RIDING HIGH: THE RESURGENCE OF COWBOY FASHION

Beyoncé is leading the Western trend with her Country Music Album Cowboy Carter. (Photo Credit: Blair Caldwell)

Western wear has always been a fashion staple at Coachella Music Festival (which began Friday, April 12th and ends Sunday, April 22 st). But saddle up fashionistas because Western cowboy style has officially galloped back into the mainstream! From the dusty plains of Texas to the bustling streets of New York City, the iconic attire of the Wild West is strutting its stuff once again, proving that some trends never truly fade away—they just lasso their way back into the spotlight.

In a world where trends come and go faster than a tumbleweed in a prairie wind, the revival of Western wear comes as a welcome surprise. But why now, you may ask? Well, we can mostly thank celeb designers, Pharrell Williams and Beyoncé. Queen B’s Renaissance world tour marked the launch of her cowboy era, with her crystal embellished cowboy hat and silver horse, a prop used throughout her performances. The midnight release of the pop star’s new country music album, Cowboy Carter on March 29th launched the trend with songs like Texas Hold ‘Em and 16 Carriages.

Pharrell Williams reinvents the cowboy for Louis Vuitton’s Mens Fall 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: The Hollywood Reporter)

Although Beyoncé is bringing the trend with ‘guns-a -blazin’, it was Pharrell Williams for Vuitton’s Fall 2024 Menswear show that started it all  with his epic take on classic Americana and the rich heritage of Western wear. Williams’ runway was filled with embroidered, fringed, and flowered leather and denim. And let’s not forget the accessories! From intricate Western belt buckles and bolo ties to cowhide-patterned bags and classic cowboy hats.

Bella Hadid cheering on cowboy boyfriend Adan Banuelos at the American Performance Horseman event in Arlington, Texas. (Photo Credit: Getty)

So, it seems that once again the timeless allure of rugged individualism, frontier spirit, and classic Americana has captured the hearts—and wardrobes—of the fashion set.  The trend is all over social media from Instagram and TikTok thanks to Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid, Rihanna, and Travis Scott, to name a few.

The Wild West aesthetic of cowboy hats, fringe, Bolos, denim jeans, western boots, and statement buckle belt, is reaching modernity with the embrace of colors and endless combinations. As on Feb. 22, 2024, “a simple hashtag search on TikTok reveals nearly 700 inspired posts and on Instagram more than a thousand”, according to ABC News Source.

Beyoncé goes country for a W Magazine cover story. (Photo Credit: Beyoncé)

How can you rock the cowboy look at Coachella and beyond? Let’s break it down:

EMBRACE FRINGE FEVER

A look from Chloé’s Fall 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Getty)

From suede jackets to leather skirts, fringe is having a major moment in Western cowboy fashion. Channel your inner rodeo queen or cowboy renegade with a fringed vest, a tasseled bag, or even a pair of statement boots that will have you kicking up dust in style.

DUST OFF YOUR DENIM

A look from Louis Vuitton Men’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Louis Vuitton)

Denim isn’t just for jeans anymore. Western-inspired denim shirts, jackets, and even dresses are all the rage this festival season. Pair your favorite denim piece with a bold belt buckle and some cowboy boots for a look that’s equal parts rugged and chic.

GET YOUR HATS IN THE GAME

Kim Kardashian rocking a cowboy hat. (Photo Credit: @KimKardashian)

No cowboy ensemble is complete without a trusty Stetson hat. Whether you opt for a classic felt design or a more modern twist with embellishments and unique shapes, a cowboy hat adds an instant dose of Western flair to any outfit—and provides much-needed shade from the desert sun, if you happen to be attending Coachella 2024!

PLAY WITH PRINTS

Diplo is embracing the cowboy trend. (Photo Credit: Getty)

From classic plaid to Southwestern-inspired patterns, prints are key to nailing the cowboy aesthetic. Mix and match different prints for a playful yet polished look that’s sure to turn heads in the crowd.

DON’T FORGET THE ACCESSORIES

Post Malone in a bolo tie. (Photo Credit: Getty)

Bandanas, bolo ties, and statement belt buckles are all essential accessories for mastering the cowboy look. Tie a bandana around your neck, swap out your usual necklace for a bolo tie, and cinch your outfit together with a bold buckle that demands attention.

