AFFORDING LUXURY: THE ART OF DESIGNER AND MASS RETAIL COLLABORATIONS

Looks from Simone Rocha X H&M Collection. (Photo Credit: H&M)

Let’s face it, fashionistas everywhere crave designer clothing, but many cannot afford the hefty price tags that are often associated with luxury fashion brands. So how can luxury houses satisfy the desires of the working-class fashionista? Through collaborations of course! Overall, designer collaborations are well-received, highly sort after, and especially difficult to get your hands on before they sell out. Thanks to marketing and retail success, the number of designer collaborations have hit the roof in recent years, and with the help of celebrity fans, it’s not hard to see why these pieces are in such high demand.

An advertisement for Halston for JCPenney. (Photo Credit: JCPenney)

Collab History

Halston can be attributed to creating the very first mass-market collaboration in 1983 between his namesake label and JCPenney. Halston was a successful, disco-era designer who was known for his minimalist yet glamourous aesthetic; as well as his infamous Studio 54 days where he partied with and dressed close friends Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, and countless others. Halston created the controversial, cheaper Halston III line with department store giant JCPenney but the collaboration was was poorly received by elite department stores, such as Bergdorf Goodman, which stopped carrying the high-end Halston Limited label out of fear that the JCPenney collab would cheapen Halston’s overall appeal.

An advertisement for Isaac Mizrahi for Target. (Photo Credit: Target)

In 2002, Isaac Mizrahi, who was known for his vibrant and playful joie de vie collections, teamed up with Target. The Isaac Mizrahi x Target partnership was the first and longest-running Target designer collaboration (lasting from 2002-2008), and it introduced the designer to mainstream America. The extremely lucrative collaboration bolstered the designer’s own career with the collection eventually including accessories, bedding, housewares and even pet products. This collaboration kick started the luxury designer mass market craze.

An advertisement for Karl Lagerfeld for H&M. (Photo Credit: H&M)

Swiss retail giant H&M jumped on the designer collaboration bandwagon in 2004 with the legendary Karl Lagerfeld. Known for his sleek black suits, skinny jeans and French rock and roll spirit, despite skeptics, the collection sold out within minutes of the launch. This wildly successful partnership opened the door for a plethora of high-end H&M collaborations to follow and set the precedent for numerous future high-street and designer collaborations.

Once the success of these collabs were made known, the flood gates were opened. Here are a few noteworthy mentions:

Giambattista Valli for H&M in 2019

Virgil Abloh, the creative director of Off-White, partnered with multiple brands ranging from Evian and Rimowa to Ikea and Nike.

Christopher Kane X Topshop in 2006 and Crocs x Christopher Kane Spring 2017

Rodarte x Universal Standard in 2019

Lanvin x H&M in 2010

Missoni x Target in 2011

Balmain x H&M in 2015

SOME OF THE COOLEST COLLABORATIONS OF 2021

SIMONE ROCHA X H&M

A video of the Simone Rocha X H&M collaboration.

The Simone Rocha X H&M collection launched on March 11th to  rave reviews. The Swiss retail giant and the Irish designer, collaborated on a collection that was based off Rocha’s archival hits filled with charming and whimsical pieces. Sustainability is said to be a key factor in this new designer collaboration. Rocha told Vogue US that, coming from a much smaller brand, H&M’s footprint was a big consideration, and that together they were able to source organic cotton, recycled polyester and a new compostable yarn.

Simone Rocha’s house codes are strong and were fully incorporated into her collaboration with H&M. There were plenty of neo-classical references, puffed sleeves and babydoll silhouettes, Lurex tweed, Broderie Anglaise, organza and cloqué fabrics, lots of embroidery, beading and even baroque pearls. It was all so delightfully sweet.

TARGET’S TRIO

Just in time for the warmer weather, Target is bringing back the Designer Dress Collection for spring 2021. This season the retailer is collaborating with three diverse designers: Alexis, Christopher John Rogers, and Rixo. The rising stars are adding their signature styles to Target, offering a much-needed boost to a girl’s closet. There will be over 70 styles available, ranging in price from $40-60 in sizes XXS—4X, making this Target’s most size-inclusive designer capsule to date.

A look from ALEXIS’ collaboration with Target. (Photo Credit: Target)

The Miami-based label Alexis, designed by Alexis Barbara Isaias, is known for its relaxed, feminine silhouettes made for the globetrotter, bringing a wanderlust feel to easy dresses and separates. Her Cuban roots and Miami upbringing definitely influence her free-spirited collections. In an interview with The New York Post, Isaias stated, “I never wanted a design office in New York. The vibrant colors, the culture, the feeling … it’s so important that our roots are in Miami.” And while Isaias loves the nightlife, her Miami is also made up of quiet moments in nature. “To me, it’s a place for family, for connections — to be by the water and feel the breeze. There’s just something in the air here.”

A look from Christopher John Roberts collaboration with Target. (Photo Credit: Target)

Christopher John Rogers shot to stardom when Vice President Kamala Harris wore his coat and dress to her and Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021. The young industry darling is known for his unparalleled eye for color, voluminous silhouettes, and sharp tailoring. In only a few seasons he has already earned a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award and a legion of fans, including Zendaya, Lizzo, Tracee Ellis Ross and Michelle Obama.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Rogers was asked how his background influences his style. Rogers stated, “I’m African-American, and I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is basically a large small town. I was fortunate enough to have my parents put me in art classes pretty early on, at the suggestion of my grandmother, and I was always surrounded by people of various backgrounds. My best friends in elementary school were Korean, Jewish, South American, you name it. I’ve always known variety to be standard.”

A look from Rixo’s collaboration with Target. (Photo Credit: Target)

UK-based Rixo, designed by Orlagh McCloskey and Henrietta Rix, bring a modern twist to vintage-inspired wrap dresses and patterns. The contemporary label evokes a Bohemian & free spirit, with easy-to-wear pieces in feminine shapes and high-quality materials.  The young design duo are known for their fusion of original hand-painted prints and timeless silhouettes that flatter all body types.

According to the brand’s profile, Henrietta & Orlagh met at University of Arts London, where on their first day enrolling as students Henrietta complimented Orlagh on her vintage handbag and the rest is history! Imminently discovering a mutual love for vintage, the pair have been best friends ever since and have also lived together through their first 5 years of Rixo – becoming more like sisters than friends.

JW ANDERSON X UNIQLO

Looks from JW Anderson x Uniqlo collaboration. (Photo Credit: Uniqlo)

Jonathan Anderson has been keeping busy the last few months. In addition to designing for his eponymous British label JW Anderson and for Spanish fashion brand Loewe, he has created a capsule collection for the Japanese mega retailer Uniqlo.

For his latest JW Anderson x Uniqlo collab, Anderson focused his attention on designing items that he would like to wear when the world fully opens up again. “I wanted something that was a bit crisp and subtle,” he says in an interview with Refinery 29. “I always think you have to subtly get back into things.” To help shoppers transition out of the sweatpants they’ve been living in for more than a year and into the forthcoming season, he also “wanted [to create] something that felt timeless.”

For the spring capsule he created boxy T-shirts hemmed with chain stitches; oversized, linen polo shirts; and baseball caps made of vintage-looking denim and detailed with embroidered daisies. To fully round out spring’s lineup of essentials, he also included chambray dresses, smocked midi skirts, and rigid denim in light blue and oatmeal.

Anderson says that he’s become “very obsessed with handcraft.” Craftcore-esque chain stitches and embroidery, therefore, became mainstays throughout the collection. “I love the subtlety of detail,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be so loud in the very beginning.”

So tell us, which fashion collaborations would you like to see?

Are you ready to design using Procreate?

(Preview of our Introduction to Procreate for Fashion Design lesson)

Not since the invention of the pencil have creative professionals and aspiring fashion designers been so excited about a tool. Launched on the App Store in 2011, Procreate is a raster graphics editor app for digital painting developed and published by Savage Interactive for iOS and iPadOS. Designed in response to the artistic possibilities of the iPad, fashion designers have taken to this technology as a method of getting their ideas down quickly and conveniently. The software is now offered in English, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese and Turkish.

(Preview of our Drawing the Female Frontal Croquis Pose in Procreate)

It is with great pleasure that we introduce Monica Merino. Monica teaches our three new beginner lessons in Procreate: Introduction Drawing the Female Frontal Croquis Pose in Procreate, Drawing the Female Frontal Croquis Pose in Procreate and Drawing the Male Frontal Croquis Pose in Procreate.

(UoF Instructor Monica Merino)

Monica Merino brings her unique professional experience to University of Fashion, as a designer of millinery, dolls, fashion apparel and as a high school and college educator.

Throughout her career as a New Jersey fashion design high school instructor, Monica’s students earned 85 Gold Medals awarded by the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), including First and Perfect Scores along with 46 Silver Medals at state competitions. In addition, 20 of her students earned scholarships worth more than $100,000 to several fashion colleges and universities, including Centenary University, Johnson and Wales, Berkeley College and LIM.

Monica has worked with high-end hat maker, Christine A. Moore Millinery New York, the official milliner of the Breeders Cup. She has also executed special orders for the famous Kentucky Derby event. Monica’s specialization is in the sculpture and body of a different variety of hat designs.

At Madame Alexander Doll Company, Monica worked full time for nine years. Her primary responsibilities included designing high-end dolls, clothing and accessories, creating production-ready patterns, documenting spec sheets and reviewing product throughout the pre-production stage. She has also worked independently, managing a large quantity of products from concept to production. Monica’s strong skills at knitting and crocheting have added a new dimension to Madame Alexander products. Currently, Monica freelances at MA as a support to the team, creating package specs for overseas production and making samples for their catalog photoshoots.

At Bergen Community College (New Jersey), where Monica is currently teaching, she co-developed a continuing education Certificate Program in Fashion Design, Sewing & Fashion Art along with UoF and FIT professor Barbara Arata-Gavere.

Monica earned a BA in Fine Art from Kean University, a Master’s in Education from St. Peter’s University and a teaching license in Clothing, Apparel and Textiles.

At the outbreak of Covid-19, Monica began designing and creating fashionable and custom design face masks for high-end boutiques, which are featured on her Instagram channel @monicamerinostudio

Monica’s mission is to motivate her students to work to their highest potential as they study the field of fashion design. At the University of Fashion, we are pleased to have Monica teaching our students how to design using Procreate software.

(Preview of our Drawing the Male Frontal Croquis Pose in Procreate)

Our SECOND Visual Merchandising lesson has launched!


(UoF lesson Using Color and Texture in Visual Merchandising by Marcie Cooperman)

Visual merchandising is one of those design disciplines that benefit both retailers AND fashion designers alike. How do we know? Well, with more than 13+ years in the fashion education biz under our belt, we’ve learned a thing or two from our experts. From retailers we learned that knowing more about the design process is an asset, especially when it comes to developing product for their stores. Designers have shared with us how they’d like to know more about retailing, especially as it pertains to store planning and merchandising.

This is why we’ve been hard at work creating our new 9-part visual merchandising series. Whether you’ve created your own brand and are lucky enough to afford your own retail store OR you are a brand who plans on selling to retail stores, our new visual merchandising lessons will provide valuable information to help you succeed.

 

DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S THE BIGGEST SELLING COLOR IN FASHION TODAY?

Achromatic hues value scale (UoF lesson Using Color and Texture in Visual Merchandising)

It’s fascinating. There’s definitely a disconnect between the color that people say they like the best… versus what they actually buy. People don’t usually say their favorite color is black, but research shows that although consumers might say they like red and purple, truth is, they mostly buy black, gray, and white. And this is true for both womenswear and menswear. Our lesson contains more in-depth data about which colors command the most market share, and they aren’t necessarily what you might think!

 

DO YOU KNOW ABOUT COLOR THEORY?

Color wheel & color relationships (UoF lesson Using Color and Texture in Visual Merchandising by Marcie Cooperman)

In our newest visual merchandising lesson, Using Color and Texture in Visual Merchandising, instructor Marcie Cooperman starts out by teaching you how to describe color, using the concepts of color theory and the three elements of color:  hue, value, and intensity. Those three elements are the way we describe colors. Click here to learn more about Marcie and her stellar credentials:  https://www.universityoffashion.com/instructor/marcie-cooperman/

And, if you haven’t viewed Marcie’s first lesson, Introduction to Visual Merchandising, check it out here: https://www.universityoffashion.com/lessons/introduction-to-visual-merchandising/

 

ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH COLOR RELATIONSHIPS?

Example of a complementary color merchandise display (UoF lesson Using Color and Texture in Visual Merchandising by Marcie Cooperman)

The lesson moves on to color relationships on the color wheel. Color relationships can guide you in putting colors together to create excitement and organization in the retail setting, both for the garments in the store, as well as the interior design of the store itself.

 

HOW IMPORTANT IS COLOR INTENSITY IN STORE DISPLAY?

Example of alternating intense color with non-intense color (UoF lesson Using Color and Texture in Visual Merchandising)

Intensity of a color is important in the garments hanging in the store, because it might make the difference between a customer loving or hating a garment. For example, we might love pink, but not be very happy about how strong a pink sweater looks. However, if that pink were a low intensity pink, we might love it.

 

HOW IMPORTANT IS COLOR & TEXTURE IN VISUAL MERCHANDISING?

Example of window using complementary color & texture (UoF lesson Using Color and Texture in Visual Merchandising)

When you put wonderful colors and textures together in a display, it sends customers the feeling that this brand is organized and beautiful, that makes the customer feel positive about the brand and makes her want to shop there. The customer needs to feel that she will find the clothing she desires and will leave the store happy and satisfied. Hopefully, she will be so happy that she will tell her friends about her wonderful experience in the store, and finally, she will be a loyal customer who returns often.

 

WHY IS REPETITION A VISUAL MERCHANDISING STRATEGY?

Example of retail color & repetition strategy (UoF lesson Using Color and Texture in Visual Merchandising)

To learn more about color & texture, how color is used in creating a merchandising strategy and how to use repetition as a strategy in visual merchandising, subscribe to UoF and watch the full lesson. You will learn the dos and don’ts of how visual merchandisers work with retailers and fashion designers to create exciting in-store displays and store windows that attract us all!

 

Stay tuned for Marcie’s next lesson: Using Line and Composition in Visual Merchandising

BREAKING TRADITION: BRIDAL SPRING 2022

- - Fashion Shows

Naeem Khan’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Naeem Khan)

Oh, how I miss attending New York Bridal Fashion Week. The atmosphere was always full of joy and excitement and the presentations were always beautifully executed. While COVID-19 has dramatically changed everyone’s lives, the U.S. is vaccinating its citizens as quickly as possible and hopefully other countries will be able to do so rapidly as well, maybe then we can get back to a “new normal”.

New York Bridal Fashion Week shows twice a year, April and October. Traditionally, the industry event is when bridal brands showcase their latest collections to retailers and the press. Events traditionally range from small intimate appointments and presentations to over-the-top runway extravaganzas. But today, thanks to the pandemic and the virtual nature of fashion shows, we ALL get to have front-row access to the latest bridal collections.

This season, New York Bridal Fashion Week took place from April 6-8, 2021. Established bridal designers like Monique Lhullier, Marchesa, Amsale, and Anne Barge all presented beautiful collections, alongside smaller, indie brands, during a packed three-day virtual affair. The season was coordinated by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), the sole owner and organizer of Fashion Week schedule in collaboration with The Bridal Council.

In a statement to Brides Magazine, Michele Iacovelli, the executive director of The Bridal Council, advised that anyone could watch this year’s collections through The Bridal Council’s website and access the full bridal show schedule, designer videos, and their look books. This is truly exciting news for brides-to-be who are  interested in getting an exclusive look into these coveted events. In addition, for the first time ever, everyone and anyone could access pre-recorded films and video look books via RUNWAY360 on the CFDA’s website.Talk  about transparency!

Leigh King, CFDA’s associate director of special projects and experiences, told Brides Magazine, “As for a return to in-person, we are optimistic for a mix of in-person and virtual presentations in the fall.”

While this bridal season was filled with classic, traditional gowns, fairytale feminism and plenty of sexy numbers – there was also a plethora of fashion-forward looks for the bride who wants to stand out on her wedding day. Here are some of the strongest ‘non-traditional’ trends of the season:

FINE PRINTS

Who says you have to wear white on your wedding day? For Spring 2022, designers are offering whimsical gowns in an assortment of colorful prints and embroideries, such as those from Naeem Khan’s collection of pastel floral confections and Amelia Casablanca’s bright roses. And, did you know that luxury footwear pioneer, Jimmy Choo at age 72, opened the doors of his own JCA | London Fashion Academy in Mayfair in 202o. Hence the addition of the word ‘professor’ to his bridal collection’s company name: The Atelier Couture Prof. Jimmy Choo, OBE Bridal Collection. For those who wonder what OBE means – OBE refers to an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

 

Here’s to making a vibrant splash on your big day!

