronen, designer, and Julie Sabatino*, The Stylish Bride. 5. Masaya Kushino, designer (center, with friends).
2013 BFA Fashion Show: 1. Fern Mallis with Marcus Wainwright, Rag and Bone. 2. Amsale Aberra*, designer. 2
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Right: Cipriani 42nd Street was transformed by artist Jennifer Steinkamp, with swaths of textured light over the massive stone walls and an engrossing animation of blossoms and branches projected onto two giant screens.
Krill, Brown, and Tonchi.
Singer Tony Bennett (left) introduced Kaufman, calling him “the most successful human being I’ve ever met.”
FIT’s annual gala celebrates three heroes of the fashion industry
FIT’s 2013 fund-raising gala, at Cipriani 42nd Street on June 10, honored George S. Kaufman, chairman of the Kaufman Organization and Kaufman Astoria Studios; Kay Krill, president and CEO of retailer ANN INC.; and Stefano Tonchi, editor-in-chief of W magazine. Considering the stars of design and philanthropy who made up the audience and the amount of scholarship money raised—more than $1 million—FIT’s 21st-century primacy was on full display. In her welcome, President Joyce F. Brown described students from difficult backgrounds who could not have succeeded without scholarships. In turn, Krill announced that ANN INC. endowed a scholarship for FIT students designing fashion for women.
Designers Jeffrey Banks and Stan Herman.
Ralph Rucci*, philanthropist Jean Shafiroff, Reem Acra*.
All photos by Patrick McMullan except where otherwise noted
Joy Herfel Cronin*, group president, menswear and children’s wear, Ralph Lauren; Hilary Geary Ross; investor Wilbur Ross; Brown; H. Carl McCall; Elizabeth T. Peek, chair of FIT’s board of trustees; and Jane Hertzmark Hudis, global brand president, Estée Lauder. Cronin, Peek, and Hudis were chairs of the gala.
Designer Isabel Toledo*; artist Ruben Toledo; Fern Mallis, president of Fern Mallis LLC; and Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT.
Actress Jessica Chastain introduced Tonchi. Chastain graced the September 2010 cover of W, before she was a household name.
Graduated The Class of ’13 celebrates, in person and online By Alex Joseph, MA ’13
“This is awesome,” Fern Mallis said, addressing graduates at FIT’s 68th commencement on May 23. “How many of you are posting to Facebook right now?” From the audience’s response, the answer was more than a few. The creator of Fashion Week in New York City, Mallis knows awesome when she sees it. She’s also aware that today, pretty much all events take place on two parallel planes: the real and the virtual. Reader, I was there, mostly in the first plane, wearing my blue robe like the other 1,700 graduates at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. I too felt a lump in my throat as I hugged a family member. This year, I completed FIT’s MA in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice, and I can now verify how sweet it is to celebrate at a commencement that is truly your own. But like nearly everyone else—whether graduating with an AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, or MPS from any of the college’s 46 degree programs— I love shaping my experience into status updates, tweets, and Instagram images. My Facebook friends and Twitter followers live all over the world, but I felt their presence as they “liked” my photos and retweeted my observations. When
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Mallis, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joyce F. Brown, said, “Today, your phone can take you wherever you want to go,” I thought of professional organizations that can see my Facebook page. (Their members might be impressed with the Christian Louboutins I wore in the FIT commencement tradition of faboo footwear.) I also thought of my sister, who watched via live streaming and commented, “Woo-hoo!” No one suggested that the real world is obsolete. Mallis, who spoke at the morning ceremony, for Business and Technology and Liberal Arts graduates—offered tips for job interviews, one of which was, “Listen, and think. Make sure your phone is turned off.” (The rest can be found at blog.fitnyc.edu/alumni.) President Brown’s sober address, citing the prevalence of war, hurricanes, and violence, brought listeners down to earth for a poignant moment. She praised the graduates’ “glorious potential,” and urged them to “live lives that are constructive, creative, and cooperative” and to “choose their better angels.” Elizabeth T. Peek, chair of FIT’s Board of Trustees, told them technology isn’t everything: “Turn off your phone once in a while, and look at a river.”
At the afternoon ceremony, for the schools of Art and Design and Graduate Studies, noted accessories designer Rebecca Minkoff, who studied at FIT, gave an eminently tweetable speech. Part of it concerned her company’s use of social media, so it was appropriate that she had the most retweeted sentiment under hashtag #FITGrad: “Give it your all, and you will go far. Trust yourself.” Dennis Basso ’73, well-known fashion designer and popular QVC personality, brought down the house with the story of how he came to FIT on his first day wearing platforms, bell bottoms, and “a ’fro out to here— I thought I was The End.” The audience thought so, too. At moments like that, it didn’t matter which corner of the globe you were observing from: You were there, and it mattered, and it felt terrific. Clockwise from top left: happy graduates; Robin Burns-McNeill, vice chair, FIT board of trustees; Beverly S. Mack, FIT trustee; H. Carl McCall, chairman, SUNY board of trustees; Mallis; Brown; Peek; Richard A. Anderman, FIT trustee; Jeffrey Tweedy, Menswear Design and Marketing, president of Sean John; great mortarboard!; Stephanie Roy, Art History and Museum Professions ’13; Alex Joseph MA ’13, author of this piece; Minkoff; and Basso.
For more commencement photos, or to watch video of the ceremonies, visit fitnyc.edu/commencement.
Pumps and Circumstance The best commencement footwear from the class of 2013
Right “I have a lip fascination. Of all the body parts, I like lips most.” —Ashley Hemming, Fashion Merchandising Management
Photos by Trupal Pandya ’14 Donning the royal blue regalia is a privileged rite of passage for FIT grads, but the blousy uniform doesn’t leave much room for individual style. How, then, does the next generation of New York’s trailblazing trendsetters show off their style? One word: shoes. Whether it’s flats or stilettos, strappy sandals or retro sneakers, looking down during graduation always rewards the eye. Maybe Fern Mallis put it best in her commencement speech this year: “We always notice the shoes.”
Left “I wanted to add a little bit of sparkle to the day.” —Ashley Boyce, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management
Right “I got these at Zara because they were shiny.” —Tae Kyung Kim, Fashion Design
“These are my power shoes. I never shop for comfort. Hot comes first, then comfort.” —Lauren Edelman, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management
Left “I found these on Polyvore. I wanted to find the craziest shoes I could wear today. But not too over the top.” —Amber Sanders, Interior Design
Above “These are Jessica Simpson. I got them last season but only wore them once before. I’m gonna have blisters.” —Rachel Gildea, Textile Development and Marketing
Above “I’m hoping to be as tall as the rest of my family today—unless they’re wearing heels too.” —Meg Wilbur, Illustration
Business Class Valerie Michael-éfe a student in first person
Entrepreneurship ’13, Fashion Design ’11
You’re in the first graduating class of FIT’s Entrepreneurship program. What was your favorite course? In our sixth semester, we worked in groups to create a business plan—financials, marketing, everything. Everyone in my group had a design background, so we learned a lot. For example, a profitable business can be ruined by cash-flow problems. Also, how do you get customers? That’s the big hurdle. What’s the secret? The secret is to know your art, and have the experience to prove it. You seem pretty confident. Do you have a business background? My mother was a serial entrepreneur in Nigeria, where I’m from. Now she owns a poultry farm, but she once had a baking business, and I was her accountant. After a few years, I told her I wanted to start my own fashion business. But in Nigeria, no one in the business environment will listen to you unless you have a degree. What got you interested in fashion? My mother was a fashion designer, too. She made women’s wear— head wraps, tops, wrappers in wax-resist fabrics. In Africa, we like a lot of colors, prints, and details. For the best things you wear there, men and women, the tops are always lace. That’s why I love lace. So will you make evening wear? No, luxury outerwear and rainwear. I’m getting together specially made Italian fabrics that I’ve researched during my internship at Brioni, the high-end Italian company. Some are layered and treated to make them waterproof. What have you learned at Brioni? I work with the retail planner and analyst. They plan what goes into each store and constantly analyze data to know what is happening in sales across the U.S. It’s a lot of numbers work and Excel. Before this, I didn’t know how to analyze data to learn how much profit you’re making. Is this your best internship? I learned something important at all of them. For Michael Kors, I did technical design. At Zegna, I learned how important inventory is. I did publicity for Irina Shabayeva, the season six Project Runway winner. With Zac Posen, I did patternmaking. He was a nice guy, very quiet. And soon you’ll have an atelier of your own. What’s your aesthetic? For the 2011 student fashion show, I made overalls with shorts and a hood, and glitter and lace, and I won a critic’s award. I want people to look at them and say, “How did she do that?” Michael-éfe wears a jacket from her collection, OSO-EFE (it means “rain” in Isoko, a language spoken in Nigeria). See the line at osoefe.com.