Bad Bunny rocking the cowboy trend. (Photo Credit: Telemundo)

Whether you’re dancing the night away in the desert heat or running around the city, make sure to saddle up in style. After all, with Western cowboy fashion leading the charge as one of the biggest trends of the season, there’s never been a better time to embrace your inner cowboy or cowgirl and let your spirit run wild. Giddy up!

Emily Ratajkowski is embracing the cowboy boot. (Photo Credit: Gotham)

So, tell us, will you embrace the Western trend?

 

The Future of Fashion Education

image of The Future of Fashion Education As the founder of University of Fashion, a former fashion design professor/chairperson at FIT (18 years) and a graduate level instructor at Academy of Art University (6 years), as well as a fashion entrepreneur with an eponymous brand for ten years, I am often asked about the future of fashion education as it relates to the needs of the current fashion industry. Although my thoughts have changed over the years, as our industry has moved further into technology, one thing remains constant – teaching solid foundational skills are a MUST!

Before the advent of the computer, high schools taught students how to sew. Eventually, both sewing and art classes were replaced with computer science classes, leaving many aspiring creatives to fend for themselves. If a high school was even lucky enough to keep an art class, those instructors were ill-equipped to mentor students in the fashion arts, especially when it involved preparing a portfolio for a fashion college application. Enter University of Fashion (UoF), a fashion education learning platform that brought college-level fashion education to everyone in 2008.

Since then, UoF has not only been assisting and educating high school and college teachers and students, but we have expanded our reach to trade associations, industry personnel and, through our library partnerships, to their patrons and makerspaces. By offering a certificate for any/all lessons completed at UoF, students get the benefit of working toward a goal for their efforts.

Where online learning was once a stepchild to onsite learning, the pandemic proved otherwise. We at UoF like to think that we were trailblazers in this space. It was with great pride that at the start of the pandemic that we offered our lesson content for free to all high schools and colleges so that their instructors could finish out the academic term. Since then, many schools have become UoF subscribers and are using our content in hybrid classrooms, as well as a supplement to their existing curriculum.

In addition to our schools, groups, and libraries, UoF has spurred a cohort of fashionpreuneurs who have started their own brands, many in the sustainable design space. With the downsizing of the global fashion industry from the 90s to the present, and due to seismic shifts in consumer behavior, the number of available jobs, compared to the amount of fashion college graduates attempting to enter the work force, has greatly diminished. Therefore, many aspiring designers are opting to start their own businesses. It’s the new normal.

TECHNICAL SKILLS NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE

Image of Sue Lamoreaux a top recruiter

Sue Lamoreaux – Managing Director at Solomon Page (Image credit: Solomon Page)

In a recent UoF blogpost, the fashion industry’s top recruiter, Sue Lamoreaux of Solomon Page stated:

I know many graduates of design schools who needed supplementary technical construction training, since many of the schools don’t spend enough time in the semester honing the craft. I always recommend taking that needed course with University of Fashion so you can be confident in your skills. Prospective employers expect you to know garment construction and specs before you start working and not to be learning/teaching on the job.”Solomon Page banner

As a former professor at FIT and chairperson, I’ve had firsthand knowledge at how challenging it can be to find teachers who possess the required technical skills to teach in the classroom. I also discovered how resistant to change faculty can be when it comes to updating curriculum, embracing technology and including sustainability classes. In fact, it took a total of eight years to revamp FIT’s AAS and BFA curriculum as curriculum committee chair and later as department chair. That is not a formula for success, for both the school and the student. Things need to change.

ARE DESIGN SCHOOLS DESIGNERSAURS? 
image of Simon Ungless

Simon Ungless – former Director of Fashion at Academy of Art University San Francisco (Image credit: SFGATE)

One of the first fashion educators to question the role fashion education plays within the fashion industry was Simon Ungless, who in 2018 was the Director of Fashion at the Academy of Art University. Referring to fashion college students, Ungless was quoted in 1 Granary as saying, We are setting them up for an industry that doesn’t exist.

