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VOLUME 12 | NUMBER 3 | SUMMER/FALL 2019

The Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology

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9/3/19 9:34 AM


On the Cover

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 27th 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 Alex Joseph MA ’15

Staff Writer Jonathan Vatner

Editorial Assistant Laura Hatmaker

Photography Coordinator Smiljana Peros

Website Production Julianna Rose Dow

Art Direction and Design Gary Tooth/Empire Design Studio Hue online: hue.fitnyc.edu Email: hue@fitnyc.edu FIT Newsroom: news.fitnyc.edu Like the FIT Alumni page on Facebook and follow @FITAlumni on Twitter and Instagram. Use #FITAlumni when posting. Email the Office of Alumni Engagement and Giving at alumnirelations@fitnyc.edu and let us know what you’ve been up to.

Printed by Maar Printing Service on Rolland Enviro Print. This paper is: Ancient Forest Friendly Made with 100 percent post-consumer waste fiber Processed Chlorine Free Produced using biogas energy Environmental savings as compared to paper using 100 percent virgin fiber: 136 trees preserved 131,195 gallons of water saved 13,422 lbs of waste not generated 44,099 lbs of CO2 not generated 113 MMBTUs of energy not consumed 57 lbs of nitrous oxide gas prevented Please recycle or share this magazine.

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 2-3

Above: Melissa Heinz, a senior project manager in Brother’s Home Appliance Division, and Cindy Hogan, digital embroidery expert and Brother brand ambassador, created the embroidery for our cover. Below: The machine at work.

Get Dressed With FIT

Hot Off the Presses

Dressed: The History of Fashion, a popular podcast hosted by Fashion and Textile Studies alumnae April Calahan ’10 and Cassidy Zachary ’13, explores the rich and complex history behind the clothes we wear. Recent episodes investigate the history of penny loafers and the genius of Charles James. The hosts also interviewed Michele Tolini Finamore ’98, whose exhibition about gender and fashion at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is featured in this issue.

Hue Staff Writer Jonathan Vatner’s Carnegie Hill was published by Thomas Dunne Books on August 20. The novel follows the members of a co-op board and the staff in a wealthy New York City building. Town & Country named it a summer “must-read,” Booklist gave it a starred review, and People called it “entertaining and profound.” Vatner will read from the novel at the Barnes and Noble at FIT on September 17 at 5 p.m.

Connect With Us on Instagram This image of James McNamara, the alumnus who sewed the original Pride flag, was one of the year’s most popular posts on @FITAlumni, the Instagram account of the Office of Alumni Engagement and Giving. Follow it to see posts about alumni accomplishments, campus events, and other major news. (We also recommend @FITNYC, the college’s official account, and @MuseumatFIT, the museum’s page.)

Features 8

Uncommon Design FIT’s new MFA in Fashion Design graduates its first class of creative rebels

14 Vital Threads Alumni turn fiber into fine art 20 Take Five An unscientific sampling of the class of 2019

Utkarsh Shukla

The Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology

Take a second look at our cover image: it’s embroidered! When the School of Art and Design received a state-of-the-art digital embroidery machine as part of a major 25-machine donation from Brother International Corporation, we had to test it out. We sent a photo to the Brother team (at right), and they made the magic happen. The final result, stitched on the Brother PR1050X, has 29 colors and 155,183 stitches, and it took five hours of continuous sewing to create. Bet your granny can’t do that! The embroidery machine will be used mainly by Fashion Design students looking for innovative embellishments. The detail (below left) shows the stitches up close. Our cover model is Anna Forde, International Trade and Marketing, wearing her commencement robe and an ecstatic expression. Hue found Forde on Instagram via the hashtag #fitgrad. The photo captured a significant instant, she writes. “The joy I felt when I waved my diploma in the air in the middle of Manhattan…. It’s probably the best moment I had this year: ‘Hello world! Here I come!’” She landed a job as a customer service and e-commerce associate at the global skincare company AHAVA: Dead Sea Laboratories. Cover photo by Alessandro Casagli.

Departments 24 Conserving a Chanel Saving a couture garment from “inherent vice” 26 You Better Work! Zaldy ’90 is the designer behind RuPaul’s fab looks

4 Hue’s News 25 Counter Culture 32 Alumni Notes 35 What Inspires You?

30 Fashion Out of Bounds Style that transcends the gender binary Above: Utkarsh Shukla’s gossamer pieces blend historical Indian dress and Western tailoring, addressing a fraught combination of cultural identities. Shukla was a member of the Fashion Design MFA program’s first graduating class. Story on page 8.

9/3/19 9:34 AM


On the Cover

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 27th 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 Alex Joseph MA ’15

Staff Writer Jonathan Vatner

Editorial Assistant Laura Hatmaker

Photography Coordinator Smiljana Peros

Website Production Julianna Rose Dow

Art Direction and Design Gary Tooth/Empire Design Studio Hue online: hue.fitnyc.edu Email: hue@fitnyc.edu FIT Newsroom: news.fitnyc.edu Like the FIT Alumni page on Facebook and follow @FITAlumni on Twitter and Instagram. Use #FITAlumni when posting. Email the Office of Alumni Engagement and Giving at alumnirelations@fitnyc.edu and let us know what you’ve been up to.

Printed by Maar Printing Service on Rolland Enviro Print. This paper is: Ancient Forest Friendly Made with 100 percent post-consumer waste fiber Processed Chlorine Free Produced using biogas energy Environmental savings as compared to paper using 100 percent virgin fiber: 136 trees preserved 131,195 gallons of water saved 13,422 lbs of waste not generated 44,099 lbs of CO2 not generated 113 MMBTUs of energy not consumed 57 lbs of nitrous oxide gas prevented Please recycle or share this magazine.

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 2-3

Above: Melissa Heinz, a senior project manager in Brother’s Home Appliance Division, and Cindy Hogan, digital embroidery expert and Brother brand ambassador, created the embroidery for our cover. Below: The machine at work.

Get Dressed With FIT

Hot Off the Presses

Dressed: The History of Fashion, a popular podcast hosted by Fashion and Textile Studies alumnae April Calahan ’10 and Cassidy Zachary ’13, explores the rich and complex history behind the clothes we wear. Recent episodes investigate the history of penny loafers and the genius of Charles James. The hosts also interviewed Michele Tolini Finamore ’98, whose exhibition about gender and fashion at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is featured in this issue.

Hue Staff Writer Jonathan Vatner’s Carnegie Hill was published by Thomas Dunne Books on August 20. The novel follows the members of a co-op board and the staff in a wealthy New York City building. Town & Country named it a summer “must-read,” Booklist gave it a starred review, and People called it “entertaining and profound.” Vatner will read from the novel at the Barnes and Noble at FIT on September 17 at 5 p.m.

Connect With Us on Instagram This image of James McNamara, the alumnus who sewed the original Pride flag, was one of the year’s most popular posts on @FITAlumni, the Instagram account of the Office of Alumni Engagement and Giving. Follow it to see posts about alumni accomplishments, campus events, and other major news. (We also recommend @FITNYC, the college’s official account, and @MuseumatFIT, the museum’s page.)

Features 8

Uncommon Design FIT’s new MFA in Fashion Design graduates its first class of creative rebels

14 Vital Threads Alumni turn fiber into fine art 20 Take Five An unscientific sampling of the class of 2019

Utkarsh Shukla

The Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology

Take a second look at our cover image: it’s embroidered! When the School of Art and Design received a state-of-the-art digital embroidery machine as part of a major 25-machine donation from Brother International Corporation, we had to test it out. We sent a photo to the Brother team (at right), and they made the magic happen. The final result, stitched on the Brother PR1050X, has 29 colors and 155,183 stitches, and it took five hours of continuous sewing to create. Bet your granny can’t do that! The embroidery machine will be used mainly by Fashion Design students looking for innovative embellishments. The detail (below left) shows the stitches up close. Our cover model is Anna Forde, International Trade and Marketing, wearing her commencement robe and an ecstatic expression. Hue found Forde on Instagram via the hashtag #fitgrad. The photo captured a significant instant, she writes. “The joy I felt when I waved my diploma in the air in the middle of Manhattan…. It’s probably the best moment I had this year: ‘Hello world! Here I come!’” She landed a job as a customer service and e-commerce associate at the global skincare company AHAVA: Dead Sea Laboratories. Cover photo by Alessandro Casagli.

Departments 24 Conserving a Chanel Saving a couture garment from “inherent vice” 26 You Better Work! Zaldy ’90 is the designer behind RuPaul’s fab looks

4 Hue’s News 25 Counter Culture 32 Alumni Notes 35 What Inspires You?

30 Fashion Out of Bounds Style that transcends the gender binary Above: Utkarsh Shukla’s gossamer pieces blend historical Indian dress and Western tailoring, addressing a fraught combination of cultural identities. Shukla was a member of the Fashion Design MFA program’s first graduating class. Story on page 8.

9/3/19 9:34 AM


hue’s news

hue’s news

Advice from the 2019 Commencement Speakers

“What’s unique about Flora Fur is they’re using this common, weedy plant to make a luxury item.”

“All that you go through to bring forth what is yours alone is your statement. You have to hold onto that. Never give that up.” —David Yurman

WHAT’S A BANNERSTONE?

Joe Carrotta ’17

Bannerstones are complex carved and polished stones created by Native Americans during the Archaic period (8000–1000 BC). The holes drilled through their centers led early–20th century archaeologists to believe that they were meant to be placed on staffs as banners or emblems, hence their name, but more recent scholarship casts doubt on that hypothesis. History of Art Professor Anna Blume and Joseph Anderson, assistant professor and Digital Initiatives librarian, have created an open-source website at bannerstone.fitnyc.edu to aid in the study of these remarkable and mysterious objects. The site contains photography and information for 61 bannerstones in the archives of the American Museum of Natural History.

At FIT’s 2019 commencement exercises, held at Radio City Music Hall on May 22, renowned jewelry designer David Yurman addressed the graduates of the schools of Art and Design and Liberal Arts at the morning ceremony, and apparel icon Tommy Hilfiger spoke to the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology in the afternoon. Yurman and Stephen Burrows ’66 received honorary degrees, and Hilfiger was given the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement. Commencement is a time for established leaders to share advice with graduates about to embark on their career journeys. Here’s some of what the speakers said.

“Your instincts will never let you down. Always trust that feeling, that voice, that tells you what is right.”

—Evelyn Rynkiewicz, Assistant Professor, Science and Math Department

For the second consecutive year, students from MIT and FIT teamed up for two weeks in late June to create product concepts using advanced fibers. The workshops, which took place on both campuses, were held collaboratively with Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), a Cambridge, Massachusetts–based nonprofit enabling a transformation of traditional fibers, yarns, and textiles into sophisticated, integrated, and networked devices and systems. Athletic footwear and apparel manufacturer New Balance, the workshop’s industrial partner, challenged the 12 students to develop concepts for high-tech sneakers. Team Natural Futurism imagined a biodegradable lifestyle shoe using natural materials, including bacterial cellulose and fungus, and advanced fiber concepts to avoid use of chemical dyes. Team CoMIT to Safety Before ProFIT aimed to reduce running injuries from overtraining by means of technology like a silent alarm and LED display. The goal is to help runners at all levels to eliminate distraction, know their physical limits, and be able to call for help. “It is critical for design students to work in a team environment engaging in the latest technologies,” said Joanne Arbuckle, deputy to the president for Industry Partnerships and Collaborative Programs at FIT. “This interaction will support the invention of products that will define our future.” Andy Liu, assistant professor of Fashion Design at FIT, worked with MIT postdocs to design a curriculum that taught fiber fabrication, 3D printing with light, and biosensing. “Collaboration and teamwork are DNA-level attributes of the New Balance workplace,” said Chris Wawrousek, senior creative design lead in the New Balance Innovation Studio. “The program allowed us to see some of the emerging research in the field of technical textiles. In some cases, these technologies are still very nascent but give us a window into future developments.”

—Tommy Hilfiger They experimented with using the fluff from milkweed seeds, combined with flax fibers, to create a sustainable fur-like textile. As an added benefit, planting milkweed to produce this fiber would provide food for monarch butterf lies, which feed on it as caterpillars. “What’s unique about Flora Fur is they’re using this common, weedy plant to make a luxury item,” said Assistant Professor Evelyn Rynkiewicz, an ecologist in the Science and Math Department, and advisor for the Biodesign Challenge. “They call it a weed because it can grow anywhere—which is a good thing in this case.” “FIT sits at the center of fashion innovation in New York City—the nerve center of the fashion world,” Grushkin said. “I would expect nothing less than major innovations in biomaterials coming from the school.”

FIT in Korea Graduates First Class

FIT at SUNY Korea’s first commencement took place June 20 on the state-of-the-art campus in Songdo, South Korea. Thirty-five FIT students graduated with an AAS degree in Fashion Design or Fashion Business Management; more than half are entering bachelor’s programs at FIT’s New York and Milan campuses.

“Make it your mission in the years ahead to practice green values in your homes, in your communities, in all those companies we’re sending you out to lead.” —President Joyce F. Brown

Joe Carrotta ’17

What if our world’s most pressing environmental crises could be solved by looking to nature? The Biodesign Challenge, now in its fourth year, is an intercollegiate competition founded by Daniel Grushkin, co-founder of the community laboratory Genspace. Its purpose is to encourage undergraduate research into biologically inspired fibers and other materials. An FIT team won the first Biodesign Challenge, in 2016; that team, now a company called AlgiKnit, recently finalized a round of venture capital funding totaling $2.2 million. On June 20 and 21 in New York, student teams from 34 colleges and universities around the world, including Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, presented concepts and research that could pave the way to a more sustainable future. Two FIT teams presented their work. Team EcoLastane, which is developing a biodegradable alternative to spandex, was a finalist for the top prize and a competitor for the ORTA Prize for Bioinspired Textile Processes. Team Flora Fur took home the Stella McCartney Prize for Sustainable Fashion for its petroleum-free vegan fur made from milkweed fluff and other natural materials. Team EcoLastane came up with the idea for a sustainable spandex alternative in an interdisciplinary course called Designing with Emerging Materials. The course, team-taught by Susanne Goetz, associate professor of Textile/Surface Design, and Theanne Schiros, assistant professor of Science and Math, teaches students materials science and encourages them to undertake original research to develop new materials. When Fashion Design student Monica Palucci learned that any fabric containing spandex is not recyclable, and that the fiber is present in 80 percent of clothing, she and her team members looked to nature for an alternative. “I’m doing a minor in Ethics and Sustainability, and some of the classes are really depressing,” Palucci said. The Designing with Emerging Materials class “is really hopeful—there are so many possibilities.”

This bannerstone, made of banded slate in a knobbed lunate shape, was found in Elbridge, New York, and dates to 3,000 BCE. (AMNH 13/105)

FIT AND MIT JOIN FORCES TO CREATE INNOVATIVE TEXTILES

Kim Byung Min

Students Isabella Bruski and Noah Silva of Flora Fur with Stella McCartney Sustainability Manager Debra Guo.

Elastin is a protein that allows for stretch and recovery in skin, connective tissue, and blood vessels. It’s also present in high concentration in the (inedible) adductor muscles of oysters. Team EcoLastane ground up those muscles and, using a common enzyme, created strands of elastin. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very strong. Next, they purified the elastin using sodium hydroxide and were able to isolate a small amount, which they will use to create a durable spandex-like fiber. Team Flora Fur was troubled by the environmental costs of faux fur, which is generally made from petroleum products and is therefore not biodegradable. “The fact that it’s not biodegradable is the last argument used against faux fur by the fur industry,” Advertising and Marketing Communications student Isabella Bruski said. “We wanted to create a faux fur that biodegrades.”

Anna Blume

Using Biodesign, Students Invent Sustainable Textiles

Team CoMIT to Safety Before ProFIT explored intuitive textiles, as well as tech elements such as a silent alarm and LED display.

QUICK READ

FIT was a hosting partner in this year’s World Conference on Women’s Studies, April 25 to 27 in Bangkok. Melissa Tombro, professor of English and Communication Studies, helped plan the conference, now in its fifth year. 4

Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 4-5

Werewool, the student team that presented their genetically engineered fiber at the 2018 Biodesign Challenge Summit, is competing in the Biomimicry Launchpad, an accelerator program for natureinspired innovation and entrepreneurship. The winning team gets $100,000.

Jewelry Design alumna Ivy Ross, VP and head of design for hardware products at Google, was number nine on Fast Company’s 2019 list of the Most Creative People in Business.

Fashion and Textile Studies student Faith Cooper, Art History and Museum Professions ’14, participated in the prestigious Museum Education Practicum, an intensive training program at the Studio Museum in Harlem this spring.

Fashion Design student Roderick Reyes won the 2019 Levi’s x Arts Thread Design Competition from among 300 submissions from 26 countries. His prize was a summer internship with Levi’s in San Francisco.

Advertising and Marketing Communications faculty member John Elliott and his team from communications firm Publicis came in second in the world in the 2019 Alexa Cup, a competition to create a new “Alexa Skill” for the voice-activated Amazon virtual assistant. Their idea: a content platform for Barbie.

hue.fitnyc.edu

5

9/3/19 9:34 AM


hue’s news

hue’s news

Advice from the 2019 Commencement Speakers

“What’s unique about Flora Fur is they’re using this common, weedy plant to make a luxury item.”

“All that you go through to bring forth what is yours alone is your statement. You have to hold onto that. Never give that up.” —David Yurman

WHAT’S A BANNERSTONE?

Joe Carrotta ’17

Bannerstones are complex carved and polished stones created by Native Americans during the Archaic period (8000–1000 BC). The holes drilled through their centers led early–20th century archaeologists to believe that they were meant to be placed on staffs as banners or emblems, hence their name, but more recent scholarship casts doubt on that hypothesis. History of Art Professor Anna Blume and Joseph Anderson, assistant professor and Digital Initiatives librarian, have created an open-source website at bannerstone.fitnyc.edu to aid in the study of these remarkable and mysterious objects. The site contains photography and information for 61 bannerstones in the archives of the American Museum of Natural History.