A look from The Atelier Couture Prof. Jimmy Choo, OBE Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: The Atelier Couture by Prof. Jimmy Choo, OBE)

 

Naeem Khan’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Naeem Khan)

 

Amelia Casablanca’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Amelia Casablanca)

SHORT AND SWEET

Bye-Bye ballgowns and say hello to the bridal mini dress. This season designers are offering perfect little bridal dresses from Sareh Nouri’s textured strapless frock to Gracy Accad’s chic off-the-shoulder number. Have fun dancing the night away – sexy style.

Sareh Nouri’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Sareh Nouri)

Francesca Miranda’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Francesca Miranda)

 

Gracy Accad’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Gracy Accad)

 

Edem’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Edem)

IN A SLIP OF A MOMENT

The slip dress was a huge trend in ready-to-wear and has now trickled down to the bridal market. For Spring 2022, the 90’s showed up in these chic bridal alternatives.

Savannah Miller’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Savannah Miller)

 

Markarian’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Markarian)

 

Morilee Madeline Gardner’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Morilee Madeline Gardner)

 

Rita Vinieris’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Rita Vinieries)

THE COLD SHOULDER

While broad shoulders played a big role in ready-to-wear this season, with lots of puffy sleeves and shoulder-padded jackets all the rage, for bridal, the focus was on ‘off-the-shoulder’, adding just the right amount of sexiness but in a demure way. From Lihi Hod’s romantic interpretation to Anne Barge’s elegant version, these glamourous gowns will surely have all eyes on the bride.

Anne Barge’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Anne Barge)

Eisen-Stein’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Eisen-Stein)

 

Kelly Faetanini Redux Collection’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Kelly Faetanini Redux)

 

Lihi Hod’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Lihi Hod)

3D & HANDCRAFTY

Bridal collections are predictably full of rich embroideries and intricate beadwork, but for spring 2022, designers are taking these traditional techniques a step further with 3D appliqués that create texture and drama.

Rita Vinieris Rivini’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Rita Vinieris)

 

Mira Zwilinger’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Mira Zwilinger)

 

Eisen-Stein’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Eisen-Stein)

LINGERIE-INSPIRED

A bridal corset worn on the outside of a bridal dress? Yes, and in a major way! This season, several designers made a bold statement between their lingerie-inspired gowns and now the corset dress. The results are the perfect combination of sensual yet sophisticated.

Wiederhoeft’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Wiederhoeft)

 

Dana Harel Silver Lining’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Dana Harel Silver Lining)

 

Rita Vinieris Rivini’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Rita Vinieris)

 

Justin Alexander Signature’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Justine Alexander)

 

With so many brides having to postpone their wedding due to Covid, this bridal season offers lots of inspiration and choices to the make that ‘special day’ all the more special.

So tell us, what was your favorite bridal trend this season?

IN CELEBRATION OF WORLD ART DAY
MEET INSTRUCTOR FIONA LIU
THE ART OF THE RUFFLE

(From UoF lesson –  Draping a Cascade Ruffle Skirt)

In the U.S. April 15th is known as Tax Day, the day when Americans need to file their income taxes. But did you know that April 15th is also World Art Day?

World Art Day is an international celebration of the fine arts, which was declared by the International Association of Art (IAA/AIAP), a partner of UNESCO, to promote awareness of creative activity worldwide.

(Image credit: IAA International Association of Art)

The first World Art Day was held on April 15th, 2012, a date chosen in honor of Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday. DaVinci was chosen as a symbol of world peace, freedom of expression, tolerance, brotherhood and multiculturism and his work is testament to the influence of the Fine Arts on other fields. In the United States, World Art Day was officially held for the first time in the City of Los Angeles on April 15th, 2015. In 2017, IAA USA, the official U.S.-based chapter of the IAA, was formed. Pre-pandemic, art events were held locally, nationwide and on a global scale. Check them out on Instagram #iaasua

In the spirit of World Art Day, we would like to take this opportunity to celebrate all of our extremely talented instructors who continue to share their art and expertise, making the University of Fashion the first and largest online fashion education video resource library. With over 500 videos and by streaming our lessons in 177 countries, we are completely dedicated to the art & craft of fashion.

(From UoF lesson –  Creative Draping—2D Draping)

It is therefore with great pleasure that we are showcasing the talents of sustainable fashion designer/artist/entrepreneur Fiona Liu. View her new lesson, Draping a Cascade Ruffle Skirt and check out her many other lessons for University of Fashion.

Fiona is a lifelong student of fashion and her passion is to create. Ever since she was a young girl at the foot of her grandmother’s sewing machine in rural China, Fiona has had an instinct for fashion. Her interest was amplified by her rich experience in sales, marketing, and management – a fusion of business skills, professional maturity and a sense of entrepreneurship while working with  internationally-focused companies and clients in China. Originally self-taught in the areas of sewing, draping, drawing, illustrating, pattern making and portfolio, Fiona’s mission to professionally pursue fashion led her to Parsons for formal training. Upon graduating with a fashion design degree in 2017, she has been developing her own brand, dedicated to no-waste sustainable design.

(Fiona won The Twelfth Independent Handbag Designers Award in The Most  Green Handbag category, presented by Handbag Designer 101 in 2019)

At University of Fashion, Fiona shares her knowledge in more than 13 lessons in the areas of pattern making, draping and zero-waste design. To learn more about Fiona, check out her Instagram fionafangyuliu

Here’s a sampling of Fiona’s most popular lessons:

(From UoF lesson –  Drafting a Kimono Bodice with Gusset)

 

(From UoF lesson –  Draping a Pleated Raglan Sleeve)

(From UoF lesson – Drafting a Princess Puff Short Sleeve)

 

(From UoF lesson  –  Drafting a Portrait Collar Jacket)

(From UoF  lesson – Drafting a Leg O’Mutton Sleeve)

LEARN HOW TO DRAW CASCADE RUFFLES

View these lessons by our very own fashion illustrator extraordinaire, Roberto Calasanz.

(From UoF lesson – Drawing a Cascade Skirt Ruffle by Roberto Calasanz)

 

(From UoF lesson – Drawing a Cascade Neck Ruffle by Roberto Calasanz)

Let us know how you’ve creatively used cascade ruffles in your designs!

EMBRACING GENDERLESS FASHION

Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele help celebrities embrace the gender-neutral trend. (Photo Credit: GQ)

Trends come and go, but we believe that the androgynous trend is here to stay, at least for now. As a fashion movement, genderless dressing is gradually making its way into mainstream culture as the trend is hitting the major fashion capitals of the world. Thanks to many young celebrities and fashion designers, people of all genders are breaking convention with what they choose to wear. 0

UoF was the first to offer a lesson in androgynous fashion illustration in 2017 and it’s been one of our most popular lessons for the past four years.

Acceptance, inclusivity and an openness to change are fashion’s gift to 2021. This year is predicted to be all about reinvention and the gender-fluid movement. Think recording artist, Harry Styles, the poster child for androgyny. His gender-bending looks have been puzzling his fans for the past few years. The movement is now picking up  steam with many non-gender collections being launched by established brands such as Marc Jacobs and Gucci.

 

Harry Styles (Photo Credit: theguardian.com)

Although one could argue that celebrity androgyny can be traced as far back as the ‘30s with Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn, and in the ‘70s with Dianne Keaton and David Bowie, today’s celebs like Harry Styles, Tilda Swinton and Jared Leto are really pushing the envelope. In fact, some celebrity stylists are moving their clients away from a masculine-feminine divide to more ‘inclusive’ dressing choices. After all, inclusivity is the new buzzword.

Marlene Dietrich, genuinely loved wearing trouser suits, and said she felt more alluring in traditionally masculine clothes. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Katharine Hepburn epitomized the independent American woman, and she was one of the first to popularize pants. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Actor and singer Jared Leto’s style has grown more and more daring. Leto has claimed that there is no singular definition of masculinity. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

While the majority of retailers, brands and designers have reacted slowly to the movement, many are starting to come around. The cashmere knit collection Inhabit launched its first genderless collection in the fall of 2020, Norma Kamali reformed her storied brand to a unisex label in 2019, Umit Benan launched unisex line B+ and Equipment launched a gender-neutral collection in 2020.

There are also a number of brands who are strictly genderless labels such as Telfar, Aries, Les Tien, Gypsy Sport and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy. In 2018, Stefano Pilati introduced a fluid men’s wear label Random Identities. Even global giant retailers like H&M and Zara have incorporated genderless collections in their stores.

According to Rob Smith, the founder of Phluid Project (which launched in March of 2018 in NYC and online for access worldwide as a gender-free fashion brand), “Consumers are ready for genderless fashion, especially Gen Z consumers”  Smith said, at a WWD Culture Conference in November 2020, “that 56 percent of Generation Z consumers shop outside their assigned gendered area.”

For merchants to adapt to gender-neutral fashions, retailers must re-evaluate their merchandising strategies, designers must reexamine what a genderless collection actually is, and the industry must learn the language and terminology.

During the WWD Cultural Conference Smith used a character called the “Gender Unicorn” to demonstrate the proper way to address gender and sexuality. According to WWD, Smith spoke of five things related to identity, including the sex one is assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression, who one is intimately attracted to and then who one is emotionally attracted to.

According to Smith, the parts that are pertain to fashion are gender identity and gender expression. To begin, a person can be assigned one of three sexes at birth: male, female, or intersex. Then comes gender identity, which is what one identifies themselves as and gender expression, which is how one dresses to express themselves. Smith started his speech identifying himself as a “cis man,” meaning he was assigned male at birth and identifies as male.

Smith explained at the conference that when he was young, sexuality and expression were lumped together, “but now it’s all about separating your sexual orientation with your gender identity.”

In an interview with WWD, Christina Zervanos, head of public relations at Phluid Project, said the non-binary consumer “combats the word unisex, because it has the word sex in it. For a lot of people, it speaks to sexuality when it’s about how you identify yourself.”

“Gen Z is begging for the non-binary language,” Zervanos said. “It takes a lot of learning and unlearning.” According to Pew Research Center, 35 percent of Gen Z is familiar with gender-neutral pronouns, followed by Millennials at 25 percent. Throw in Gen X at 16 percent and the total number of people familiar with gender-neutral pronouns reaches 76 percent.

Smith also said at the conference, “If I was going to represent a young community, especially a gender-expansive young community, I need to learn the language.”

Many brands are implementing the language, refer to their gender-neutral collections as genderless, like Official Rebrand, the genderless label from non-binary designer and creative MI Leggett. They coined the term “gender-free.”

“Gender is not a fixed thing,” said Leggett in an interview with WWD, whose pronouns are they/them. “I’d never heard people use the term gender-free when I started the brand. It’s kind of a play on gluten-free. If you don’t tolerate gluten, you don’t have to consume it, so I thought it was a funny play. A lot of people use gender-neutral. That feels a little stale to me. Free implies more freedom. Agender, genderless, there’s so many ways to describe your ideology as a brand. It all depends on what you actually mean. So to me it’s gender-free.”

Fashion companies are falling into the trap of creating looks and calling them “genderless” even though a piece may lean more toward men’s wear or women’s wear. Typically, genderless clothes are either oversize, formless, and shapeless. For years women have worn men’s wear as well as men’s inspired looks that today, it became mainstream.

Kanye West in a Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci leather kilt for his “Watch the Throne” tour. (Photo Credit: The Telegraph)

Unfortunately, men embracing woman’s garments did not translate as easily. In 2010, Kanye West wore a Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci leather kilt for his “Watch the Throne” tour, unfortunately his fashion choice received mixed reviews. In 2016, Louis Vuitton cast Jaden Smith (Actor Will Smith’s son) for its woman’s spring campaign, this was the first time the luxury house had a male modeling in their woman’s advertisements. There were many mixed reactions as celebrity men started wearing more fluid fashion choices. But Harry Styles changed the conception in 2019 when the singer wore a sheer Gucci blouse to the Met Gala and genderless fashion quickly started to move into the cultural mainstream.

Harry Styles cemented himself as a fashion icon in 2019, in his frilled Gucci shirt and pearl earrings at the Met Gala. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Toda, the category of genderless fashion is growing. One of the first designers to launch a unisex, gender-neutral brand is Rad Hourani in 2007. The designer created his label after he held an art exhibit for neutral clothes, which he described in an interview with WWD as “a tornado success where I started selling to department stores around the world.” Hourani noticed after moving to Paris at age 23 that all things were categorized according to “race, gender, age,” including fashion.

Rad Hourani surrounded by models in his looks. (Photo Credit: Elle Canada)

“When I speak of neutrality, I speak of any gender or non-gender,” he said. “Unisex is free of any gender categorization or limitation. Clothing is a discipline in which I can express myself and my vision around neutrality in general. Expressing gender neutrality is a big part of what I do. There have been unisex pieces like sneakers, jeans, T-shirts, but to create a full high-end collection for 13 years now, I needed to create my own base and sizes.”

“In the past two years, [genderless fashion] became a bigger subject, but what I notice the most is they use designs that are loose-fitting, but I think it’s a much deeper look at unisex morphology. There’s nothing new about making a woman masculine or a man feminine. That’s not unisex, that’s making one the other,” Hourani said. “For androgynous, you can’t tell, but it’s not unisex. Unisex is free of any gender categorization or limitation.”

He also sees genderless fashion as less restrictive than gendered fashion. “If you only give a man a dress, you’re only limiting him to a dress. But if you give a human a neutral garment, they will wear it any way they want.”

POPULAR GENDER-FLUID DESIGNERS

Gender-neutral looks from Entireworld. (Photo Credit: Entireworld)

Entireworld offers all of the basics you need to build a solid gender-neutral wardrobe.

Bode’s unisex one of a kind reworked quilt pastel jacket. (Photo Credit: Bode)

Emily Bode utilizes vintage textiles to create one of a kind jackets and shirts you’ll want to keep forever.

A look from Telfar. (Photo Credit: @slamjammilano)

The Telfar shopping bag has created so much buzz, but Telfar Clemens doesn’t only create sought after accessories, he also has some great fashion pieces too.

A look from Wales Bonner. (Photo Credit: Wales Bonner)

Grace Wales Bonner is the designer behind the gender neural label Wales Bonner. The brand is known for its impeccably tailored blazers and trousers, all with an unexpected sartorial edge. Wales Bonner also teamed up with Adidas for a limited collab, offering up a range of sporty spice looks.

A look from Wildfang. (Photo Credit: Wildfang)

Two Nike executives created the label Wildfang which offers a range of workwear, suits, tees, and more, all of which offer the pared-down, structured look that’s often found in the men’s department.

 

SO TELL US, WILL YOU EMBRACE THE GENDER-FLUID TREND?

Big News! UoF has added a new learning category
Visual Merchandising

Preview of UoF lesson Introduction to Visual Merchandising by Marcie Cooperman

Now in its 13th year of the fashion education business, the University of Fashion is expanding. As many of you already know, we have hundreds of lessons in the fashion design disciplines of draping, pattern making, sewing, fashion drawing, menswear, knitwear, childrenswear, swimwear, accessories, CAD fashion art and CAD pattern making, as well as product development lessons that include how to create tech packs and how to start your own brand.

Our fashion lecture series focuses on topics such as costume history, textiles, trend forecasting, sustainable fashion, licensing, branding, plus sizes, influencer marketing, fashion law and explores assorted careers within the fashion industry.

Our fashion business discipline concentrates on the retail segment of the industry with lessons on retail math, marketing and merchandising, understanding retail profit and loss and now…visual merchandising.

UoF instructor Marcie Cooperman – (Image credit: Marcie Cooperman)

We are thrilled to announce that our new visual merchandising series will be taught by none other than Marcie Cooperman. If the name sounds familiar it’s because Marcie is the author of Color: How to Use It , has been an instructor at Parsons for more than 20 years and has already created nine very popular lessons for UoF on the topics of color theory and knitwear. Marcie is truly a Renaissance woman. She is an artist (oils & watercolors are her passion), an author, a professor and has had an eponymous fashion design custom service in hand knits since the late 1980s.