Ungless also stated: “The fashion education system is outdated. In an industry where fame and celebrity are valued more than raw skill, it is apparent that PR cannot provide the longevity young graduates require to sustain a brand. In this ego-centric habitat, we must question whether what fashion institutions provide is more self-serving to the university as a business than to their students’ skill sets. Press show runways provide an unhelpful conclusion to a degree. Early coverage is dubious: premature, immediate exposure can damage graduates’ prospects. Fashion education needs to be more introspective than promotion-centered.

“I’ve been in education quite a long time now and I see the desperate need for change”.   Simon Ungless

Ungless left fashion education in 2023. In a 2024 WWD interview he said, “I think education globally has turned into just another level of toxic business. Fill seats, pass people through classes, nobody fails. You know, resources cut, cut, cut, cut, cut. I’ve lost so many of my team — 17 in one day. And then just the expectation that I could keep going.

Today, he questions the viability of the system with so many more fashion programs graduating students each year to fewer opportunities and more debt.

Since stepping down from his position at AAU, Ungless has created his own line, When Simon Met Ralph (@whensimonmetralph). His company focuses on fashion, textiles, accessories and home products with a sustainable bend. All items, prints and treatments are one of a kind and are designed to lengthen the lifespan of vintage, discarded or deadstock products. He is also the first artist-in-residence at Atelier Jolie in NYC. Ungless is doing what should be taught in fashion schools and he has the skills to do it!

DECIPHERING THE DESIGN SCHOOL OF TOMORROW

Image of Steven Faerm, author and professor at Parsons

Last month, I had a chance to speak with Parsons professor Steven Faerm about the future of fashion education. I received a copy of his new book Introduction to Design Education: Theory, Research, and Practical Applications for Educators and was most impressed. In his book, Steven Faerm examines the future of U.S. design education and how it will transform teaching and learning. According to Prof. Faerm, “It will come as no great shock to read global fashion education is, well, at a crossroads, to put it mildly. Since the emergence of COVID-19 in 2020, nearly every design school has been rattled to its core. We continue to feel reverberations while squinting ahead through an opaque fog to learn what’s in store—and how to best prepare.”

image of Steven Faern's book, Introduction to Design Education

Introduction to Design Education: Theory, Research, and Practical Applications for Educators by Steven Faerm

Prof. Faerm is a veteran fashion designer and educator. A graduate of Parsons School of Design, he has worked for numerous designers, including Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs. He began teaching at Parsons as an adjunct faculty member in 1998 and, shortly after his transition into education full time in 2005, he served as the Program Director of Parsons’ esteemed undergraduate fashion design program while completing two graduate degrees in education. Both of his textbooks about fashion design are featured on international college-level required reading lists, and his scholarly work is widely circulated in academic journals and editorial publications.

Throughout his career, Faerm has become a frequent guest educator around the world, having taught and lectured for Harvard University (he is an alumnus), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), The University of Buenos Aires, Polimoda, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology (BIFT), Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and scores of other institutions.

QUESTIONS DESIGN SCHOOLS MUST ANSWER

For fashion educators, these past few years have amplified key questions about the future of design education.

  • What is the future of design higher education?
  • How can educators, administrators, advisors, and deans devise a more viable, sustainable future?
  • In what ways will the shifting political, social, economic, and cultural norms transform our academic environments?
  • How can we better understand, attract, train, and retain top faculty and students?
  • In what manner is the role of the design educator evolving?
  • How can we prepare for this increasingly complex, multi-faceted role?

If these questions feel daunting, rest assured support is here. In Introduction to Design Education, Faerm offers remarkable insights and speculations that will benefit fashion educators and administrators alike. The book, which is at the forefront of advanced research, addresses these and many other complex, pressing questions that face design education both today and tomorrow.

According to Prof. Faerm, the idea for Introduction to Design Education grew out of his 20-plus years of mentoring faculty at Parsons and other design schools around the world. “As teachers in design higher education, we are typically hired for our professional experiences and/or our scholarly research. It’s widely assumed by school administrators that because we know how to do ‘X,’ we know how to teach ‘X.’ Over and over, design teachers are hired and then dropped into a classroom without any preparation or training. They’re left to ‘figure it out’ on their own—just as I was!” Faerm said via telephone interview. His past experience (which will feel familiar to many readers) is discussed in his recent article for Harvard University’s Ed Magazine. In it, Faerm cites the dire need for design schools to fortify their faculty with advanced pedagogical training—the core thesis of this new book.