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I want my clothes to be art. I don’t care if they’re wearable.
How FIT reduced its carbon emissions by 43 percent
In 2007, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg set the audacious goal of reducing the city’s total greenhouse emissions 30 percent by 2030. To start, 17 universities and 11 hospitals, such as Columbia University and the Mount Sinai Medical Center, were invited to participate in the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge, to hit that 30 percent reduction by 2017. FIT rolled out its Climate Action Plan, which addressed not only greenhouse gases but also recycling, non-toxic cleaning, and other environmentally urgent goals. FIT was the first to reach the 30 percent goal; in fact, the college’s carbon reduction has now surpassed 40 percent, the most significant drop of all the participants. Most of the energy savings (and, by extension, carbon dioxide reduction) resulted from updating the college’s heating and air-conditioning systems. For example, a new chiller plant, which cools the buildings, reduced CO2 emissions by 5,000 tons per year— cutting the college’s carbon footprint more than 20 percent. But other changes made a difference, too. Installing 16,000 energy-efficient lighting fixtures with occupancy sensors eliminated 1,059 tons of CO2 per year, and replacing refrigerators reduced emissions by 50 tons per year. Installing reflective windows in sunny areas and high-efficiency washers and dryers in the residence halls has also contributed to a greener FIT. The FIT community is being called on to be more mindful of electricity use. In Kaufman Hall, for example, planned submeters on every floor will show students how much energy they are using. A competition to save energy within the residence hall will likely save about 43,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year and almost 20 tons of CO2. Fortunately, greening FIT is a smart investment. These upgrades are saving the college $1 million per year in energy costs, and most of the investments will pay for themselves within a decade. —Jonathan Vatner
insights from the classroom and beyond
steps toward a sustainable future
The Greenest of Them All
Pitch Perfect Ted Schachter, assistant professor, Advertising and Marketing Communications Marketing is rarely about your beliefs. If you’re a vegetarian, you can still sell steak. Or, you can turn down the account. I tell my students, “Don’t try to figure me out; don’t worry about my values. Figure out what sells. The best pitch gets the A.” (The only thing I don’t let them work on is cigarettes.) In the class I teach called Creative Strategies, they develop a hypothetical strategy for a real brand, and they have to put together everything they know—copywriting, sales promotion, PR—to make it effective. Two years ago, I gave them an assignment involving the jewelry company Harry Winston. I said, “This prestigious brand is developing a line of engagement rings. Find an interesting target market, and come up with a campaign for them.” The students had to understand the history
Carbon Intensity (CO2 emissions/square foot)
of the company, who Harry Winston was, and the symbol of the diamond ring. Most of the pitches took a conservative, traditional approach; for example, one
group devised a campaign for second marriages. But one group positioned
CO2 emissions/square foot
rings for the gay market. They created three print ads, a commercial, and an event with celebrities who are pro-gay marriage, and showed how they would
leverage it with PR. They had the best tag line: “Love is universal.” They said, “No other brand in the luxe jewelry category is addressing this group.” It’s my
job to be skeptical, so I said, “Will people perceive Harry Winston as a ‘gay
brand’? That’s not who they are; they’re conservative.” But the students justified
Start of Challenge
their pitch. Ten years ago, they said, it wouldn’t work, but there’s been a lot of positivity in the media. They traced psychographics, or trends in belief, on Twitter and Facebook. They pointed out that the general population in the cities where the firm has most of its stores—New York, Chicago, Dallas, Los
Baseline Year 30% Reduction Target Carbon Intensity (CO2 emissions/square foot)
The blue line represents FIT’s carbon footprint between 2003 and 2011. The red dotted line shows the college’s baseline carbon footprint; the green dotted line represents a 30 percent reduction, which the college has well exceeded.
Angeles—were ready for it. They researched the demographics, including income, profession, and living standard for the gay market. The originality of the presentation wasn’t the only thing that earned the students the A; it was their creativity, maturity, execution, focus, and the research they did to justify it.
Day How designs are selected for the Future of Fashion show
Graduating Fashion Design BFA students worked all semester to create original designs that they hoped would be chosen for the Future of Fashion show in May. Of the 200 garments, just 90 made it onto the runway. Hue investigated the winnowing process. Five of the six judges were from the fashion media: Alana Kelen, Fashion Merchandising Management ’00, senior fashion stylist at MTV Networks; Lilliana Vazquez, a TV personality and style expert; author, editor, and columnist Kate Betts; blogger Bryan Grey-Yambao, better known as BryanBoy; and Kristen Shirley, assistant fashion editor at ELLE. The retail perspective was represented by Colleen Sherin, senior fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue. “We make sure the student experience is as real as it can possibly be—and as objective,” Joanne Arbuckle, dean for the School of Art and Design, said. “The faculty develop relationships with the students, but the judges are simply looking at the clothes.” The garments were arranged in FIT’s Great Hall; the room was dead silent as the judges made their way independently through the rows of dress forms, carefully examining each work. Colette Wong, Fashion Design chair, said they knew what to look for: “Is the concept ‘now’ and edgy? Is the piece well constructed? Is it runway-ready? Is it wearable and creative?” Though they kept their score sheets private, their choices were remarkably consistent. Cotton Incorporated, which (along with a gift from Calvin Klein and the company he founded) helps fund the show, sends its own team of judges to select three winners among garments made with at least 65 percent cotton. Also, for the first time, the editor in chief of Siempre Mujer magazine, María Cristina Marrero, scrutinized the looks and chose the design with the best use of color. Afterward, the Great Hall was opened to the public, a new tradition to allow students, families, and others to celebrate the designers whose work made it to judging day. The judges came away seriously impressed. Vazquez, for example, pointed to a dress and said she wanted to wear it to the Golden Globes. And Kelen said she was ready to dress VH1 talent in the garments. has to be.” Visit fitnyc.edu/FutureOfFashion to see the winning designs and video of the show.
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Photos by Lorenzo Ciniglio
“I thought it was our best show yet,” Arbuckle said, “but it always
Top: Judging garments in the Great Hall. From left to right: Kelen, Sherin, Vazquez, Betts, and Grey-Yambao.
The iconic airline shakes up its brand identity By Jonathan Vatner Graphic designers updating a brand image must decide
The design process was exhaustive. The era of Mad
between “evolution” and “revolution.” Freshen up the original
Men, in which a Don Draper type would aggressively sell one
lines and colors or build something bold and original from
idea, is long dead. FutureBrand brainstormed hundreds of
scratch? In the case of American Airlines’ new corporate
possibilities and worked with American to winnow them
identity, unveiled this January, creative agency FutureBrand
down. Malozzi calls the final logo a “flight symbol,” an
and the airline chose revolution. It was a smart choice: The
abstraction of an eagle that conveys movement and
rebranding won a Clio award, the highest honor in advertising.
progress. “It’s not the old, heavy, mighty American look and
feel,” he says. He learned at FIT that good logo design should
The decision wasn’t easy, says John Malozzi, Advertising
Design ’96, associate creative director of FutureBrand, who
contain a memorable “moment.” The flight symbol is that
also helped redesign Paul Rand’s iconic 1961 UPS logo, and
moment. Its modern, weightless feeling became a touch-
for more than two years has co-directed American’s redesign
stone in the brand’s redesign, down to the business cards. FutureBrand also reworked the font. The company
team of about 20. After all, Massimo Vignelli’s classic 1968
logo incorporating a stylized eagle and Helvetica typeface
thought that Helvetica, beloved by graphic designers
was possibly the most recognizable airline logo in the world.
everywhere, didn’t complement the new flight symbol.