Dolce & Gabbana floor plan (Image: from UoF’s Introduction to Visual Merchandising lesson by Marcie Cooperman)

In her new series for UoF, Marcie explores the world of visual merchandising and the tools that retailers use in their store to create excitement and interest for their target market, via the store’s exterior and store window, to the store’s interior merchandising presentation. You’ll learn the planogram, the organizational system of the products in the store, and how visual merchandising uses the display, an important tool in showing how the clothing will look on the body. Whether you plan to open your own retail store or not, the information you’ll glean from Marcie’s new series will inspire both designers and retailers alike.

With today’s launch of the first lesson in the series, Introduction to Visual Merchandising, I thought I’d sit down (virtually of course) to find out more about Marcie and the important role visual merchandising plays in our industry.

Example of messy store (Image: from UoF’s Introduction to Visual Merchandising lesson by Marcie Cooperman)

Francesca: What sparked your interest in Visual Merchandising?

Marcie:  I have always thought about art, design, fashion, color and composition, certainly since I was a little girl. When I was about seven, I started painting with oil paints, and I designed my own embroidery projects.  I had strong ideas about what colors to use.  And I had opinions about store windows in those days, too, long before I knew there was something called visual merchandising.

In those days, my Mom and I designed dresses for her to make for me, and I fashioned scraps of fabric into clothing for dolls that I made myself.  And I used whatever scraps I had to design and make furniture for room interiors.  My passion for color took root when Mom took me to buy yarns in a store that was like a dreamscape: it was in a barn, and skeins of colored yarns were hanging from the rafters all around me.  Going into a yarn shop today to buy knitting yarns still makes me feel like that.

As I became a teenager, my career ideas always included interior design, retail design, and fashion design.  I loved it all, and it wasn’t possible for me to choose a career in just one of those areas.  For me, color and composition were the central concept, and all types of design were visual expressions of them.  Why limit myself?  So, I went to school for both fashion design and interior design.

When I received my MBA in Marketing at Stern School of Business at NYU, it all came together in a business sense.  Visual Merchandising is the ultimate combination of everything I love:  color and design, composition, retailing and marketing, all pointed toward creating an emotional connection with the customer.  And I’ve always taught it with a focus on color and composition.

Coach store featuring Mickey Mouse & Keith Haring (Image: from UoF’s Introduction to Visual Merchandising lesson by Marcie Cooperman)

Francesca: Which store interiors & windows do you think are the most successful?

Marcie:  I am very impressed with Coach. They are always creative and unusual, and successful in appealing to the customer through very directive use of color and design.  They use lines and shapes skillfully to direct the eye to the product, and easily convey what the brand is all about.  And yet it all seems so simple, as if their choices were the only ones to make.  I always stand in front of Coach windows for a while, digesting the beauty of the products and display elements; I think it’s a real strength that it inspires me do that.

Hermes windows are also incredibly innovative, especially in their use of color.  They are intense and cheery, and clearly, the designer is proficient in using color relationships.  There is always a sense of whimsy in Hermes windows, and that makes them stand out.  They are essentially Hermes.  We see the same sensibility in the website design, too, so the message is coordinated; that is crucial in brand messaging to the world.

And there is a wonderful store down in the Flatiron district in NYC called ABC Carpet and Home, and nobody beats their windows!  They are just full of amazing things, with gorgeous products and with their own spectacular style!  It’s worth a visit just to see the windows.  Of course, when you go into the store, you can really feel how it’s also amazingly designed.  How exciting it is!  It’s impossible not to buy something there.

These are all brands with designers who know how to use color and composition in their displays, and their work is on another level.  We can all learn from them.

Printemps, Paris-Use of color, textures, lines and shapes for a successful store window (Image: from UoF’s Introduction to Visual Merchandising lesson by Marcie Cooperman)

Francesca: What do you think are the top 5 visuals that make a successful store window?

Marcie:  Successful store windows can be designed by students and professionals who have an understanding of how to use color and textures, and lines and shapes, in the most creative way in their work.  These are tools that designers must have.  How can you design without learning about them?  Store displays and windows are an art, an expression of the designer’s creativity based on these tools.  Students who know how to use them can go anywhere in their work.

Color relationships actually reach us emotionally and connect with us; we can even feel that we love a brand just because we saw the right colors and textures in a store window display!  We can fall in love with what we see, and never forget that feeling because it will bother us until we buy the product that we saw there.

In all of my classes, and these lessons on visual merchandising, I really want to teach every student how to use these tools, so that they can achieve their personal artistic goals and their store’s goals.  In those lessons I am devoted to explaining every detail clearly, and to illustrate every concept with great images of window displays.  And I evaluate each image, too, to explain what’s happening in those displays and why they work or why they don’t work.  It’s always great to see the ones that don’t quite work, so we can understand and learn from them.

The highest goal a store can achieve with an amazing window display is to create an emotional connection with the customers, one so strong that they must come inside to see what the store is selling.  Did you ever feel that way?  Not only that you must go inside the store, but once you are inside, you feel that it’s so wonderful you cannot go home without buying something there.  That’s the power of a great window display, and great visual merchandising that continues inside the store.

 

Francesca: How important do you think a brand’s store windows should relate to their website presence?

Marcie:  Of course, both the store windows and the website, as well as other owned online assets, must be unified and cohesive so that they send the same message about the brand.  They should include the same colors and shapes.  All signage must relate to the text on the websites in terms of fonts, colors and design.

Every brand needs to have a set of core values and a mission, and those must always be the basis for every display decision it makes – the guide for all design decisions.  That’s the way to keep everything unified.

It’s very important for the brand to clearly position itself to the customer in just one very special and differentiated way, and to explain that positioning through all of its visuals:  its displays and windows, its clothing, labels and ads, and all other visual materials.  Everything has to send the same visual message.  Otherwise, the customer could get confused about what this brand is saying, and what it’s all about.  And that confused customer won’t see the reason that she must shop at this brand before all others.

Coming soon to UoF: Using Color and Texture in Visual Merchandising by Marcie Cooperman

Francesca: What other lessons should we expect to see from you in the future?

Marcie:  I’m fascinated with fashion design and interior design as they relate to color and composition; I can always tell which designers in both industries know how to use color and which ones have no idea.  My point of view in teaching design is always to create from a basis of understanding of color, line and shape – to have an arsenal of shapes to explore for every line of creative thinking.  You could take just one shape and go on from there knowing the infinite ways to vary it for a garment.

Imagine using your understanding of those concepts to help you create your fashion design lines!  What confidence you can have.  How deeply you can dive into the possibilities and come up with a cohesive collection of unique styles that connect with each other and express the brand’s sensibilities.

 

Francesca: Do you have certain career goals?

Marcie: I have devoted my career to teaching students how to use color and composition in their design work, so that they understand that these are the most precious tools they can have.  I want every student to have the confidence of knowing how to use these tools.  Color and composition provide a structural framework for students’ imagination, an understanding that allows them to follow their infinite sense of creativity, a skill that frees them to take their ingenuity farther than they can imagine.  This is how I feel when I do my fashion and interior design work, and I want all students to feel the same way.

To learn more about Marcie and her blog about color in interior design and fashion design:  http://fashionclassroom.com/blog . Also view her LinkedIn page https://www.linkedin.com/in/marcie-cooperman-03613511/

Stay tuned for Marcie’s next lesson: Using Color and Texture in Visual Merchandising

CELEBRATING WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH-IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS BY FEMALE DESIGNERS THROUGHOUT HISTORY

Coco Chanel with model friends during her show in 1959. (Photo Credit: Willy Rizzo)

Women in every industry have been chipping away at the glass ceiling for decades. Do you know who was the first female prime minister? Answer: Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka in 1960. She was followed by a series of other competent women who held high office, such as Indira Gandhi (India-1966) and a slew of other women who you would have never known about unless you googled Women Prime Ministers many of whom are from Asia Pacific countries. Therefore it is quite astonishing that it took decades for the U.S. to elect its first female to hold high office with the election of V.P. Kamala Harris. Perhaps her being a part of the AAPI community is prescient? In any case, finally…the glass ceiling in the U.S. has been broken, proving once again that girls really can run the world!

As we celebrate Woman’s History Month, and because you know how much we love history…UoF is celebrating the origin of Woman’s History Month and some of the most influential female designers who have made significant contributions to the world of fashion. Oh, and did we mention that the fashion industry accounted for 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars in 2020 and is projected to do about 2.25 trillion dollars by 2025? And women helped get them there.

 

HISTORY OF WOMAN’S HISTORY MONTH

There is much info to be found online about how the celebration of women began. What started out as a one day celebration would later become a month long celebration. According to Britannica.com, “In 1908 a branch of the New York City Social Democratic Women’s Society declared that the last Sunday in February would be celebrated as National Woman’s Day. The observance was first held on February 23, 1909, in New York City. However, the better-known precursor to Women’s History Month was International Women’s Day, which was created in 1910 at the Second International Socialist Women’s Conference and first observed on March 19, 1911. Led by German social democratic activist Clara Zetkin, the women of the conference intended International Women’s Day to focus on the struggles of working women—in contrast to the mainstream feminist movement, which the socialists associated with the bourgeoisie. The March 8 date became official in 1921 when Zetkin, by then a communist, proposed it in honour of a strike led by women workers in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) on March 8 (February 23, Old Style), 1917, that marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution.”

The International Women’s Day (IWD) website states that “International Women’s Day was honoured for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.  More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on March 25, the tragic ‘Triangle Fire’ in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women’s Day events. 1911 also saw women’s Bread and Roses campaign.”

On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on February 23, the last Sunday in February. Following discussions, International Women’s Day was agreed to be marked annually on March 8 that translated in the widely adopted Gregorian calendar from February 23 – and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since. In 1914, further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women’s solidarity. For example, in London in the United Kingdom there was a march from Bow to Trafalgar Square in support of women’s suffrage on March 8, 1914. Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested in front of Charing Cross station on her way to speak in Trafalgar Square.” On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for “bread and peace” in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in World War 1. Opposed by political leaders, the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women’s strike commenced was Sunday February 23 on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was March 8.”

Fast forward to 1978 when Women’s History Week was championed by Austrian-born, Gerda Lerner, the single most influential figure in the development of women’s and African American women’s gender history and whose development of an MA program at Sarah Lawrence College further promoted the National Women’s History Alliance. The following year, in 1979, a fifteen-day conference held at Sarah Lawrence College from July 13 – July 29, focused on women’s history. The event, led by Lerner and co-sponsored by Sarah Lawrence College, the Women’s Action Alliance and the Smithsonian Institution. Celebrating Woman’s History Week quickly grew nationwide, although it was not recognized as a national week until 1980.

Then, in February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week. The proclamation stated, “From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well. As Dr. Gerda Lerner has noted, ‘Women’s History is Women’s Right.’ It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision. I ask my fellow Americans to recognize this heritage with appropriate activities during National Women’s History Week, March 2–8, 1980. I urge libraries, schools, and community organizations to focus their observances on the leaders who struggled for equality –Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Alice Paul. Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people. This goal can be achieved by ratifying the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that ‘Equality of Rights under the Law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.'” Carter was referring to the Equal Rights Amendment, which was never ratified as a amendment, but did become the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution after his presidency.

Woman’s History Week was quickly growing in popularity. In 1981, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) co-sponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming a Women’s History Week. Congress passed their resolution as Pub. L. 97-28, which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as Women’s History Week. Schools across the country also began to have their own local celebrations of Women’s History Week and even Women’s History Month. And finally in 1986, fourteen states  declared March as Women’s History Month. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1988, U.S. presidents have issued annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women’s History Month.

What colors symbolize International Women’s Day?

Purple, green and white are the colors of International Women’s Day. Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope. White represents purity and the colors originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908.

FEMALE PIONEERS OF FASHION

Long before Woman’s History Month came into existence, female designers were breaking the fashion industry’d glass ceiling. These designing women carved out their own paths toward empowering women through fashion by instilling confidence through dress and by creating jobs so that women could support themselves and their families.

The list is thankfully long and growing, but here’s some of our favs whose groundbreaking creative genius still influences fashion today. We will be  covering more female designers in subsequent posts so stay tuned.

Madame Grès

Madame Grès draping a dress, c. 1945 (Photo Credit: credit unknown)

Madame Grès was born Germaine Emilie Krebs in Paris France.  She took her first pseudonym, Alix Barton, while a milliner. In 1936, she made her mark on couture under the name Alix, and by 1942, she dropped Barton and assumed the surname Grès from her only marriage in 1942.

This creative intellect experimented with fabric and form to achieve perfection. A trained sculptor, Madame Grès used mathematical precision as she draped her pieces to perfection. Madame Grès was known for draping right on a female figure, no flat patterns or muslin for her. She let the fabric help dictate the design and sculpted her dresses on the form using a needle and thread.

From the beginning…I didn’t have the knowledge. I took the material and worked directly on it. I used the knowledge I had, which was sculpture,” the couturier told WWD in 1963.

Madame Grès is most famous for her 1930s Grecian-influenced column gowns made of silk, rayon and later, polyester jersey. Because the dresses were sculpted and sewn on the body, selvedge to selvedge, no two dresses were alike. And, she used an average of 13 to 23 meters of uncut fabric, which remained weightless. Grès continued to be influenced by multicultural costumes throughout her career.

Madame Grès gown. c1958. Silk. (Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

The designer’s house thrived through the 1950s and 1960s with her couture business. In 1959, Madame Grès introduced her first perfume, Cabochard, to much success. In 1981 the designer created her first ready-to-wear collection, which ultimately limited the house’s growth.

Grès’ approach to her art informed the originality of her genius. But her death, as in life, was shrouded in mystery. In 1994, it was announced to the fashion press that Grès had passed away, but her actual passing was a year earlier. Her death was kept a secret by her daughter.

Appreciation for Grès’ work has permitted her most essential pieces to be preserved by time, allowing her devotion to the couture she loved and her legacy to stay alive.

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel in her Parisian Apartment. (Photo Credit: Architectural Digest)

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel was born in Saumur, France on August 19, 1883. This designer had such a passion for her creations that she worked right up until her death in 1971 at the age of 87. The majority of industry insiders consider Coco Chanel to be the greatest fashion force who ever lived, she created a fashion spirit, as well as a look. The late designer not only influenced young designers of her time, but she still has an enduring impact on global fashion today, having created some of the most iconic looks that are still in fashion today: the Chanel suit, the Little Black Dress (LBD), costume jewelry, then trench coat, the quilted leather purse, turtlenecks, pants, the peacoat and her signature fragrance, Chanel No.5.

 

Coco Chanel works on tailoring a piece on a model in 1962. (Photo Credit: of Daily Mail UK)

Her career began around 1912 (though she said it was 1914) with the opening of a small hat shop in Deauville, France. With her fiancé at war, she was looking for something to pass the time. According to WWD, After borrowing a sweater from a jockey at the races one day to fend off the chill, Chanel sparked a sweater trend with all “the smart Deauville ladies” within a week. Provocative and scandalous, Chanel was criticized by many for her romantic ties to a German diplomat during WWII and the years that followed. The designer returned to Paris in 1954 and reopened her couture house. And Chanel’s business boomed, and she became one of the most iconic female designer in history.

Bonnie Cashin

Bonnie Cashin in her studio. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

Modern clothing is only valid if it works…and going into history for gimmicky ideas is not modern,” Bonnie Cashin told WWD in 1968.

According to the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry:

Bonnie Cashin – “Born in California in 1908, Cashin began her career as an apprentice in her mother’s dressmaking shops. From there she went onto work as a Hollywood costume designer and during 1943 to 1949, she was costumer for more than 60 Hollywood films. Cashin did not devote herself to ready-to-wear until the early 1950s. It was fashion editor Carmel Snow who encouraged Cashin to go to New York’s Seventh Avenue to design for the company Adler & Adler. Cashin, who developed an interest in clothing styles from various cultures, built her collections based on timeless favorites such as ponchos, tunics, and kimonos. Additionally, Cashin was commissioned to design World War II civilian-defense uniforms which would later be the inspiration for her concept of lifestyle dressing; combining ease of dress without compromising look. Cashin developed the layering system of dress that played a key role in setting the tone for American fashion. In 1953, Cashin designed leather clothing for the company Philip Sills and brought the use of leather into the world of serious fashion. In 1962, she became the first designer for Coach and pioneered the use of the brass toggle on her handbag carriers, which she later used on clothing. Her carriers fit perfectly into the Coach philosophy; the bags packed flat, were utilitarian, and maintained a timeless sense of style.”