At FIT’s 2019 commencement exercises, held at Radio City Music Hall on May 22, renowned jewelry designer David Yurman addressed the graduates of the schools of Art and Design and Liberal Arts at the morning ceremony, and apparel icon Tommy Hilfiger spoke to the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology in the afternoon. Yurman and Stephen Burrows ’66 received honorary degrees, and Hilfiger was given the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement. Commencement is a time for established leaders to share advice with graduates about to embark on their career journeys. Here’s some of what the speakers said.

“Your instincts will never let you down. Always trust that feeling, that voice, that tells you what is right.”

—Evelyn Rynkiewicz, Assistant Professor, Science and Math Department

For the second consecutive year, students from MIT and FIT teamed up for two weeks in late June to create product concepts using advanced fibers. The workshops, which took place on both campuses, were held collaboratively with Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), a Cambridge, Massachusetts–based nonprofit enabling a transformation of traditional fibers, yarns, and textiles into sophisticated, integrated, and networked devices and systems. Athletic footwear and apparel manufacturer New Balance, the workshop’s industrial partner, challenged the 12 students to develop concepts for high-tech sneakers. Team Natural Futurism imagined a biodegradable lifestyle shoe using natural materials, including bacterial cellulose and fungus, and advanced fiber concepts to avoid use of chemical dyes. Team CoMIT to Safety Before ProFIT aimed to reduce running injuries from overtraining by means of technology like a silent alarm and LED display. The goal is to help runners at all levels to eliminate distraction, know their physical limits, and be able to call for help. “It is critical for design students to work in a team environment engaging in the latest technologies,” said Joanne Arbuckle, deputy to the president for Industry Partnerships and Collaborative Programs at FIT. “This interaction will support the invention of products that will define our future.” Andy Liu, assistant professor of Fashion Design at FIT, worked with MIT postdocs to design a curriculum that taught fiber fabrication, 3D printing with light, and biosensing. “Collaboration and teamwork are DNA-level attributes of the New Balance workplace,” said Chris Wawrousek, senior creative design lead in the New Balance Innovation Studio. “The program allowed us to see some of the emerging research in the field of technical textiles. In some cases, these technologies are still very nascent but give us a window into future developments.”

—Tommy Hilfiger They experimented with using the fluff from milkweed seeds, combined with flax fibers, to create a sustainable fur-like textile. As an added benefit, planting milkweed to produce this fiber would provide food for monarch butterf lies, which feed on it as caterpillars. “What’s unique about Flora Fur is they’re using this common, weedy plant to make a luxury item,” said Assistant Professor Evelyn Rynkiewicz, an ecologist in the Science and Math Department, and advisor for the Biodesign Challenge. “They call it a weed because it can grow anywhere—which is a good thing in this case.” “FIT sits at the center of fashion innovation in New York City—the nerve center of the fashion world,” Grushkin said. “I would expect nothing less than major innovations in biomaterials coming from the school.”

FIT in Korea Graduates First Class

FIT at SUNY Korea’s first commencement took place June 20 on the state-of-the-art campus in Songdo, South Korea. Thirty-five FIT students graduated with an AAS degree in Fashion Design or Fashion Business Management; more than half are entering bachelor’s programs at FIT’s New York and Milan campuses.

“Make it your mission in the years ahead to practice green values in your homes, in your communities, in all those companies we’re sending you out to lead.” —President Joyce F. Brown

Joe Carrotta ’17

What if our world’s most pressing environmental crises could be solved by looking to nature? The Biodesign Challenge, now in its fourth year, is an intercollegiate competition founded by Daniel Grushkin, co-founder of the community laboratory Genspace. Its purpose is to encourage undergraduate research into biologically inspired fibers and other materials. An FIT team won the first Biodesign Challenge, in 2016; that team, now a company called AlgiKnit, recently finalized a round of venture capital funding totaling $2.2 million. On June 20 and 21 in New York, student teams from 34 colleges and universities around the world, including Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, presented concepts and research that could pave the way to a more sustainable future. Two FIT teams presented their work. Team EcoLastane, which is developing a biodegradable alternative to spandex, was a finalist for the top prize and a competitor for the ORTA Prize for Bioinspired Textile Processes. Team Flora Fur took home the Stella McCartney Prize for Sustainable Fashion for its petroleum-free vegan fur made from milkweed fluff and other natural materials. Team EcoLastane came up with the idea for a sustainable spandex alternative in an interdisciplinary course called Designing with Emerging Materials. The course, team-taught by Susanne Goetz, associate professor of Textile/Surface Design, and Theanne Schiros, assistant professor of Science and Math, teaches students materials science and encourages them to undertake original research to develop new materials. When Fashion Design student Monica Palucci learned that any fabric containing spandex is not recyclable, and that the fiber is present in 80 percent of clothing, she and her team members looked to nature for an alternative. “I’m doing a minor in Ethics and Sustainability, and some of the classes are really depressing,” Palucci said. The Designing with Emerging Materials class “is really hopeful—there are so many possibilities.”

This bannerstone, made of banded slate in a knobbed lunate shape, was found in Elbridge, New York, and dates to 3,000 BCE. (AMNH 13/105)

FIT AND MIT JOIN FORCES TO CREATE INNOVATIVE TEXTILES

Kim Byung Min

Students Isabella Bruski and Noah Silva of Flora Fur with Stella McCartney Sustainability Manager Debra Guo.

Elastin is a protein that allows for stretch and recovery in skin, connective tissue, and blood vessels. It’s also present in high concentration in the (inedible) adductor muscles of oysters. Team EcoLastane ground up those muscles and, using a common enzyme, created strands of elastin. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very strong. Next, they purified the elastin using sodium hydroxide and were able to isolate a small amount, which they will use to create a durable spandex-like fiber. Team Flora Fur was troubled by the environmental costs of faux fur, which is generally made from petroleum products and is therefore not biodegradable. “The fact that it’s not biodegradable is the last argument used against faux fur by the fur industry,” Advertising and Marketing Communications student Isabella Bruski said. “We wanted to create a faux fur that biodegrades.”

Anna Blume

Using Biodesign, Students Invent Sustainable Textiles

Team CoMIT to Safety Before ProFIT explored intuitive textiles, as well as tech elements such as a silent alarm and LED display.

QUICK READ

FIT was a hosting partner in this year’s World Conference on Women’s Studies, April 25 to 27 in Bangkok. Melissa Tombro, professor of English and Communication Studies, helped plan the conference, now in its fifth year. 4

Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 4-5

Werewool, the student team that presented their genetically engineered fiber at the 2018 Biodesign Challenge Summit, is competing in the Biomimicry Launchpad, an accelerator program for natureinspired innovation and entrepreneurship. The winning team gets $100,000.

Jewelry Design alumna Ivy Ross, VP and head of design for hardware products at Google, was number nine on Fast Company’s 2019 list of the Most Creative People in Business.

Fashion and Textile Studies student Faith Cooper, Art History and Museum Professions ’14, participated in the prestigious Museum Education Practicum, an intensive training program at the Studio Museum in Harlem this spring.

Fashion Design student Roderick Reyes won the 2019 Levi’s x Arts Thread Design Competition from among 300 submissions from 26 countries. His prize was a summer internship with Levi’s in San Francisco.

Advertising and Marketing Communications faculty member John Elliott and his team from communications firm Publicis came in second in the world in the 2019 Alexa Cup, a competition to create a new “Alexa Skill” for the voice-activated Amazon virtual assistant. Their idea: a content platform for Barbie.

hue.fitnyc.edu

5

9/3/19 9:34 AM


A Signage Proposal for the Natural History Museum The client: New York’s American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) The class: Exhibition Graphics 1 is for second-semester students in FIT’s MA in Exhibition and Experience Design program The brief: Few AMNH visitors use the large, cavernous rotunda entry and stairwell that leads from the lower level to the fourth floor. Instead, they use the elevators. AMNH wants to change that. The space has the potential to display additional exhibition content and reduce congestion. Activating the stairwell has long been a dream project for AMNH designers, said Christina Lyons, chair of the department, who taught the class. “For a graphic designer, it’s a great opportunity.” The assignment: Turn the stairwell from a space into a “place,” via innovative wayfinding and experiential graphics that align with the institution’s aesthetic and mission. (“Placemaking,” Lyons explained, is an industry term for making spaces meaningful.) Additional learning: During the semester, industry professionals visited the class, including an authority on fabrication, materials, and installation; a visitor experience expert; and a designer and creative director who has addressed similar challenges. Many of the students won scholarships to the 2019 International Sign Association’s annual expo in Las Vegas, where they saw cutting-edge technologies, materials, and applications, some of which they used in their AMNH proposal. THE DESIGN PROCESS Step 1: Meet with AMNH director of graphic design, Catharine Weese, left. Interview AMNH designers about their needs, goals, and dreams for the project. Step 2: Survey the site. Measure the space and document existing graphics, colors, typography, architectural details, materials, and circulation routes.

Step 4: Present concepts to the client, then create prototypes of design components and test them on site. The concepts were a series of subtle content cues, such as carefully organized “fun facts,” that directed visitors up or down the stairs. One student proposed a shadow-and-light show for the staircase leading to the elephant exhibit.

JENNIFER LEE’S

RANKINGS PLACE FIT AT THE TOP, AGAIN

FIT has been named among the Best Fashion Schools in the World in the Business of Fashion’s 2019 global fashion school assessment. This year, BoF replaced the numerical rankings of previous years with “Badges of Excellence” recognizing strengths in four key areas: Best Overall, Best in Global Influence, Best in Learning Experience, and Best in Long-Term Value. FIT’s undergraduate fashion and business programs received all four badges, and the master’s program in Global Fashion Management received Best Overall and Best in Global Influence. Two other rankings recognized FIT’s stellar return on investment (ROI). Value Colleges, an independent online guide for prospective students, ranked FIT’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design as the sixth best value among accredited programs in the field nationwide. And College Consensus, a rankings aggregator, placed FIT’s two online programs at number 19 for ROI among all online colleges, based on cost of the degree and expected salary after graduation.

What is innovative about this one? It’s made of mulberry paper, a leather substitute developed in Korea that can be washed and ironed. It has a heating pad connected to a sensor. If the rider’s body temperature goes up or down, the device turns on and off. The design was inspired by the cycling jackets created as a result of the British rational dress reform of the 1890s, when women started getting rid of corsets in favor of more practical and comfortable clothing. I always incorporate the history of fashion into my designs. You’re organizing a sustainability pop-up from November 14 to 22. What can we expect? It will be an interdisciplinary, collegewide, student-run sustainability project located in the Art and Design Gallery and sponsored by the FBM Department. We want to engage as many people as possible. We will have a vintage clothing swap, and students will create upcycled clothing from damaged and unwanted clothing donated by nonprofits and fashion companies. Happy Socks, a sustainable company, donated product, and we will have lip balm made of wax from FIT’s beehive. Mimi Prober ’12 and Jussara Lee ’90 are getting involved, too. Students from the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design Department are going to establish the physical store as a class assignment. Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing will provide an olfactory experience in a pop-up sustainable fragrance lab. Textile Development and Marketing will present naturally dyed fabric collections through a 360-degree augmented reality experience.

Wolf Circus Wins Design Entrepreneurs Prize On June 5, FIT wrapped its seventh annual Design Entrepreneurs program. Twelve designer finalists presented business plans to a panel of industry executives including Tommy Hilfiger and Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger; Morris Goldfarb, CEO of G-III; Adrienne Lazarus, CEO of Bandier; Thomas Ott, Saks Off Fifth and Gilt chief merchant; and Henri Zirpolo, Rag & Bone senior designer. Fiona Morrison of Wolf Circus took home the $100,000 grand prize to grow her business, a line of sustainable demi-fine jewelry created and run by women. Nora Gardner and her brand of women’s suiting won the Israel Goldgrub Award of $50,000.

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 6-7

WRITING OUTSIDE OF THE LINES At FIT, many assignments are multimodal, blending writing with design, technology, or performance. Multimodal Composing: Strategies for TwentyFirst-Century Writing Consultations (Utah State University Press, 2019), co-edited by Brian Fallon, associate professor and director of the Writing and Speaking Studio, provides strategies for writing-center directors and consultants working with students whose texts are visual, technological, creative, and performative. “There are a lot of books and articles that cover multimodality and new media in writing studies,” Fallon said, “but nothing that specifically targeted how tutors might apply this knowledge in practice.”

Chris McCloskey

Wolf Circus

ROOFTOP ROSES

Step 5: Get final feedback on the proposal from the client. Lyons said, “The comments encompassed many practical considerations—such as budget, maintenance, approval processes, and schedule.” Summer/Fall 2019

The incredible story behind Isotoner gloves

Jennifer Lee, assistant professor of Fashion Business Management, teaches Financial Assortment and Planning, as well as Computer-Aided Product Development. Her own research brings together sustainability and wearable technology to design high-tech cycling jackets.

Why design cycling jackets? Cycling is one of the most rapidly growing fitness activities for people concerned with their health and the environment. But there are limited wearable technology products available for cyclists.

Step 3: Conduct audience studies that involve onsite observations and interviews with visitors, staff, and AMNH volunteer docents. Create “persona studies” to draw conclusions about visitors’ needs and desires.

6

Valerie’s Journey

SUSTAINABILITY MISSION

Smiljana Peros

ASSIGNMENT

hue’s news

The FIT Foundation, along with Lara Eurdolian, International Trade and Marketing ’05, founder of Pretty Connected, a multiplatform style and beauty brand; and Jennifer Grove, Fashion Merchandising Management ’95, founder and CEO of floral donation company Repeat Roses, hosted an elegant alumni gathering on the Lagary Board Room Terrace on July 17. Alumni guests were invited because of their work in sustainability and innovation. Repeat Roses set up a Blossoms Bar, a table of flowers that would otherwise have gone to the landfill, and guests created bouquets with personalized messages that were later delivered to VillageCare, an adult day center for those with chronic illnesses including HIV/AIDS.

Courtesy of FIT Special Collections

hue’s news

Fuchs launched creative concepts for Aris.

Sometimes the habits we develop to distract ourselves are more important than we realize. Valerie Fuchs’ small, intricate pencil sketches are a perfect example. Her son Thomas Fuchs recently donated her meticulous drawings, along with other artifacts related to her career, to FIT’s Special Collections. Only they weren’t created under ordinary circumstances. She drew them while hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Valerie was born in 1916 in what is now Martin, Slovakia. She grew up attending fashion shows with her father, a department store owner. “He had the eye,” Thomas said. “My mother inherited a lot of his talent.” She married Ladislav, a dentist, in the late ’30s, but restrictions on Jews were already beginning. Eventually, a local politician gave Ladislav a basket of apples concealing a gun and urged him to go into hiding. The Fuchses first found refuge in a basement, and then a Christian family hid them in their attic. They waited there for a year— and Valerie sketched. A few years after the war ended, the Fuchses, along with one-year-old Thomas, moved to New York City. Unable to be a dentist in the U.S., Ladislav worked in a thermometer factory, while Valerie took in freelance textile design work. In the early ’60s, she got a job at Aris Glove Company as its exclusive designer and helped push several innovations forward. These included an early version of a Fuchs polished her sketching shaping bodysuit and a skills in hiding. special, stretchy stitch. “She was doing isometric exercises and martial arts,” Thomas recalled. “Isometrics is like resistance training, and the stitch had resistance. So she said, ‘Why don’t we call this Isotoner?’” Eventually, Aris was renamed Isotoner. Valerie worked at the company for 16 years before joining her family’s business—Allied Brass, a bathroom fixture company. And she extended her skills to designing the products with Thomas. He sold Allied Brass in 2005 and Valerie died in 2013 at 97 years old, but she made a clear impact while with the company. “My mother and I cultivated a culture of innovation,” Thomas said. “She was a real Renaissance woman.” —VANESSA MACHIR

hue.fitnyc.edu

7

9/3/19 9:34 AM


hue’s news

A Signage Proposal for the Natural History Museum The client: New York’s American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) The class: Exhibition Graphics 1 is for second-semester students in FIT’s MA in Exhibition and Experience Design program The brief: Few AMNH visitors use the large, cavernous rotunda entry and stairwell that leads from the lower level to the fourth floor. Instead, they use the elevators. AMNH wants to change that. The space has the potential to display additional exhibition content and reduce congestion. Activating the stairwell has long been a dream project for AMNH designers, said Christina Lyons, chair of the department, who taught the class. “For a graphic designer, it’s a great opportunity.” The assignment: Turn the stairwell from a space into a “place,” via innovative wayfinding and experiential graphics that align with the institution’s aesthetic and mission. (“Placemaking,” Lyons explained, is an industry term for making spaces meaningful.) Additional learning: During the semester, industry professionals visited the class, including an authority on fabrication, materials, and installation; a visitor experience expert; and a designer and creative director who has addressed similar challenges. Many of the students won scholarships to the 2019 International Sign Association’s annual expo in Las Vegas, where they saw cutting-edge technologies, materials, and applications, some of which they used in their AMNH proposal. THE DESIGN PROCESS Step 1: Meet with AMNH director of graphic design, Catharine Weese, left. Interview AMNH designers about their needs, goals, and dreams for the project. Step 2: Survey the site. Measure the space and document existing graphics, colors, typography, architectural details, materials, and circulation routes.

Step 4: Present concepts to the client, then create prototypes of design components and test them on site. The concepts were a series of subtle content cues, such as carefully organized “fun facts,” that directed visitors up or down the stairs. One student proposed a shadow-and-light show for the staircase leading to the elephant exhibit.

JENNIFER LEE’S

RANKINGS PLACE FIT AT THE TOP, AGAIN

FIT has been named among the Best Fashion Schools in the World in the Business of Fashion’s 2019 global fashion school assessment. This year, BoF replaced the numerical rankings of previous years with “Badges of Excellence” recognizing strengths in four key areas: Best Overall, Best in Global Influence, Best in Learning Experience, and Best in Long-Term Value. FIT’s undergraduate fashion and business programs received all four badges, and the master’s program in Global Fashion Management received Best Overall and Best in Global Influence. Two other rankings recognized FIT’s stellar return on investment (ROI). Value Colleges, an independent online guide for prospective students, ranked FIT’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design as the sixth best value among accredited programs in the field nationwide. And College Consensus, a rankings aggregator, placed FIT’s two online programs at number 19 for ROI among all online colleges, based on cost of the degree and expected salary after graduation.