But times have changed—American’s parent company
Malozzi helped create a typeface called American Sans, with
filed for bankruptcy in 2011—and the airline, once hailed as
a fresher and more approachable personality. “Helvetica can
an innovator, wanted to win that reputation again.
feel mechanical,” he says. “The typeface we designed has a
Because of the airline’s size (this year’s merger with U.S. Airways makes it the world’s largest carrier and one of the
bit more humanity to it. Its subtle rounded corners play into the characteristics of the symbol as well.” Almost two decades out of school, Malozzi still feels
hundred largest companies in the country) and its name, the designers believed the logo should reflect America’s values.
Associate Professor Eli Kince’s influence. “My classmates
Research by FutureBrand showed that Americans want to be
joke that all of us who paid attention to Eli are doing great
portrayed on the world stage as a people who lead in
things. When you look at the new American Airlines logo,
technology and value diversity, a far cry from the message
he’s in there somewhere.” Incorporating the new design has been a herculean
that the old logo was sending. “The polished metal planes;
the red, white, and blue stripes; the illustrative eagle; the
task, especially because American has committed to
Helvetica typeface were all simple visual equities that
renovating or refurbishing all its terminals, starting with its
showed off America’s might,” Malozzi explains. “The airline
headquarters at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
wanted to move from ‘America’s might’ to ‘America’s spirit.’”
Malozzi co-directs the team overseeing these renovations, ensuring consistent application of the new identity, from signage to airport lounges. “When we’re choosing furniture for a lounge, does it feel light and airy? Does it feel like American craftsmanship? Does it fit in seamlessly with the aircraft and all the other elements?” Malozzi also leads the team for livery, the design on the aircraft exterior. This requires visiting hangars nationwide to oversee painting of the planes. The polished metal exteriors that American is known for were painted over with white for a practical reason: new planes are often made with a composite material that doesn’t shine like aluminum.
In addition to the Clio, FutureBrand received stellar
marks from the airline, and Malozzi has heard raves from passengers as the newly painted planes taxi past the gates. More important, he stresses, the redesign communicates American’s renewed dedication to its customers. “This is not just picking a new typeface and swapping out a logo,” he says. “It’s an experiential as well as a physical shift. The airline really wanted to let everyone know that they are thinking about their customers and the future.”
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The Business of Fashion Two entrepreneurs talk dollars and sense
Who Are You Renting? Rent the Runway delivers fashion for less Sometimes an idea makes so much sense it’s hard
in the cost; insurance is $5 extra. Afterward, renters
to believe no one thought of it before. That’s the
slip everything in a pre-paid envelope and drop it in
case with Rent the Runway, a membership-based
website that rents high-end fashions such as Calvin
Initially, Hyman said, high-end designers
Klein and Badgley Mischka. In April, founder
didn’t like the idea of people renting their clothes,
Jennifer Hyman, a twentysomething Harvard
but they also told her that most of their customers
MBA, addressed FIT students at a Business and
were in their 50s and 60s. Hyman says the site
Technology Dean’s Forum. Hyman raised millions
encourages young people to value “aspirational”
from venture capitalists for the business, which
(read: luxury) labels. “Over 50 percent of the time,
launched in 2009 and now employs 200 people.
customers end up buying something from the brand,”
Site members rent dresses and accessories for
she said. Many women buy outfits from department
four to eight days, choosing from more than 170
stores, wear them to a special event, then return
designer brands, at 10 to 15 percent of the retail
them for a refund the next day. “We’ve simply
price. They are sent two sizes of the chosen style to
legalized this practice,” Hyman said.
allow for variances in fit. For an extra $25, they can receive an additional outfit. Dry cleaning is included
He Guarantees It The co-founder of Men’s Wearhouse shares four decades of business wisdom “Doing the right thing isn’t free, but it’s not as
child care at its corporate offices. Other perks
expensive as you might think,” said George Zimmer,
include offsite trainings and lavish holiday parties.
co-founder and former executive chairman of
Managers, often promoted from within, are reward-
Men’s Wearhouse, in a talk at FIT in May called
ed by their ability to create success in others. Even
“Conscious Capitalism: Building and Sustaining a
employees who steal from the company are given a
Values-Based Corporate Culture.” In his signature
growl, Zimmer—easily recognizable from his
As a gesture of solidarity, Zimmer always
“You’re gonna like the way you look” tagline in the
limited his own compensation to ten times the
TV commercials—laid out the company’s employee-
salary of the average store manager. (He stepped
centered ethical practices.
down as CEO in 2011.) “The single most important
In 1973, Zimmer and his college roommate
element of organizational success is trust,” he
started Men’s Wearhouse with $7,000. “We didn’t
explained. “The leaders need to be winners who
have a cash register; we had a cigar box,” he said.
“We’d write out receipts by hand. It was not mate-
He also recommended that students start their
rially different from a lemonade stand.” Now it’s
own businesses. “Corporate America is less trust-
a multibillion-dollar, publicly traded company.
worthy today than when I was starting out,” he
He explained that Men’s Wearhouse strives
said. But he encouraged budding entrepreneurs to
to benefit its employees and customers as strongly
get some experience, first at retail, then at a design
as its shareholders. The company pays 70 percent
house, and at some point “try to have one good flash
of employee health insurance premiums and offers
The third issue of 43, featuring images only by Ying and set entirely in New York City, includes this shot of skater Yonnie Cruz soaring over Roosevelt Island.
hue | summer 2013
TRICK SHOT Allen Ying, Photography ’03, Communication Design ’04, celebrates skateboard culture in his magazine BY ALEX JOSEPH In April, Tribeca’s Temp gallery hosted a party to celebrate the third issue of 43, an independent skateboarding magazine founded by Allen Ying ’04. Noted skaters like Quim Cardona and Jahmal Williams are featured, executing tricks like the ollie, gap to noseslide, and wallie frontside, in images that are perfectly composed and set in elegant layouts. Printed on uncoated paper, the magazine feels and looks impressively arty, and each issue is launched with an exhibition of work from the magazine in a different New York or L.A. gallery. For Ying, however, making art is less important than documenting skate culture, which inspires him. He says 43 is the only skateboard magazine based in New York. Ying has been skating since he was 11. After graduating from FIT, he freelanced for skateboard magazines both American (Slap, Thrasher, Transworld Skateboarding) and international (Grey, Kingpin, Monster). After the economic downturn, he was getting fewer assignments, so he decided to develop his own publication, funding it with credit cards and $20,000 raised through Kickstarter. The first issue appeared in fall 2011. The name comes from an outdated term for a trick, now called frontside no-comply. “You put your foot down, pop the board, turn it around and turn your body with it, then hop back on,” he explains. “This magazine is a 43 on the skateboard world, putting one foot down, turning it around, while continually moving forward. We’re presenting the essence of skateboarding by not complying with conventional guidelines and formulas.” That means uncluttered spreads and a large format. It’s the size of a 10-inch record album, he points out, seeming to cherish the reference to old-school vinyl. He prints 2,500 copies per issue, using a green energy-certified printer, and distributes to skate shops and independent bookstores across the U.S. and internationally. New York, Interview, Vice, The New York Times, and others have paid tribute. Ying’s magazine aims to capture the skaters’ daredevil stunts and anarchic spirit. If the resulting pictures have a raw beauty, that’s the point, he says. “I’m into more abstract or obscure photos. I’m not looking for something perfect. The imperfect shots can be great and have a feeling.”