In my opinion, Introduction to Design Education is an outstanding contribution to the field of design education and a great start to the process for change within the fashion ed community. It is a must-read for anyone teaching design today. The book has great potential to transform, for the better, the ways in which design schools and their constituents operate, plan, and remain relevant in the years ahead. Professor Faerm has delivered a formidable, compelling book that is expertly researched, beautifully written, and remarkably insightful from start to finish. What distinguishes Faerm’s contribution to the vast library of books and articles about teaching is his contextualization of pedagogical strategies with the emergent Gen Z student’s unique attributes, values, and beliefs. His is not a “one-size-fits-all” guide to teaching so much as it is about how future design schools, and their faculty can bolster their current practices while adopting and activating new, more effective ones that directly target this increasingly complex demographic.

Readers will undoubtedly find it enlightening and gain significant idea, tools, and concepts that they can directly apply to their careers and design classrooms today and in the future. No matter their level of experience in design education, there isn’t a teacher out there who will not have their teaching greatly enhanced, strengthened, and even revolutionized by this book.

image of Francesca Sterlacci, founder of University of Fashion

Francesca Sterlacci- Founder University of Fashion (Image credit: University of Fashion)

As the founder of the first and largest online fashion education platform, I join my colleagues, Sue Lamoreaux, Simon Ungless and Steven Faerm in promoting change within the fashion education industry. It is my belief that as the fashion industry changes, we need to change, despite how hard as it is for many fashion schools to accept change. Fashion education should be inclusive, flexible, affordable, and not leave students with fewer job opportunities and in debt. These core principles have always been our   mission at University of Fashion.

Respectfully,

Francesca Sterlacci, Founder/CEO University of Fashion

UoF Launches Adaptive Fashion Series

Poster frames of UoF 5 lesson Adaptive fashion seriesUniversity of Fashion launches their 5-part Adaptive Fashion Series taught by Tracy Vollbrecht of Vollbrecht Adaptive Consulting (Photo courtesy: University of Fashion)

Did you know that there are more clothing options available for dogs than there are for people with disabilities? It took a long time coming, but the fashion industry is finally addressing the needs of the disability community, which is known today as Adaptive Fashion.

Thanks to our expert Tracy Vollbrecht, the University of Fashion is launching its 5-part Adaptive Fashion series to help educate the industry in the Adaptive Fashion marketplace. Our new series covers: the history adaptive fashion, how to design & develop adaptive fashion and how to merchandise and market product for the adaptive fashion consumer.

Headshot of Tracy Vollbrecht - instructor at UoF

Tracy Vollbrecht of Vollbrecht Adaptive Consulting and University of Fashion instructor (Image courtesy: Vollbrecht Adaptive Consulting)

Our series begins with the terminology used when referring to various types of disabilities. Ms. Vollbrecht also offers a downloadable Terms and Definitions document to help understand  appropriate language and terms used is this specialized market segment.

Molly Farrell, a white woman with brown hair, is shown in this photo wearing ULEX, one of the brands Tracy designed and helped launch. Molly is wearing a royal blue wrap cardigan and gray pants, while seated on bleachers. She is smiling brightly and her pink forearm crutches are visible in the photo.

Adaptive fashion designed by Tracy Vollbrecht for Yarrow featured on the Canadian TV show Fashion Dis (Image courtesy: Tracy Vollbrecht)

Ms. Vollbrecht’s history of the adaptive market covers such innovators as Helen Cookman, who in 1955, began researching the market potential of adaptable clothing at New York University’s Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation after being recommended for the role by New York Times style editor Virginia Pope. Cookman would spend the next four years developing a collection called Functional Fashions, which was a collection of 17 items designed to help disabled people dress independently. However, Ms. Vollbrecht explains that upon the passing of Helen Cookman and Virginia Pope the functional fashion movement began to fade and was replaced with clothing intended to make dressing easier for the elderly. It wouldn’t be until 2004-2007 that The Adaptive Fashion Showroom and the company Wheeliechix-Chic, founded by Louisa Summerfield, came into being and would take adaptive fashion to the next level.