Jennifer Lee, assistant professor of Fashion Business Management, teaches Financial Assortment and Planning, as well as Computer-Aided Product Development. Her own research brings together sustainability and wearable technology to design hightech cycling jackets. Why design cycling jackets? Cycling is one of the most rapidly growing fitness activities for people concerned with their health and the environment. But there are limited wearable technology products available for cyclists. What is innovative about this one? It’s made of mulberry paper, a leather substitute developed in Korea that can be washed and ironed. It has a heating pad connected to a sensor. If the rider’s body temperature goes up or down, the device turns on and off. The design was inspired by the cycling jackets created as a result of the British rational dress reform of the 1890s, when women started getting rid of corsets in favor of more practical and comfortable clothing. I always incorporate the history of fashion into my designs. You’re organizing a sustainability pop-up from November 14 to 22. What can we expect? It will be an interdisciplinary, collegewide, student-run sustainability project located in the Art and Design Gallery and sponsored by the FBM Department. We want to engage as many people as possible. We will have a vintage clothing swap, and students will create upcycled clothing from damaged and unwanted clothing donated by nonprofits and fashion companies. Happy Socks, a sustainable company, donated product, and we will have lip balm made of wax from FIT’s beehive. Mimi Prober ’12 and Jussara Lee ’90 are getting involved, too. Students from the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design Department are going to establish the physical store as a class assignment. Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing will provide an olfactory experience in a pop-up sustainable fragrance lab. Textile Development and Marketing will present naturally dyed fabric collections through a 360-degree augmented reality experience.

Wolf Circus Wins Design Entrepreneurs Prize On June 5, FIT wrapped its seventh annual Design Entrepreneurs program. Twelve designer finalists presented business plans to a panel of industry executives including Tommy Hilfiger and Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger; Morris Goldfarb, CEO of G-III; Adrienne Lazarus, CEO of Bandier; Thomas Ott, Saks Off Fifth and Gilt chief merchant; and Henri Zirpolo, Rag & Bone senior designer. Fiona Morrison of Wolf Circus took home the $100,000 grand prize to grow her business, a line of sustainable demi-fine jewelry created and run by women. Nora Gardner and her brand of women’s suiting won the Israel Goldgrub Award of $50,000.

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 6-7

WRITING OUTSIDE OF THE LINES At FIT, many assignments are multimodal, blending writing with design, technology, or performance. Multimodal Composing: Strategies for TwentyFirst-Century Writing Consultations (Utah State University Press, 2019), co-edited by Brian Fallon, associate professor and director of the Writing and Speaking Studio, provides strategies for writing-center directors and consultants working with students whose texts are visual, technological, creative, and performative. “There are a lot of books and articles that cover multimodality and new media in writing studies,” Fallon said, “but nothing that specifically targeted how tutors might apply this knowledge in practice.”

Chris McCloskey

Wolf Circus

ROOFTOP ROSES

Step 5: Get final feedback on the proposal from the client. Lyons said, “The comments encompassed many practical considerations—such as budget, maintenance, approval processes, and schedule.” Summer/Fall 2019

The incredible story behind Isotoner gloves

SUSTAINABILITY MISSION

Step 3: Conduct audience studies that involve onsite observations and interviews with visitors, staff, and AMNH volunteer docents. Create “persona studies” to draw conclusions about visitors’ needs and desires.

6

Valerie’s Journey

The FIT Foundation, along with Lara Eurdolian, International Trade and Marketing ’05, founder of Pretty Connected, a multiplatform style and beauty brand; and Jennifer Grove, Fashion Merchandising Management ’95, founder and CEO of floral donation company Repeat Roses, hosted an elegant alumni gathering on the Lagary Board Room Terrace on July 17. Alumni guests were invited because of their work in sustainability and innovation. Repeat Roses set up a Blossoms Bar, a table of flowers that would otherwise have gone to the landfill, and guests created bouquets with personalized messages that were later delivered to VillageCare, an adult day center for those with chronic illnesses including HIV/AIDS.

Courtesy of FIT Special Collections

ASSIGNMENT

hue’s news

Fuchs launched creative concepts for Aris.

Sometimes the habits we develop to distract ourselves are more important than we realize. Valerie Fuchs’ small, intricate pencil sketches are a perfect example. Her son Thomas Fuchs recently donated her meticulous drawings, along with other artifacts related to her career, to FIT’s Special Collections. Only they weren’t created under ordinary circumstances. She drew them while hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Valerie was born in 1916 in what is now Martin, Slovakia. She grew up attending fashion shows with her father, a department store owner. “He had the eye,” Thomas said. “My mother inherited a lot of his talent.” She married Ladislav, a dentist, in the late ’30s, but restrictions on Jews were already beginning. Eventually, a local politician gave Ladislav a basket of apples concealing a gun and urged him to go into hiding. The Fuchses first found refuge in a basement, and then a Christian family hid them in their attic. They waited there for a year— and Valerie sketched. A few years after the war ended, the Fuchses, along with one-year-old Thomas, moved to New York City. Unable to be a dentist in the U.S., Ladislav worked in a thermometer factory, while Valerie took in freelance textile design work. In the early ’60s, she got a job at Aris Glove Company as its exclusive designer and helped push several innovations forward. These included an early version of a Fuchs polished her sketching shaping bodysuit and a skills in hiding. special, stretchy stitch. “She was doing isometric exercises and martial arts,” Thomas recalled. “Isometrics is like resistance training, and the stitch had resistance. So she said, ‘Why don’t we call this Isotoner?’” Eventually, Aris was renamed Isotoner. Valerie worked at the company for 16 years before joining her family’s business—Allied Brass, a bathroom fixture company. And she extended her skills to designing the products with Thomas. He sold Allied Brass in 2005 and Valerie died in 2013 at 97 years old, but she made a clear impact while with the company. “My mother and I cultivated a culture of innovation,” Thomas said. “She was a real Renaissance woman.” —VANESSA MACHIR hue.fitnyc.edu

7

9/3/19 9:34 AM


Uncommon Design

The Fashion Design MFA program graduates its first class. Meet a few of its members BY LINDA ANGRILLI

The first class graduated from FIT’s new Fashion Design MFA program in spring 2019, sending 15 highly original minds into the world to change fashion. The program seeks unconventional students with diverse backgrounds, and encourages fresh approaches to fashion, design, craft, and technology. Each semester has a theme— Play, Focus, Edit, Conclude—as the students, guided by faculty and mentors, take their thesis from concept to collection. Professor Jonathan Kyle Farmer, who developed and heads the program, disapproves of the breakneck pace of the fashion system, because it hampers creativity and results in a glut of clothes created without meaning or intent. This unique program slows the design process down to allow the deep exploration of an idea and thoughtful development of a collection that expresses the designer’s personal vision. The students took intense, often emotional journeys through the four-semester thesis process. They ended up with work that reflected and evoked profound feelings, addressed social and personal issues, ranged from practical to ethereal, and looked beautiful, unexpected, vital, and sometimes eccentric. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but I expect these students to change the industry, not just be part of the machine,” Farmer says. “It’s about integrity, not celebrity endorsements. It’s about doing and producing things in new ways.”

Collection:

My Mobile Canvas As you can tell from his name, graffiti artist and self-proclaimed dreamer Lenny Vuitton (aka John Lenahan) is inspired by dismantling and recreating, remixing common iconography as his own. A colorful, high-energy celebration of street culture, the designs blend and juxtapose styles, challenging expectations about culture, race, gender, art, and fashion. Originally a painter, Lenny Vuitton now puts his designs on the body, so the art moves from place to place, creating experiences that are seen beyond gallery walls. Painting on clothing with brushes or spray cans, he creates what he calls his “mobile canvas.” “When I put art on clothes, it’s like spray painting on a train car and sending it off into the world for the public to see.” 8

Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 8-9

LENNY VUITTON

hue.fitnyc.edu

9

9/3/19 9:34 AM


Uncommon Design

The Fashion Design MFA program graduates its first class. Meet a few of its members BY LINDA ANGRILLI

The first class graduated from FIT’s new Fashion Design MFA program in spring 2019, sending 15 highly original minds into the world to change fashion. The program seeks unconventional students with diverse backgrounds, and encourages fresh approaches to fashion, design, craft, and technology. Each semester has a theme— Play, Focus, Edit, Conclude—as the students, guided by faculty and mentors, take their thesis from concept to collection. Professor Jonathan Kyle Farmer, who developed and heads the program, disapproves of the breakneck pace of the fashion system, because it hampers creativity and results in a glut of clothes created without meaning or intent. This unique program slows the design process down to allow the deep exploration of an idea and thoughtful development of a collection that expresses the designer’s personal vision. The students took intense, often emotional journeys through the four-semester thesis process. They ended up with work that reflected and evoked profound feelings, addressed social and personal issues, ranged from practical to ethereal, and looked beautiful, unexpected, vital, and sometimes eccentric. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but I expect these students to change the industry, not just be part of the machine,” Farmer says. “It’s about integrity, not celebrity endorsements. It’s about doing and producing things in new ways.”

Collection:

My Mobile Canvas As you can tell from his name, graffiti artist and self-proclaimed dreamer Lenny Vuitton (aka John Lenahan) is inspired by dismantling and recreating, remixing common iconography as his own. A colorful, high-energy celebration of street culture, the designs blend and juxtapose styles, challenging expectations about culture, race, gender, art, and fashion. Originally a painter, Lenny Vuitton now puts his designs on the body, so the art moves from place to place, creating experiences that are seen beyond gallery walls. Painting on clothing with brushes or spray cans, he creates what he calls his “mobile canvas.” “When I put art on clothes, it’s like spray painting on a train car and sending it off into the world for the public to see.” 8

Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 8-9

LENNY VUITTON

hue.fitnyc.edu

9

9/3/19 9:34 AM


Collection:

Eli: Accessible Design for an Inclusive World

Collection:

Above all, Eliza Fisher insists, her collection is a collaboration. She worked closely with FIT students in the special needs community—Kerry Gibbons, Lucille Reynolds, Kiran Usmani, and Miriam Wexler—to investigate the needs of people with sensory processing impairments, and to design desirable, attractive clothing options that work for a range of sensory requirements. She also reviewed medical information and advocacy sites and spoke with occupational therapists. People with sensory processing disorder can experience sensory input as overstimulating and overwhelming. On the other hand, certain kinds of sensory input, such as pressure, can impart feelings of safety and calm. Eliza’s collection of what she calls “sensory friendly garments” includes features such as raised surfaces that are nice to touch—such as printed silicone, which also adds weight—and inflatables, evoking a calming sensation through compression, like a weighted blanket. “I loved the slight compression and tactile detailing,” Lucille says. “As someone who has trouble focusing, it helped calm me and focus my attention.” Compression garments exist in the market, but “stylish” is not a word that comes to mind. By designing in collaboration with the special needs community, Eliza created clothes that don’t sacrifice aesthetics for function. Her collection respects neurological differences, while offering choices that anyone can be proud to wear.

Amended Identity Having grown up in India and lived in many places around the world, Utkarsh Shukla explores gender, sexuality, and nationality from a multicultural perspective. His work draws a parallel between “abuse within a sexual premise” and “cultural abuse of India under the British Raj.” Through fashion, he examines questions of culture clash, “conscious cultural degradation,” and the “ask of compliance” in these experiences. Utkarsh earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion design from the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, winning the most innovative graduate collection award; he also has an AAS in Fashion Design from FIT. While in India, he worked with the Varanasi weaving community that practices the traditional art of brocade. His MFA work blends historical Indian dress and Western tailoring, reflecting a combined cultural identity.

Clockwise from top: Miriam Wexler, Kerry Gibbons, Lucille Reynolds, and Kiran Usmani, FIT students in the special needs community, worked with Eliza to create her collection, chose their outfits, and determined the composition of their photos.

10 Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 10-11

PHOTOGRAPHS BY MEGAN KRAUSE ’19 (LEFT), AND LOISE EISENHART ’19 (ABOVE)

APRIL BLOOM

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9/3/19 9:34 AM


Collection:

Eli: Accessible Design for an Inclusive World

Collection:

Above all, Eliza Fisher insists, her collection is a collaboration. She worked closely with FIT students in the special needs community—Kerry Gibbons, Lucille Reynolds, Kiran Usmani, and Miriam Wexler—to investigate the needs of people with sensory processing impairments, and to design desirable, attractive clothing options that work for a range of sensory requirements. She also reviewed medical information and advocacy sites and spoke with occupational therapists. People with sensory processing disorder can experience sensory input as overstimulating and overwhelming. On the other hand, certain kinds of sensory input, such as pressure, can impart feelings of safety and calm. Eliza’s collection of what she calls “sensory friendly garments” includes features such as raised surfaces that are nice to touch—such as printed silicone, which also adds weight—and inflatables, evoking a calming sensation through compression, like a weighted blanket. “I loved the slight compression and tactile detailing,” Lucille says. “As someone who has trouble focusing, it helped calm me and focus my attention.” Compression garments exist in the market, but “stylish” is not a word that comes to mind. By designing in collaboration with the special needs community, Eliza created clothes that don’t sacrifice aesthetics for function. Her collection respects neurological differences, while offering choices that anyone can be proud to wear.

Amended Identity Having grown up in India and lived in many places around the world, Utkarsh Shukla explores gender, sexuality, and nationality from a multicultural perspective. His work draws a parallel between “abuse within a sexual premise” and “cultural abuse of India under the British Raj.” Through fashion, he examines questions of culture clash, “conscious cultural degradation,” and the “ask of compliance” in these experiences. Utkarsh earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion design from the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, winning the most innovative graduate collection award; he also has an AAS in Fashion Design from FIT. While in India, he worked with the Varanasi weaving community that practices the traditional art of brocade. His MFA work blends historical Indian dress and Western tailoring, reflecting a combined cultural identity.

Clockwise from top: Miriam Wexler, Kerry Gibbons, Lucille Reynolds, and Kiran Usmani, FIT students in the special needs community, worked with Eliza to create her collection, chose their outfits, and determined the composition of their photos.

10 Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 10-11

PHOTOGRAPHS BY MEGAN KRAUSE ’19 (LEFT), AND LOISE EISENHART ’19 (ABOVE)

APRIL BLOOM

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9/3/19 9:34 AM


Collection:

Living with Loss After a loss, moments of grief can come upon us unexpectedly, something Anastasia Edwards-Morel learned three years ago, after the deaths of her 14-year-old cousin and her grandfather. She wondered if she could create a garment that would provide comfort. A variety of therapies use touch and compression for emotional and physical relief, and a weighted sensation is known to reduce anxiety. “I’m drawing on these existing technologies, but taking it a step further,” she says. Instead of weights, her garments rely on magnets pushing against each other to create compression. And she incorporated silicone robotics, with silicone pieces that inflate to provide a sense of pressure and release. As a designer, not a scientist or mathematician, she needed help with the technology. She worked with the electrical engineering department at Columbia University, using “collaborative brainpower” to successfully blend fashion and function. She says of her garment, “It’s a nice cashmere sweater. You want to wear it. But there’s something more: it’s a sweater that can hug you.” Working at the intersection of fashion design, electrical engineering, and biotextile research, Edwards-Morel is able to create the products she imagines. “A beautiful world exists between designers and scientists.”

Collection:

New Americana

Above: YunRay Chung, right, and Celine Lin in I Love You but I Have to Leave, his performance piece about changing identity. Below: In Leave a Mark on I, YunRay crouches for an hour, covered in sticky paint, then tries to “stand and break through.”

12 Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 12-13

In a class of nontraditional fashion designers, YunRay Chung is perhaps the most unconventional. He calls himself a fashion researcher, concept developer, and performance artist, and his work encompasses performance pieces, objects, films, and interactive installations. Born in Taiwan, YunRay uses deconstructed secondhand garments to explore how a person’s cultural identity changes, especially through immigration. In one performance, he kneels face down on the floor for an hour, praying, while a blend of glue and paint is poured over him; then he stands, spattered and disheveled, and tries to walk. In another, Ray and a second performer stand facing each other, then embrace, exchanging garments along with identities. The unfamiliar clothes are sometimes confusing, not unlike a new identity. The work is evocative and moving, but is it fashion? This question led YunRay and Farmer to conversations about what it means to be a fashion designer. Farmer, open to expansive interpretations as long as they’re pursued with integrity, told his student, “Let’s find out what you are.” STEVEN MOLINA CONTRERAS

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9/3/19 9:34 AM


Collection:

Living with Loss After a loss, moments of grief can come upon us unexpectedly, something Anastasia Edwards-Morel learned three years ago, after the deaths of her 14-year-old cousin and her grandfather. She wondered if she could create a garment that would provide comfort. A variety of therapies use touch and compression for emotional and physical relief, and a weighted sensation is known to reduce anxiety. “I’m drawing on these existing technologies, but taking it a step further,” she says. Instead of weights, her garments rely on magnets pushing against each other to create compression. And she incorporated silicone robotics, with silicone pieces that inflate to provide a sense of pressure and release. As a designer, not a scientist or mathematician, she needed help with the technology. She worked with the electrical engineering department at Columbia University, using “collaborative brainpower” to successfully blend fashion and function. She says of her garment, “It’s a nice cashmere sweater. You want to wear it. But there’s something more: it’s a sweater that can hug you.” Working at the intersection of fashion design, electrical engineering, and biotextile research, Edwards-Morel is able to create the products she imagines. “A beautiful world exists between designers and scientists.”

Collection:

New Americana

Above: YunRay Chung, right, and Celine Lin in I Love You but I Have to Leave, his performance piece about changing identity. Below: In Leave a Mark on I, YunRay crouches for an hour, covered in sticky paint, then tries to “stand and break through.”