The Militant Modernist A Q&A with alumnus Michael Kors, Fashion Design, a designer who needs no introduction By Alex Joseph
Have you ever wished that one day you would answer the phone and hear a nicesounding lady say, “Hi, would you like to speak to Michael Kors?” Don’t hate me, but this happened to me the other day. The staggeringly successful sportswear designer, former Project Runway judge, and FIT alumnus recently endowed a $1 million scholarship for a Fashion Design student. He took some time to tell Hue about his plans for the lucky recipient, Michelle Obama’s style, and the future of fashion.
Kors grew up on Long Island and came to FIT in the late ’70s to study fashion
design. Soon after arriving, he got a job at the upscale boutique Lothar’s, where he began designing and selling his first collection. He was discovered by a Bergdorf Goodman buyer, and launched his namesake line there in 1981. Over the years, he’s dressed numerous celebrities and won awards from the Council of Fashion Designers of America for women’s wear in 1999 and menswear in 2003, and in 2010, a lifetime achievement award. The brand has grown to encompass a diffusion line, KORS (footwear and jeans). It was through his appearances on Project Runway, however, that his larger-than-life personality became generally known, particularly for his quips: Once, he described a contestant’s gown as “Mad Max rigatoni.” In our interview, he said, “I don’t know where I got those from,” and the wisecracking persona was nowhere in evidence. He was, instead, thoughtful and perceptive, an articulate businessman
All images courtesy of Michael Kors except where otherwise noted; portrait by Victor Demarchelier
in charge of a flourishing career.
A self-proclaimed “militant modernist,” Kors first experimented with design on his mother’s dress for her second marriage. “I told her I thought it would look better with fewer bows. Before I knew it, she had the tailors come in and start to clip off the bows, and sure enough, it looked better!”
Couture Council Honors Kors The Couture Council of The Museum at FIT will honor Michael Kors with its 2013 Artistry of Fashion Award on September 4 at a benefit luncheon at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Past recipients are Francisco Costa, Oscar de la Renta, Alber Elbaz, Dries van Noten, Ralph Rucci, and Isabel Toledo. For more info, contact Vicki Guranowski at email@example.com.
Kors described his fall ’13 collection as “urban athleticism meets uptown polish.” Left to right: Double-face melton wool shell jacket, $2,250, and matching zip pencil skirt, $1,450; double-gabardine chesterfield, $1,895, with royal cashmere pullover, $395, and black techno track pant, $295; double-face plush cashgora melton zip front shell jacket, $1,995, and matching zip pencil skirt, $1,450; tweed wool jacquard origami collar jacket, $1,595, and matching zip pencil skirt, $995.
Sketch by Michael Kors.
The stuff of (fashionable) life, according to Kors. Left to right: Classic aviator sunglasses, $195; Selma top-zip leather satchel, $358; gold-tone oversized curb-chain logo plate collar necklace, $295; Barbara runway heel, $395; Layton everyday bling watch, $350.
Hue: What’s it like to see your designs on
Do you have a muse?
What’s different about young designers today
Michelle Obama—in the official White House
I have my mix of muses, just like women have
from when you started out?
portrait, no less?
different moods. It’s not one woman; it’s a cast
In a word, the internet. It changed everything
MK: I’ve met her numerous times, though we’ve
of characters, like an Almodóvar or Fellini film.
about fashion. I used to go to the FIT library and
never had an official “fashion repartee.” What’s
My mom has always been a bellwether. She likes
look at 1935 issues of Vogue. That’s not the same
interesting to me is that, in my lifetime, other than
simplicity, understatement, a laid-back look. My
as putting Poiret into Google. Today, there’s a lot
Jackie Kennedy, first ladies were always more
grandmother, on the other hand, was over the
more sampling of styles. Back then, you could
formal and buttoned-up. Mostly they disdained
top. She loved beads and glamour. They’re two
start quietly. For my first fashion show, we only
fashion. Mrs. Obama demonstrates how you can
sides to one coin. I do a blend.
had one TV show—Style with Elsa Klensch on CNN. Today, you can graduate from school, put a collec-
be smart and interested in fashion while keeping your hectic schedule. Traditionally, the first lady
Last fall, you endowed a $1 million FIT scholarship.
tion together, and suddenly there are a million
would wear a suit or something colorful for the
The student recipient gets a full ride, plus an
blogs with all these opinions being thrown at you.
White House portrait. I never thought we’d see
internship at your firm. What’s the most important
Then, if you didn’t live in a big city, you didn’t have
a first lady in black matte jersey!
thing you have to tell them?
a chance, but now anyone can watch a show live
Two things. One, they have to know the customer.
stream from Manitoba. So you can get that
Who else wears your designs well?
They have to spend time watching people shop.
attention very quickly, but you haven’t learned
We have a huge range of clients of all ages and
But they also need to have a curiosity about what’s
how to sustain things. You’re finding your way,
sizes. We also dress celebrities. Blake Lively,
going on, past and present. Pop culture, film, music,
but doing it very publicly. There’s more opportuni-
Jennifer Hudson, Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain—
TV, travel…. Even if you can’t afford to travel, in
ty today than when I started because of a greater
these women are all full of confidence. They
today’s world, you can sit in traffic and on a bus
curiosity about new designers. But it’s much
want to walk in a room and be the person you look
and go to Bali on your phone. You can’t be bottled
harder to work when the spotlight is blaring at
at. I think of myself as the framer; the woman is
up. You can’t say, “I’ve seen it all.” Fashion is the
you with such a high intensity.
big picture. We tell the story of what’s happening in the world, so we have to know that story.
What’s the future of fashion?
Well, like Chanel, I think about how clothes work in
Over the years we’ve noticed that a lot of design-
Once, I had to learn about the customer in Texas;
real life. Of course, celebrities—like Angelina Jolie,
ers on Project Runway have vision, but limited
now, it’s Singapore. We’ll never go back to Kay
who’s been a client for years—have a heightened
technical skills. How important are they in today’s
Thompson in Funny Face saying, “Think pink!” and
real life. But again, I think it’s really that confidence
global fashion world?
everyone’s suddenly wearing pink. We’ll definitely
that’s the connective thread. Also the idea that
There’s no set way of doing things. I’ve been
see more democracy of fashion, which began in
good fashion doesn’t have an expiration date. The
sketching since I was 4 or 5, but I am a disastrous
the ’70s. More and more, individuals will dress
dress Michelle wore to the last inaugural reception
sewer. I like to work fast. Sewing is like baking, and
for their own individual styles, their own group.
was four years old.
sketching is an impromptu stew. I am not a baker.
You do need to know how clothes are made—the
where the world takes us, and that’s where fashion
finishing, the fit. But I think more of the skills needed
Sounds like something Chanel would say.
We never thought fashion would be so global.
today are, Can you talk to the press? Do you know who the customer is? When you meet that customer, can you talk to them? Can you strike a balance between art and commerce?
hue | summer 2013
And the rest of it—who knows? We’ll see
A Course in Kors The designer recalls his time at FIT Strange as it might seem now, New York in the ’70s was dangerous. You had to make sure you had ten dollars in your pocket to give to muggers. We would rush from 27th Street down to the deli on 23rd. Same thing going to Penn Station. We were scared.
There was exuberance about fashion then.
I snuck into the COTY [American Fashion Critics’] Awards, which were held at FIT. American fashion came into its own at that time. It was the height of Halston, Calvin Klein, and Bill Blass. It wasn’t just about Paris couture.