 

A look from Bonnie Cashin. (Photo Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Cashin continued to run her design studio until the mid-’80s and passed away in 2000, having largely kept her distance from the grips of fashion’s standards. “I didn’t want to be boxed in by any one company or any one design problem,” she once said

Anne Klein

A photo of Anne Klein. (Photo Credit: Harpers Bazaar)

Anne Klein was born August 3, 1923, in Brooklyn, New York, as Hannah Golofski. The Anne Klein label is synonymous with American sportswear. The company she created in 1968, Anne Klein & Co., grew out of a concept; chic, comfortable, uncomplicated fashion that fits well and is wearable from season to season. “No fads,” the designer once declared to WWD. By the mid-1970s, she changed the concept of American sportswear into what is known as ‘designer ready-to-wear’.

Even today, many of the pieces in our wardrobe can be attributed to Anne Klein. She steadily introduced new silhouettes to women at the right time. A few Anne Klein signature pieces include the button front A-line dress, the leather midi skirt, the long sweater vest cardigan and pants that fit perfectly. These and many more were a part of what WWD called Anne’s “separate into togetherness” concept. While women had long been buying sets, Klein introduced coordinated separates that would allow women to mix and match their wardrobe, a concept that was met with great success throughout department stores.

Versailles show in 1973, Anne Klein was the only female designer to represent the United States. (Photo Credit: Anne Klein Archives)

Anne Klein was such an influential force in the American fashion world that she was the only woman from the American fashion industry invited to participate in the Battle of Versailles extravaganza. In 1968, she introduced the concept of group design when she launched Anne Klein Studios. The studio mentored and helped catapult the careers of many Seventh Avenue designers, such as Donna Karan. Klein died from cancer in 1974, but her legacy lives on.

Liz Claiborne

A photo pf Liz Claiborne in her design studio. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

Liz Claiborne was not only a successful designer, but a savvy businesswoman as well. Launching her namesake label at the age of 47, Claiborne ‘s groundbreaking success was certainly connected to how she wanted to live in her own clothing.

Anne “Liz” Claiborne was born in Brussels to American parents who came from a prominent Louisiana family. She began her career working as a design assistant and model. Her concept for creating effortlessly chic clothes for working women came from her own experience. As a working mother, she knew that time was precious and that fussing over a wardrobe you couldn’t afford was pointless. So, in 1976, Claiborne, along with her husband Art Ortenberg, Leonard Boxer and Jerome Chazen, founded her namesake brand, Liz Claiborne Inc. While her partners focused on sales and operations, Claiborne focused on design.

Liz Claiborne and her models. (Photo Credit: Liz Claiborne archives)

Claiborne bypassed trends and fads and instead followed her gut on what she liked and wanted to wear to fit her lifestyle. Her instincts were spot on, as she attracted a consumer, much like herself, who wanted to fill the void in their work wardrobes. She built a brand that leaned into comfort, with a focus on quality, style, and value. Claiborne was also commitment to interacting with her consumer, which naturally drove the brand’s success.

This concept worked so well for Liz Claiborne that she went from one to more than 10 successful brands. In 1981 the company went public and by 1989 Claiborne and her partners turned the better-priced sportswear market into a multibillion-dollar industry.

Shortly after Claiborne and her husband retired from Seventh Avenue to focus on humanitarian efforts and travel, they left behind, in just under two decades, a portfolio of 40 labels including Dana Buchman, Ellen Tracy, Juicy Couture and Kate Spade, among others. According to WWD, Liz Claiborne was an award-winning designer and the first female CEO and chairwoman of a Fortune 500 company. She passed away from cancer in 2007 at the age of 78.

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE

In honor of Women’s History Month why not take our short quiz to test your knowledge of  how women helped make the fashion industry what it is today:

1. Who is considered the first known fashion designer and the couturier to Queen Marie
Antoinette?
a. Joséphine Chantrell
b. Marie Cremon
c. Rose Bertin

2. Male designers throughout history often engaged a female ‘muse’ for inspiration,
beginning with Marie Augustine Vernet, wife of designer Charles Frederick Worth. Do you
know who was Yves Saint Laurent’s muse? She also went on to create her own brand.
a. Loulou de la Falaise
b. Ava Gabor
c. Ariana Rockefeller

3. Which French couturier began her career as head seamstress at Maison Callot Souers?
a. Jeanne Lavin
b. Madeleine Vionnet
c. Jeanne Paquin

4. Which French designer is known as the “Sculptor of Couture”?
a. Madame Grès
b. Madame Agnès
c. Nina Ricci

5. French designer Paul Poiret is often credited for freeing women from the corset, but it was
actually this female designer who showed her first collection of lingerie-inspired pieces while
working at Maison Doucet.
a. Jeanne Paquin
b. Madeleine Vionnet
c. Coco Chanel

6. Claire McCardle is known as the pioneer of the “American Look”. In the 1940s she created
the pop-over dress and the concept philosophy of “5 easy pieces”. Her wrap and tie dress was later popularized by this designer.
a. Donna Karan
b. Diane von Furstenberg
c. Donatella Versace

7. This designer was the first to make the Little Black Dress (LBD) famous.
a. Hanae Mori
b. Elsa Schiaparelli
c. Coco Chanel

8. This American designer began her career as a Hollywood costume designer. She went on to
design for Coach where she created her famous metal turnkey closure that she later added to
clothing.
a. Vera Maxwell
b. Tina Lesser
c. Bonnie Cashin

9. This designer is considered the inventor of the miniskirt.
a. Hattie Carnegie
b. Mary Quant
c. Twiggy

10. This American designer patented her own pleating technique in 1975, based on a pleating
technique known as Marii.
a. Mary McFadden
b. Donna Karan
c. Norma Kamali

11. This designer was the first to use shoulder pads, animal and trompe l’oeil prints and known
for her whimsical “tongue-in-cheek” approach to fashion.
a. Coco Chanel
b. Elsa Schiaparelli
c. Jeanne Paquin

12. Which designer is known for her fashion innovation known as the “three sleeve-hole”?
a. Adeline André
b. Liz Claiborne
c. Anne Klein

13. Who created the original push-up bra called the Wonderbra in 1964?
a. Diane von Furstenberg
b. Louise Poirier
c. Donatella Versace

14. Who is credited with creating the robe de style, a dress silhouette that flatters all body types.
a. Jeanne Lanvin
b. Madame Gres
c. Vionnet

15. Who is considered the first female African-American designer in the U.S.?
a. Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes
b. Elizabeth Keckley
c. Ruby Bailey

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

ANSWERS TO OUR QUIZZ

1) Rose Bertin, 2) Loulou de la Falaise, 3) Madeleine Vionnet, 4) Madame Grès, 5)

Madeleine Vionnet, 6) Diane von Furstenberg, 7) Coco Chanel, 8) Bonnie Cashin, 9) Mary

Quant, 10) Mary McFadden, 11) Elsa Schiaparelli, 12) Adeline André, 13) Louise Poirier, 14)

Jeanne Lanvin, 15) Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes

For more on fashion history read Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry c0-authored by our founder Francesca Sterlacci

HOW WELL DID YOU DO ON OUR QUIZ?

LOOKING FOR A HOT INVESTMENT TIP? TRY COLLECTING FASHION ILLUSTRATIONS

Fashion Illustration by Roberto Calasanz

It has long been debated whether fashion illustration should be considered art. Through the decades, the value and appreciation of fashion illustration has risen and fallen with societal shifts. However, according to fashion curator Connie Gray of London’s Gray M.C.A. gallery, “there seems to be a heightened interest with anything that is associated with the great designers, particularly of the 20th century like Dior, Balenciaga or Chanel in Europe, or in America, anyone from Donna Karan, to Bill Blass, to Halston,” as reported by WWD. (read our February 7th blog).

In that same article, Gray proclaimed that she “expects American fashion illustrators from the latter half of the 20th century to be the next group to begin to increase their prices. At the moment, the focus continues to be on work from the Forties, Fifties and Sixties,” she said, adding that “work by René Gruau could garner anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000.”

A Sotheby’s spokeswoman said “she didn’t think the company has the right specialists to discuss the subject.

And yet, the work of famed illustrator Antonio Lopez, arguably the most important fashion illustrator of the 20th century, currently commands from $16,100 to nearly $27,000 per illustration, and Kenneth Paul Block’s work has sold in the $12,000 to $15,000 range.

Here at UoF, we not only believe that fashion illustration IS fine art, but we encourage, feature and promote the best fashion illustrators in the industry. It is therefore with great pleasure that I dedicate this blogpost to Roberto Calasanz, who has generously shared his fashion illustration techniques and his many talents with our students in 38 video lessons.

Roberto Calasanz in his studio with his illustration of Valentino S/S 2018 for Amazing Magazine

Left: Valentino Runway Spring/Summer 2018
Right: Illustration by Roberto Calasanz for Amazing Magazine

To all of the aspiring fashion illustrators out there, I thought you might like to hear from Roberto himself on his personal journey into the world of fashion illustration. Enjoy:

 

Francesca: At what age did you know you wanted to be a fashion illustrator?  

Roberto: As far back as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be an artist, a painter, a maker. I would spend hours sketching when I was a kid.  The heyday of fashion illustration was the 1980s; there was so much amazing talent out there, and I was influenced by a lot of illustrators. But the one that stood out, who guided my hand and shaped my aesthetic the most, was the Puerto Rican illustrator, Antonio Lopez. By the time I reached my late teens, I started to think seriously about pursuing a career in fine arts and design. I knew that fashion design was a great discipline to develop my skills, so I submitted my portfolio to Altos de Chavon School of Design in the Dominican Republican affiliate of Parsons, here in New York—and the next thing      I knew, I had a scholarship and was studying with some of the best artists in the country.   And this led to being awarded a grant to finish my studies at Parsons, which is how I ended up in New York, and eventually working as a designer on Seventh Avenue, in the New York Garment District.

(Fashion illustration by Roberto Calasanz)

(Fashion illustration by Roberto Calasanz)

(Fashion illustration by Roberto Calasanz (Méndez) for B & J Fabrics)

Francesca: Who encouraged you to pursue your dream?

Roberto: First my mother, who had an eye for fabrics, and who was an avid reader of fashion magazines—an interest in fashion runs in the family; I come from a long line of tailors on my mother’s side. And once I began my studies at Altos de Chavón, I was surrounded with support from fellow students, and especially from my teachers—one of whom, Julia Santos Salomon, by the way, was a good friend of Antonio Lopez. The school has an amazing collection of Antonio originals, because for several years he would come and teach illustration workshops at the school. In fact, when Antonio passed of AIDS in 1987, the head of the fashion program at the time, James Miller, entrusted me with helping to preserve his personal collection of Antonio’s work. The opportunity to handle these originals was a huge inspiration for me. From there, I was rewarded a subsequent grant to finish my studies at Parsons in New York. And I’ve been here pretty much ever since!

(Fashion illustration by Roberto Calasanz)

Francesca: You worked for many fashion houses, which one gave you the most creative freedom?

Roberto: I got my first job as an illustrator when I was still a student at Parsons. Roberta Freymann hired me to render her legendary knitwear, those novelty sweaters with all that cable work, ribs, pom poms, and intricate stitch patterns. So that was a challenge!  Over the years, I worked for designers across the board, like Randy Kemper, Nili Lotan, Harvé Benard, Ralph Lauren RLX, Calvin Klein, Liz Claiborne, and Rogelio Velasco Couture—but I’ve also illustrated interiors, linens, and home décor for companies like Donghia and Waterford Beds.  Collaborating with different designers is always a learning experience— I love the challenge of capturing a designer’s personal vision in a medium such as marker or gouache. This is best achieved when the signature style of the illustrator—silhouette, line, gesture, technique—resonates with the particular attitude and mood that the designer envisions. At RLX, for example the mood was rugged outdoors, but the challenge was to infuse the low-tech lumberjack look with high-tech finishes and forward-thinking design.

(Roberto Calasanz for Ralph Lauren RLX)

(Roberto Calasanz for Calvin Klein)

(Roberto Calasanz for Calvin Klein)

(Fashion illustration by Roberto Calasanz for Rogelio Velasco Couture)

Francesca: What advice do you have for aspiring fashion illustrators?

Roberto: The advice I offer my students and young designer/illustrators I mentor, is that fashion illustration is a language, and to become fluent in this language requires training.  You need to train not only your hand, but also your eye and your mind. Refining your hand, line, technical skill takes practice, and as an illustrator you will be expected to render any fabric and to capture its unique properties. Each fabric embodies its own particular movement, qualities and character, whether it’s stiff like silk taffeta, or liquid, like silk charmeuse. In the beginning it is helpful to practice by imitating the work of other illustrators or artists that inspire you. Which is why I believe it is essential to simultaneously train your eye by familiarizing yourself with a wide range of artists, designers and illustrators, to know and be inspired by what has been done, as well as to be on the pulse of what is being done in the field right now. Knowledge of the history of fashion and aesthetic developments in the world of art trains your mind and prepares you to develop a unique and refined personal style.

Left: Valentino S/S 2018 Runway
Right: Fashion Illustration by Roberto Calasanz for Amazing Magazine

Fashion Illustration by Roberto Calasanz of Valentino S/S 2018 Collection for Amazing Magazine

Fashion illustration by Roberto Calasanz of Rick Owens F/W 2018 Collection for Amazing Magazine

Fashion illustration by Roberto Calasanz of Rick Owens 2018 Collection for Amazing Magazine

Fashion illustration by Roberto Calasanz of Rick Owens F/W 2018 Collection for Amazing Magazine

(Fashion line sketches by Roberto Calasanz)

(Roberto Calasanz illustrations for Norman Norell)

(Roberto Calasanz, Rendering Demo for students)

Click on this link to see a list of Roberto’s lessons on the University of Fashion website https://www.universityoffashion.com/instructor/roberto-calasanz/

Check out Roberto’s IG @demainny

MILAN & PARIS: FALL 2021 COLLECTIONS PART 2

MILAN

Gigi Hadid is officially back on the runway. Here she is backstage at the Versace show with her sister Bella. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Ciao! Milan Fashion Week ended on a high note as designers looked to the promise of la vita bella (a beautiful life) as COVID-19 vaccines were being distributed throughout Europe as well as the world.

With the possibility of ‘back-to-normal’ in the not too distant future, Italian and French designers created energetically charged pieces at MFW and PFW with the hope that we will all be making a big splash when we return to a life of  normalcy.

(Video credit: Valentino’s live show)

Like New York and London Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week shows were digitally-focused with one exception, namely, Valentino’s intimate runway show. The Milan schedule was packed with established designers such as Missoni, Alberta Ferretti, Moschino, Max Mara, Marni, and Dolce & Gabbana but the highlight of MFW was Kim Jones’ highly anticipated ready-to-wear debut for Fendi, which definitely delivered. Another show of note was Team Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada, who presented their second Prada collab women’s collection to raves. In addition to the traditional line-up of veteran designers, there were a few new names in the mix (finally), such as former Gucci designer Daniel Del Core.

(Video credit: Daniel Del Core’s debut collection)

Daniel Del Core’s debut collection was a socially distance IRL (in real life) show. It’s definitely every aspiring designer’s dream to climb the ladder, gathering experience on someone else’s dime and then ultimately launch their own brand. The proof of the pudding comes when you finally get to ‘strut-your-stuff’ with a runway show. This designer not only succeeded but did it during a pandemic! Check out Daniel’s show video. So, what do you think? Definitely rocking the 80s shoulder, right?

Covid is still wreaking havoc on the fashion show schedule and a few designers presented their digital collections after Milan Fashion Week, such as Versace’s Donatella Versace and Luke and Lucie Meier at Jil Sander. Dates for Bottega Veneta and Gucci are still up in the air.

A look from Prada’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Prada)

Nonetheless, MFW was full of bold trends, thanks to Italian designers’ flare for dramatics. For them, life after lockdown will be anything but boring. Here are our top five trends:

ALL BUNDLED UP

Baby it’s cold outside! For Fall 2021, designers in Milan showed plenty of terrific outerwear to keep you warm, yet oh so fashionable. Brands such as Fendi and Prada featured fabulous big, furry coats, while Valentino focused on charming capes that offer effortless glamour to any look. Meanwhile, the basic puffer got a makeover with unique shapes and bold colors, case in point, Marni.

A look from Marni’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Imaxtree)

A look from Fendi’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Fendi)

 

A look from Prada’s Fall 2021 Collection and the accessory of the season, the zip pouch glove. (Photo Credit: Prada)

 

A look from Valentino’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Salvatore Dragone)

 

A look from MSGM’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Imaxtree)

METALLICA

Glitz and glamour ruled the runways from futuristic silver suits at Annakiki to chainmail gowns at Salvatore Ferragamo, these glistening looks will rule the return of the red carpet.