12 Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 12-13

In a class of nontraditional fashion designers, YunRay Chung is perhaps the most unconventional. He calls himself a fashion researcher, concept developer, and performance artist, and his work encompasses performance pieces, objects, films, and interactive installations. Born in Taiwan, YunRay uses deconstructed secondhand garments to explore how a person’s cultural identity changes, especially through immigration. In one performance, he kneels face down on the floor for an hour, praying, while a blend of glue and paint is poured over him; then he stands, spattered and disheveled, and tries to walk. In another, Ray and a second performer stand facing each other, then embrace, exchanging garments along with identities. The unfamiliar clothes are sometimes confusing, not unlike a new identity. The work is evocative and moving, but is it fashion? This question led YunRay and Farmer to conversations about what it means to be a fashion designer. Farmer, open to expansive interpretations as long as they’re pursued with integrity, told his student, “Let’s find out what you are.” STEVEN MOLINA CONTRERAS

hue.fitnyc.edu 13

9/3/19 9:34 AM


by Vanessa Machir

Take in the creations of five alumni fiber artists

“Working with our hands is what makes us human,” Hallie Meltzer, Textile/Surface Design ’08, says. And it is often this opportunity to feel and create textures every day that draws people to the practice of fiber art. “Touching fibers with your hands can be a very meditative process. It’s very centering,” Nomi Kleinman, chair of the Textile/Surface Design Department, says. With so many different materials and processes to choose from, fiber art also offers endless possibilities for experimentation and innovation. “It’s an incredibly flexible medium,” Ruth Jeyaveeran ’07, assistant professor of Textile/Surface Design, says. Many fiber artists are excited to combine traditional techniques with technology—like digital embroidery or smart fabrics—which Kleinman calls “a lovely marriage.” But fiber art didn’t gain respect in the art world until the 1960s and ’70s, with the work of Bauhaus artist Anni Albers (wife of Josef) and Sheila Hicks (once Albers’ student and now a textile icon) paving the way. The practice has historically struggled to get the same level of recognition as painting and photography because it’s “traditionally been relegated to women’s work and the fringe,” Jeyaveeran says. She acknowledges, however, that things are changing. “In the last 10 years or so, traditional craft mediums like fiber art have started to become recognized by the art world,” she says. Recent exhibitions in New York featured the work of textile artist Diedrick Brackens, at the New Museum, and the late sculptor Mrinalini Mukherjee (who often used dyed and woven hemp rope), at the Met Breuer. Meltzer attributes this resurgence of interest to “a desire to get back to something tactile” in an increasingly digital world. People are recognizing the importance of the very human, multisensory experience that has long attracted artists to fiber art. But this can lead to a problem in museums and galleries, Kleinman says: “People try to touch the art.”

14 Summer/Fall 2019

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ay “felt” to Ruth Jeyaveeran ’07, assistant professor of Textile/ Surface Design, and she’ll talk about microscopes and Mongolia. Materials like felt are part of everyday life, she says, but people don’t usually understand where they come from. Felt is perhaps the most ancient of textiles. Mongolians have used it to make yurts for thousands of years. Felt is made by compressing fibers and exposing them to heat, friction, and moisture. If you magnify wool fibers, Jeyaveeran explains, they look scaly. When you add hot water and agitate the fibers, the scales open up and bond naturally. Jeyaveeran makes the felt she uses in her own work, enjoying the contrast between the “cool, low-tech” material and the advanced technology she often employs. She worked as a book illustrator (and wrote a few books herself). “I ended up using a lot of textiles as illustrations,” she says. A textile designer saw her work and suggested she go back to school and focus on the practice. After graduating from FIT, she designed home fabrics, apparel, and accessories for companies like Kate Spade and West Elm. Recently, she’s been experimenting with laser cutting and digital embroidery on felt in her series of art pieces “After the Flood,” which highlights the consequences of climate change. It’s been included in exhibitions at Gallery MC, Site: Brooklyn, and more. The Seven Seas (at left) depicts the formula for carbonic acid, which is formed when carbon dioxide dissolves in the ocean, and can harm marine life. “I like the contrast between the rigid formula and the fluid, felted piece.” This tension between science and nature, tradition and modernity, Jeyaveeran says, is “the whole crux of textiles.”

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by Vanessa Machir

Take in the creations of five alumni fiber artists

“Working with our hands is what makes us human,” Hallie Meltzer, Textile/Surface Design ’08, says. And it is often this opportunity to feel and create textures every day that draws people to the practice of fiber art. “Touching fibers with your hands can be a very meditative process. It’s very centering,” Nomi Kleinman, chair of the Textile/Surface Design Department, says. With so many different materials and processes to choose from, fiber art also offers endless possibilities for experimentation and innovation. “It’s an incredibly flexible medium,” Ruth Jeyaveeran ’07, assistant professor of Textile/Surface Design, says. Many fiber artists are excited to combine traditional techniques with technology—like digital embroidery or smart fabrics—which Kleinman calls “a lovely marriage.” But fiber art didn’t gain respect in the art world until the 1960s and ’70s, with the work of Bauhaus artist Anni Albers (wife of Josef) and Sheila Hicks (once Albers’ student and now a textile icon) paving the way. The practice has historically struggled to get the same level of recognition as painting and photography because it’s “traditionally been relegated to women’s work and the fringe,” Jeyaveeran says. She acknowledges, however, that things are changing. “In the last 10 years or so, traditional craft mediums like fiber art have started to become recognized by the art world,” she says. Recent exhibitions in New York featured the work of textile artist Diedrick Brackens, at the New Museum, and the late sculptor Mrinalini Mukherjee (who often used dyed and woven hemp rope), at the Met Breuer. Meltzer attributes this resurgence of interest to “a desire to get back to something tactile” in an increasingly digital world. People are recognizing the importance of the very human, multisensory experience that has long attracted artists to fiber art. But this can lead to a problem in museums and galleries, Kleinman says: “People try to touch the art.”

14 Summer/Fall 2019

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ay “felt” to Ruth Jeyaveeran ’07, assistant professor of Textile/ Surface Design, and she’ll talk about microscopes and Mongolia. Materials like felt are part of everyday life, she says, but people don’t usually understand where they come from. Felt is perhaps the most ancient of textiles. Mongolians have used it to make yurts for thousands of years. Felt is made by compressing fibers and exposing them to heat, friction, and moisture. If you magnify wool fibers, Jeyaveeran explains, they look scaly. When you add hot water and agitate the fibers, the scales open up and bond naturally. Jeyaveeran makes the felt she uses in her own work, enjoying the contrast between the “cool, low-tech” material and the advanced technology she often employs. She worked as a book illustrator (and wrote a few books herself). “I ended up using a lot of textiles as illustrations,” she says. A textile designer saw her work and suggested she go back to school and focus on the practice. After graduating from FIT, she designed home fabrics, apparel, and accessories for companies like Kate Spade and West Elm. Recently, she’s been experimenting with laser cutting and digital embroidery on felt in her series of art pieces “After the Flood,” which highlights the consequences of climate change. It’s been included in exhibitions at Gallery MC, Site: Brooklyn, and more. The Seven Seas (at left) depicts the formula for carbonic acid, which is formed when carbon dioxide dissolves in the ocean, and can harm marine life. “I like the contrast between the rigid formula and the fluid, felted piece.” This tension between science and nature, tradition and modernity, Jeyaveeran says, is “the whole crux of textiles.”

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essica Vitucci ’16 has loved making portraits since high school, but when a teacher gave her a frame loom, she departed from the traditional route of painting or drawing. Making textiles “felt less limited,” she says. “It could be fashion. It could be for the home, it could be fiber art.” After FIT, she landed her dream job as a rug designer at ABC Carpet & Home. But, as with most design gigs, the work was based on trend research, not personal inspiration. “When I came home, I didn’t want to put things on repeat anymore,” she says. She returned to portraiture, using textiles as a medium. For works like Michelette, shown here, she takes a photo of the subject, makes a drawing, traces the drawing onto fabric, and then embroiders it with yarn. Sometimes she prefers to highlight the process itself, showing the backs of her pieces. “I think they come out just as beautiful, if not more, than the front,” she says. “The order in which the thread goes is really special.” Last year, she temporarily relocated to Rhode Island. “I was able to put more time toward my process and get out of the rush of New York,” she says. While there, she worked with fiber artist Anastasia Azure and showed in the juried exhibition Twisting Fibers: An Art for All Reasons. Now back in New York, she’s designing for the rug company Well Woven and pushing her portraiture forward even more. “I’m still in the early stages of exploring it,” she says.

“It healed me. The repetitive motion ... quieted my mind.” —Cynthia Alberto

16 Summer/Fall 2019

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hen Cynthia Alberto ’02 was younger, her family would go home to the Philippines and bring back textiles. “I never really paid attention,” she laughs. Years later, however, weaving textiles became pivotal in her life. “It healed me,” says Alberto, who took solace in the craft after going through a divorce. “The repetitive motion ... quieted my mind.” With a degree in computer science, Alberto worked on Wall Street in computer programming and in sales at The Village Voice, while making art in her free time. She often incorporated sewing into her pieces and wanted to transform her paintings into textiles. With this in mind, she went back to school at FIT, then worked with Tibetan rug evangelist Stephanie Odegard. In 2007, she opened her Brooklyn studio, The Weaving Hand (which also sells weaving supplies). It teaches traditional and modern techniques and sustainable practices through in-house classes for all ages, public events at spaces like Pioneer Works and Ace Hotel, and outreach programs for the underserved.

The studio aims to instill a sense of well-being and community in its students. Weaving can strengthen motor skills and concentration, while building self-esteem. “It’s personal expression, and you get the satisfaction of completing a project,” Alberto says. “Plus, these groups are talking with each other, interacting. ... It’s social healing.” Alberto, who was one of the first-ever artists in residence at the Museum of Arts and Design, integrates the idea of community in her own work. The series Techno Love (pictured here), made up of 30 woven cocoons, was inspired by the feeling of connecting with a community through music. And she still thinks about the textiles she ignored in her youth. Though she has collaborated (both independently and through her studio) with noted fashion brands like Proenza Schouler, EDUN, and Turnbull & Asser, she also works with an international community of weavers to preserve ancient traditions. Sometimes this commitment drives Alberto to rifle through her family’s closets. “Now I ask them, ‘Where are [those textiles]? Do you still have them?’”

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essica Vitucci ’16 has loved making portraits since high school, but when a teacher gave her a frame loom, she departed from the traditional route of painting or drawing. Making textiles “felt less limited,” she says. “It could be fashion. It could be for the home, it could be fiber art.” After FIT, she landed her dream job as a rug designer at ABC Carpet & Home. But, as with most design gigs, the work was based on trend research, not personal inspiration. “When I came home, I didn’t want to put things on repeat anymore,” she says. She returned to portraiture, using textiles as a medium. For works like Michelette, shown here, she takes a photo of the subject, makes a drawing, traces the drawing onto fabric, and then embroiders it with yarn. Sometimes she prefers to highlight the process itself, showing the backs of her pieces. “I think they come out just as beautiful, if not more, than the front,” she says. “The order in which the thread goes is really special.” Last year, she temporarily relocated to Rhode Island. “I was able to put more time toward my process and get out of the rush of New York,” she says. While there, she worked with fiber artist Anastasia Azure and showed in the juried exhibition Twisting Fibers: An Art for All Reasons. Now back in New York, she’s designing for the rug company Well Woven and pushing her portraiture forward even more. “I’m still in the early stages of exploring it,” she says.

“It healed me. The repetitive motion ... quieted my mind.” —Cynthia Alberto

16 Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 16-17

hen Cynthia Alberto ’02 was younger, her family would go home to the Philippines and bring back textiles. “I never really paid attention,” she laughs. Years later, however, weaving textiles became pivotal in her life. “It healed me,” says Alberto, who took solace in the craft after going through a divorce. “The repetitive motion ... quieted my mind.” With a degree in computer science, Alberto worked on Wall Street in computer programming and in sales at The Village Voice, while making art in her free time. She often incorporated sewing into her pieces and wanted to transform her paintings into textiles. With this in mind, she went back to school at FIT, then worked with Tibetan rug evangelist Stephanie Odegard. In 2007, she opened her Brooklyn studio, The Weaving Hand (which also sells weaving supplies). It teaches traditional and modern techniques and sustainable practices through in-house classes for all ages, public events at spaces like Pioneer Works and Ace Hotel, and outreach programs for the underserved.

The studio aims to instill a sense of well-being and community in its students. Weaving can strengthen motor skills and concentration, while building self-esteem. “It’s personal expression, and you get the satisfaction of completing a project,” Alberto says. “Plus, these groups are talking with each other, interacting. ... It’s social healing.” Alberto, who was one of the first-ever artists in residence at the Museum of Arts and Design, integrates the idea of community in her own work. The series Techno Love (pictured here), made up of 30 woven cocoons, was inspired by the feeling of connecting with a community through music. And she still thinks about the textiles she ignored in her youth. Though she has collaborated (both independently and through her studio) with noted fashion brands like Proenza Schouler, EDUN, and Turnbull & Asser, she also works with an international community of weavers to preserve ancient traditions. Sometimes this commitment drives Alberto to rifle through her family’s closets. “Now I ask them, ‘Where are [those textiles]? Do you still have them?’”

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“I increasingly started searching for volume, a sculptural aspect.” —Ruben Marroquin

seated figure covered with skin made of swatches. Crocheted raffia pieces. A mixed-media American flag. All of these are part of the portfolio of Hallie Meltzer ’08. “I’ve never been married to one specific technique,” she says. “I want to see how many different things I can do.” Coming from a family of knitters and makers, “textiles had been with me my whole life,” she says. She started her career working as a costume designer but created fiber art on the side. She quickly realized the profession’s erratic work schedule, low pay, and high burnout rate were not for her—so she switched her focus and went to FIT to study textile design. “I love the tactility of it,” she says. “I love feeling with my eyes.” She’s also a senior designer for Richloom’s Platinum Division, which makes fabrics for the home. Her more recent pieces have been inspired by a major aspect of her job: designing with a computer. “I’m trying to bridge the digital and the tactile,” she says. For the work featured here, which has been shown at Gallery FIT and the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, she took a black-and-white image of her husband and embroidered it on denim. “I used binary code for stitching each shade of gray,” she says, referencing the computer code that transmits data via a system of ones and zeros. A stitch represents a one and a space represents a zero, so she created gradation by reducing the number of stitches. Though recent works like this have been figural, she’s ready to explore something different. “I’ve been trying to get myself to abstract more,” she says.

“I’m trying to bridge the digital and the tactile.” —Hallie Meltzer

18 Summer/Fall 2019

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or Ruben Marroquin ’19, his rocking chair is not just a source of inspiration—he wants to put it in a piece. Marroquin wraps everyday objects in yarn, and nothing’s off-limits. “I had a Buddha statue in my room once,” he says. “I wrapped it.” Marroquin originally focused on fine art and painting, but the three-dimensional aspect of textiles attracted him to fiber art. “I increasingly started searching for volume, a sculptural aspect,” he says. Growing up in Venezuela and traveling around Latin America also played a part. “I was drawn to traditional Venezuelan techniques, like basket weaving and huts built with palm leaves,” he says. He moved to New York in 2004 and received an AAS in Textile/Surface Design from FIT in 2009. After a break, he finished his BFA in 2019. While at FIT, he developed his sculptural wrapping technique. He was working with bamboo to make Japanese kites

for a portfolio review, and then started incorporating the material into more personal pieces. He would make armatures out of bamboo and cover them with yarn. To create even more volume, he used the yarn to wrap found objects into the pieces. He employed a similar technique, using aluminum frames, to create the art featured here, which was commissioned by noted Los Angeles–based interior designer Kelly Wearstler. When she saw Marroquin’s work on Tumblr, she requested pieces in muted tones, which now reside in the home of comedian Sebastian Maniscalco. Marroquin continues to create personal work and collaborate with Wearstler, but “one of my big passions is teaching,” he says. He’s held weaving workshops at nearly two dozen schools in Connecticut, at senior centers, and at FIT as an artist in residence in spring 2019. “It’s rewarding to see how much people enjoy it,” he says.

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“I increasingly started searching for volume, a sculptural aspect.” —Ruben Marroquin

seated figure covered with skin made of swatches. Crocheted raffia pieces. A mixed-media American flag. All of these are part of the portfolio of Hallie Meltzer ’08. “I’ve never been married to one specific technique,” she says. “I want to see how many different things I can do.” Coming from a family of knitters and makers, “textiles had been with me my whole life,” she says. She started her career working as a costume designer but created fiber art on the side. She quickly realized the profession’s erratic work schedule, low pay, and high burnout rate were not for her—so she switched her focus and went to FIT to study textile design. “I love the tactility of it,” she says. “I love feeling with my eyes.” She’s also a senior designer for Richloom’s Platinum Division, which makes fabrics for the home. Her more recent pieces have been inspired by a major aspect of her job: designing with a computer. “I’m trying to bridge the digital and the tactile,” she says. For the work featured here, which has been shown at Gallery FIT and the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, she took a black-and-white image of her husband and embroidered it on denim. “I used binary code for stitching each shade of gray,” she says, referencing the computer code that transmits data via a system of ones and zeros. A stitch represents a one and a space represents a zero, so she created gradation by reducing the number of stitches. Though recent works like this have been figural, she’s ready to explore something different. “I’ve been trying to get myself to abstract more,” she says.

“I’m trying to bridge the digital and the tactile.” —Hallie Meltzer

18 Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 18-19

or Ruben Marroquin ’19, his rocking chair is not just a source of inspiration—he wants to put it in a piece. Marroquin wraps everyday objects in yarn, and nothing’s off-limits. “I had a Buddha statue in my room once,” he says. “I wrapped it.” Marroquin originally focused on fine art and painting, but the three-dimensional aspect of textiles attracted him to fiber art. “I increasingly started searching for volume, a sculptural aspect,” he says. Growing up in Venezuela and traveling around Latin America also played a part. “I was drawn to traditional Venezuelan techniques, like basket weaving and huts built with palm leaves,” he says. He moved to New York in 2004 and received an AAS in Textile/Surface Design from FIT in 2009. After a break, he finished his BFA in 2019. While at FIT, he developed his sculptural wrapping technique. He was working with bamboo to make Japanese kites

for a portfolio review, and then started incorporating the material into more personal pieces. He would make armatures out of bamboo and cover them with yarn. To create even more volume, he used the yarn to wrap found objects into the pieces. He employed a similar technique, using aluminum frames, to create the art featured here, which was commissioned by noted Los Angeles–based interior designer Kelly Wearstler. When she saw Marroquin’s work on Tumblr, she requested pieces in muted tones, which now reside in the home of comedian Sebastian Maniscalco. Marroquin continues to create personal work and collaborate with Wearstler, but “one of my big passions is teaching,” he says. He’s held weaving workshops at nearly two dozen schools in Connecticut, at senior centers, and at FIT as an artist in residence in spring 2019. “It’s rewarding to see how much people enjoy it,” he says.