I met Charles James, who was at the Chelsea
Hotel. He was very eccentric; his whole place was full of cat food cans. He was bitter and angry, and couldn’t understand why, when he’d been a genius, he was living in this one-room cramped apartment Corbis
I remember my first draping class. We had to
do a classically tailored suit. But I thought, “Who wants shoulder pads? Who wants darts?” I was a militant modernist. I made a very soft version of the suit. And I didn’t want to see it on a dress form, so for the final presentation, there were all these suits on dress forms, and mine on a live model. I think the faculty saw it coming from a distance. I was very opinionated.
I worked part time at Lothar’s boutique. We
had everyone from Jackie to Nureyev to Cher come in. They asked me to do an illustration, and it ran in the Times. I went to the FIT bookshop and bought up every copy.
When people see avant-garde fashion on the
runway, they say, “Where would you wear that?” When I was in school, no matter how crazy it was, you’d see it at Studio 54. We’d go three times a week. We’d eat popcorn for dinner. We’d go to vintage stores, Army-Navy stores, buy something, dye it in the sink, pin it together, and create. When
you’re in school, if you want to dress to express Celebrities in Kors, clockwise from top: Angelina Jolie in a black double-face stretch wool crepe column gown with lace detail (at the Producers Guild Awards, 2012); Blake Lively in a crimson stretch wool one-button blazer, black viscose ribbed tank, and crimson stretch wool skinny Samantha pants (at a Good Morning America appearance, 2012); Jessica Alba (with Kors) in a gold lamé oneshoulder goddess gown (at the Met Gala, 2012); Gwyneth Paltrow in a black double-face stretch wool crepe harness cutout dress (at the 2012 Golden Heart Awards Gala).
yourself, that’s the time to do it, and we did.
I remember Arlene Shore ran the dorm. She
was the den mother of late ’70s insanity. We’d take our speakers and put them in the hallway at 5:30 in the morning for a runway show. She figured out a way not to crush that spontaneity while making sure the kids got to class and prospered.
“Omnichannel is the wave of the future.”
Last summer, Macy’s hired an astounding 42 FIT graduates
Christina Klaffka FMM ’03, vice president, merchandise manager, Millennial: Juniors and Impulse, Macys.com
into three Executive Development programs,
Omnichannel is the wave of the future, and it’s a crucial part
and a similar number were hired this year. These
of driving millennial business. It’s serving the customer no matter whether she’s in-store or online, both bricks and clicks.
programs, two in buying and planning and one
For example, we just put almost 200 styles online that we didn’t
in product development, prepare recruits for
own in the Macys.com warehouse. Instead, teams in most of
careers at the $26 billion company.
our doors pull from store stock, box it up, and ship it out to the customer. Also, if a store doesn’t have what our customer
How do so many graduates get hired in one
wants, a sales associate can help her browse the online
year? First of all, Macy’s reps guest-teach Fashion Merchandising Management classes to talk about their jobs and promote these EDPs. Second, FIT keeps programs current by consulting with industry, and the FMM curriculum was revamped based on suggestions from Macy’s and other leading retailers; students now choose a specialization: buying and planning, product development, or fashion management.
On these pages, recent hires and veterans talk
about what they do. Their success is evident: in the time it took to produce this story, three of the women featured here were promoted.
assortment—our site is smartphone- and tablet-enabled. And she can go to the store to return something she bought online. Chances are, she’s picking up something else on the way out.
The Sta of M Josephine DiBisceglie
Scores of Fashion alumni work at Meet six of them.
FMM ’01, manager, Learning and Development, Human Resources, Macy’s Merchandising Group
I’m responsible for the EDP in product development. It’s a 15-month program, and we train
“When they can stand up in front of a room and present a line, that’s when we know they’re ready to be promoted.”
four squads a year. I help recruit for it, I make sure the speakers are delivering the right messages, and I coach the trainees through the process. They learn a lot of technical stuff—how to use our order-entry system, for example. A lot is about communication: it can be very difficult to understand what our overseas offices are saying in emails. When they can stand up in front of a room and present a line, that’s when we know they’re ready to be promoted.
hue | summer 2013
“All the clothes 3D elements.”
“My buyer picks product, and I tell her how much she can afford.”
Olga Leykin FMM ’06, buyer, Junior Dresses, Macy’s Department Stores
I go to showrooms at least one week a month and pull product. Back in the office, I arrange a style-out, where we lay everything out before we write orders. By bringing together items from different showrooms, we eliminate duplication, and we get a sense of what the retail floor will look like.
My dot-com counterpart comes with me during market weeks,
FMM ’07, planner, Activewear, Macy’s Department Stores
and we talk through our assortments together. Online products
I do the planning for Nike, The North Face, and our
need to make an impact visually, because the customer isn’t
private activewear label, Ideology. My buyer picks
touching it and trying it on. The Macys.com buyer will pick
product, and I tell her how much she can afford.
something in a brighter color or more embellished. But she’s
I decide which stores will get which assortments,
more flexible in terms of how many different things she can buy.
based on lots of factors, including sales histories
A website can hold as much merchandise as you want, but a
and climate. For example, for a winter buy, we’ll
store has limited space.
send short sleeves to stores in warmer regions when the rest of the country is bringing in long sleeves. I also analyze sales every week to see how each store is selling, manage stock levels, and ensure
“A website can hold as much merchandise as you want, but a store has limited space.”
Merchandising Management the retail powerhouse.
we are allocating enough product to the stores. If something’s not selling, I dig down to the store level to find out why. Maybe a pant is just sitting in the stockroom. Maybe it’s on the floor and we need to take a markdown. Or maybe that pant didn’t work for one store, so I’m not going to give it to them next year.
Alyssa Rinck FMM ’12, assistant planner, Boys 2-20, Macys.com
A large portion of the Boys business is driven by basic styles that we keep in stock all the time. I analyze seasonal spikes in demand, keeping in mind what marketing or calendar events might influence the need for more inventory, to make sure we never run out of these items. I started here as an intern, and after graduation I came back to be a part of the Executive
from every level of the merchant world. They
FMM ’11, associate product manager, Macy’s Merchandising Group,
weren’t training us to be assistants; they were
Epic Threads, Girls 2-6x
training us to be future buyers, planners, and
Epic Threads is one of Macy’s exclusive private label brands. We develop comfortable and trendy clothes for girls. A major role of mine is owning the submit approval process. Almost every day, our vendor, who acts as a middleman between Macy’s and the overseas factories, submits strike offs, which are samples of the garment in large swatch form. I comment on the many elements
Development Program. We had guest speakers
of the sample, and when all aspects are approved, the style goes into bulk production. All the clothes have 3D elements: a bow, puff paint, or maybe lace. With kids’ clothing we have to avoid certain chemicals, like lead. We can’t have drawstrings, and if we have a bow, it needs
beyond. Jeff Kantor, chairman of Macys.com, came to speak to us. I mentioned a project I was working on, and by Friday I was sitting in his office, and he was giving me advice.
“They weren’t training us to be assistants; they were training us to be future buyers, planners, and beyond.”
to be just decorative—it can’t come undone.