A look from Annakiki’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Imaxtree)

 

A look from Moschino’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Moschino)

 

A look from Salvatore Ferragamo’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Salvatore Ferragamo)

THE PREPPY HANDBOOK

Leave it to the Italians to give the classic Preppy look a much-needed update. For fall, designers like Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini and Etro are giving the otherwise conservative styles a cool makeover. Relaxed shapes, vibrant hues and edgy styling take preppy away from the country club to and onto the backs of our favorite fashion influencers.

A look from Etro’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Etro)

 

A look from Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini)

 

A look from Andrea Pompilio’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Andrea Pompilio)

BRIGHT OF WAY

Italian designers lit up the season with fantastically bright hues — pink, lavender, yellow, and teal were particularly popular on the runways. Brands like MSGM and Emilio Pucci clashed hues in the most creative and vibrant ways.

A look from Dolce & Gabbana’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Dolce & Gabbana)

 

A look from MSGM’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: MSGM)

 

A look from Emilio Pucci’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Emilio Pucci)

GREEN DAY

Olive has become the new neutral, giving the nod to military-inspired looks that marched down runways by the legion and received uniform salutes. From Ports 1961’s belted coat to Sportmax’s utility shirt, today’s military trend is chic and polished.

A look from Sportmax’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Sportmax)

 

A look from Max Mara’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Max Mara)

 

A look from Ports 1961’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Ports 1961)

PARIS

A look from Dries Van Noten’s Fall 2021Collection. (Photo Credit: Casper Sejersen)

As of the writing of this blog, Paris Fashion Week is still going strong. The fashion show season officially ends on March 10th, but in the City of Lights, the Fall 2021 collections started out with a bang! PFW never disappoints by offering collections that reflect the climate of today, but also gives us the possibilities of dreams and fantasies. Even during the turmoil we are all facing due to the global pandemic, the tremendous loss of life, economic uncertainty and political and social upheaval – designers are still pushing forward creating beautiful collections that offer an escape from the real world and that envision better days ahead.

The most anticipated show of the season was Gabriela Hearst’s debut collection for Chloé. It was an IRL outdoor fashion show and Hearst lived up to the hype.

(Video Credit: Chloé’s Fall 2021 Show)

Gabriela Hearst stayed true to the heritage of Chloé as she offered a collection filled with rich bohemian inspired looks. Hearst, a designer known to incorporate sustainable practices in her own collection, brought that sensibility to Chloé. She integrated lower-impact raw materials and put a plan in place to lower carbon emissions by 2025.  The collection was filled with Boho pieces that you will want to hold on to forever, such as a series of ponchos in stripes and solids, along with knit maxi dresses. Heart showed terrific outerwear from spliced trench coats to a cut-away shearling coat, as well as plenty of patchwork looks, including a leather patchwork jacket and skirt set. In a fashion season dominated by 80s shoulders, Hearst’s bohemian vibe had a ‘70s aesthetic that was fresh and modern.

OTHER TRENDS

SPACE AGE

Futuristic fashion was all over the runways of Paris, from Rick Owens’ sharp shoulders and shimmering bodysuits, to Courrèges’ mod high neck jacket. These looks will have you standing out in any crowd.

A look from Rick Owens’ Fall 2021Collection. (Photo Credit: Carlo Scarpato)

 

A look from Alexandre Vauthier’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Alexandre Vauthier)

 

A look from Vetements’ Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Gio Staiano)

 

A look from Courrèges’ Fall 2021Collection. (Photo Credit: Thomas de Cruz Media)

PRETTY IN PINK

Pink has been a favorite among the millennial set, so for fall, designers showed a range of pretty pink looks from Patou’s belted jacket with feathered trim to Coperni’s zippered dress. Pink is here to stay.

A look from Patou’s Fall 2021Collection. (Photo Credit: Patou)

 

A look from Coperni’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Fillippo Fior)

 

A look from Acne Studios’ Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Acne Studios)

 

A look from Nina Ricci’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Nina Ricci)

 

THE COLD SHOULDER

Designers adopted a chic asymmetry with interesting bare shoulder effects.

A look from Coperni’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Fillippo Fior)

 

A look from Acne Studios’ Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Acne Studios)

 

A look from Ellery’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Kym Ellery)

 

A look from Alaïa’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Piere-Ange Carlotti)

 

HERELD SQUARES

Check this out: windowpane, tartan, houndstooth and more. This fall, designers have gone mad for plaid.

A look fromVivienne Westwood’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Alice Dellal)

 

Looks from Marine Serre’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Marine Serre)

 

A look from Courrèges’ Fall 2021Collection. (Photo Credit: Thomas de Cruz Media)

 

WELL SUITED

Pantsuits were all over the runways, but in Paris, they were anything but business-like. Designers took the office staple to new heights by injecting them with the boldest of hues.

A look from Thebe Magugu’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Thebe Magugu)

 

A look from Loewe’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Loewe)

 

A look from Nina Ricci’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Nina Ricci)

 

A look from Isabel Marant’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Isabel Marant)

So tell us, do you have a favorite trend?

 

FASHION MARCHES ON: FALL 2021 COLLECTIONS PART ONE

- - Fashion Shows

Prabal Gurung and looks from his Fall 2021 collection modeled by members of POSE. (Photo Credit: Lexie Moreland for WWD)

The Fall 2021 season is shaping up to be a promising one. In the United States the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have dropped significantly, and many experts predict that by the fall, thanks to the vaccines, increased testing, masks, and social distancing, we should reach herd immunity. So, with the promise of normalcy on the horizon, designers are embracing a joyful and vibrant approach to their fall 2021 collections.

NEW YORK, THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS

(Video credit: Jason Wu)

New York Fashion Week kicked off on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th with Jason Wu’s live, in-person show, and ended on the 17th as per the American Collections Calendar released by the CFDA (formally known as the New York Fashion Week schedule). So, after all this time, why did CFDA chairman Tom Ford rename the official New York Fashion Week schedule to the “American Collections Calendar”? Ford stated it was to reflect the growing number of American designers showing later in the season or in locations outside of New York. Tom Ford was suppose to close out the New York season, but his digital show date was pushed back due to unforeseen circumstances related to the pandemic.

Like the spring 2021 season, many fashion designers are debuting their fall collections by means of livestreams, lookbooks, presentations and other digital methods including the CFDA’s digital platform Runway360; a stark contrast from the large-scale, in-person productions that had been the norm prior to the deadly pandemic. The designers who have opted to show this season are an array of young designers, contemporary brands, and high-end designers that included: Prabal Gurung,  Veronica Beard, Alice + Olivia, Markarian, Tadashi Shoji, Badgley Mischka, Anna Sui, Monse, Adeam, Victor Glemaud, Rodarte, Tanya Taylor, Anne Klein, Dennis Basso, Cinq à Sept, Jonathan Simkhai, Bibhu Mohapatra, Nicole Miller, Rebecca Minkoff and Christian Cowan. As you can see, there were many established brands who decided not to participate in NYFW including: Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Brandon Maxwell, Tommy Hilfiger, Christopher John Rogers, Pyer Moss and Tory Burch.

According to WWD, IMG is furthering its alliance with the Black in Fashion Council by supporting Black fashion designers during New York Fashion Week. The two organizations are setting up showrooms in New York City and Los Angeles to showcase designs from Black fashion designers, which can be viewed in person, by-appointment throughout fashion week. Brands featured in the showrooms include Beads Byaree, Chelsea Paris, Chuks Collins, EDAS, House of Aama, Kendra DuPlantier, Maris Wilson, Michel Men, Nicole Benefield, Third Crown, Theophilio and Whensmokeclears.

Looks from Maris Wilson’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Marissa Wilson)

Even TikTok is getting in on Fashion Month as the social media platform teamed up with IMG Fashion and provided editorial content to the TikTok community. The initiative will run through New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks, where TikTok users will be able to view live fashion shows and previously recorded videos on the TikTok accounts @FashionWeek, @NYFW and @MADE.

From Left to Right: Lazaro Hernandez, Ella Emhoff, and Jack McCollough, backstage at the Proenza Schouler Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Hunter Abrams)

But the biggest news that came out of New York Fashion Week, was the emergence of Ella Emhoff, the stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris, making her debut on the Proenza Schouler runway.  Ella Emhoff, the curly-haired, bespectacled grad student/model made a bigger splash than any fall 2021 trend, though there were a few of those, most noteworthy chunky knitwear and slouchy suiting. According to a New York Times article, the designers behind the Proenza Schoular label, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, liked Ella’s look, they told her during a Zoom preview; but they also liked that Ella was a student at New York City’s Parsons, the duo were notable alumni of the fashion school. Ella is a crafty knitwear designer and just created several one-of-a-kind pieces which she introduced to the fashion world.

(Video credit: Proenza Schouler)

As for the Proenza Schouler collection, the design duo raised the bar as they combined their effortlessly cool tailoring in jersey, wool, and leather with tactile details such as macramé and crochet inserts, silk fringe, and dip-dyed hems. There was also a nod to effortless layering – so everything was off-centered and unexpected – such as layers of slip dresses that were actually a single garment. The collection also had plenty of terrific jackets that can be either uncinched or cinched to create a cocooning shape that was oh so chic.

BREAKOUT STARS

As for the few high-profile designers who presented during New York Fashion Week there were plenty of young designers and brands who really stood out this season. Here are a few:

BATSHEVA

The singer Adeline in her kitchen, wearing a dress from the Batsheva fall 2021 collection. (Photo Credit: Alexei Hay)

Coming up with innovative ways to digitally present your brand can be a challenging one. But Batsheva Hay, the designer behind her namesake label Batsheva, found a solution that her audience can relate to. The designer and her photographer husband, Alexei Hay, began to photograph people cooking their favorite meals in their kitchen wearing Batsheva’s designs. The concept is so simple yet it really connected and stands out in a sea of lookbook images. Muses included Ego Nwodim, Nicky Hilton, Amy Fine Collins, and Maude Apatow, each offering a distinct take on clothing and cooking.

Hay’s concept of allowing women to wear her creations in their own world is a perfect recipe for the brand. As for the clothes, there were plenty of looks that are appropriate for today’s reality – pretty, yet comfortable. Hay’s effortless prairie dresses have plenty of girlie options with sweet ruffles, rocker crushed velvet, and dainty bow motifs.

Hay also introduced denim for the first time, as she created two options with ruffled trim and elastic waists, perfect to pair back to her crafty knitwear collection.

COLLINA STRADA

Collina Strada’s morphing collection. (Photo Courtesy of Collina Strada)

Having a sense of humor definitely lifts spirits during troubling times, especially during a global pandemic. So props to Hillary Taymour, the designer behind the buzz-worthy label Collina Strada, as she presents one of the most playful and fun digital presentations to date. For her fall 2021 collection, Taymour had the idea of turning humans into animals to offer a sense of relief and joy. The young and creative designer partnered with the illustrator of the Animorphs book series, David Burroughs Mattingly, and collaborators Charlie Engman and Freeka Tet, to make graphics that transform her cast of star models like Aaron Philip, Ruby Aldridge, Jeremy O. Harris, and Kathleen McCain Engman into cats, peacocks, praying mantises, and even a balloon dog. The lightheartedness is hard earned; throughout the year-long pandemic, Taymour has not only continued to push herself to create environmentally-minded collections using leftover materials and recycled fabrics, but she was also one of the first to create masks for sale and for healthcare workers.

MARKARIAN

A look from Markarian’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Markarian)

Every designer dreams of having their creations worn by a celebrity and gaining instant fame and sales along the way. Well on January 20, 2021, that dream became a reality for Alexandra O’Neill, as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden wore the young designer’s label Markarian on inauguration day. The First Lady of the United States wore a full look from Markarian: a custom cerulean tweed dress and matching coat trimmed with pearls and velvet cuffs. On a Zoom call with Vogue Runway, O’Neill said her social media following doubled instantly, and the e-tailer Moda Operandi reported a 570 percent spike in traffic to Markarian pieces within 24 hours. Overnight the label went from relative obscurity to international news. It was a reminder of how deeply women care about what First Ladies wear—and how influential their choices can be. Michelle Obama boosted the profile of many young American designers in her day.

The label Markarian is anything but casual. O’Neill is known to create beautiful wedding dresses and red-carpet worthy gowns. So the challenge for the creative young designer has been how to merge elegant clothing and work-from-home wear. For fall 2021, O’Neill struck the perfect balance of glamourous at home looks, case in point, a brocade robe dress. She also showcased recycled cashmere knits that were oh so glam with attached shawls that you can effortlessly toss over your shoulder, as well as a darling pointelle stitch midi-dress.

But O’Neill’s customers are feeling optimistic and are shopping on Moda for her more fanciful pieces such as an LBD with “firework” crystal embellishments and full skirts with built in corsets. Let the good times begin!

A.POTTS

Looks from A. Potts Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Gregory Wilkstrom)

Aaron Potts, the designer behind his namesake label A. Potts, offers a chic, genderless collection that captures the essence of approachable elegance. Although Potts’s silhouettes veer towards couture —cocooning shapes, layered coats, and full-skirted gowns—they are joyous and fun. According to Potts, the secret has to do with the fabrics and colors he chose for the season: yellow and gray pieces rendered in tissue-weight jersey; wool; faux foil leather; and a fluffy ‘mauxhair,’ as he calls his faux mohair. In an interview with Vogue Runway, he described a need for optimism and creativity. “The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t cliché,” he said. “It’s necessary.”

To bring his vision to life, Potts cold-emailed Yannick Lebrun, a dancer at Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, who helped cast fellow dancers Khalia Campbell, Fana Tesfagiorgis, and James Gilmer in the lookbook and film. The performers are the perfect complement to the clothing, showing its brilliance without obscuring their own. Looks ranged from a horsehair-trimmed gown to  ombré plaid outerwear. Overall, the collection was effortlessly chic and modern.

BEVZA

A look from Bevza’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Bevza)

Svetlana Bevza is the Ukranian designer behind her namesake label Bevza. The indie label is known for its take of sexy ‘90s minimalism and has gained a celebrity fan base which include Emily Ratajkowski and Gigi Hadid. But for Fall 2021 the designer switched decades and was inspired by the ‘70s aesthetic. Beva worked her minimal aesthetic into fringed capes, flared jeans, and bohemian inspired headbands worn across the forehead; it’s a bit on a rebel spirit in the most polished way.

Bevza also paid homage to her native Ukraine as she looked to Olga of Kyiv, who ruled in the 10th century, for inspiration. The knit balaclavas were inspired by Olga, but the designer paired the traditional headwear with matching blazers and over the knee boots for a modern edge. Bevza also included an image of the ‘spikelet,’ a symbol of good harvest and an optimistic year, and let’s face it, after living through a global pandemic for a year now, we can all use some optimism.

LONDON’S CALLING

Molly Goddard is well known for her daring otherworldly confections. Here is a look from her Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Ben Broomfield)

London Fashion Week took place from Feb. 19th – 23rd. The Fall 2021 season was entirely digital as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a third national lockdown for England amid a surging Covid-19 outbreak driven by a U.K. variant in early January.

This further lockdown is incredibly challenging for businesses, freelancers and individuals,” Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, said in a statement. “Our industry is one of amazing creativity and this is more true in the U.K. than any other country. The majority of businesses and individuals we work with are independent businesses and creatives who contribute significantly to the cultural and creative reputation of our country.”

The BFC continues to ask Government to engage in support of the fashion industry,” Rush said. “One of the main active requests is to allow key creative and model talent to travel to and from the U.K. with a phased introduction of quarantine exemptions for the fashion industry, in order to carry out essential business, to protect the competitiveness of the British fashion industry.”

London Fashion Week took place on www.londonfashionweek.com, a digital platform, where people could access not just the collections that would typically debut on a runway or at a presentation, but also additional multi-media content, including interviews with designers, podcasts and e-commerce.

The season was billed as the first “gender-neutral” digital fashion week, but it turned out to be more like a mixed-gender than gender-neutral.

THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

Kudos to London Fashion Week for always embracing young designers and Indie brands. Here are a few of our favorites.

EDELINE LEE

For her digital premiere, Edeline Lee opened with an introduction in her own voice: “Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning that lives in our clothes, the nostalgia and memories that we attach to our clothing,” she said, before sharing a short story and urging her listeners to put on their headphones and close their eyes. It was a great attempt at storytelling, but with so many digital presentations to view, the video ran on a tad too long.