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TAKE MEET

FIVE GRADUATES

CHRISTIANE COUBERTIER MAJORS: Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design BFA, Interior Design AAS JOB: Design coordinator at BMF, an agency that produces experiential events for Marriott, Dell, Uniqlo, Pantone, and others. She was an intern on the strategy team at BMF this spring, developing concepts for events. When her supervisors discovered that she was proficient in Photoshop and the 3D modeling program SketchUp, they moved her to the design team, which is in charge of fleshing out event concepts into floorplans and product specifications, down to the glassware. She was hired at the end of her internship.

“Everything we did in school is exactly what we do in my job. It’s kind of crazy how very well prepared I was.”

FROM THE

CLASS OF 2019

FIVE by Jonathan Vatner

Photographs by Smiljana Peros

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MAX HECHTMAN MAJOR: Film and Media SELECT FILMOGRAPHY: FIT Hives: Sustainability—The Secret to Survival (2016) explains the importance of bees to our food supply, as well as to cosmetics and fine art. Stories of Strength and Hope: Preventing Youth Suicide (2018) describes the warning signs of suicide and its portrayal in the media, particularly the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why and the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen. Both of Hechtman’s documentaries screened at numerous film festivals; FIT Hives won an Eco Sustainable Award from the Fashion Film Festival Chicago, and Stories of Strength and Hope won best Best Documentary at the Long Island International Film Expo. Abigail (2019), his senior thesis film, touches on end-of-life issues. WHAT’S NEXT: Hechtman hopes to find work as a production assistant, film editor, cinematographer, writer, and/or producer, while pursuing more documentary and narrative projects that focus on mental health and other social issues.

“The Film and Media program is for anyone who wants to change the world through the art of film.”

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TAKE MEET

FIVE GRADUATES

CHRISTIANE COUBERTIER MAJORS: Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design BFA, Interior Design AAS JOB: Design coordinator at BMF, an agency that produces experiential events for Marriott, Dell, Uniqlo, Pantone, and others. She was an intern on the strategy team at BMF this spring, developing concepts for events. When her supervisors discovered that she was proficient in Photoshop and the 3D modeling program SketchUp, they moved her to the design team, which is in charge of fleshing out event concepts into floorplans and product specifications, down to the glassware. She was hired at the end of her internship.

“Everything we did in school is exactly what we do in my job. It’s kind of crazy how very well prepared I was.”

FROM THE

CLASS OF 2019

FIVE by Jonathan Vatner

Photographs by Smiljana Peros

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 20-21

MAX HECHTMAN MAJOR: Film and Media SELECT FILMOGRAPHY: FIT Hives: Sustainability—The Secret to Survival (2016) explains the importance of bees to our food supply, as well as to cosmetics and fine art. Stories of Strength and Hope: Preventing Youth Suicide (2018) describes the warning signs of suicide and its portrayal in the media, particularly the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why and the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen. Both of Hechtman’s documentaries screened at numerous film festivals; FIT Hives won an Eco Sustainable Award from the Fashion Film Festival Chicago, and Stories of Strength and Hope won best Best Documentary at the Long Island International Film Expo. Abigail (2019), his senior thesis film, touches on end-of-life issues. WHAT’S NEXT: Hechtman hopes to find work as a production assistant, film editor, cinematographer, writer, and/or producer, while pursuing more documentary and narrative projects that focus on mental health and other social issues.

“The Film and Media program is for anyone who wants to change the world through the art of film.”

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ANALISE MEHMET “Diversity is everywhere at FIT. It’s definitely a melting pot, but I call it a salad, too, because you can see all the different cultures.” —MARTY SULLIVAN II

ZAINAB KOLI MAJOR: Fashion Business Management ORGANIZATIONS FOUNDED: NY MSA (Muslim Students Association) Showdown, a statewide undergraduate competition in 13 subjects, from social justice to stand-up comedy; FIT’s Muslim Student Union FAVORITE CLASS: Writing as Activism, taught by Melissa Tombro, professor of English and Communication Studies. In it, students can stage a protest as a class project. After the mosque shooting in New Zealand in March, a vigil at City College in New York helped Koli process her complicated emotions, and she wished a similar observance could take place at FIT. She organized a vigil that drew 150 members of the FIT community. Her final project for the class collected emails, photographs, and text threads about the shooting and the vigil into a moving multimedia essay.

“I’m a Muslim, and social justice is a big part of the religion. It’s about going out of your way to stand up for people who are oppressed, even outside your community.”

22 Summer/Fall 2019

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MAJORS: Exhibition and Experience Design MA, Interior Design BFA ’17 CAPSTONE PROJECT: For her master’s capstone, Mehmet imagined an experience that would empower millennial audiences to move past their anxiety about global warming and take action. Based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the installation would take place on a beach with three areas, each devoted to a threatened environment (air, water, land). In each zone, visitors would begin by relaxing—in a hammock, say. Next, they would read a display of disturbing quotes and facts about the ways the environment is changing. Finally, in the “reward” section, they could create social media posts for a display at the exhibit. They would also encounter a touch screen LED table that would load up their mobile devices with ideas for small things they can do to make a difference— reminders about local elections and locations of nearby farmers’ markets, for example. The Society for Experiential Graphic Designs selected her proposal for presentation at its annual conference in June. CAREER GOALS: To work on projects that raise awareness about the environment for young audiences.

“The news makes [climate change] seem so overwhelming that we can’t do anything about it.”

MARTY SULLIVAN II MAJOR: Advertising and Marketing Communications ROLES ON CAMPUS: President, Black Student Union; director of student organizations in the FIT Student Government Association; resident assistant GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT AT FIT: As president of the Black Student Union, he invited students of diverse races, ethnicities, and sexual and gender identities to participate in conversations about race and events celebrating black culture. This welcoming stance earned the club two leadership awards from the Department of Student Life: the Diversity and Inclusion Award and Club of the Year.

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ANALISE MEHMET “Diversity is everywhere at FIT. It’s definitely a melting pot, but I call it a salad, too, because you can see all the different cultures.” —MARTY SULLIVAN II

ZAINAB KOLI MAJOR: Fashion Business Management ORGANIZATIONS FOUNDED: NY MSA (Muslim Students Association) Showdown, a statewide undergraduate competition in 13 subjects, from social justice to stand-up comedy; FIT’s Muslim Student Union FAVORITE CLASS: Writing as Activism, taught by Melissa Tombro, professor of English and Communication Studies. In it, students can stage a protest as a class project. After the mosque shooting in New Zealand in March, a vigil at City College in New York helped Koli process her complicated emotions, and she wished a similar observance could take place at FIT. She organized a vigil that drew 150 members of the FIT community. Her final project for the class collected emails, photographs, and text threads about the shooting and the vigil into a moving multimedia essay.

“I’m a Muslim, and social justice is a big part of the religion. It’s about going out of your way to stand up for people who are oppressed, even outside your community.”

22 Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 22-23

MAJORS: Exhibition and Experience Design MA, Interior Design BFA ’17 CAPSTONE PROJECT: For her master’s capstone, Mehmet imagined an experience that would empower millennial audiences to move past their anxiety about global warming and take action. Based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the installation would take place on a beach with three areas, each devoted to a threatened environment (air, water, land). In each zone, visitors would begin by relaxing—in a hammock, say. Next, they would read a display of disturbing quotes and facts about the ways the environment is changing. Finally, in the “reward” section, they could create social media posts for a display at the exhibit. They would also encounter a touch screen LED table that would load up their mobile devices with ideas for small things they can do to make a difference— reminders about local elections and locations of nearby farmers’ markets, for example. The Society for Experiential Graphic Designs selected her proposal for presentation at its annual conference in June. CAREER GOALS: To work on projects that raise awareness about the environment for young audiences.

“The news makes [climate change] seem so overwhelming that we can’t do anything about it.”

MARTY SULLIVAN II MAJOR: Advertising and Marketing Communications ROLES ON CAMPUS: President, Black Student Union; director of student organizations in the FIT Student Government Association; resident assistant GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT AT FIT: As president of the Black Student Union, he invited students of diverse races, ethnicities, and sexual and gender identities to participate in conversations about race and events celebrating black culture. This welcoming stance earned the club two leadership awards from the Department of Student Life: the Diversity and Inclusion Award and Club of the Year.

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Tiny Treasures, Infinite Pleasures

counter culture

In her gift shop, Ona Cohn ’62 welcomes in the world

CONSERVING A CHANEL

Left: Viviano used a magnifier to attach the dress to silk crepeline fabric. Conservation— maintaining an object in its current state for study or exhibition—is different from restoration, which aims to return an object to its initial appearance, and is controversial in the museum world. All conservation work must be reversible. “The dress looks restored,” Viviano says, “but nothing has been done to the original garment.” The support fabric is sheer, so you can see the dress’s construction enough to study. Conservators employ entomology pins—the smallest pins on the market—for delicate tasks.

A student saved a garment from its own worst enemy: itself By Alex Joseph

The dress needed help. A 90-year-old, Art Deco–inspired masterpiece of beaded silk crepe by celebrated couturiere Gabrielle Chanel, it was practically falling apart. The fabric was so brittle it was shattering, and beads spilled from it at the slightest touch. Hamish Bowles, international editor at large for Vogue, glimpsed the piece, he says, “in a small box at a vintage fair in London and instantly recognized it as an element of a Chanel.” A little deeper in the box lay what appeared to be a separate tier of the dress, seemingly designed to attach below the waist. A month later, by coincidence, Bowles found a similar version of the outfit, which added to the puzzle. “I wasn’t sure that the [first] dress was redeemable,” he says, “but having seen the thoughtful and Conserving the Chanel dress took 400 hours. “For being so simple, it’s exquisitely made,” Viviano said.

24 Summer/Fall 2019

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meticulous work that FIT’s conservation program students had done on a Callot Soeurs ensemble and a Poiret cape, I thought it might be worth seeing if the dress could be conserved in such a way that it might one day even be exhibited.” When the outfit arrived at FIT, it made an impression on Bethany Viviano ’18, then a student specializing in conservation (and known for her hand skills) in the Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice MA program. “It looked like it was worn quite a bit,” she says. Viviano took on this project for her thesis. With no label, the outfit required authentication. Viviano scoured online archives, magazines, and other sources from the New York Public Library, and sketches of Chanel garments from the Max Meyer Collection of drawings, held in FIT’s Special Collections within the Gladys Marcus Library. She found a second match for the dress—totally intact and labeled—at the Museo de la Mode in Santiago, Chile, and through comparisons and sleuthing, authenticated the piece and dated it to late 1926 or early ’27. She studied the outfit for a year and a half before beginning the conservation treatment. Viviano soon discovered the sorts of details that make couture couture and make treatment difficult. For example, the crepe had an idiosyncratic weave structure—twin “Z” twist yarns combined with twin “S” twists in both warp and weft directions; usually “S” and “Z” twists alternate. “I’ve never seen that before and I never met anybody who’d seen it before,” she says. The unique weave gave the garment more texture and made it slinkier.

The garment was also affected by “inherent vice,” meaning its own materials were causing it to self-destruct. The heavy beads tore the fragile fabric. Over many months, Viviano attached the deteriorating dress to a sheer yet sturdy support fabric of silk crepeline and re-enforced the entire hem of the piece with a whip stitch. First, the new material had to be dyed to match the original, which took two months and over 100 dye recipes. She also learned about bead making. Her exhaustive efforts paid off: “I was delighted with the transformational results,” Bowles said. Viviano has turned her passion into a vocation: She now works as a conservator at the noted Textile Conservation Workshop in South Salem, New York. Above: Viviano, here in the newly renovated Fashion and Textile Studies program lab, researched whether this piece was part of the outfit. “I pretty much systematically proved that it wasn’t,” she says. Its construction (less fine than the dress) provided a big clue. Left: Inherent vice at work. A shoulder of the dress shows the effects of deterioration from the weight of the beads on the vulnerable fabric, before and during treatment.

BEFORE

PHOTOS BY SMILJANA PEROS AND BETHANY VIVIANO

DURING

In Ona, the Tarrytown, New York, gift shop run by Ona Cohn, unique treasures all but burst from every corner of the 700-square-foot space. Adults and children alike marvel at animals sculpted by Kenyan artists from recycled flip-flop rubber, glassware from Swaziland, and clever shark and octopus finger puppets. Ceramics and jewelry from local artists share shelf space with fair-trade pieces, such as carvings and baskets from Rwanda. Ona is a third act for Cohn, who spent decades as a lingerie designer and dressmaker. Years ago, she helped out an acquaintance who owned a gift boutique, and found she had a knack for it: she quintupled the store’s sales over the holiday season alone. “People have told me I have a good eye,” says Cohn, who launched in 2016. On a late October weekday, the shop bustles with activity from the moment it opens. Cohn is ready. Visitors who arrive today might not return until the new year, so she has savvily stocked the place with an array of Christmas items. Cohn knows that shoppers can easily buy almost anything online, so when they come in, they’re often also seeking something more than a transaction. She delivers: the space is infused with joy and whimsy. And Cohn is a friendly face and a warm conversationalist. “I’m someone who remembers people’s names and a detail or two about a conversation we’ve had,” she says. “Sometimes people ask if they can hug me before they leave the store.” Good luck getting that from Amazon. If she’s proven that she can create a store that people love to be in, buy from, and return to, she admits that her business skills are still a work in progress. “I take the receipts at the end of the day and check everything against what I sold, but my inventory? That’s in my head. A business person would probably have a fit,” she jokes. “But my shop is small, and for me, it works.” Even in her mid-70s, she brushes off any suggestion of retirement. Her husband, who is 81, continues to practice law, and she still buzzes with energy. “People often come in here and start smiling,” she says. “They’ll say, ‘Ona, you’re never in a bad mood.’ I say, ‘Could you really be surrounded by all this and be in a bad mood?’” —ERIN PETERSON

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Tiny Treasures, Infinite Pleasures

counter culture

In her gift shop, Ona Cohn ’62 welcomes in the world

CONSERVING A CHANEL

Left: Viviano used a magnifier to attach the dress to silk crepeline fabric. Conservation— maintaining an object in its current state for study or exhibition—is different from restoration, which aims to return an object to its initial appearance, and is controversial in the museum world. All conservation work must be reversible. “The dress looks restored,” Viviano says, “but nothing has been done to the original garment.” The support fabric is sheer, so you can see the dress’s construction enough to study. Conservators employ entomology pins—the smallest pins on the market—for delicate tasks.

A student saved a garment from its own worst enemy: itself By Alex Joseph

The dress needed help. A 90-year-old, Art Deco–inspired masterpiece of beaded silk crepe by celebrated couturiere Gabrielle Chanel, it was practically falling apart. The fabric was so brittle it was shattering, and beads spilled from it at the slightest touch. Hamish Bowles, international editor at large for Vogue, glimpsed the piece, he says, “in a small box at a vintage fair in London and instantly recognized it as an element of a Chanel.” A little deeper in the box lay what appeared to be a separate tier of the dress, seemingly designed to attach below the waist. A month later, by coincidence, Bowles found a similar version of the outfit, which added to the puzzle. “I wasn’t sure that the [first] dress was redeemable,” he says, “but having seen the thoughtful and Conserving the Chanel dress took 400 hours. “For being so simple, it’s exquisitely made,” Viviano said.

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meticulous work that FIT’s conservation program students had done on a Callot Soeurs ensemble and a Poiret cape, I thought it might be worth seeing if the dress could be conserved in such a way that it might one day even be exhibited.” When the outfit arrived at FIT, it made an impression on Bethany Viviano ’18, then a student specializing in conservation (and known for her hand skills) in the Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice MA program. “It looked like it was worn quite a bit,” she says. Viviano took on this project for her thesis. With no label, the outfit required authentication. Viviano scoured online archives, magazines, and other sources from the New York Public Library, and sketches of Chanel garments from the Max Meyer Collection of drawings, held in FIT’s Special Collections within the Gladys Marcus Library. She found a second match for the dress—totally intact and labeled—at the Museo de la Mode in Santiago, Chile, and through comparisons and sleuthing, authenticated the piece and dated it to late 1926 or early ’27. She studied the outfit for a year and a half before beginning the conservation treatment. Viviano soon discovered the sorts of details that make couture couture and make treatment difficult. For example, the crepe had an idiosyncratic weave structure—twin “Z” twist yarns combined with twin “S” twists in both warp and weft directions; usually “S” and “Z” twists alternate. “I’ve never seen that before and I never met anybody who’d seen it before,” she says. The unique weave gave the garment more texture and made it slinkier.

The garment was also affected by “inherent vice,” meaning its own materials were causing it to self-destruct. The heavy beads tore the fragile fabric. Over many months, Viviano attached the deteriorating dress to a sheer yet sturdy support fabric of silk crepeline and re-enforced the entire hem of the piece with a whip stitch. First, the new material had to be dyed to match the original, which took two months and over 100 dye recipes. She also learned about bead making. Her exhaustive efforts paid off: “I was delighted with the transformational results,” Bowles said. Viviano has turned her passion into a vocation: She now works as a conservator at the noted Textile Conservation Workshop in South Salem, New York. Above: Viviano, here in the newly renovated Fashion and Textile Studies program lab, researched whether this piece was part of the outfit. “I pretty much systematically proved that it wasn’t,” she says. Its construction (less fine than the dress) provided a big clue. Left: Inherent vice at work. A shoulder of the dress shows the effects of deterioration from the weight of the beads on the vulnerable fabric, before and during treatment.