A veteran romance novel illustrator reminisces about Harlequins, hot clenches, and (of course) Fabio
hether or not
their dramatic poses and lurid landscapes set your heart afire, classic romance novel covers are arresting works of technical expertise. The scenes on these pages were painted by Leslie Pellegrino Peck, Illustration ’87, who created more than 700 romance covers over two decades. Often, the artist was better paid than the writer, because a “sleepworthy” cover—as in, “Would you want to sleep with that guy?”—sold the book. All of Peck’s covers are closely based on black-and-white photographs. In fact, she got her start while assisting a photographer who specialized in shooting for illustrators in publishing—not just romance novels but science fiction and Westerns, too. Art directors for books wandered into the studio all the time; one agreed to let her illustrate an upcoming novel on spec. The result, an image of a nubile couple waist-deep in a moonlit lake, became the cover of The Rialto Affair, published in 1989. From there, assignments flooded in, for the gamut of romance publishers from Avon Books to Zebra/Pinnacle, and, of course, Harlequin. For each cover, she would style a shoot for a dramatically lit, windblown photo, based not on the novel itself but on a one-page description of the characters and the setting (“I’m sure the authors
By Jonathan Vatner
would be horrified,” she admits). When painting, she kept within the genre’s rigid conventions; outside considerations such as historical accuracy, consistency with the plot, and the laws of physics
The “hot clench,” the classic image on a bodice ripper, required a shirtless hunk ravishing the heroine, in any number of poses. This one features Fabio, whom Peck painted half a dozen times. She never totally understood his appeal, though: “His jaw was way wider than his temples,” she says. When the romance illustration business dried up a few years ago, Peck (right) segued into fine art. She’s best known for her animal portraits and still lifes.
were summarily ignored. A few years ago, when the publishing industry’s coffers began to shrink, lush oil paintings were cast aside in favor of inexpensive photos (a glass of wine, a rose, an unmade bed), and digital watercolor effects were used to make a photographed scene look painterly. The genre is still publishing’s juggernaut though, racking up more than $1.3 billion in sales each year, giving it the largest share of the U.S. consumer market, according to a 2012 report.
Visit blog.fitnyc.edu/huetoo to see more of Peck’s fine art.
hue | summer 2013
Peck moved on, but she remembers her “romantic” career fondly. Hue invites you to luxuriate in some of her best work.
Under the Covers Tastes have changed since the heyday of bodice rippers and Regencies. Three FIT-affiliated writers talk about their contemporary romances. K.M. (Kwana) Jackson Fashion Design ’89 Jackson, who writes romances with AfricanAmerican characters, finds it hard to believe in the squeaky-clean virgins who populated her grandmother’s Harlequins and who still persist in the genre. “It drives me bananas,” she says. “Really, nobody’s ever got you hot?” In her second novel, Seduction’s Canvas (Crimson Romance, 2013), a bad-boy biker moves in across the hall from a painter with a dark past. Jackson’s third novel, about love in a not-so-glamorous corner of the fashion industry, is in the works. Kwana.com
Yael Kagan Levy Illustration ’92 In Brooklyn Love (Crimson Romance, 2012), three Orthodox young women, including one FIT student, find their way in New York while remaining true to their traditions. Levy, an Orthodox Jew originally from Brooklyn, says her work is about people from disparate cultures learning to see beyond their differences. She notes that the realistic endings, in which characters break off their engagements or choose security over love, don’t always match the mainstream conception of “happily ever after.” “Some people are disturbed by the endings, but I think I’m okay with that,” Levy says. “Everyone agrees that the books are a fantastic read.” YaelLevyAuthor.com
The covers of Gothic romances (stories descended from Wuthering Heights) were always the same: a young woman running away from a castle, with one light on in the top window. Peck loved these projects best, because it took ingenuity to come up with fresh variations.
Roberta Degnore Adjunct Instructor, Psychology, FIT
A 1996 book jacket with a painting by Peck.
Regency novels, Jane Austen–inspired genteel romances brimming with clever banter, often featured covers in which the hero would bend down to kiss the fully dressed heroine’s gloved hand. Rarely did he touch her below the shoulder.
More than 30 years after paying her way through graduate school by writing romances and other novels under a pseudonym, Degnore is releasing updated versions under her own name. The major change? Nobody gets married. “If people want to marry, that’s great. But I want to make a statement that marriage isn’t necessary.” In Gold Digger! (Digital Fabulists, 2012), for example, a shrinking violet discovers a gold mine and falls for a dashing Spaniard. The “happily ever after” comes from the heroine’s newfound independence, not from any old diamond ring. RobertaDegnore.com
How Caroline Hirsch, Fashion Buying and Merchandising ’72, became the doyenne of the comedy biz Nick Parisse ’09
By Christy Harrison
“Do you have a lot of money?”
comedian Kevin Meaney asks a youngish man with a Gordon
Garlin invited Williams onstage, and the two did 45 minutes
Gekko hairstyle seated in the front row of Carolines on
of improvised comedy together.
Broadway. “No? Well, you look like you have a lot of money.”
Hirsch never planned on becoming a club owner and
This isn’t just a comedian’s typical crowd work. Tonight
had no show business experience when she helped found
Carolines is hosting a benefit for the Ovarian Cancer Research
Carolines 30 years ago. After graduating from FIT, she worked
Fund, and Meaney is emceeing the silent auction that will be
as a buyer at several department stores, eventually landing a
followed by a comedy show (with short sets by Jim Gaffigan,
position as a market rep for Gimbels. In the early ’80s, the
Robert Klein, Lisa Lampanelli, and Hari Kondabolu). When
department store giant was struggling, and she was laid off.
a large-format print by Alice Dalton Brown brings in $1,300,
Two friends opening a cabaret convinced her to become a
Meaney tells the winning bidder, “Good for you—you’re going
partner. “I wasn’t doing anything, so I put in a little bit of
to be able to sell this when there’s no money left.” money,” she recalls. They named the place after her and
hue | summer 2013
While the club’s owner and namesake, Caroline Hirsch,
opened in 1982 on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, a block from
fits in with this well-to-do crowd—she looks chic and put-
FIT. (Hirsch is now the sole owner; her original partners
together in a little black dress, regularly attends other charity
own comedy clubs in Boston.)
benefits, and spends time in the Hamptons—she was raised
Then, Carolines seated only about 100 people (the space
in a working-class neighborhood in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and
is now a liquor store), but at the time there weren’t enough
is remarkably down-to-earth. “I’ve always had a very level
cabaret acts to sustain even a small club. Standup comedy,
head,” she says. “I’m not impressed by celebrities—everybody’s
however, was on the verge of a major boom. Late Night with
David Letterman had recently gone on the air, and Hirsch
That attitude serves her well, since celebrities are always
had seen Jay Leno’s act on the show, so she hired him to
performing at Carolines, or just stopping by. Hirsch recalls a
perform. Leno annnounced on television that he was appear-
memorable show about two years ago, when Jeff Garlin was
ing at Carolines, providing crucial PR. She began to book
headlining. Unbeknownst to Garlin and most of the crowd,
other rising stars—Billy Crystal, Jerry Seinfeld, Garry
Robin Williams was in the audience. “Someone starts heckling
Shandling, and Sandra Bernhard—and those who appeared
Jeff,” Hirsch says, “so Robin puts on an Irish accent and starts
on Letterman and The Tonight Show mentioned Carolines,
heckling the heckler. You should’ve seen the expression on
too. “And that kind of started the club on a national level,”
Jeff’s face when he realized it was Robin!” The surprised
While Hirsch attributes part of her club’s success to the explosion of standup comedy over the past three decades, the skills she developed as a fashion buyer certainly played a role. “A buyer and a producer are almost the same thing: You have to give people what they want. I knew what skirt was going to sell,
versial insult comic Lisa Lampanelli earned stage time by
and I know what comedian is going to sell—I have that feeling.”
passing out flyers for the club in Times Square. “And Sarah
It’s a mixture of intuition and knowing the audience, which at
Silverman was around for a long time before she headlined
Carolines is primarily a 30-something crowd. “You have to know
here,” Hirsch says. The Wayans brothers (Shawn and Marlon)
what those 34-year-olds will buy a ticket for,” she says. “We
were also regular performers, along with their brother Damon
know because we’ve groomed a lot of comedians from the start,
and his son, Damon Jr.
and we know when they’re starting to click with the younger
Recently, some of the hottest young comedians Hirsch
crowd.” She says that exposure through television (especially
has featured include Anthony Jeselnik and John Mulaney.
Comedy Central) and radio helps comedians connect with that
She attributes their success to both exposure and persistence.
demographic and helps to predict their ability to draw crowds.