The piece tells the story of Georgia, a woman downloading her memory bank to a ‘program’ without a name but a model number, and an option to name her—Georgia calls her Lynne after a friend who is a good listener. The story centers around a memory of her mother twirling in front of the mirror in her favorite malachite-colored dress, how it was intended to be worn to Georgia’s wedding, but instead her mother was buried in it, but she would have found it fun wearing ‘a great dress to a terrible party.’ “I wanted to explore how digitally we can touch people,” said Lee in an interview with Vogue Runway. “How do you give someone an experience online—a human experience? We are always separated by a screen, and it made me think about how clothes are on the surface, too, but what do they really mean… this storytelling touched that nerve at a deeper level… I don’t know, maybe lockdown is getting to me!” She laughed, but she had a point.

Lee built her brand on real clothes that women can live their lives in: drop off the kids, head to work, sit through a working lunch, and so on, but the best part is, nothing will wrinkle. Her best-selling piece is her flattering wrap dress that can be worn either loose or fitted. She had plenty of these effortless dresses, but she also added a series of separates for our new Work-from-Home lifestyle. Lee created tapered track pants, brush stroked jacquard tops, and a short sleeve dressing gown coat in piqué GOTS certified organic cotton (to that end, Lee has been working on more sustainable practices; all of her linings, trims, and packaging are sustainably sourced). “My pattern cutting is loosening up, I’m needing that comfort more and more,” she says. “My customers still need that great top for Zoom, but many of them are working from home, so they’re asking for this too.”

COLVILLE

A look from Colville’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Colville)

Molly Molloy and Lucinda Chambers, the duo behind the Colville label, were inspired by vases for their fall 2021 collection. But not just any vase, more specifically Murano glass vases that appeared in their lookbook, each one handmade by glassblowers in Italy. Molloy and Chambers launched their label in 2018. They stated that they work with feelings rather than strategy. Maybe this is why they instantly became insider favorites, with their sculptural earrings and handwoven wayuu bags.

The organic swirls of the Murano glass vases were echoed in the psychedelic marble print that emerged on silk sculpted dresses and matching leggings. Key looks ranged from a color-block piqué twinset to a hoodie spliced together from Nike sports gear. The duo also created wonderful vests patchworked from upcycled down puffer jackets. Molloy and Chambers also gave a nod to romance with a dress that was nipped and ruched at the waist in a style that was both sexy and forgiving. The duo also created plenty of ruffled detail tops and, for the first time, they introduced a lace top that was worn under a peplum bustier.

The collection had some neutrals but overall, there were plenty of bursts of color and prints, which will surely have their customers stand out during their next Zoom call.

YUHAN WANG

Looks from Yuhan Wang’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Yuhan Wang)

Bridgerton has become an extremely popular Netflix series especially among the fashion crowd, which is no surprise given the beautiful costumes and setting of the show. The costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick,  has done a phenomenal job recreating 18th century looks that are so regal and rich they are fit for a princess. So it should come as no surprise that many designers found themselves creating looks that would be perfect for the series, most noteworthy, Yuhan Wang. The designer created a pastel-hued, romantic, floral collection that you can picture in a Regency drawing room.

Before graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2018, Wang studied art in her homeland China.  “I paint landscapes,” she said on a Zoom call from her studio in London in an interview with Vogue Runway. “The painters created these fantasy-nature landscapes for noblemen to escape from the ordinary world. It was always done by men for men. So this season I wanted to make my own, for women and girls.”

Wang created charming watercolor landscape prints and embroideries for her collections, such as sika deer, pine trees, and delicate florals. These delightful patterns made their way onto her signature fluid draped dresses, as well as flared trousers and some peplum jackets trimmed with raw-edge fringe. Beautiful pieces for when we can all emerge back into normalcy. Soon, soon soon.

To quote poet, performer, model, and trans visibility activist Kai Isaiah Jamal, “We know anywhere can be a runway if your mind has something to walk down it.”

SO TELL US, DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FALL 2021 SHOW THUS FAR?

Pandemicwear…a new fashion category?

Image credit: Naploungewear.com, Gentleherd.com and Onecozyday.com

We are thrilled to hear the news that Covid numbers are diminishing and vaccinations are on the rise. However, knowing that we’ll still need to take precautions, i.e. working from home, washing hands frequently and wearing masks until we reach herd immunity, possibly until sometime next fall, has some of us fashionistas thinking about what to add to our wardrobe in the interim.

Remember athleisurewear? That was the classification of merchandise that burst onto the fashion scene in the double aughts, that was a cross between sportswear and activewear. According to the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry (authored by me, Francesca Sterlacci, and former FIT Dean, Joanne Arbuckle):

Athleisure became popular as a result of the yoga pant and leggings craze. This type of clothing, originally designed for working out, became suitable for wearing outside of the gym too. Brands like Lululemon popularized the look and other brands and retailers took notice. Cashmere sweatsuits and luxury workout gear soon found their way into both men’s and women’s wardrobes. An added benefit of wearing athleisurewear is that even if you don’t go to the gym, you can still look like you do. By 2016, athleisurewear entered the bespoke arena with Saville Row tailors showcasing items such as track suits.”

(Image credit: Cozy Earth)

But what about the merch category that preceded athleisurewear called ‘loungewear’? Those of a certain age will remember loungewear being worn around the house at a time when women had lots of leisure time (1950s), that is, before they got to have careers and were liberated in the 1970s.

Well, ‘loungewear’ as a category no longer seemed appropriate thanks to COVID-19. The fact is …home lockdown consists of remote working, teaching & learning, shopping and even Zoom socializing. There’s absolutely nothing ‘leisure’ about that, right?

Some of us have been wearing our PJs all day long, or sweatshirts and sweatpants. And we only feel the need to dress up, do our hair and our makeup if we have a Zoom business call. So, where’s the incentive to care about fashion?

(Image credit: Sew Sketchy)

Sew Sketchy, an illustrated New York fashion influencer created by artist Romy Schrieber, gets her quarantine-look right with her fashion preference for pajama-wearing, but will absolutely never forego her lavish painted nails and iconic sunglasses.

 

Pandemicwear Looks

(Image credit: Atritz.com)

After hours trolling the Internet, I am now seeing a new trend/category emerge that I’m calling, ‘pandemicwear’. When I Googled the word pandemicwear, the first thing that pops up was “Slob-Style Chic” (what to wear when there’s nobody to dress up for except your cat – and Zoom).

I don’t know about you but just knowing that there’ll be at least 5 more months of lockdown until we can all get vaccinated to achieve heard immunity, I’m needing a ‘fashion’ shot in the arm right about now. What I’ve researched is a trove of two-piece sets that are offered in a variety of fibers from cashmere and bamboo to silk blends, that can make you feel dressed up while you are still in lock down.

What I’ve laid out here is not to be considered influencer marketing, it’s just my personal opinion of what I might want to wear around my home to ‘feel’ dressed up without ‘being’ dressed up!

(Image credit: naploungewear.com)

Cashmere… how luxe can you get? I’ve been finding cashmere sets that are casual and chic and great for having to jump on a Zoom call.

(Image credit: Lellyan.com)

(Image credit: Tenmorden.com)

(Image credit: Tenmorden.com)

(Image credit: The Frankie Shop)

And let’s not forget about footwear…. like these comfy slippers from The Frankie Shop that come in a variety of chic neutrals.  And the feather pom-pom slip-ons from Nap.

(Image credit: The Frankie Shop)

(Image credit: Nap.com)

Let’s all hope that we can all get vaccinated within the next few months because, let’s face it, there are so many other clothes in our closets that are feeling pretty neglected right about now.

Got a fav pandemicwear outfit that you’d like to share?

FORGET POLITICS…MADAM VP IS A STYLE ICON IN THE MAKING

(Left to Right) U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and President Joe Biden at their Inauguration.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris just completed their first weeks in office. While the dynamic duo has already brought about plenty of positive changes, they also amped-up the fashion quotient in D.C. Thanks to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and VP Kamala Harris, and finally, American young designers are once again at the forefront of the world fashion stage.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama was a true champion of young American designers and during her eight years as First Lady she has worn everything from Jason Wu to Narciso Rodriguez, turning American designers into household names. American Designers created custom looks for the former First Lady and when she wore a young designer’s creation, the publicity was a dream-come-true. In 2016 when former President Trump took office, many designers disagreed with Trumps’ political stance, and declined to dress the former First Lady Melania Trump, so many of Melania Trump’s outfits were purchased, as opposed to being custom-created or gifted, as is tradition. While this was great for retailers, American designers suffered not being in the political limelight.

Doug Emhoff and Kamala Harris, in Altuzarra, as she accepted the nomination for the vice presidency at the Democratic National Convention. (Photo Credit: Win Mcnamee for Getty Images)

Thankfully, this will all change as the United States moves into a new era of leadership, all eyes will be on Vice President Harris to see what subtle statements she will make with her wardrobe choices. Throughout the campaign trail, Kamala Harris’ wardrobe remained consistent: a business-ready pantsuit or blazer worn with jeans; her shoe choices were also limited to her signature Converse sneakers or a classic pointed-toe pump. The VP also consistently wore her beloved accessory, a string of pearls, a sentimental tribute to her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Howard University. Kamala Harris has broken down many barriers as she is the first female, Black, and South Asian-American Vice President of the United States.

AMERICA’S VP COVERGIRL

Vice President Kamala Harris appears on the February print Vogue cover. (Photo Credit: Tyler Mitchell)

VP Harris’ style has evolved greatly since the early days of her campaign trail. She has even graced the covers of prestigious fashion magazines, including Elle in November 2020 and the Vogue February 2021 cover that stirred up plenty of controversy involving the most powerful woman in fashion and the most powerful woman in the White House. Social media ran ramped with many accusing the Vogue cover as being “disrespectful”, but Ann Wintour originally described the cover as “joyful, casual, and accessible.”

On the print Vogue cover the VP is dressed in a dark brown jacket by Donald Deal, narrow black jeans, a white t-shirt, her signature Irene Neuwirth pearl necklaces, and trusty Converse sneakers. But the second Vogue cover which was digital, featured a closer-cropped photo of the VP wore a pale blue suit by Michael Kors.

Vice President Kamala Harris wears Michael Kors on the February digital Vogue cover. (Photo Credit: Tyler Mitchell)

Many social media users argued that the Vice President should have been dresses more inspirational than casual.  When Kamala appeared on the cover of “Elle” in November, they captured her strength, warmth, intelligence, and beauty. She looked completely Vice Presidential. Sad that Vogue did not achieve those results in such a momentous moment in American history.

Vice President Kamala Harris appears on the November 2020 Elle cover. (Photo Credit: Inez & Vinoodh)

According to Sway, people familiar with the matter on both sides said that there had been no contractual cover approval agreement in place, the cover image was not what the vice president’s team had expected. The day after the first photo leaked, a second — more formal — digital exclusive cover was also released. Ms. Wintour said in a follow-up statement to Sway, “Obviously we have heard and understood the reaction to the print cover and I just want to reiterate that it was absolutely not our intention to, in any way, diminish the importance of the vice president-elect’s incredible victory.” In an exclusive interview on this episode of “Sway,” Ms. Wintour discusses the magazine cover, diversity concerns at Condé Nast, the future of the fashion industry.

Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sway/id1528594034?i=1000505058648

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS’ STYLE EVOLUTION

Vice President Kamala Harris’ fashion choices. (Photo Credit: Town & Country all Getty Images)

Through the years as a senator in California and on the campaign trail, VP Kamala Harris shied away from fashion. Her uniform consisted of muted pantsuits, blazers, skinny jeans, and her signature Converse sneakers and pearl necklaces. Her sartorial choices were meant to blend into the background while she fought for political change and policies that were dear to her heart.

Then Senator Kamala Harris grilling a Trump administration official in June, 2020. (Photo Credit: Pool for Getty Images)

But once Biden chose her as her running mate, Kamala Harris’ style began to evolve. For starters, Vice President Harris began to collaborate with Hollywood stylist Karla Welch, who is especially known for the perfectly imperfect off-duty looks she creates for her clients, a diverse crew that includes Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Karlie Kloss, Tracee Ellis Ross, and even Anita Hill. According to Town & Country, “Harris and Welch’s professional partnership is something of a secret—kinda open, kinda not. And neither camp returned emails requesting confirmation.”

During inauguration week, VP Harris’ sartorial choices where on point and rich with meaning, the most powerful woman in the United States wore looks create by designers of color, including Sergio Hudson, Prabal Gurung, Pyer Moss’s Kerby Jean-Raymond and Christopher John Rogers, whose brilliant purple coat and dress was accessorized with pearls by Puerto Rican designer Wilfredo Rosado on the day she was sworn in as Vice President of the U.S.

In a Town & Country interview with Robin Givhan, the only journalist to receive a Pulitzer Prize for fashion criticism, and who is now the Washington Post’s senior critic-at-large, chronicling politics, race and the arts stated, “On one hand, Harris’s clothes are straightforward and professional, especially while she was on the campaign trail. She looks like she could be walking into any major law firm, any Fortune 500 company. But I think there’s also this sort of inability to not discuss her clothes because of the historical nature of her position.”

Fashion is a way for people to get a little slice of Harris’s life and symbolism for themselves. It’s aspirational fashion in a new way. “I also just sort of worry to some degree that we are muddling the line between Vice President and First Lady,” says Givhan.

A First Lady she is not, but she is a first of so many achievements—first woman, first woman of color, first woman of South Asian descent, first daughter of immigrants to hold the office of vice president. So as the most powerful woman of the United States, should the public scrutinize over her sartorial choices? Naturally, her policies and what she does for the nation comes first, but there is nothing wrong with adding a little panache along the way.

Vice President Kamala Harris in Carolina Herrera (Left) and President Joe Biden (Right) on the night they accepted their victory. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Her rise to fashion stardom began in November, the night she took the stage alongside President Joe Biden and they accepted their victory as the newly elected President and Vice President of the United States. VP Harris carefully selected a creamy Carolina Herrera pantsuit and white silk pussy bow blouse, a nod to the suffragist movement, this look was analyzed across every form of media and many approved the look as it stood for how far women have come and she embodied power and beauty in her suit.  The public is watching what VP Harris wears so closely that there is already a useful website, WhatKamalaWore.com, by the journalist Susan E. Kelley, who also curates similar sites about Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton’s sartorial choices.

“I don’t think she needs to make a stand verbally, but I do think there are going to be expectations of her in her position as a woman,” says Peju Famojure, a stylist and fashion consultant who has styled Solange Knowles and consulted with Beyoncé in a Town & Country interview. “There are always expectations tied into women’s fashion choices. People would be happy to see her support brands that are made in America, but also Black-owned brands, giving them representation, not only from a visual standpoint, but also helping to drive monetary success.”

While VP Harris will want people to focus on her politics and not her clothes, as a history-making public figure, her sartorial choices are a part of the picture that many will focus on. So far, Harris’ outfits have been a lesson in a new form of power dressing: her suits and pointed-toe pumps convey an authoritative mindset, while the more casual Converse and jeans signify a relatable casualness, accessible and familiar to the average American.

U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Pyer Moss, at the COVID Memorial. (Photo Credit: Patrick T. Fallon via Getty Images)

On January 19th, the eve before the historic inauguration, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for a COVID memorial honoring and remembering the more than 400,000 American lives lost to the pandemic so far.

Arranged along both sides of the Mall’s pool of reflection were hundreds of rectangles of light. “To heal we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember,” Biden said, “but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation…Let us shine the lights in the darkness…and remember all whom we lost.” His words were followed by a moment of silence. While the moment was somber and full of sorrow, there was also a sense of hope.

There is no doubt that the Biden administration will set a completely different tone than the Trump administration, it will also be a breath of fresh air on the fashion front as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have both been championing young American designers and their sartorial choices have been polished, sophisticated, empowering, and bold.  The VP opted to wear a chic camel cashmere coat by Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, which, appeared as a more traditional silhouette from the front, but the back turned revealed a curved shoulder seam that gave way to a flowing, pleated back. Kerby Jean-Raymond is a young Black designer who is likewise weaving purpose into his mission. On his runways, Jean-Raymond has addressed African American narratives in popular culture. In September of last year, he gathered PPE for hospital workers and provided $50,000 in grants for small businesses affected by the COVID crisis.

A back look of U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Pyer Moss, at the COVID Memorial. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Harris also took to the podium the night of the COVID Memorial and said, “Tonight we grieve and begin healing together. Though we may be physically separated, we the American people are united in spirit. And my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom: to cherish simple moments, to imagine new possibilities, and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another.”

The Vice President chose Prabal Gurung the morning Inaugural Prayer Service. (Photo Credit: @SecondGentleman Instagram)

On January 20th, Inauguration Day, Vice President Kamala Harris began the day at a church service alongside President Biden and his family. Here she chose a look from Prabal Gurung, an American designer who was born in Singapore and grew up in Nepal. She looked stunning in a garnet-hued double-faced wool crepe dress with a matching coat.

As Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President, she wore a pearl necklace by Wilfredo Rosado. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Shortly after Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States by Sonia Sotomayor, America’s first Latina Supreme Court justice. Our first female VP wore a stellar coat and dress by Christopher John Rogers, a young Black designer, who’s known for his love of bold and vibrant colors and shapes, as well as her signature strand of pearls. Her coat and dress were elegant and chic, while purple symbolizes strength, royalty, hope, and a call for unity at a time of political division; after all, when you mix blue (democrat) and red (republican) together, the color purple is created. A fitting chose for our Vice President.

Wearing Sergio Hudson, VP Kamala Harris continued to show support for black designers at the Inaugural Concert. (Photo Credit: The New York Post)

Later that night, at the Celebrating America event, Vice President Kamala Harris championed another young black designer, Sergio Hudson, as she wore an elegant liquid sequin cocktail dress with a floor-length silk tuxedo overcoat, both in inky black—and topped off the look with Irene Neuwirth earrings.

Since winning the election Vice President Kamala Harris’ fashion game has been strong, but we would love to see her step out of her comfort zone, but still be appropriate for her many meetings as VP.

So tell us, what looks would you like to see Vice President Kamala Harris wear?

The Power & Beauty of Fashion Illustration

- - Fashion Art

University of Fashion’s mission, from day one, has always been, ‘to preserve the art and craft of fashion design.’ In fact, since the company’s founding in 2008 our tagline has never changed, “Master Design One Step at a Time.”  Sure, we’ve added computer-generated fashion art and computerized pattern making lessons over the years, but at our core, we’re all about promoting a strong foundation, both ‘on-the-table’ pattern making and in ‘hand-drawn art’ before we recommend moving to anything computer-generated.

In this blogpost, we’d like to celebrate fashion illustration and its continued contribution to the world of fashion. We are extremely proud to share that our founder, Francesca Sterlacci, who owned and operated her eponymous brand in the 1980s, was lucky enough to have her work illustrated by THE most prolific WWD illustrators in what is now known as the ‘Golden Age of Fashion Illustration’ (1960s to the early 1990s).

As you admire the work of these illustrators, we’d like you to pay particular attention to the individual illustrative style of each and join us in celebrating their individual and unique talents.

Enjoy,

Francesca Sterlacci
Founder/CEO
University of Fashion

You can only imagine how over-the-moon excited we were when Women’s Wear Daily recently dedicated a week to the most prolific fashion illustrators who brought fashion to life on their pages before they replaced illustration with photography in the early 1990s. Although WWD incorporated fashion illustration from its inception in 1910, it was the 60s thru the early 90s that best describes the paper’s Golden Era of Illustration. WWD provided a showcase for some of the best illustrators in the fashion business and this blogpost is dedicated to those wonderful artists. Included in this group: Kenneth Paul Block, Antonio Lopez, Joe Eula, Richard Rosenfeld, Steven Stipelman, Robert Melendez, Robert Passantino, Glenn Tunstull, Kichisaburro Ogawa, Charles Boone, Steven Meisel and Catherine Clayton Purnell.

Kenneth Paul Block

(Image credit: Kenneth Paul Block illustration of a lace bodysuit and silk organza pants by Francesca Sterlacci-WWD 1988)

As a designer in the 1980s, having your designs chosen for WWD’s Best of New York issue was always a big deal, no matter how many times you were lucky enough to be included. And, if your work was illustrated by Kenneth Paul Block, well, that was an even bigger deal!

By far, Kenneth Paul Block (1925-2009) was the undisputed star of WWD’s roster of fashion illustrators. From all accounts, he was in a league of his own. Joining the paper in the 50s, Block’s legacy lasted into the early 90s when the illustration department at WWD was unceremoniously disbanded to make way for photography. Block’s style was uncomplicated, modern and fresh. A master of the graceful gesture, his style was a complete departure from the rigid illustrative style popularized in the 1940s.

(Image credit: archival image from 1940s illustrations)

According to WWD, Block was “known for his well turned-out, gentlemanly style, with his Dorian Gray-like youthfulness, Block dressed impeccably, favoring an ascot, fresh-pressed shirt, pinpoint perfect jackets and cigarette holders for his workdays at the easel. The artist, who died at age 84 in 2009, spent nearly four decades working at Women’s Wear Daily.”

Towards the end of his life, Block was very concerned that his body of work

be kept together and therefore gave approximately 1,700 drawings to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His work is also a part of the Frances Neady collection at the Fashion Institute of Technology which contains over 300 illustrations by the most prominent 20th-century illustrators. The Frances Neady collection is named for an inspiring and dedicated teacher of fashion illustration, who served on the faculties of FIT and Parsons for 40 years.

Upon his death, the Kenneth Paul Block Foundation was established and is devoted to collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting the wealth of Kenneth Paul Block’s art, in order to highlight his contributions to the art form.

Robert Young

(Image credit: Robert Young illustration of a tiger print top and skirt by Francesca Sterlacci-WWD 1985)

Another favorite among New York designers was Robert Young. His style always brought out the best in your design. Today, Robert Young is an Assistant Professor of Illustration at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As is the case with most artists, Robert Young’s style and breadth of work has expanded with the times.

Be sure to check out his “Hello, Young Illustrators” portfolio series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGDfewj-V6Q which is especially helpful during the pandemic.

Robert Passantino

(Image credit: Robert Passantino illustration of a peplum blouse and pleated skirt by Francesca Sterlacci-WWD 1987)

As a fashion illustrator, Robert Passantino knew the value of actually learning the basics of clothing design and construction and how that would benefit his career when he started his career at Pratt Institute. He would later take illustration classes under Steven Stipelman at the Fashion Institute of Technology, who later would recommend him for a position at WWD in 1969.

In the recent article, Passantino told WWDI developed my style on the job. It was a fashion art boot camp. As an artist, the more you work on your art, the better you become.”

Charles Boone

(Image credit: Charles Boone illustration of a suede pants and leather tube top by Francesca Sterlacci-WWD 1987)

Kichisaburo Ogawa

(Image credit: Kichisaburo Ogawa illustration of a wool doubleknit dress and wide cinch belt by Francesca Sterlacci-WWD 1987)

Three days after graduating from FIT, Kichisaburo Ogawa went to work for WWD where he would spend the next 31 years illustrating fashion both at the paper and for numerous international magazines. In discussing what it was like to be an illustrator at WWD in those days Ogawa said, “Depending on the assignment, work was either due by the 2 p.m. deadline or the 6 p.m. deadline. After the daily editorial meeting, an editor would provide a designer’s sketch to draw from and the work would be due that same day. On some occasions the illustrator would be given a few extra days contingent on the article or the subject matter. A cosmetics cover, for example, was used for supplements, which allowed for more leeway with a longer deadline. Most of the time we had to finish within a few hours.” He also claimed that “You had to create your individual style. Otherwise, they would think, ‘Why are you doing the same type of illustration? You don’t need to work here.”

Later in his career Ogawa connected with another WWD fashion illustrator, Richard Rosenfeld, who was his office mate when they both taught at FIT. Today, Ogawa is an assistant professor at Parsons.

Steven Meisel

(Image credit: Steven Meisel illustration of a leather T-shirt by Francesca Sterlacci-WWD 1982)

Steven Meisel started out as a WWD fashion illustrator in the 80s but made the move to photography when he saw a shift away from illustration coming. In fact, famed fashion illustrator Bil Donovan took an illustration class at Parsons taught by Meisel in the Eighties right before Meisel embarked on his very successful photography career.

(Image credit: Bil Donovan illustration of a leather coat trimmed in tapestry by Francesca Sterlacci for Siena- 1991)

Catherine Clayton Purnell

(Image credit: Catherine Clayton Purnell illustration of a metallic leather trimmed linen shirt paired with a leather skirt by Francesca Sterlacci WWD 1985)

One of only a handful of females in a sea of male fashion illustrators at WWD, Purnell was most known for her colorful fantasy-filled intimate, children’s and swimwear illustrations in the 80s.

(Image credit: Catherine Clayton Purnell from the book WWD Illustrated: 1960s-1990s by Michele Wessen Bryant)

Steven Stipelman

(Image credit: Steven Stipelman illustration of draped back blouse and leather skirt by Francesca Sterlacci 1985)

With a passion for illustration that began at Music & Art high school in Manhattan and continued awhile a student at FIT, Stipelmen would land a plumb job alongside Kenneth Paul Block at WWD in 1965. While most artists at WWD worked from a designer’s sketch when illustrating for the paper, Block and Stipelman would mostly work from live models and were sent to Paris to draw from the runways. Today, Steven Stipelman is a full professor at FIT.

Richard Rosenfeld

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld for WWD)

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld)

While UoF founder Francesca never had the honor of having Richard Rosenfeld sketch her designs during his tenure at WWD, we are fortunate in that he is one of our very own instructors on the UoF site, Congratulations to Richard for being included among this elite WWD group.

Richard Rosenfeld found his way to WWD as a student at Parsons in 1967. His illustration style has always been contemporary, graphic and modern and is most famous for his beauty and bridal illustrations. His illustrations often made the gowns more beautiful than they actually were in real life!

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld for WWD)

Today, Richard focuses on portraits and male figurative art and exhibits his work at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, which showcases gay, transsexual and lesbian art. According to Richard, the art featured at the gallery is “political, it’s photography — it’s all of that.”

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld)

Can Fashion Illustration Make a Comeback?

At the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, art and photo teams at WWD had to rely heavily on illustration and collages to cover fashion, as New York City went into lockdown and shoots were impossible to schedule. A small glimmer of hope for the fans of fashion illustration?

At University of Fashion, we are ardent supporters of helping keep fashion illustration alive, which is why we have recruited some of the best illustrators in the business, Richard Rosenfeld, Steven Broadway and Roberto Calasanz. These extremely talented artists have generously shared their secrets by allowing us to film their art and skill in action. Watch as they bring a 2D sketch to life. It’s pure joy!

And so, to all of you aspiring fashion designers out there who love to illustrate, don’t let the digital age get you down, keep on perfecting your craft. Remember, practice makes perfect!

 

Let us know, do you have a favorite fashion illustrator?

Meet MOTIF: An Online Fashion Industry Education Hub

(Image credit: MOTIF)

Since our founding in 2008, the University of Fashion has always recruited the best instructors from the best fashion colleges, such as FIT and Parsons, to teach our lessons. And, because we film in New York City, the fashion capital of the world, we have been able to tap the brain trust of our industry for our design and business lessons.

Going on 13 years now, we have partnered with the best dress form companies in the business (Alvanon and Wolf) and collaborated with several top tool and fabric suppliers as well as other industry resources (and the list is growing).

When we decided to add affordable computerized pattern making lessons, we forged a partnership with Tukatech so that we could offer a special, affordable rate to our subscribers.

Promoting another school’s content on our site may have seemed like a bad business decision, but our recent partnership with Upcycle Design School now provides our subscribers the opportunity to learn how to start their own sustainable fashion brand.

So, it therefore comes as no surprise that we are introducing our subscribers to MOTIF, a new learning platform aimed at the working fashion professional. I recently had the opportunity to interview Catherine Cole, MOTIF’s CEO, about their mission, the results of their survey on the skill level needs of the industry, and other relevant topics that affect today’s fashion and textile industry.

Our founder, Francesca Sterlacci, recently interviewed Catherine to learn more about MOTIF and their unique and much needed learning platform.

Catherine Cole – MOTIF CEO (Image credit: MOTIF)

Francesca: MOTIF is a relatively new fashion industry learning platform, can you give some background as to when and why it was founded and what role Alvanon played in its inception?

Catherine: The fashion industry is going through major disruption caused by changes in consumption patterns, increasing cost pressures, speed-to-market pressures, unwieldy and fragmented supply chains and then having to play catch up in things like sustainability and digitisation. These disruptions are making a growing skills gap more and more evident. The last generation that has production floor expertise is retiring in the next 5-10 years and add to that an urgent need for the next generation of skills that include data, 3D product design and development and digital marketing. MOTIF was started to meet the urgent need by fashion brands and other players in the supply chain, for an ability to onboard new employees effectively and upskill current employees. Originally an intrapreneurial venture within global innovations company Alvanon, MOTIF officially launched in October 2018 with a suite of online courses on motif.org, before becoming a separate legal entity in April 2019. Since then, we have received $2m in funding from The Mills Fabrica.

Francesca: What has been the impact of Motif’s recent increase in funding?

Catherine: The increased funding allowed us to launch new social and community features alongside our courses and also develop authoring tools for partners (experts across the industry) to launch their own courses in our marketplace. We continually strive to enhance our features and are building a state-of-the- art learning environment for our users.

Francesca: Is Motif’s learning platform offered to individuals as well as to school libraries?

Catherine: MOTIF’s courses are aimed at both individual professionals in the industry as well as corporate HR or business teams that need to make sure their workforce is equipped with sound fundamentals and cross-functional understanding. These courses cover technical skills as well as commercial and soft skills for the apparel / fashion industry. We publish our own courses and also distribute courses of partner publishers. These partners can range from academic institutions like LIM College, to organisations fostering the adoption of business best practices and technical standards in the industry such as WRAP, and even independent seasoned industry experts such as Roz McNulty who is teaching a series of superuser courses from beginner to advanced level on CLO 3D on MOTIF.  Currently our courses are also used by professors who are looking to supplement their teaching with course material taught by practitioners.

Catherine Cole – MOTIF CEO at 2018 Summit (Image credit: MOTIF)

Francesca: Alvanon conducted an industry survey back in 2018 entitled, The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry, and shared the results at a conference held in NYC. Can you discuss the findings of that survey, as it related to body sizing and the need for upskilling in the global fashion industry?

Catherine: MOTIF, with the support of Alvanon and 19 global industry associations, launched its second global State of Skills survey in early 2020 to see if anything had changed with regards to the urgency around skills and professional development since our first survey in 2018.  The results were just released in October 2020 and can be found in a whitepaper on our site.  The key findings were that the industry still views skills as a key business issue, but that budgets are not matching.  So, one of our big problems is that there is a major mismatch between priorities and investments, especially when it comes to topics like sustainability and digitisation.  Another key finding is the discrepancy between top management’s perception of how they are supporting their employees with continuous learning opportunities and how employees feel like they are not receiving the professional development they want.

Francesca: Does Motif’s curriculum reflect the needs of current fashion industry professionals? Does Motif recruit its instructors from the fashion industry?

Catherine: MOTIF exists to fill the skills gap in the industry on fundamental technical skills, as well as hot new skills that will enable professionals to be the best at what they do as well as future-proof their career in the industry. The first courses offered on the platform revolved around product development, fit and sizing, sustainability and then 3D. We’re progressively expanding our catalogue with courses covering training needs in the wider spectrum of the apparel and fashion supply chain. For example, we’ve recently published a course by AQM on how to safely resume operations and protect your factory workforce from Covid-19, and we will soon have a new course by WRAP on risk assessment in factories. All instructors teaching courses on the platform are highly experienced industry practitioners and experts, passionate and eager to share their knowledge for the betterment of business practices in the industry and committed to collaborate with our team to deliver enjoyable, efficient and highly applicable learning experiences.

Francesca: What importance does MOTIF put on having solid, hands-on, foundational knowledge in disciplines such as pattern making, draping, sewing and drawing before moving on to learn digital tools such as CAD, PDS and 3D?

Catherine: There are core skills that will always be critical in the industry. These are the fundamental skills that don’t change over time. They are also the “art and the science” or the craft in the industry.  Any newcomer to the industry needs to have these fundamentals.  Actually, it is not just the newcomers but even many seasoned professionals need refreshers in these skills as their careers evolve.  What has changed over time is how we apply some of these skills or the new digital tools that we are using with them.  You have many young start-ups looking for pattern makers with coding skills and it is this example of a new blend of skills that will be relevant in the future so that young brands and companies remain agile and innovative.

(Image credit: MOTIF)

Francesca: Alvanon recently hosted the first 3D virtual conference, can you tell us what the industry’s reaction was to the inevitability of a 3D digital transformation? What are the pros and cons of implementing 3D in the workplace and what companies are leading this transformation?