BEFORE

PHOTOS BY SMILJANA PEROS AND BETHANY VIVIANO

DURING

In Ona, the Tarrytown, New York, gift shop run by Ona Cohn, unique treasures all but burst from every corner of the 700-square-foot space. Adults and children alike marvel at animals sculpted by Kenyan artists from recycled flip-flop rubber, glassware from Swaziland, and clever shark and octopus finger puppets. Ceramics and jewelry from local artists share shelf space with fair-trade pieces, such as carvings and baskets from Rwanda. Ona is a third act for Cohn, who spent decades as a lingerie designer and dressmaker. Years ago, she helped out an acquaintance who owned a gift boutique, and found she had a knack for it: she quintupled the store’s sales over the holiday season alone. “People have told me I have a good eye,” says Cohn, who launched in 2016. On a late October weekday, the shop bustles with activity from the moment it opens. Cohn is ready. Visitors who arrive today might not return until the new year, so she has savvily stocked the place with an array of Christmas items. Cohn knows that shoppers can easily buy almost anything online, so when they come in, they’re often also seeking something more than a transaction. She delivers: the space is infused with joy and whimsy. And Cohn is a friendly face and a warm conversationalist. “I’m someone who remembers people’s names and a detail or two about a conversation we’ve had,” she says. “Sometimes people ask if they can hug me before they leave the store.” Good luck getting that from Amazon. If she’s proven that she can create a store that people love to be in, buy from, and return to, she admits that her business skills are still a work in progress. “I take the receipts at the end of the day and check everything against what I sold, but my inventory? That’s in my head. A business person would probably have a fit,” she jokes. “But my shop is small, and for me, it works.” Even in her mid-70s, she brushes off any suggestion of retirement. Her husband, who is 81, continues to practice law, and she still buzzes with energy. “People often come in here and start smiling,” she says. “They’ll say, ‘Ona, you’re never in a bad mood.’ I say, ‘Could you really be surrounded by all this and be in a bad mood?’” —ERIN PETERSON

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9/3/19 9:34 AM


You Better Work! Zaldy designs pure glamour for RuPaul, the world’s most famous drag queen

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Z

aldy Goco, Fashion Design ’90, has costumed Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Michael Jackson; three Cirque du Soleil shows; and legendary nightlife promoter Susanne Bartsch. But his most loyal and longstanding client is the one and only RuPaul. Zaldy has designed almost every outfit the drag superstar has worn in public since the 1993 video for “Supermodel,” Ru’s breakout song. That includes all his music videos, The RuPaul Show on VH1, live appearances, and RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality competition that wrapped up its 11th season in May. In all, hundreds and hundreds of looks. “I wouldn’t go anywhere without Zaldy,” RuPaul told Vogue in 2018. “Since [‘Supermodel,’] our communication has gone from shorthand to telepathic. Bottom line, Zaldy gets it.” The two met in the late ’80s at La Palace de Beaute, a Union Square nightclub that’s now a Petco, and Zaldy and his then-boyfriend Mathu Andersen created Ru’s interstellar glamazon look. Andersen did the hair and makeup; Zaldy focused on the fashion. “It was not a typical drag queen look,” Zaldy says. “We did a lot more sci-fi future fashions, genderless looks.” Now that “Mama Ru” stars in four TV shows—RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars on VH1, a U.K. version of Drag Race on BBC Three, and AJ and the Queen on Netflix—Zaldy whips up an “extravaganza eleganza” (in the show’s argot) in his Financial District studio at a breakneck pace. He imbibes a sense of

All photos courtesy of VH1 except Zaldy portrait, courtesy of Zaldy

“I don’t even sketch for Ru. We’re just so comfortable with each other.” —Zaldy

RuPaul’s fashion direction through informal conversations, creates a diverse collection with his team of three assistants, and lets the drag queen decide what to wear when. RuPaul does not ask for edits. “I don’t even sketch for Ru,” Zaldy says. “We’re just so comfortable with each other. It’s intuitive, and it’s open.” Some of Zaldy’s favorite designs for RuPaul were the “ugly dress,” with a black-light painting of Ru riding a panther digitally printed on velvet; and a leopard print hand-painted onto flowing pink organza. (Because of the star’s towering height—6-foot-4 without heels—off-therack prints aren’t at the right scale.) After nearly three decades of designing, Zaldy is finally getting the recognition he deserves: two Emmys, in 2017 and 2018, and a Costume Designers Guild Award in 2019. He was nominated for another Emmy in July. “I never really thought awards were going to be part of my world,” he says. “It’s your peers saying you’ve done a great job—and that’s amazing.”

*

RuPaul’s gowns, clockwise from top left: Zaldy designed the promo look for Season 10 at Burning Man; a Season 8 promo look with a ’60s beauty salon vibe, with crotch-high boots in the same fabric; the All Stars Season 3 promo look was made with laser-cut metallic fabric; the promo look for Season 9 that, Zaldy says, “just wanted to get bigger and bigger every time I passed it in the studio!”

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9/3/19 9:35 AM


You Better Work! Zaldy designs pure glamour for RuPaul, the world’s most famous drag queen

26 Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 26-27

Z

aldy Goco, Fashion Design ’90, has costumed Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Michael Jackson; three Cirque du Soleil shows; and legendary nightlife promoter Susanne Bartsch. But his most loyal and longstanding client is the one and only RuPaul. Zaldy has designed almost every outfit the drag superstar has worn in public since the 1993 video for “Supermodel,” Ru’s breakout song. That includes all his music videos, The RuPaul Show on VH1, live appearances, and RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality competition that wrapped up its 11th season in May. In all, hundreds and hundreds of looks. “I wouldn’t go anywhere without Zaldy,” RuPaul told Vogue in 2018. “Since [‘Supermodel,’] our communication has gone from shorthand to telepathic. Bottom line, Zaldy gets it.” The two met in the late ’80s at La Palace de Beaute, a Union Square nightclub that’s now a Petco, and Zaldy and his then-boyfriend Mathu Andersen created Ru’s interstellar glamazon look. Andersen did the hair and makeup; Zaldy focused on the fashion. “It was not a typical drag queen look,” Zaldy says. “We did a lot more sci-fi future fashions, genderless looks.” Now that “Mama Ru” stars in four TV shows—RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars on VH1, a U.K. version of Drag Race on BBC Three, and AJ and the Queen on Netflix—Zaldy whips up an “extravaganza eleganza” (in the show’s argot) in his Financial District studio at a breakneck pace. He imbibes a sense of

All photos courtesy of VH1 except Zaldy portrait, courtesy of Zaldy

“I don’t even sketch for Ru. We’re just so comfortable with each other.” —Zaldy

RuPaul’s fashion direction through informal conversations, creates a diverse collection with his team of three assistants, and lets the drag queen decide what to wear when. RuPaul does not ask for edits. “I don’t even sketch for Ru,” Zaldy says. “We’re just so comfortable with each other. It’s intuitive, and it’s open.” Some of Zaldy’s favorite designs for RuPaul were the “ugly dress,” with a black-light painting of Ru riding a panther digitally printed on velvet; and a leopard print hand-painted onto flowing pink organza. (Because of the star’s towering height—6-foot-4 without heels—off-therack prints aren’t at the right scale.) After nearly three decades of designing, Zaldy is finally getting the recognition he deserves: two Emmys, in 2017 and 2018, and a Costume Designers Guild Award in 2019. He was nominated for another Emmy in July. “I never really thought awards were going to be part of my world,” he says. “It’s your peers saying you’ve done a great job—and that’s amazing.”

*

RuPaul’s gowns, clockwise from top left: Zaldy designed the promo look for Season 10 at Burning Man; a Season 8 promo look with a ’60s beauty salon vibe, with crotch-high boots in the same fabric; the All Stars Season 3 promo look was made with laser-cut metallic fabric; the promo look for Season 9 that, Zaldy says, “just wanted to get bigger and bigger every time I passed it in the studio!”

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9/3/19 9:35 AM


Zaldy “spills the T” on the making of this golden gown, which RuPaul wore on Drag Race Season 11, episode 6—the “Draglympics” episode. (Notably, FIT Advertising Design alumnus Scarlet Envy was eliminated in that episode.) The dress needed to make Ru look like an Emmy statuette, but Zaldy also wanted him to feel confident in it— and at the time, Ru only wore full-length gowns. “When you look at the Emmy, if you really look at it, the dress is so undefined on her,” Zaldy says. “It falls right below the calf. It’s definitely not something you want to recreate line for line for Ru.”

When designing the gown, Zaldy took into account how much Ru would have to walk and whether he would have to sit. The final creation is pliable but not exactly comfortable. “It’s not the drapiest and most movable fabrication. I was surprised that Ru wanted to wear this down the runway and then sit in it for the many, many hours it takes to film the show.”

Where are they now? The typical way to make a dress look like solid gold would be to vacuform a hard plastic armature into shape and coat it in gold chrome. Not only is that process expensive, but the resulting armor would be too stiff to sit in. Instead, Zaldy used a technique he’d engineered for Cirque du Soleil performers, applying strips of a high-shine metallic transfer to stretch denim, creating a flexible gold material that looks solid.

Checking in on the three Drag Race contestants who attended FIT

«

Fashion Design alumnus Giovanni Palandrani, better known as Aquaria, took home the crown in Season 10. Aquaria has since signed with IMG Models, starred in a MAC campaign, and in 2019 became the first drag queen to walk the red carpet of the Met Gala.

The original gown came with wings; Ru left those off for Drag Race.

»

Scarlet Envy, aka Jacob James Grady, Advertising Design ’14, competed in Season 11—and “sashayed away” in the “Draglympics” episode after losing a nail-biter of a “lip sync for your life.” Fueled by publicity from the show, Scarlet has become a sought-after performer and host at nightclubs nationwide.

Sometimes RuPaul pulls a gown from the archives to wear on the show—often reaching all the way back to his ’90s talk show. This dazzling number has a more recent provenance, namely, the 2017 Emmy Awards, in which he played an Emmy statuette in a hilarious skit opposite host Stephen Colbert. Before sending it back to CBS (the network owns this gown), Ru wore it on Drag Race.

«

Illustration ’00 grad Jiggly Caliente, the Filipino “plus-size Barbie” from Season 4, came out as trans in 2016, adopting the name Bianca Castro. Now a musician and actor, she has appeared on Broad City and Pose.

The judges on the “Draglympics” episode, in which RuPaul wore the Emmy statuette gown: Olympic figure skaters Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon, RuPaul, choreographer Travis Wall, and Drag Race fixture Michelle Visage.

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Zaldy “spills the T” on the making of this golden gown, which RuPaul wore on Drag Race Season 11, episode 6—the “Draglympics” episode. (Notably, FIT Advertising Design alumnus Scarlet Envy was eliminated in that episode.) The dress needed to make Ru look like an Emmy statuette, but Zaldy also wanted him to feel confident in it— and at the time, Ru only wore full-length gowns. “When you look at the Emmy, if you really look at it, the dress is so undefined on her,” Zaldy says. “It falls right below the calf. It’s definitely not something you want to recreate line for line for Ru.”

When designing the gown, Zaldy took into account how much Ru would have to walk and whether he would have to sit. The final creation is pliable but not exactly comfortable. “It’s not the drapiest and most movable fabrication. I was surprised that Ru wanted to wear this down the runway and then sit in it for the many, many hours it takes to film the show.”

Where are they now? The typical way to make a dress look like solid gold would be to vacuform a hard plastic armature into shape and coat it in gold chrome. Not only is that process expensive, but the resulting armor would be too stiff to sit in. Instead, Zaldy used a technique he’d engineered for Cirque du Soleil performers, applying strips of a high-shine metallic transfer to stretch denim, creating a flexible gold material that looks solid.

Checking in on the three Drag Race contestants who attended FIT

«

Fashion Design alumnus Giovanni Palandrani, better known as Aquaria, took home the crown in Season 10. Aquaria has since signed with IMG Models, starred in a MAC campaign, and in 2019 became the first drag queen to walk the red carpet of the Met Gala.

The original gown came with wings; Ru left those off for Drag Race.

»

Scarlet Envy, aka Jacob James Grady, Advertising Design ’14, competed in Season 11—and “sashayed away” in the “Draglympics” episode after losing a nail-biter of a “lip sync for your life.” Fueled by publicity from the show, Scarlet has become a sought-after performer and host at nightclubs nationwide.

Sometimes RuPaul pulls a gown from the archives to wear on the show—often reaching all the way back to his ’90s talk show. This dazzling number has a more recent provenance, namely, the 2017 Emmy Awards, in which he played an Emmy statuette in a hilarious skit opposite host Stephen Colbert. Before sending it back to CBS (the network owns this gown), Ru wore it on Drag Race.

«

Illustration ’00 grad Jiggly Caliente, the Filipino “plus-size Barbie” from Season 4, came out as trans in 2016, adopting the name Bianca Castro. Now a musician and actor, she has appeared on Broad City and Pose.

The judges on the “Draglympics” episode, in which RuPaul wore the Emmy statuette gown: Olympic figure skaters Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon, RuPaul, choreographer Travis Wall, and Drag Race fixture Michelle Visage.

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By Alex Joseph

OUT

In Gender Bending Fashion, an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), curator Michelle Tolini Finamore, Museum Studies: Costume and Textiles ’98, charted a journey across the spectrum of gender expression. Today, a social movement to transcend the male/female binary is reflected in cutting-edge style. Finamore’s show highlighted designers, outfits, and celebrities that blurred traditional categories in fashion over the last 100 years. The show included significant input from Boston’s LGBTQIA+ communities. Finamore says social media led the gender revolution by helping members of marginalized groups organize, so to encourage participation, she also sourced images from Instagram for a display. Approximately 4,700 locals attended an opening-night reception. Writing for Vogue, Laird Borrelli-Persson, Museum Studies: Costume and Textiles ’96, praised the show for addressing “a vital, of-the-moment cultural discussion while at the same time placing it within a historical framework.” Finamore learned the material culture approach to fashion (which places objects within a societal context) from Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT and her professor in the MA program now called Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory Museum Practice. Later, Finamore earned a PhD in the history of decorative arts and material culture at Bard College, where she wrote a thesis on fashion in silent films. Now the MFA’s Penny Vinik Curator of Fashion Arts, she’s worked there in various capacities for nine years. “We think of the exhibition as the opening of a dialogue,” Finamore recently told the hosts of the podcast Dressed. “It’s not the final word on anything. The conversation changes by the day.” Listen to Finamore’s interview on Dressed, the podcast written and hosted by Fashion and Textiles alumnae April Calahan ’10, special collections associate and curator of manuscript collections, and Cassidy Zachary ’13, a PhD candidate in history at the University of New Mexico, at dressedpodcast.com. The exhibition ran from March 21 to August 25.

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“DAPPER FEMME” The MFA put out a call online for photos of gender-nonconforming Bostonians in advance of the show, and Tanekwah’s “dapper femme” look rose to the top. Finamore says she incorporated street style to keep the exhibition “close to real, lived experience.” Nonbinary people often face harassment in public, but in the show, large-scale display screens celebrate their difference.

DISPLAYING NONBINARY FASHION

OF

FASHION

An alumna explains Gender Bending Fashion, her show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

THE NEW RULES

TILDA FOREVER!

The cover photo of Young Thug’s 2016 album Jeffery, showing the rapper in this dress from Alessandro Trincone’s “Annodami” collection, was a signature image for the exhibition, since both artists see the gesture as empowering. “I feel like there’s no such thing as gender,” Young Thug has said.

Look 32 from Viktor & Rolf’s 2004 “One Woman Show” collection drew on androgynous actor Tilda Swinton as inspiration. (All the models in the show were Swinton lookalikes.) Swinton’s role as the eponymous gender-morphing protagonist of the 1992 film Orlando remains a touchstone for nonbinary fashion, Finamore says.

For a gender-bending show, should your mannequins be male, female, or neither? “In my perfect world, we would have invisible mounts,” Finamore says, though that solution wouldn’t work for Belgian Walter Van Bierendonck’s glorious green outfit (at left in the above photo), which comes with a head piece. Designer Palomo Spain employs male models to show fashions like the metallic brocade floral cape, center, but anyone can wear them. Comme des Garçons created the femme/butch look on the right.

UNISEX SELLS The final room in the exhibition contained a section called “Transcend,” which presents contemporary designers like Canadian Rad Hourani who, with outfits like “Unisex Couture Look #3,” tries “to do away with the fashion binary altogether,” Finamore says.

DANDY QUEENS

BOUNDS

Standard fashion history texts often leave out contributions from people of color and unconventional individuals, Finamore says, and she wanted the show to be inclusive. Prisca Monnier’s 2014 fashion editorial Dandy Queens featured black models and flouted the traditional fashion dichotomy of suits for men and skirts for women. Among the photographer’s inspirations was Mary Edmonds Walker, the Civil War surgeon and suffragist who wore pants throughout her life.

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By Alex Joseph

OUT

In Gender Bending Fashion, an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), curator Michelle Tolini Finamore, Museum Studies: Costume and Textiles ’98, charted a journey across the spectrum of gender expression. Today, a social movement to transcend the male/female binary is reflected in cutting-edge style. Finamore’s show highlighted designers, outfits, and celebrities that blurred traditional categories in fashion over the last 100 years. The show included significant input from Boston’s LGBTQIA+ communities. Finamore says social media led the gender revolution by helping members of marginalized groups organize, so to encourage participation, she also sourced images from Instagram for a display. Approximately 4,700 locals attended an opening-night reception. Writing for Vogue, Laird Borrelli-Persson, Museum Studies: Costume and Textiles ’96, praised the show for addressing “a vital, of-the-moment cultural discussion while at the same time placing it within a historical framework.” Finamore learned the material culture approach to fashion (which places objects within a societal context) from Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT and her professor in the MA program now called Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory Museum Practice. Later, Finamore earned a PhD in the history of decorative arts and material culture at Bard College, where she wrote a thesis on fashion in silent films. Now the MFA’s Penny Vinik Curator of Fashion Arts, she’s worked there in various capacities for nine years. “We think of the exhibition as the opening of a dialogue,” Finamore recently told the hosts of the podcast Dressed. “It’s not the final word on anything. The conversation changes by the day.” Listen to Finamore’s interview on Dressed, the podcast written and hosted by Fashion and Textiles alumnae April Calahan ’10, special collections associate and curator of manuscript collections, and Cassidy Zachary ’13, a PhD candidate in history at the University of New Mexico, at dressedpodcast.com. The exhibition ran from March 21 to August 25.