Monica Engle Thomas, a white woman with curly auburn hair, is shown in this photo wearing a white Yarrow sleeveless button down that Tracy designed. Monica sits in her black and white manual wheelchair. She also wears sunglasses and jeans, while holding the leash to her small dog.

Monica Engle Thomas wearing a white Yarrow sleeveless button down designed by Tracy Vollbrecht (Image courtesy: Yarrow)

Tracy Vollbrecht Interview

UoF founder  Francesc Sterlacci sat down with Tracy Vollbrecht to learn why she became interested in designing for the adaptive market and her thoughts on where the market is headed.

Francesca: Were you formally trained as a fashion designer and if so, where? What motivated you to pursue a career in adaptive fashion?

Tracy: I am! I graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design. At Kent, I had the opportunity to conduct research on adaptive fashion, which was still in its second-wave infancy. I say second-wave as there was a first wave of adaptive fashion in the 60s (check out the history of adaptive fashion lesson to learn more!). Within the research I conducted, I spoke to over 75 people with varying disabilities to learn about their challenges with clothing. My research culminated in a universally designed collection shown at Kent’s annual fashion show, a published research paper, and presenting my research at various conferences, including the International Textile and Apparel Association’s annual conference. The work I did at Kent showed me that clothing challenges weren’t just an issue my dad, who had MS, had experienced, but an issue that so many people face. This motivates me every day to continue the work I do – clothing should allow everyone to express themselves and feel good, not just some of us.

Francesca: How in demand are designers with adaptive fashion expertise? How did you connect with the companies that you have designed for in this space?

Tracy: Unfortunately, adaptive fashion is still very much a niche portion of the fashion industry, which is what myself and others are working to change. There isn’t a high demand for adaptive fashion designers yet. I’m hopeful that the niche will grow and there will be more demand for designers, merchandisers, buyers, marketers, etc with adaptive fashion experience. The companies I’ve worked with have either sought me out, were referred to me, or that I connected with them through network connections.

Francesca: Can you name the companies that you have designed for and/or who you are currently working for? Are their dedicated online and brick & mortar stores exclusively selling adaptive fashion?

Tracy: My first adaptive fashion role was with Juniper Unlimited where I designed and helped launch their brands’ Yarrow and ULEX. In my consulting work with Vollbrecht Adaptive Consulting, I’ve developed training resources for Target, taught lectures at IFA Paris, conducted research for Open Style Lab, and more. I can’t share who I’m working with at the moment, but I am definitely excited for what’s to come! At this stage, adaptive fashion is almost exclusively online. As we talk about in our merchandising lesson, online shopping has both pros and cons for the Disabled consumer. It’ll be great to see brands start to carry adaptive products in store, where the shopper can find them organically.

Francesca: What are the biggest challenges in designing for people with physical challenges?

Tracy: The biggest challenges for creating adaptive fashion are the variety in needs and the fashion cycle. Within the disability community and even within the same disability (physical or not), there is so much variety in clothing needs, body shape, and challenges. No two disabilities are the same, which is why it’s so important for brands to work with people with disabilities. However, the time and effort needed to properly develop clothing that actually works for all is at odds with the fast-fashion, trend driven nature of the fashion industry currently.

Molly Farrell, a white woman with brown hair, is shown in this photo wearing ULEX, one of the brands Tracy designed and helped launch. Molly is wearing a royal blue wrap cardigan and gray pants, while seated on bleachers. She is smiling brightly and her pink forearm crutches are visible in the photo.

Molly Farrell wearing a top designed by Tracy Vollbrecht from ULEX- one of the brands she helped launch (Photo courtesy: ULEX)

Francesca: Do you see the adaptive market growing since companies like Tommy Hilfiger and other big brands have become more inclusive?

Tracy: Definitely! There is so much potential for brands to tap into the unmet needs of consumers with disabilities. Just because a few brands have gotten into the space doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more brands, all brands really, to get into the market. There will be “enough” adaptive fashion when consumers with disabilities have the same amount of choice in brand, price, and style as consumers without disabilities.