Catherine: Alvanon, with MOTIF as its “Learning Partner”, organised the first 3D Tech Festival for Apparel and Fashion in September 2020, as an open and agnostic platform for 3D tech leaders to discuss and re-imagine how we live, work and learn in an apparel world gone digital. With over 60 speakers and thousands of participants from 94 different countries, the four-day virtual event was a resounding success with an innovative format combining a full-blown conference, 3D Tech vendor virtual showcases and the launch of the MOTIF 3D Fashion Tech Community. Aiming at quenching the thirst for practical knowledge and exchange around 3D adoption and implementation in the industry, the live event was offered entirely free and is now available on-demand on motif.org, while the MOTIF 3D Fashion Tech Community is also continuously growing with new members and ongoing conversation threads.

Like for all other major disruptive technology trends, there is a mix of excitement and apprehension or mistrust around the adoption of 3D and its benefits. The question of the pros and cons of implementing or adopting 3D, isn’t really the right one though. There is little doubt now that 3D already does and will increasingly bring efficiency and sustainability benefits to the industry. The first and foremost question is the fundamental WHY each organisation would adopt 3D and embark on a transformative journey. How does it support and enable execution of the vision and development strategy of an organisation? It’s about core business goals, streamlined processes and fostering a culture where people are embracing change, adhering to values and objectives underlying it. It’s about equipping your teams with the right skills and confidence that they can execute on the vision and that all stakeholders have a place in the transformational journey. It’s about mapping out the steps, from pilot to enterprise-wide deployment, and being able to demonstrate the return on investment at each stage. To help those that want and need to take the leap, MOTIF has developed a course that helps teams and individuals alike raise and answer the key questions, engage the right people and establish the milestones that will ease the way to the successful adoption and implementation of 3D.

There are many companies, large and small, and even start-ups, in the footwear and apparel industries that have started experimenting, adopting or embedding digital tech as the nexus of their business model or operations. We get excited when we talk to some of the most progressive ones now looking at building internal 3D or digital skills competency centers with an explicit mandate to ramp up the training of the workforce on transformational change project management and new tools or technologies. At MOTIF, our vision is to support these endeavours with a tool kit of courses and resources that can then be customized for brands or manufacturers.

(Image credit: MOTIF)

Francesca: Do you think the industry is adequately addressing climate change? What more can be done?

Catherine: We would have to answer no to this question.  Many companies are struggling with the HOW of integrating the ethos of the circle economy into their supply chains and to expedite the transformation around efficiency and transparency – both critical to tackle the problems of overproduction and waste.  This is why MOTIF is launching a sustainability intervention in February 2021! We will be hosting a three-day event around this particular topic with speakers from across the supply chain in an effort to reconcile practices between design, production and consumer.  Alongside this we will be launching our Sustainability Communities so that we can support the ongoing conversation.  MOTIF is also launching a new virtual learning series in December of this year that will run monthly and bring in case studies around these key topics.  Stay tuned for more information!

Francesca: What more can we do as an industry to stop the promotion, production and over-consumption of clothing?

Catherine: Overconsumption and overproduction are the two sides of the same coin, and we need to change currency. The urgency is undeniable yet there is no magic or easy way out or solution. On the consumer side, a change of societal values and education to buy less and better quality products produced or sourced responsibly, to prolong the life of our garments by upcycling, swapping, donating, reusing or recycling instead of just dumping them in a landfill, is paramount. Studies seem to show that Millennials and GenZ consumers are increasingly ready to pay more for quality products and have a genuine appetite for sustainable fashion, so we are heading in the right direction. Many brands, large and small are embedding sustainability practices throughout the entire product lifecycle and facilitating responsible customer initiatives by developing new services tied to the end of life of their products.

For many brands or retailers, it is also about ethos, values and legacy. It does take courage and integrity to, like Patagonia, refuse to participate in the Black Friday or CyberMonday orgies and encourage your customers not to buy a jacket in your new collection if the life of your current one can be extended. And it is not something you can preach or pull off unless you walk the talk. While we see real progress in the industry, the staggering, record sales numbers just reported by Alibaba and JD Express for the 2020 November Singles day (all consumer product categories included) show that old habits die hard and there are many contextual and cultural elements that come into play so there isn’t a one size fits all solution.

The progressive digitization of the industry and adoption of new technology are also enablers of systemic change, with the emergence of more circular business models. There is a pressing need to upskill the current people the industry employs on sustainability so that change can happen at scale. Waiting for a fresh generation of designers, product developers and supply chain professionals can’t be afforded. The responsibility of picking up these essential new skills, not only lies with the industry or corporations but also with professionals themselves, if they wish to become agents of change and future-proof their careers in the industry.

Sustainability is a strategic area of course and content development for us. As mentioned, when we launched our platform, we already had a beginner course on Sustainability and we have just released a brand new intermediate course taught by LIM College faculty.

Francesca: There has recently been a focus on social justice and our industry‘s lack of inclusivity. Do you think the fashion industry has more to do in this area and what is MOTIF doing to help?

Catherine: MOTIF is actively seeking out and working with partners that are developing content around these topics. From driving diversity and inclusion in our workplace all the way to how we bring in diversity and inclusion when designing for consumers and building socially responsible supply chains. Our vision is to have a catalogue of courses and resources valuable for the industry, but also that all material is taught through these lenses.

Francesca: Since the pandemic, people have been working remotely and making use of online tools. Have you seen an impact in online learning at MOTIF?

Catherine: Pre-Covid, companies still preferred onsite training even though online learning had established itself years ago as a viable and efficient training solution for individuals and corporations alike. The current crisis has only increased awareness and receptivity to the value of virtual learning environments and accelerated the adoption with many corporations now fully appreciating the efficiency, flexibility and scalability that elearning offers with real shared benefits for employees and employers. Once the pandemic gets under control, we expect that organisations will resume offline training, but we’re convinced that they will converge on more of a hybrid training model, a blended approach leveraging the best of both offline and online learning experiences, which MOTIF has already started to offer.

We’ve undoubtedly seen an increased traffic on the motif.org platform and stronger engagement from learners taking our courses. As more corporations, non-profit organisations or academic institutions are looking at accelerating the digitalisation of their training or educational content, this has also opened a lot of collaboration opportunities for us and enquiries on our instructional design and courses development services offering.

The University of Fashion is happy to welcome MOTIF to the online learning community. Together we shall both help to promote online fashion education for years to come!

 

Sincerely,

Francesca Sterlacci

CEO/University of Fashion

PRESIDENTIAL STYLE: JOE BIDEN’S SARTORIAL CHOICES THROUGHOUT THE YEARS

President Joe Biden in his signature navy suit and aviator sunglasses. (Photo Credit: @Drew Angerer)

There is no denying that President Joe Biden has nailed the fashion formula throughout his campaign trail, state visits and even during his off-duty sartorial looks. Joe Biden turned 78 on Nov. 20, 2020 and has had a long and successful political career, including two terms as Vice-President of the United States (2009-2017). He is now the most powerful political figure of the United States of America and his clothing choices are being eagerly watched by the fashion industry, who are desperately in need of a shot in the arm (vaccine pun, unintended).

For the most part, men’s suits on the political stage are simply that: men’s suits and not much more. Apart from a pattern on a tie or shirt color, they all look roughly the same. But the truth is that everything from the fit of their shoulders to the size of their shirt collar matters. It can be the difference between looking put together versus wearing unbuttoned oversized baggy suits.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION

(Left) First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and (Right) President Joe Biden wearing American Designers on his Inauguration Day. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

On Jan. 20, 2021, the world watched as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America. President Biden is known for his effortless, classic American style, so it was no surprise that Ralph Lauren designed his suit for this President’s inauguration.  Before his big day, WWD published an article announcing that Ralph Lauren would be dressing the President for the inauguration. Sources stated that “Biden has been working with the designer on a suit for the historic ceremony. The custom suit will be made in the recently renamed Rochester Tailored Clothing in Rochester, N.Y., which has been making Hickey Freeman clothing for more than a century.” Throughout the years, Joe and Jill Biden have been regular Ralph Lauren customers. “You can’t go wrong wearing Ralph Lauren,” said one menswear designer to WWD.

As President Biden was sworn in, he was the epitome of classic American style. He wore a navy blue suit and overcoat by Ralph Lauren. In a WWD article, one observer commented, “ This is a symbolic sartorial statement for a return to decorum and upholding the values of America.”  President Joe Biden wore a navy, single-breasted, notch lapel, two-button suit, a crisp white dress shirt, and a pale blue tie to coordinate with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s Markarian coat and dress look was created by the young American designer Alexandra O’Neill. The color blue was a nod to the Democratic party, according to WWD, a symbol of trust, confidence, and stability. President Biden captured the essence of how a modern day leader of the free world would look like.

Wearing Ralph Lauren was a departure from Brooks Brothers the oldest men’s clothier, founded in 1818, who had outfitted 41 of the 46 American presidents, including Barack Obama during his inauguration in 2009. Due to their failure to adapt to the trend towards slim cut suits and business casual wear, Brooks Brothers fell into bankruptcy last year and was sold for $325 million to SPARC Group, a joint venture between Simon Property and Authentic Brands Group.

Ralph Lauren has a history of nonpartisan dressing, including moments with Michelle Obama and outgoing First Lady Melania Trump. Joe Biden even sported a classic Polo shirt recently to take both of his COVID-19 vaccinations on television.

 

FASHION CHOICES THROUGH THE YEARS

A young Joseph Biden, wearing a casual short-sleeved shirt, pictured in 1967. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Joe Biden’s political career began in 1970 when he was first elected to a county council seat in Delaware. The law graduate and public defender worked as a senator and launched his first presidential campaign in the 1980s. In 2009, Joe Biden became the Vice President under Barack Obama, the two were a political dream team and had the cool-guy swagger that elevated the menswear game. Biden served as VP of the United States for two terms, ending his post in 2017.

President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama sharing a laugh and looking dapper. (Photo Credit: barackobama.medium.com)

Throughout his numerous years in political office, Biden has, naturally, refined his work wardrobe, moving from bolder prints and heavier fabrics to cleaner-cut tailoring and the occasional relaxed, open-necked shirt. The President also has embraced accessories to define his style, from his signature aviator sunglasses to funky print socks. President Biden has also been seen throughout his campaign wearing a face-mask, to protect not only himself, but everyone around him.

President Joe Biden in his elegant sartorial look and face mask . (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

When not on the campaign trail, President Biden has also been known to dabble in leather jackets, short-sleeved shirts and his signature aviators. A relaxed preppy vibe with a modern twist.

InStyle Magazine’s 2017 spread on Joe Biden. (Photo Credit Mario Sorrenti)

Here are some of Biden’s looks throughout the years:

Joseph Biden, in stripes and polka dots, checks in at the office of the Secretary of the Senate on December 13, 1972. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Joe Biden, in a slick tux, pictured at an event on July 14, 1987. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

 

Joseph Biden, left, in a casual shirt and aviators, receives a briefing at the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea, on August 11, 2001. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Joe Biden, in midnight blue, visits the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 17, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

BIDEN’S STYLE TODAY

Joe Biden, in his favorite color of suit, navy, and his wife, Jill Biden, attend at his election night event at the Chase Centre in Delaware, US, on November 3, 2020. (Photo Credit: EPA)

Today, President Biden is one of the best dressed politicians in the United States. The President is known for wearing a well-tailored classic cut suit, which makes sense given his physique (slim and tall). To the unqualified eye President Biden’s suits might appear to fit a little on the large side, but the slight pull at his top button and the way the back of his jacket collar sits flush against his shirt collar indicate a well-fitted suit.

For the most part President Biden sticks to what works best for him. His suits are usually navy, although occasionally he pushes himself out of his comfort zone and wears black or khaki tones. It seems that the President also prefers to wear crisp white shirts, which give him a sleek and refined look.

President Joe Biden supports his local community. For years he has been working with his local tailor in Wilmington, Delaware and occasionally orders custom shirts from Wright & Simon, a narrow shop on Market Street. Leonard Simon, the shop’s proprietor, has plenty of selfies with the President, but Simon laughs in an interview with the local paper Northjersey.com; “The pictures are in my phone. That’s where they will stay,” said Simon, 71, whose father, Morris Simon, cofounded Wright & Simon in 1935. “I’m a small store in a small state. I have to have discretion.”

Custom suits created at Wright & Simon are beautifully tailored and fit to perfection on their clients. Leonard Simon boasts that his clients can receive a perfectly tailored suit at a fraction of the cost of a designer version. Wilmington is not a $3,000-suit kind of town. At Wright & Simon, a customer can purchase a custom fit and press suit in their tailoring shop above the store for $795. Now that’s a bargain!

President Biden also perfected the art of accessorizing with his cool signature Ray Ban aviator sunglasses, dapper pocket squares, sleek facemasks, elegant repp ties (repetitive woven ribs of the silk tie fabric) and playful socks.

A pair of American Flag themed socks that Joe Biden has worn in the past. (Photo Credit: HuffPost)

PRESIDENT BIDEN BRAND  CHOICES

President Biden mostly chooses his suits from his local tailor shop in Wilmington, Delaware for a moderate price, and the tailoring is impeccable; former President Trump on the other hand has his suits custom made by the Italian luxury brand Brioni for a whopping $3,000.

According to Patrick Henry, better known as LA designer/tailor ‘Fresh’, a slimmer, more tailored fit reads more youthful and modern like those worn by Biden, while a larger and more relaxed suit like that of former President Trump, may speak to a different audience.

According to Fresh, President Biden’s pants are a perfect choice for his silhouette. “Biden’s break sits right at the top of his shoe. “Even though he’s moving and walking, you can still see it hits right at the top. He’s not showing his whole sock off, he’s not trying to look super cool or like a teen, the whole leg fits great.”

Ultimately, Fresh said the tailoring on President Biden’s suits and details like pocket squares make him look more youthful, confident, and ready.

“The presidency isn’t about health and physical fitness, but Biden looks like a young man, like he could go toe to toe with anyone,” he said. “He looks confident and, in my opinion, gives a look of readiness. Whereas a more conservative, looser fit looks like he might be ready to go do something else.”

FASHION AT THE WHITE HOUSE

Throughout the history of the White House, the United States has had several very fashionable first ladies and dapper presidents; from John and Jacqueline Kennedy to Barack and Michelle Obama. These political powerhouses brought style and grace to the White House.

Former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden have plenty of swag. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

No one has championed young American designers the way Michelle Obama did, so today, designers are becoming excited again for a fashionable-forward president and first lady. In an article in GQ magazine, America’s most influential designers are celebrating President Joe Biden’s sartorial choices.

In an interview with GQ, American fashion designer and CFDA Chairman Tom Ford stated, “Joe Biden is the perfect American president for now. I have always said that true elegance is not about style but about the way that one treats others. And Joe Biden is elegant. He also happens to be sartorially elegant: understated and a kind of calm and self-assurance that comes with age and experience. Slim and long with perfect posture, I find him quite sleek. A dramatic contrast to his predecessor. In fact, a welcome contrast in every way.”

Tom Ford, you captured President Biden’s essence perfectly!

REMINDER – UNIVERSITY OF FASHION HAS A MEN’S PATERN MAKING SERIES TO GET YOU STARTED AS A MENSWEAR DESIGNER

Welcome Jessica Krupa Our Newest Instructor Swimwear

- - CAD, Swimwear

We are very excited to announce our newest fashion category at the University of Fashion…swimwear!

Our instructor is Jessica Krupa, a New York City-based design entrepreneur and professor of design focusing on swimwear and intimate apparel. She has over 15 years of experience creating swimwear and intimate apparel collections for Fortune 500 Enterprises, such as Victoria’s Secret (VS) and Li & Fung, and has been awarded a bra design patent for innovation during her tenure at VS.

Jessica currently runs her own luxury swimwear company called Krupa Couture Swim and most recently founded an intimate apparel company called Panty Promise, focused on women’s feminine hygiene in panties, in which she received the “Favorite Brand Award” through Eurovet’s Curve Tradeshow Competition in November 2020.

Throughout her career, Jessica has been the receipt of several distinguished awards including Charleston’s Emerging Designer: East Competition, a Fulbright Scholarship called CBYX for Young Professionals, and has been inducted into the Hall of Excellence at OCVTS (Ocean County Vocational Technical School) to name a few. Her mission is to learn anything and everything about swimwear and lingerie design to make women of all shapes and sizes feel sexy, sophisticated and confident. Jessica is also known as the swimwear and lingerie guru of the fashion industry.

We are thrilled to have Jessica teaching at UoF where she shares her expertise in swimwear, intimate apparel and a new series on entrepreneurship. Stay tuned!

(Preview – Drawing a Swimsuit Block Template in Illustrator)

To see more of Jessica’s work:

Her Intimates brand – www.pantypromise.com @pantypromise

Her Swimwear brand – www.krupacouture.com @krupacoutureswim