“These kids have put in over ten years already. When you’re
Some acts surprise her with their success. In 1981, years
good, you really do make it in the comedy business, but it
before his popular children’s TV show Pee-wee’s Playhouse,
doesn’t happen overnight.” To her, taking the time to develop
comedian Paul Reubens was performing as manically quirky
material is what separates the great comedians from the
Pee-wee Herman at
“A buyer and a producer comedy clubs in Los are almost the same
is going to sell.”
doesn’t mean you’re going to make it. You have to work to craft
Angeles. Hirsch reached
a joke; Jerry Seinfeld said he works for a year to get a new hour.
out to Reubens around
You have to get the wording right, do the fine tuning.”
thing. I knew what skirt 1983, asking him to put together an act for was going to sell, and I know what comedian
mediocre ones. “Just because you have two minutes of material
Hirsch’s first TV project, Caroline’s Comedy Hour, had a six-year run on A&E in the early ’90s, and she and her staff are
Carolines. “It really
pitching ideas for another standup program. She also produces
popped,” she says. “There
the New York Comedy Festival, a weeklong lineup of shows at
were lines around the
venues around the city. Ten years ago, Hirsch booked a show
block. Even Andy Warhol
at Carnegie Hall to celebrate the club’s 20th anniversary; since
came in to see it, with a whole gang—they were all wearing
then, the festival has expanded to nearly 60 shows in venues
pajamas.” Reubens’ show at the club was a proto version of
large and small, including Madison Square Garden. Last year
Playhouse, Hirsch recalls. “The Playhouse TV show was con-
about 60,000 tickets were sold.
ceived because the creators came in to see him at Carolines,”
She is also developing a TV show with a cast of women
she says. “And when he was talking about doing the movie
comedians. “The networks don’t take a gamble with female
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, we even talked about having it be a
comedians the way they would with male comedians,” Hirsch
bicycle ride across the country to Carolines.”
says, though she cites Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central
Other early stars were Dave Chappelle and Jon Stewart.
as evidence that this is changing. “And now everybody’s on the
Hirsch recalls that Chappelle was very young—probably about
Tina Fey–Amy Poehler bandwagon. They didn’t realize that
18—the first time he worked the club, which by then had moved
Tina Fey was writing and producing Saturday Night Live for
to a bigger space at the South Street Seaport. Stewart was
years before this all happened. But they’ll see. They saw what
another opening act there, and Hirsch also had him do a child-
happened with Bridesmaids, Bachelorette. They’ll see it.”
ren’s show (complete with costume) on Saturday mornings.
Hirsch says that if her gender affected her own career, it
In 1992, Carolines moved to its current location on
was in subtle ways. “I never took no for an answer,” she says,
Broadway and 50th Street. Although large, it feels intimate and
“so I don’t know if [being a woman] was a hindrance. Probably,
homey, with brightly colored accents throughout. The contro-
but I still won out. I still did what I wanted to do.”
From left to right: Louis CK, Hirsch with Jerry Seinfeld, Joel McHale, Tracy Morgan, and Hirsch with Kathy Griffin.
Sexy Seaming Kathy Shaw Burnside, Fashion
Robert Rodriguez, Fashion Design ’86
retired from teaching jewelry design at Lenoir Community College in Kinston, NC, crafts jewelry from recycled paper and sells it at The Baked Bead, a new jewelry-and-cupcake shop she runs with her daughter, a baker, in Mebane, 20 miles west of Durham. (The peanut butter cup flavor is a must-try.)
Sugar Paws Photo Design
The Cuban-born designer Robert Rodriguez, who celebrates the tenth anniversary of his collection this year, has made a name for himself with smoking-hot silhouettes that adorn youthful but sophisticated Hollywood A-listers like Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, and Eva Longoria. His line now sells in 385 top-shelf boutiques and department stores, such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, at prices ranging from $98 for a tank top to $1,500 for a leather coat. (Everything
Travel necklace, $40.
in his Robbi and Nikki label retails for less than $200.) In 2010, Rodriguez became a
is a retired folk singer who recorded more than a dozen albums over her 40-year career. She calls herself a “songfinder,” because she discovers and interprets others’ songs, occasionally writing her own tunes. She introduced the songs of Eric Bogle from Australia and Stan Rogers from Canada to an American audience; Anne Hills and Bill Staines have written songs for her, too. Although she doesn’t consider herself a children’s singer, she might be best known for Stardreamer: Nightsongs & Lullabies, her 1988 collection for her daughter, Suzanna, which has sold more than 130,000 copies.
member of the Council of Fashion Designers
Priscilla Herdman, Fashion Design,
of America. Hue spoke with Rodriguez about Courtesy of Robert Rodriguez
news from your classmates
Robert Rodriguez dress, cotton/nylon/elastane blend, spring 2013, $365.
his design process. Hue: I love the angles and shapes in your pre-fall collection. What inspired you? Rodriguez: I had a couple of black shopping bags in my office. One day I noticed that the squares and rectangles looked very architectural. I started cutting up the bags and
creating silhouettes, color blocking, and seaming. From that I created a collection that was very geometric and modern. Why do women find your clothes so sexy? I pay close attention to the way I fit the garment. For me, a pencil skirt needs to fit like a pencil. I move the side seams forward a quarter of an inch to make them look even slimmer. I never like when pants sag in the back—that’s not sexy. So I either put a dart in the back or take out the excess fabric. You have to make sure the butt is perky. Do you have to be skinny to wear Robert Rodriguez? Not at all! Oprah has worn my stuff. We go up to size 14. If they’re above that, I’ll do
Cassandra Tindal, Fashion Design, opened Cassi’s Glory Couture, a Millville, NJ, accessories boutique that sells crowns, headdresses, and shawls of her own creation, along with blinged-out handbags and jewelry, for weddings and other special occasions. Instead of putting on a traditional runway show, she is working with a local historic theater to present her designs in a stage show about a royal kingdom.
Tindal’s wedding crown, $300, is a wire sculpture covered with beaded, sequined petals of organza.
ordinary objects such as a bottle of Windex, a raw chicken, and a box of packing peanuts. He doesn’t work from photographs. Rather, when he notices the way light hits an object, he tries to re-create that effect in his studio. “Lighting is almost a spiritual thing,” he says. “The more you meditate on the subtle shifts of color between light and shadow, the more interesting they become.” Another reason he focuses on still life: he doesn’t need to hire a model.
hue | summer 2013
Three years ago, your business was acquired by Jones New York. How have things changed? It honestly hasn’t changed anything for me. But we are expanding, looking at doing shoes and handbags and opening Robert Rodriguez retail stores. We launch our first e-commerce site this summer.
John Sica, Advertising Design, paints
Packing Peanuts, oil on panel, 24 by 27.5 inches, $5,200.
Jennifer Schlegel Grove, Marketing: Fashion and Related
is president and creative director of Sky Blue Events in Baltimore. She designs fashion-forward dinner parties and weddings, as well as benefits with a built-in dress code, for example, “Tartans & Tidings,” “Oxfords & Oysters,” and “Pints & Pinstripes.” She started the company after enough friends asked her to help with their weddings. “At one point I was thinking, okay, I’m no longer a guest because I’m setting the table.” Industries,
House of Yes Johanna Saum Almstead, International Trade and Marketing ’97 With her left hand, Johanna Almstead is checking email on her BlackBerry. With her right hand, she’s busy exploring a website on her iPhone. “The original goal was to have a work phone and a personal phone,”
she admits. “Obviously that didn’t work out.”