Francesca: What advice do you have for our students who may be interested in designing adaptive fashion?

Tracy: My advice to any student is that adaptive fashion is more than just adaptive design. Every role within the fashion industry (merchandising, product development, buying, marketing, etc.) is needed to make sure adaptive fashion gets into the hands of the consumer. If you have an interest in adaptive fashion, pursue it! Follow Disabled creators on social media; stay up to date on what brands are doing; volunteer for fashion shows. For designers specifically, adaptive fashion is still fashion. Getting experience working for fashion brands is essential. Since the adaptive market is still growing and there aren’t many adaptive design roles, take advantage of learning the process of design and development for non-adaptive fashion as that process still applies to adaptive fashion.

To learn more about Tracy Vollbrecht:

Cell: 732-632-7071

Website: www.vollbrechtadaptiveconsulting.com

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/tracy-vollbrecht/

Company LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/vollbrecht-adaptive-consulting

Learn More About the Adaptive Market

Read the book: All About Adaptive by Michele Chung

Learn how a new store in Pasadena, California caters to Adaptive Fashion consumers: Sewn Adaptive

So, tell us, how will you be pursuing a career in the Adaptive Fashion market?

MARCH MADNESS: THE FUSION OF SPORTS & FASHION = ATHLUXURY

Mannequins wearing sports-inspired designs by luxury designers – part of the exhibition Fashion and Sports From One Podium to Another opening this summer at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. (Photo Credit: Christophe Delliere)

March Madness isn’t just about basketball, it’s a celebration of athleticism, passion and the unbreakable bond between sports and fashion. This annual collegiate basketball extravaganza not only attracts fans with its intense matchups and Cinderella stories, but also serves as a catalyst for designers and is a vast source of inspiration. Throughout history, sports have influenced fashion, shaping trends and inspiring designers to push the boundaries of creativity. From the iconic designs of Nike’s iconic Air Jordan sneakers, to the elegance of Chanel nautical stripes, the influence of sports on fashion has been profound, shaping trends and styles. In fact, it is now a new fashion category known as  ATHLUXURY. A licensing deal with a big sneaker brand like Nike or Adidas, or a collaboration with a sports apparel company is every designer’s dream come true, just ask Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabanna, Moschino, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Stella McCartney, Gucci and Balenciaga, to name just a few.

A look from Dolce & Gabanna at the Fashion and Sports From one Podium to Another exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Let’s take a look at how a few iconic brands have perfectly blended fashion and sports:

NIKE: THE POWER OF ATHLETIC INNOVATION

Nike’s designer collaborations. (Photo Credit: Re-Hub)

Nike, the titan of  sport footwear, has continuously revolutionized the fashion landscape with its cutting-edge designs and unwavering commitment to athletic performance. When Michael Jordan burst onto the basketball scene in the 1980s, he not only changed the way the game was played but also revolutionized athletic footwear forever. The release of the first Air Jordan sneakers in 1985 marked the beginning of a cultural phenomenon. With their innovative design and endorsement from the greatest basketball player of all time, Air Jordans became more than just shoes; they became a symbol of urban culture and athletic luxury. Hence the term athluxury. Today, Air Jordans remain a staple in sneaker culture, influencing streetwear and high fashion alike.

Dior’s Nike Air Jordan Sneakers were created in 2020. (Photo Credit: Designboom)

Nike’s emphasis on innovation and style has not only elevated athletic footwear but has also shaped streetwear culture, cementing its status as a global fashion powerhouse. Luxury fashion houses such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Off-White, have all collaborated with Nike sneakers to great success.

ADIDAS: WHERE SPORTS MEETS STREET STYLE

Looks from the Adidas x Gucci Collaboration. (Photo Credit: Adidas)

With its iconic three stripes logo, Adidas has become synonymous with sporty sophistication and urban cool. The brand’s collaborations with designers like Stella McCartney, Gucci, Balenciaga, and the defunct Kanye West, have blurred the lines between sports and high fashion, introducing a new era of athleisure chic. From classic sneakers to statement tracksuits, Adidas effortlessly combines performance and style, making it a favorite among athletes and fashion enthusiasts alike.