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Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 30-31

“DAPPER FEMME” The MFA put out a call online for photos of gender-nonconforming Bostonians in advance of the show, and Tanekwah’s “dapper femme” look rose to the top. Finamore says she incorporated street style to keep the exhibition “close to real, lived experience.” Nonbinary people often face harassment in public, but in the show, large-scale display screens celebrate their difference.

DISPLAYING NONBINARY FASHION

OF

FASHION

An alumna explains Gender Bending Fashion, her show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

THE NEW RULES

TILDA FOREVER!

The cover photo of Young Thug’s 2016 album Jeffery, showing the rapper in this dress from Alessandro Trincone’s “Annodami” collection, was a signature image for the exhibition, since both artists see the gesture as empowering. “I feel like there’s no such thing as gender,” Young Thug has said.

Look 32 from Viktor & Rolf’s 2004 “One Woman Show” collection drew on androgynous actor Tilda Swinton as inspiration. (All the models in the show were Swinton lookalikes.) Swinton’s role as the eponymous gender-morphing protagonist of the 1992 film Orlando remains a touchstone for nonbinary fashion, Finamore says.

For a gender-bending show, should your mannequins be male, female, or neither? “In my perfect world, we would have invisible mounts,” Finamore says, though that solution wouldn’t work for Belgian Walter Van Bierendonck’s glorious green outfit (at left in the above photo), which comes with a head piece. Designer Palomo Spain employs male models to show fashions like the metallic brocade floral cape, center, but anyone can wear them. Comme des Garçons created the femme/butch look on the right.

UNISEX SELLS The final room in the exhibition contained a section called “Transcend,” which presents contemporary designers like Canadian Rad Hourani who, with outfits like “Unisex Couture Look #3,” tries “to do away with the fashion binary altogether,” Finamore says.

DANDY QUEENS

BOUNDS

Standard fashion history texts often leave out contributions from people of color and unconventional individuals, Finamore says, and she wanted the show to be inclusive. Prisca Monnier’s 2014 fashion editorial Dandy Queens featured black models and flouted the traditional fashion dichotomy of suits for men and skirts for women. Among the photographer’s inspirations was Mary Edmonds Walker, the Civil War surgeon and suffragist who wore pants throughout her life.

hue.fitnyc.edu 31

9/3/19 9:35 AM


alumni notes

Bike Ride, oil on canvas, 9 by 12 inches, 2018

1986 Dana Wood, Marketing: Fashion and Related Industries, is a freelance beauty and wellness writer in St. Petersburg, Florida. She writes for the Wall Street Journal and Alexa, the New York Post’s fashion broadsheet, is contributing beauty editor to the Insider’s Guide to Spas, and does copywriting for the U.S. Polo Association. Before moving to Florida, she ran the beauty department at W magazine for a decade, then worked in strategic development at L’Oréal, bringing Kiehl’s into the company, before returning to Condé Nast. “I’m always wondering when I’m going to get burned out on writing, and I never really do,” she says. “And P.S.: It’s always changing.”

Wood’s blog, Florida Beauty Problems, helps readers handle the cosmetic challenges of sunshine, humidity, and mosquitos.

1987 Laura Tanzer, Fashion Buying and Merchandising, is a sustainable designer in Tucson, Arizona. Every aspect of her business, from her energyefficient studio to the natural fibers she sources from dead stock when possible, takes health and the environment into consideration. Some of her most in-demand items are “frammenti,” 32 Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 32-33

Franc Boza, Advertising and Marketing Communications, is general manager for the Miami cluster of Salem Media Group, which owns 115 Christian and conservative radio stations in the top 25 markets. Boza runs three radio stations and a related digital advertising agency and event production arm. Radio, he points out, is still the number one broadcast media platform, with about 93 million listeners tuning in at least once a week.

1998 Lina Tan, International Trade and Marketing, is a research specialist for the Parenting Research Centre in East Melbourne, Australia. The nonprofit evaluates government programs (often for aboriginal children or refugees); Tan crunches data and occasionally conducts interviews to find out how effective they are. She became interested in helping disadvantaged children when volunteering for Toys for Tots while at FIT. After graduation, she was a buyer for Bloomingdale’s before being headhunted for a position as a marketing director in Singapore. A PhD in marketing and data science from Australia National University led to her current position.

2004 Emily Burns Perryman, Advertising and Marketing Communications, became associate vice president of marketing and communications at Daemen College in Amherst, New York. In this role, she develops and implements marketing and branding plans and supervises the areas of marketing, communications, and publications. She aims to complete a master’s in social and public policy from Empire State College this year.

DALLAS MAVERICK

Venny Etienne, Fashion Merchandising Management

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images and The Nikon Icon

1996

Lauren Levinsohn Birrittella, Home Products Development ’07

Jonathan Ng, Graphic Design, is the art director for Santa Monica College, a community college in Southern California. He leads a team of three designers, plus student employees, to create all the school’s graphics: the website, flyers, and advertisements. He aims for simplicity in his designs and includes lots of photos of diverse students. “In order to attract people to the school,” he says, “they need to see themselves on campus.”

Glen Raven’s Concept Gallery.

Shopping with Lauren Birrittella is a hands-on experience. She can’t help knocking on a piece of furniture to see if it sounds like wood, or running an expensive sweater through her fingers to see whether it’s fine cashmere or some kind of blend. When she visits people’s houses, she admits, it takes every ounce of self-control not to touch everything. Fortunately, Birrittella is paid to do just that. A color, materials, and finishes (CMF) specialist at Glen Raven, Birrittella is the gatekeeper of the 10,000 different kinds of materials supplied by the North Carolina–based fabric manufacturer, best known for its Sunbrella shade textiles. She runs the Glen Raven Materials Explorer, a free online database featuring 200 representative materials—from SPF-enhanced cloths and water-resistant fibers to antimicrobial finishes and industrial metal fasteners—that architects, furniture makers, automotive designers, and more consider incorporating into their creations. “We have so many different products, and we sell into so many different industries,” she says. “Sephora, Harvard Bioscience … and I have to know about all the new materials and innovations happening.” Birrittella’s obsession began at FIT, when her senior trend project had her visiting Material ConneXion, the world’s biggest materials library and consultancy. “I thought it was the coolest place in the world,” Birrittella recalls. She got an internship and eventually was hired as an archivist maintaining a library of more than 7,000 materials. While there, she collaborated with her design hero Betsey Johnson on a weather-resistant mannequin for an outdoor installation called Sidewalk Catwalk. In 2011, Glen Raven wanted to launch a similar “Materials Explorer” library—to showcase its own textiles, as well as the metals, plastics, and other materials it carries from other manufacturers—and asked Birrittella to spearhead the project. “There was no library at all before,” she says, “so I had to work with all the market managers and designers and the people who make the fabrics to pick an assortment of 200 samples that represent those 10,000 different products. “It was initially a short-term contract to make the library, but I loved Glen Raven and Burlington so much that nine years later, I’m still here.” In addition to the online archive—which she updates continuously— Birrittella keeps Glen Raven’s six brick-and-mortar Concept Galleries stocked, organizing exhibitions on topics such as 3D printing for designers and R&D teams seeking ideas and inspiration. But she says that her work isn’t just for designers. “The way we interact with our world is affected by the quality or even just the feel of different materials,” she says. “Like, everyone is addicted to their phone, but if it felt really gross like sandpaper, would you keep pulling it out of your pocket? Probably not. It really affects everything. That’s exactly what my role is about—to show the importance of materials.” —R AQUEL LANERI

Left, Cardi B wears Etienne’s python trench to a New York promo event. Right, Etienne in white.

The side fasteners on Slick Chicks undergarments make them ideal for customers with mobility challenges.

Ng designed an alternative transportation campaign for Santa Monica College, promoting the Metro, bike share, Big Blue Bus, campus shuttle, and ride sharing.

2008 Romina Cenisio, Fabric Styling, created Infinite Resort, a multimedia platform with a message of eco-conscious travel and conservation. She first created four stretch halter dresses using recycled plastic, each printed with a National Geographic photograph: a Papua New Guinea jungle, a monarch butterfly migration in Mexico, an active volcano in Hawaii, and a school of fish off the coast of Thailand. “You’re not just getting a beautiful dress, you’re getting a beautiful image of this place and how it’s affected by global warming. You’re wearing what you’re saving.” She shot a related video along the border of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, near where Cenisio grew up, and is producing a magazine to highlight natural destinations and the National Geographic photographers involved in the project.

2007 Shanlee Johnson, Fashion Design, owns Little Birdies, a children’s wear boutique in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C., and Pineapple Sunshine, a line of layettes using custom prints on soft pima cotton from Peru. “We get inspired by cuteness,” she says. “Unicorns, hedgehogs, all kinds of little animals.” Pineapple Sunshine is carried by 10 boutiques throughout the country, including Little Birdies, which sells newborn gifts and stylish apparel and accessories for infants and children up to size 10.

The Alex the Alpaca romper from Pineapple Sunshine.

Sergio Acosta

A pink frammento, handmade from scraps.

MATERIAL CONCERNS

Helya Mohammadian, Fashion Design, founded Slick Chicks, stylish adaptive underwear with side fasteners for pregnant women and women with disabilities. She designed the first prototype in 2014, to help her sister, who was recovering from a C-section. Response to a Kickstarter campaign revealed that people with permanent mobility issues also loved the product. “It changed my perspective on something that most people take for granted: getting dressed every day.” Mohammadian recently added a unisex and men’s line, and Slick Chicks is now sold on Zappos Adaptive, for customers with disabilities. Forbes, Cosmpolitan, and Refinery29 have all featured Slick Chicks.

Better Mobility

Irene Cheslock Dobson, Apparel Design, paints in oils and watercolor in Reading, Pennsylvania. After FIT, she worked in the lingerie field, for Vanity Fair, then for a small lace company before focusing on raising her children. She began her painting career on vacation in Kennebunkport, Maine, and now she exhibits locally. She taught painting for 15 years at Reading Area Community College and still teaches privately.

wearable art made from fabric scraps; any unused fabric is donated to local schools.

Melissa Hope

1959

alumni notes

The Infinite Resort line of dresses.

Venny Etienne was refreshing Instagram one day in 2017 when he saw a photo of Cardi B in a chocolate python-skin trench that he had designed. Etienne had sent the coat to the rapper’s stylist, but had no idea when—or if—the “Bodak Yellow” singer would wear it. “It was such a huge moment,” Etienne says. Daunting, too: Etienne is the force behind Levenity, a tiny, four-person design operation based in Dallas. Suddenly, he was flooded with requests. “That was when we had to figure out PR,” he says. It’s a good thing, too, because Etienne is enjoying another moment in the spotlight after competing on the latest season of Project Runway, where he won fans with his humility, grace, and fierce designs. “From the time it aired till now I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback and opportunities,” he says. “I’ve been getting a whole lot of orders.” He was born to Haitian immigrant parents in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn. As a kid, he styled charity fashion shows at the Pentecostal church his family attended. Still, growing up in the projects, he never thought of fashion as a career, studying investment banking instead. But he was miserable. “I was like, ‘What the hell am I doing?’” he recalls. He signed up for sewing classes at FIT, eventually enrolling in the Fashion Merchandising Management program in 2009 before moving to Dallas in 2011 to study fashion design at Wade College. “In New York I just felt like a small fish in a big pond,” he says. “I had a couple friends who lived in Dallas, and I felt like there was a lot of potential for me.” There was. Etienne won scholarships to study in Paris and enough attention that he began doing custom work for Dallas society ladies. In 2013, he launched Levenity—financed by his day job in banking—and found a steady stream of clients who needed gowns for weddings, proms, and other events. “Dallas is full of women who love individuality and who love to stand out,” Etienne says. “There’s always a charity function, there’s always a gala, and the way women dress for them, you know it’s not off the rack.” Most of Levenity’s business is custom, but Etienne designs his own seasonal collections as well, which he sells online. He describes his aesthetic as “confident and sexy”: tough denim jackets spliced with delicate organza, color-blocked coats with sculptural kimono sleeves, jeans trimmed with ostrich feathers and wide-legged wool trousers adorned with studs. The ready-to-wear collections are not a major moneymaker, but “it’s where I can express myself as a designer,” he says. But with all the attention after Project Runway—and with Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams spotted in his feathered jeans—that could change. “It’s allowed people to see that I’m serious about what I do,” he says of competing on the show. “Regardless if you win or not, it’s really about what you do afterwards—and I plan on making myself as visible as possible.” —R AQUEL LANERI

hue.fitnyc.edu 33

9/3/19 9:35 AM


alumni notes

Bike Ride, oil on canvas, 9 by 12 inches, 2018

1986 Dana Wood, Marketing: Fashion and Related Industries, is a freelance beauty and wellness writer in St. Petersburg, Florida. She writes for the Wall Street Journal and Alexa, the New York Post’s fashion broadsheet, is contributing beauty editor to the Insider’s Guide to Spas, and does copywriting for the U.S. Polo Association. Before moving to Florida, she ran the beauty department at W magazine for a decade, then worked in strategic development at L’Oréal, bringing Kiehl’s into the company, before returning to Condé Nast. “I’m always wondering when I’m going to get burned out on writing, and I never really do,” she says. “And P.S.: It’s always changing.”

Wood’s blog, Florida Beauty Problems, helps readers handle the cosmetic challenges of sunshine, humidity, and mosquitos.

1987 Laura Tanzer, Fashion Buying and Merchandising, is a sustainable designer in Tucson, Arizona. Every aspect of her business, from her energyefficient studio to the natural fibers she sources from dead stock when possible, takes health and the environment into consideration. Some of her most in-demand items are “frammenti,” 32 Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 32-33

Franc Boza, Advertising and Marketing Communications, is general manager for the Miami cluster of Salem Media Group, which owns 115 Christian and conservative radio stations in the top 25 markets. Boza runs three radio stations and a related digital advertising agency and event production arm. Radio, he points out, is still the number one broadcast media platform, with about 93 million listeners tuning in at least once a week.

1998 Lina Tan, International Trade and Marketing, is a research specialist for the Parenting Research Centre in East Melbourne, Australia. The nonprofit evaluates government programs (often for aboriginal children or refugees); Tan crunches data and occasionally conducts interviews to find out how effective they are. She became interested in helping disadvantaged children when volunteering for Toys for Tots while at FIT. After graduation, she was a buyer for Bloomingdale’s before being headhunted for a position as a marketing director in Singapore. A PhD in marketing and data science from Australia National University led to her current position.

2004 Emily Burns Perryman, Advertising and Marketing Communications, became associate vice president of marketing and communications at Daemen College in Amherst, New York. In this role, she develops and implements marketing and branding plans and supervises the areas of marketing, communications, and publications. She aims to complete a master’s in social and public policy from Empire State College this year.

DALLAS MAVERICK

Venny Etienne, Fashion Merchandising Management

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images and The Nikon Icon

1996

Lauren Levinsohn Birrittella, Home Products Development ’07

Jonathan Ng, Graphic Design, is the art director for Santa Monica College, a community college in Southern California. He leads a team of three designers, plus student employees, to create all the school’s graphics: the website, flyers, and advertisements. He aims for simplicity in his designs and includes lots of photos of diverse students. “In order to attract people to the school,” he says, “they need to see themselves on campus.”

Glen Raven’s Concept Gallery.

Shopping with Lauren Birrittella is a hands-on experience. She can’t help knocking on a piece of furniture to see if it sounds like wood, or running an expensive sweater through her fingers to see whether it’s fine cashmere or some kind of blend. When she visits people’s houses, she admits, it takes every ounce of self-control not to touch everything. Fortunately, Birrittella is paid to do just that. A color, materials, and finishes (CMF) specialist at Glen Raven, Birrittella is the gatekeeper of the 10,000 different kinds of materials supplied by the North Carolina–based fabric manufacturer, best known for its Sunbrella shade textiles. She runs the Glen Raven Materials Explorer, a free online database featuring 200 representative materials—from SPF-enhanced cloths and water-resistant fibers to antimicrobial finishes and industrial metal fasteners—that architects, furniture makers, automotive designers, and more consider incorporating into their creations. “We have so many different products, and we sell into so many different industries,” she says. “Sephora, Harvard Bioscience … and I have to know about all the new materials and innovations happening.” Birrittella’s obsession began at FIT, when her senior trend project had her visiting Material ConneXion, the world’s biggest materials library and consultancy. “I thought it was the coolest place in the world,” Birrittella recalls. She got an internship and eventually was hired as an archivist maintaining a library of more than 7,000 materials. While there, she collaborated with her design hero Betsey Johnson on a weather-resistant mannequin for an outdoor installation called Sidewalk Catwalk. In 2011, Glen Raven wanted to launch a similar “Materials Explorer” library—to showcase its own textiles, as well as the metals, plastics, and other materials it carries from other manufacturers—and asked Birrittella to spearhead the project. “There was no library at all before,” she says, “so I had to work with all the market managers and designers and the people who make the fabrics to pick an assortment of 200 samples that represent those 10,000 different products. “It was initially a short-term contract to make the library, but I loved Glen Raven and Burlington so much that nine years later, I’m still here.” In addition to the online archive—which she updates continuously— Birrittella keeps Glen Raven’s six brick-and-mortar Concept Galleries stocked, organizing exhibitions on topics such as 3D printing for designers and R&D teams seeking ideas and inspiration. But she says that her work isn’t just for designers. “The way we interact with our world is affected by the quality or even just the feel of different materials,” she says. “Like, everyone is addicted to their phone, but if it felt really gross like sandpaper, would you keep pulling it out of your pocket? Probably not. It really affects everything. That’s exactly what my role is about—to show the importance of materials.” —R AQUEL LANERI

Left, Cardi B wears Etienne’s python trench to a New York promo event. Right, Etienne in white.