Maria Rapsomaniki Casabianca, Marketing: Fashion and Related
Her job as the director of public
Industries, recently opened Bianca Boutique in Westport, CT. The 1,200-square-foot shop sells clothing and accessories geared toward women ages 35 to 50 (which includes herself; she wears about 80 percent of the styles she sells).
relations for Kate Spade NY simply
Almstead in Kate Spade NY’s offices.
doesn’t fit into one phone—or one workday. Assisted by her “small but mighty” team of publicists, the selfproclaimed “fashion lobbyist” keeps
a confident hand in all of the company’s initiatives, from woman-focused philanthropy to launching the casual line Kate Spade Saturday to opening the company’s three-story flagship boutique on Madison Avenue in May. She fields requests from editors and pitches features. She ensures that celebrity “Kate Spade girls”—such as Reese Witherspoon, Taylor Swift, and Zooey Deschanel’s character on New Girl—are outfitted with the latest styles. And she orchestrates quirky celebrity events, like a rooftop bash at the chichi Hotel Fasano in Rio, which saw guests floating on inflatable swans in the pool. “I feel like this is a ‘yes’ company,” she says. “I throw out crazy ideas, and they say, ‘Sure, let’s try it. Why not?’” Almstead works an 11-hour day; when she travels internationally, to host events and expand into new markets, that figure cranks up to 20. (She took about 30 work trips last year.) She has no idea how she’ll maintain her lightning pace when her first child comes later this year, though the answer probably lies in her double-handed phone prowess. “I can work anywhere,” she says. The interior of Bianca Boutique.
1999 Pritsana Kootint-Hadiatmodjo, Packaging Design, and Chez Bryan Ong, Advertising Design, are
the creative directors of Spoon+Fork, a graphic design studio in Manhattan. They launched the business with another friend from FIT, Rika Koreeda, Advertising Design ’99, director of artist development. The agency has done brand-focused graphic design for the University of Southern California, Iman Cosmetics, and the New York International Latino Film Festival. For the National Women’s Business Council, for example, Spoon+Fork produced a series of infographics highlighting the disparities between men- and women-owned businesses, for use in the annual report, press releases, and event design. Because it’s a small operation, their responsibilities extend far beyond the creative. “Accounting, janitorial, you name it,” Ong says. “No egos involved. We just try to get it done.”
The cover of the National Women’s Business Council’s annual report, designed by Spoon+Fork.
2000 Nick Anguelov, International Trade and
joins the Department of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, this fall as an assistant professor. He researches economic development and foreign investments globally and domestically. For example, he is examining the impact of offshore wind turbines along the Eastern Seaboard on tourism and shipping. “There’s a whole big industry around the development of turbines,” he explains. Previously, he was assistant director of the MPA program at Clemson University in South Carolina, where he earned a PhD in policy studies last August. Before returning to school, he worked in site selection for corporations looking to expand internationally, and he ran his own importing company, distributing Eastern European folkloric artifacts to boutiques and galleries in the tri-state area.
runs a Mexican restaurant with her husband near Deer Isle, ME, an hour south of Bangor. She sources about half of the ingredients locally, including the lobster, crab, and other shellfish that find their way into burritos and tacos. She even contracted with a local farm to provide black beans. The restaurant is called El El Frijoles; not everyone gets the pun. (Hint: a major mailorder outfitter is based in Maine.) Levesque also creates stitched collage artworks, and she recently rejiggered a cigarette machine to dispense small pieces by 10 local artists, Sailing Through Life, including herself, for mixed media, 5 by 2.25 $10 each.
Michele Levesque, Textile/Surface Design,
an art teacher at Hoboken (NJ) High School, was named Hoboken’s District Teacher of the Year. In addition to developing classes in ceramics and set and display design, infusing art into other teachers’ curricula, and exposing students to viable careers in art, she oversees a dizzying range of extracurriculars including the ski club, the GayStraight Alliance, the Sierra Club, Harvard Model Congress, and boys’ and girls’ tennis teams. “I run around like a lunatic at all times,” she says.
Katie Covington, Jewelry Design ’08, and Janet Crowther, Jewelry Design ’09
2007 Ali Lazar, Fashion Merchandising
founded Dogtails, a dog shampoo company. The product contains the oils of sunflower seeds, rosemary, grapefruit, and lime, and is free of dyes, artificial fragrances, parabens, and the harsh foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate. The brand’s logo is based on her dachshund, which she adopted while studying at FIT.
Sever Tamelyn Wilde (Jennifer Sneed), Fashion Design, is
launching a label with a spring 2014 collection of “prairie couture,” themed around horses and riders. Some of the dresses incorporate horse faces: the pockets look like nostrils, the bust like the eyes. Other designs bring in details from cowboy culture. “I’m trying to turn the dress into an embodiment of a horse,” the native Oklahoman says, “so you see the models coming down the runway like a team of horses.”
news from your classmates
Erin Kubach, Graphic Design,
The contents of a recent For the Makers craft box.
Every month, crafting enthusiasts across the country are mailed a cardboard box just large enough to fit a pair of baby shoes or a tall stack of thank-you notes. Inside are the materials to create four small accessories, such as a necklace, bracelet, or key fob. Recipients go online for step-by-step instructions and, with just scissors, pliers, and glue, can begin crafting straightaway. This is the concept of For the Makers, started in 2011 by Katie Covington and Janet Crowther, who have designed jewelry for Kate Spade, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Banana Republic. They got the idea after seeing blog posts that explained how to make cheaper versions of their designs. This imitation was not only the sincerest form of flattery, but revealed that DIYers were hungry for step-by-step guidance—and might pay for craft kits by professional designers. “We think of it as empowering people to make what they would otherwise buy,” Crowther says. So far, it’s a cottage industry. The women scan the runways and the streets for ideas, then source trendy, commercial-quality materials domestically. Limiting the price is important, as each box sells for $29. Covington writes the instructions and Crowther photographs every step; these tutorials are posted at ForTheMakers.com. A fulfillment company handles most of the packing and shipping. Their marketing is entirely word-ofmouth, with platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter, though a holiday box sold at Anthropologie also gave the company top-shelf exposure. The business has been a success, allowing Covington and Crowther to quit their jobs. But the two are most satisfied when they see their subscribers designing handmade gifts or even starting their own Etsy shops, using techniques they learned from For the Makers. “The more people ‘making’ and sharing the skills they know, the better it is for our community,” Covington says.
Alexander Sudalnik, Fashion Design, works
Carousel Horse, cotton/cashmere blend, spring 2014. Look closely to see a horse’s head in the bodice.
hue | summer 2013
as a designer and knitwear consultant. He recently helped develop a knitted running shoe upper for Nike called the Flyknit, readying it for production and expanding the idea to other kinds of shoes. Because a knitted shoe comprises only two pieces, versus 30 or 40 in a traditional shoe, it produces less waste and is faster to make. Custom fitting is easier, too. “One day, you could have shoes programmed to fit your feet,” he says.
Nike’s Flyknit shoe.
sources of inspiration
Market Watch Alina Gonzalez
Illustration by Amy Geller, MA ’10
Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing ’95 Wherever I go around the world, one of the first things I hit is
around this idea, for a facial cleanser refill that doesn’t create
the grocery store. It may sound a bit strange, but the ways in
a tremendous amount of waste. For various reasons, mainly
which food is packaged often translate into the beauty sector.
because developing the packaging would be cost-prohibitive,
Avon develops 1,800 products a year—it’s an insane amount of
that product didn’t hit shelves. But the idea ended up being
innovation—so you have to look outside the industry for
a success in unexpected ways. The packettes were used for
inspiration. The market is super-saturated, so it’s things like
single-use face cream and facial cleanser sold in India, where
packaging that make a product stand out from the crowd.
many people can’t afford a month’s supply. So the packaging
Some years back I was in France, doing product
introduced the brand in areas of the world where use of
innovation for a past employer, and I came across these little
facial-care products is low, helping to develop new markets.
foil packettes of applesauce for children, with a twist cap that you could close back up if you weren’t finished. (Now you find
Gonzalez is the executive director of global product innovation
that packaging all over the U.S.) We worked up a concept
for the skin care category of Avon Products, Inc.
227 West 27 Street New York, NY 10001-5992 return service requested
volume 6 | number 3