The side fasteners on Slick Chicks undergarments make them ideal for customers with mobility challenges.

Ng designed an alternative transportation campaign for Santa Monica College, promoting the Metro, bike share, Big Blue Bus, campus shuttle, and ride sharing.

2008 Romina Cenisio, Fabric Styling, created Infinite Resort, a multimedia platform with a message of eco-conscious travel and conservation. She first created four stretch halter dresses using recycled plastic, each printed with a National Geographic photograph: a Papua New Guinea jungle, a monarch butterfly migration in Mexico, an active volcano in Hawaii, and a school of fish off the coast of Thailand. “You’re not just getting a beautiful dress, you’re getting a beautiful image of this place and how it’s affected by global warming. You’re wearing what you’re saving.” She shot a related video along the border of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, near where Cenisio grew up, and is producing a magazine to highlight natural destinations and the National Geographic photographers involved in the project.

2007 Shanlee Johnson, Fashion Design, owns Little Birdies, a children’s wear boutique in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C., and Pineapple Sunshine, a line of layettes using custom prints on soft pima cotton from Peru. “We get inspired by cuteness,” she says. “Unicorns, hedgehogs, all kinds of little animals.” Pineapple Sunshine is carried by 10 boutiques throughout the country, including Little Birdies, which sells newborn gifts and stylish apparel and accessories for infants and children up to size 10.

The Alex the Alpaca romper from Pineapple Sunshine.

Sergio Acosta

A pink frammento, handmade from scraps.

MATERIAL CONCERNS

Helya Mohammadian, Fashion Design, founded Slick Chicks, stylish adaptive underwear with side fasteners for pregnant women and women with disabilities. She designed the first prototype in 2014, to help her sister, who was recovering from a C-section. Response to a Kickstarter campaign revealed that people with permanent mobility issues also loved the product. “It changed my perspective on something that most people take for granted: getting dressed every day.” Mohammadian recently added a unisex and men’s line, and Slick Chicks is now sold on Zappos Adaptive, for customers with disabilities. Forbes, Cosmpolitan, and Refinery29 have all featured Slick Chicks.

Better Mobility

Irene Cheslock Dobson, Apparel Design, paints in oils and watercolor in Reading, Pennsylvania. After FIT, she worked in the lingerie field, for Vanity Fair, then for a small lace company before focusing on raising her children. She began her painting career on vacation in Kennebunkport, Maine, and now she exhibits locally. She taught painting for 15 years at Reading Area Community College and still teaches privately.

wearable art made from fabric scraps; any unused fabric is donated to local schools.

Melissa Hope

1959

alumni notes

The Infinite Resort line of dresses.

Venny Etienne was refreshing Instagram one day in 2017 when he saw a photo of Cardi B in a chocolate python-skin trench that he had designed. Etienne had sent the coat to the rapper’s stylist, but had no idea when—or if—the “Bodak Yellow” singer would wear it. “It was such a huge moment,” Etienne says. Daunting, too: Etienne is the force behind Levenity, a tiny, four-person design operation based in Dallas. Suddenly, he was flooded with requests. “That was when we had to figure out PR,” he says. It’s a good thing, too, because Etienne is enjoying another moment in the spotlight after competing on the latest season of Project Runway, where he won fans with his humility, grace, and fierce designs. “From the time it aired till now I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback and opportunities,” he says. “I’ve been getting a whole lot of orders.” He was born to Haitian immigrant parents in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn. As a kid, he styled charity fashion shows at the Pentecostal church his family attended. Still, growing up in the projects, he never thought of fashion as a career, studying investment banking instead. But he was miserable. “I was like, ‘What the hell am I doing?’” he recalls. He signed up for sewing classes at FIT, eventually enrolling in the Fashion Merchandising Management program in 2009 before moving to Dallas in 2011 to study fashion design at Wade College. “In New York I just felt like a small fish in a big pond,” he says. “I had a couple friends who lived in Dallas, and I felt like there was a lot of potential for me.” There was. Etienne won scholarships to study in Paris and enough attention that he began doing custom work for Dallas society ladies. In 2013, he launched Levenity—financed by his day job in banking—and found a steady stream of clients who needed gowns for weddings, proms, and other events. “Dallas is full of women who love individuality and who love to stand out,” Etienne says. “There’s always a charity function, there’s always a gala, and the way women dress for them, you know it’s not off the rack.” Most of Levenity’s business is custom, but Etienne designs his own seasonal collections as well, which he sells online. He describes his aesthetic as “confident and sexy”: tough denim jackets spliced with delicate organza, color-blocked coats with sculptural kimono sleeves, jeans trimmed with ostrich feathers and wide-legged wool trousers adorned with studs. The ready-to-wear collections are not a major moneymaker, but “it’s where I can express myself as a designer,” he says. But with all the attention after Project Runway—and with Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams spotted in his feathered jeans—that could change. “It’s allowed people to see that I’m serious about what I do,” he says of competing on the show. “Regardless if you win or not, it’s really about what you do afterwards—and I plan on making myself as visible as possible.” —R AQUEL LANERI

hue.fitnyc.edu 33

9/3/19 9:35 AM


alumni notes

what inspires you?

2013 Dan Aronson, Toy Design, opened MKRLAB, a maker space in Montreal with a wide range of offerings: wood, plastic, and metal fabrication; 3D printing; silk screening and letterpress; even bread- and cheesemaking. “It’s holistic by design,” Aronson says. “When you’re in a holistic creative space, you’re able to put things together that you wouldn’t normally.” He previously set up a research and development lab for WowWee, a Montreal electronic toy company, and he still does freelance toy design.

THE KINDNESS OF SHARKS Kaley Young, Interior Design ’18

Diego Corredor/Media Punch/Alamy Live News

Stevie D’Andrea, Advertising and Marketing Communications, runs Jewels for Hope with her mother. The handmade jewelry is sold on Etsy and in stores; a portion of the proceeds is divided among four charities. D’Andrea focuses on promotion, landing placements in publications and shows locally and nationally. Jewels for Hope is a member of the Artisan Group, a consortium that promotes independent designers to the media and Hollywood; when a celebrity wears a piece, D’Andrea alerts the media. Popular items include turquoise and brass earrings worn by Emily Deschanel on Bones, and a black lava stone bracelet worn by country music star Rodney Atkins.

The Sharks, along with Keira, Kaley, and Christian Young, present a check to the FDNY Foundation.

2016 Jewels for Hope’s Unicorn Necklace.

2011 Ilbert Sanchez, Graphic Design, launched Garçon Couture, a bespoke suiting line, in 2016 with Jean Francillion; they operate ateliers in New York and Miami. Francillion oversees the design and manufacturing; Sanchez, a former UX/UI designer, is the spokesperson and branding guru. Sanchez loves brocades and jacquards, wide lapels, and couture detailing. They’ve dressed Omari Hardwick, Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin, and basketball player Joel Embiid— and their clients often take home bestdressed honors. They recently began producing an Italian shoe line with blue soles, representing the Caribbean Sea: Sanchez is from Honduras and Francillion from Haiti.

Mildor Chevalier, Illustration MFA, is a fine art painter who tackles issues of identity and human rights, using figures and fragments, usually painted in acrylic, to assemble a narrative. He grew up in Haiti and spent 10 years in the Dominican Republic before moving to New York, and though he does find inspiration in Haiti, a country that emerged from slavery and rejected colonization, he resists being pigeonholed. “I’m a painter first and Haitian second.”

Threshold 1, acrylic on canvas, 42 by 56 inches, 2017.

David Coy

2018

Left, a red peak lapel cashmere overcoat and tuxedo. Right, a pumpkin spice wool overcoat, blue vest, and brown windowpane pants.

34 Summer/Fall 2019

Hue34_interiors_m8.indd 34-35

Joy (Juyeon) Kim, Technical Design, Fashion Design ’15, put on an exhibition of nine upcycled, high-tech garments in Tribeca in August. To make the artworks for the Flydopo exhibition (a dopo is a traditional Korean men’s garment), she used castoff fabric from DKNY and Calvin Klein Suits, where she worked as a technical designer, as well as discarded muslin at FIT. For one piece, she created a zero-waste pattern; for another, she incorporated augmented reality. For a third, she programmed embedded LEDs using skills she learned in FIT’s Maker Minds Space.

Fans of Shark Tank—the reality show in which entrepreneurs pitch their product to a lineup of brutally honest investors—won’t soon forget the episode featuring the Young family. Siblings Kaley, Christian, and Keira lost their mother to breast cancer and their firefighter father to a rare cancer he developed during the Ground Zero cleanup after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Their father had been an avid cook: He’d been the firehouse chef and had appeared on Chopped three times (and won twice). Just three months after his death, the siblings appeared on the show to carry on his dream, that his invention, a cutting board with a tray for food scraps, would one day be in every kitchen in America. In an emotional, almost unprecedented decision, all five Sharks signed on to invest a total of $100,000 in the Cup Board Pro. With the help of the Sharks, the Youngs signed a deal with Williams Sonoma to produce and sell the innovative cutting board. They worked with the gourmet kitchenware retailer to improve the product’s durability, make it The Cup Board Pro. anti-microbial, and manufacture it in the U.S. “I think that people almost think it’s magic: you go on the show and all of a sudden, your product is here,” Kaley Young says. “It is magic in so many ways, but there’s definitely a lot of work involved.” When their father died, Young was in her last year at FIT, and she became guardian to her 14-year-old sister, who is now 16. She also inherited her mother’s Pilates studio, Hot Pilates Secret, in their hometown of Wantagh, New York. Now that the Cup Board Pro has a home at Williams Sonoma, Young is pursuing interior design and leading yoga and pilates retreats around the world. Mainly, she’s taking life one day at a time. “Whenever I make a strict plan for my future, God just laughs,” she says. “You just have to continue to be happy, because life’s too short not to be.” —JONATHAN VATNER

Distefano in her studio.

THE PAST RECAPTURED Donna Distefano Thomas, Jewelry Design ’82

Each garment in Kim’s exhibition offered a different take on sustainability and technology.

Hardy Klahold

The MKRLAB offers a wide variety of equipment and tools.

I’ve always been drawn to antiquity, even as a child. The ancient Egyptian and Roman empires were incredibly inspiring to me. In 1990, I started working in the goldsmithing studio hidden below the Egyptian wing of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Our team reproduced high-karat gold pieces from the Met’s collection and pieces from special exhibitions, which were sold exclusively in the museum shop, the Louvre, and the Vatican’s gift shops. Everything we created was done by hand using the masterful techniques of ancient times.

In order to replicate a fold-over chain necklace, we would carefully study how the Etruscans made it, to honor their method and create pieces that would last. In 1994, the reproduction studio began phasing out goldsmithing in favor of large-scale production of costume jewelry. I started my own business, creating handmade fine jewelry using—and preserving—ancient metalsmithing techniques. Students have access to computer-aided design and mass production: instant jewelry-making.

But if the only thing a young jeweler learns is computer software and 3D printing, they miss out on many techniques used throughout history. The opportunity to see someone respond to touching a handmade piece of jewelry is like seeing someone view an oil painting rather than a print. Once you let go of that history, it’s lost forever. In addition to her own jewelry brand, Distefano creates a line for the Met, Donna Distefano x The Met Store, pieces inspired by museum artworks. hue.fitnyc.edu 35

9/3/19 9:35 AM


alumni notes

what inspires you?

2013 Dan Aronson, Toy Design, opened MKRLAB, a maker space in Montreal with a wide range of offerings: wood, plastic, and metal fabrication; 3D printing; silk screening and letterpress; even bread- and cheesemaking. “It’s holistic by design,” Aronson says. “When you’re in a holistic creative space, you’re able to put things together that you wouldn’t normally.” He previously set up a research and development lab for WowWee, a Montreal electronic toy company, and he still does freelance toy design.

THE KINDNESS OF SHARKS Kaley Young, Interior Design ’18

Diego Corredor/Media Punch/Alamy Live News

Stevie D’Andrea, Advertising and Marketing Communications, runs Jewels for Hope with her mother. The handmade jewelry is sold on Etsy and in stores; a portion of the proceeds is divided among four charities. D’Andrea focuses on promotion, landing placements in publications and shows locally and nationally. Jewels for Hope is a member of the Artisan Group, a consortium that promotes independent designers to the media and Hollywood; when a celebrity wears a piece, D’Andrea alerts the media. Popular items include turquoise and brass earrings worn by Emily Deschanel on Bones, and a black lava stone bracelet worn by country music star Rodney Atkins.

The Sharks, along with Keira, Kaley, and Christian Young, present a check to the FDNY Foundation.

2016 Jewels for Hope’s Unicorn Necklace.

2011 Ilbert Sanchez, Graphic Design, launched Garçon Couture, a bespoke suiting line, in 2016 with Jean Francillion; they operate ateliers in New York and Miami. Francillion oversees the design and manufacturing; Sanchez, a former UX/UI designer, is the spokesperson and branding guru. Sanchez loves brocades and jacquards, wide lapels, and couture detailing. They’ve dressed Omari Hardwick, Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin, and basketball player Joel Embiid— and their clients often take home bestdressed honors. They recently began producing an Italian shoe line with blue soles, representing the Caribbean Sea: Sanchez is from Honduras and Francillion from Haiti.

Mildor Chevalier, Illustration MFA, is a fine art painter who tackles issues of identity and human rights, using figures and fragments, usually painted in acrylic, to assemble a narrative. He grew up in Haiti and spent 10 years in the Dominican Republic before moving to New York, and though he does find inspiration in Haiti, a country that emerged from slavery and rejected colonization, he resists being pigeonholed. “I’m a painter first and Haitian second.”

Threshold 1, acrylic on canvas, 42 by 56 inches, 2017.

David Coy

2018

Left, a red peak lapel cashmere overcoat and tuxedo. Right, a pumpkin spice wool overcoat, blue vest, and brown windowpane pants.

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Joy (Juyeon) Kim, Technical Design, Fashion Design ’15, put on an exhibition of nine upcycled, high-tech garments in Tribeca in August. To make the artworks for the Flydopo exhibition (a dopo is a traditional Korean men’s garment), she used castoff fabric from DKNY and Calvin Klein Suits, where she worked as a technical designer, as well as discarded muslin at FIT. For one piece, she created a zero-waste pattern; for another, she incorporated augmented reality. For a third, she programmed embedded LEDs using skills she learned in FIT’s Maker Minds Space.

Fans of Shark Tank—the reality show in which entrepreneurs pitch their product to a lineup of brutally honest investors—won’t soon forget the episode featuring the Young family. Siblings Kaley, Christian, and Keira lost their mother to breast cancer and their firefighter father to a rare cancer he developed during the Ground Zero cleanup after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Their father had been an avid cook: He’d been the firehouse chef and had appeared on Chopped three times (and won twice). Just three months after his death, the siblings appeared on the show to carry on his dream, that his invention, a cutting board with a tray for food scraps, would one day be in every kitchen in America. In an emotional, almost unprecedented decision, all five Sharks signed on to invest a total of $100,000 in the Cup Board Pro. With the help of the Sharks, the Youngs signed a deal with Williams Sonoma to produce and sell the innovative cutting board. They worked with the gourmet kitchenware retailer to improve the product’s durability, make it The Cup Board Pro. anti-microbial, and manufacture it in the U.S. “I think that people almost think it’s magic: you go on the show and all of a sudden, your product is here,” Kaley Young says. “It is magic in so many ways, but there’s definitely a lot of work involved.” When their father died, Young was in her last year at FIT, and she became guardian to her 14-year-old sister, who is now 16. She also inherited her mother’s Pilates studio, Hot Pilates Secret, in their hometown of Wantagh, New York. Now that the Cup Board Pro has a home at Williams Sonoma, Young is pursuing interior design and leading yoga and pilates retreats around the world. Mainly, she’s taking life one day at a time. “Whenever I make a strict plan for my future, God just laughs,” she says. “You just have to continue to be happy, because life’s too short not to be.” —JONATHAN VATNER

Distefano in her studio.

THE PAST RECAPTURED Donna Distefano Thomas, Jewelry Design ’82

Each garment in Kim’s exhibition offered a different take on sustainability and technology.

Hardy Klahold

The MKRLAB offers a wide variety of equipment and tools.

I’ve always been drawn to antiquity, even as a child. The ancient Egyptian and Roman empires were incredibly inspiring to me. In 1990, I started working in the goldsmithing studio hidden below the Egyptian wing of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Our team reproduced high-karat gold pieces from the Met’s collection and pieces from special exhibitions, which were sold exclusively in the museum shop, the Louvre, and the Vatican’s gift shops. Everything we created was done by hand using the masterful techniques of ancient times.

In order to replicate a fold-over chain necklace, we would carefully study how the Etruscans made it, to honor their method and create pieces that would last. In 1994, the reproduction studio began phasing out goldsmithing in favor of large-scale production of costume jewelry. I started my own business, creating handmade fine jewelry using—and preserving—ancient metalsmithing techniques. Students have access to computer-aided design and mass production: instant jewelry-making.

But if the only thing a young jeweler learns is computer software and 3D printing, they miss out on many techniques used throughout history. The opportunity to see someone respond to touching a handmade piece of jewelry is like seeing someone view an oil painting rather than a print. Once you let go of that history, it’s lost forever. In addition to her own jewelry brand, Distefano creates a line for the Met, Donna Distefano x The Met Store, pieces inspired by museum artworks. hue.fitnyc.edu 35

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PRISON BREAKOUT

Courtesy of Netflix

After seven seasons, the Netflix hit Orange Is the New Black had its finale in July. Fashion Merchandising Management alumna Laverne Cox, a pioneer of transgender representation in Hollywood and the face of Time’s 2014 issue, “The Transgender Tipping Point,” received her third Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress for the role of Sophia Burset, the prison hairstylist who spent months in solitary confinement. Hue applauds Cox for her activism and her career-defining performance.

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Profile for Fashion Institute of Technology

Hue Summer 2019  

The Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology

Hue Summer 2019  

The Magazine of the Fashion Institute of Technology

Profile for hue-mag