LACOSTE: BRINGING ELEGANCE TO SPORTSWEAR

Venus Williams modeling her Lacoste x EleVen by Venus Williams collection. (Photo Credit: Lacoste)

Notorious for its iconic crocodile logo, Lacoste has been synonymous with elegance and athleticism since its inception in 1933. Founded by tennis legend René Lacoste, the brand introduced the polo shirt to the world of sports, combining style with functionality. Lacoste’s influence extends beyond the tennis court, with its classic designs inspiring countless iterations in both casual and high-end fashion.

RALPH LAUREN: FROM POLO FIELDS TO RUNWAYS

Ralph Lauren’s Team USA closing ceremony outfits for the 2022 Olympics. (Photo Credit: ABC News)

Ralph Lauren’s equestrian-inspired designs have left an indelible mark on the world of fashion, seamlessly blending the elegance of sports with the sophistication of luxury. From his iconic Polo Ralph Lauren line to the sporty-chic aesthetic of Polo Sport, the designer has redefined American style, capturing the essence of athleticism in every collection. With its timeless silhouettes and flawless craftsmanship, Ralph Lauren’s influence on sports-inspired fashion is as enduring as it is iconic. Ralph Lauren has also designed the Team USA uniforms for the Olympics and has been the official sponsor since 2014, providing the U.S. team with uniforms, outerwear, and tailored clothing that were worn during the Opening Ceremony, Welcome Dinner and during play.

STELLA MCCARTNEY: CHAMPIONING SUSTAINABLE SPORTSWEAR

A look from Adidas by Stella McCartney. (Photo Credit: Stella McCartney)

As the demand for sustainable fashion continues to grow, designers like Stella McCartney are leading the charge by reimagining sports-inspired apparel with an eco-conscious twist. From her partnership with Adidas to her own eponymous label, McCartney’s commitment to ethical fashion has garnered widespread acclaim. With her innovative use of organic materials and cruelty-free practices, McCartney proves that style and sustainability can go hand in hand, inspiring a new generation of designers to prioritize the planet without compromising on performance.

LOUIS VUITTON: ELEVATING ATHLETIC LUXURY

Looks from Louis Vuitton ski collection. (Photo Credit: Louis Vuitton)

French luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton has long been synonymous with opulence and sophistication, but in recent years the brand has embraced the world of sports with open arms. From its collaboration with Supreme to its partnership with the NBA, Louis Vuitton has redefined athletic luxury, infusing its signature style with a sporty edge. Whether it’s the iconic LV monogram on basketballs or the sleek designs of its sportswear collections, Louis Vuitton proves that sports-inspired fashion knows no bounds when it comes to luxury.

A collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Supreme at the The Fashion and SportsFrom one Podium to Another exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Louis Vuitton has also returned as the official Title Partner for the 37th edition of the America’s Cup. The luxury house will back the prestigious sailing yacht competition, which will begin in Barcelona in August 2024.

LVMH HAS BECOME A PREMIUM PARTNER OF THE OLYMPIC & PARALYMPIC GAMES PARIS 2024

LVMH will sponsor the upcoming Paris Olympics, making the games more fashion-heavy than ever. (Photo Credit: LVMH)

“This unprecedented partnership with the Olympic & Paralympic Games Paris 2024 will contribute to heightening the appeal of France around the world. It was only natural that LVMH and its Maisons be part of this exceptional international event. The values of passion, excellence and inclusion championed by high-level sports are cultivated each day by our teams, motivated by an unwavering desire to surpass limits. Sports is a tremendous source of inspiration for our Maisons, which will unite creative excellence and athletic performance by contributing their savoir-faire and bold innovation to this extraordinary celebration.” – Bernard Arnault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LVMH.

“From the very outset of our project we have wanted the Olympic & Paralympic Games Paris 2024 to contribute to promoting the image of our country and France’s many remarkable talents. Today, with the LVMH Group, Paris 2024 has taken a decisive step forward. LVMH already supported us during our bid for the Summer Olympics and we are thrilled to have the Group with us 100% for this exciting adventure. With its exceptional know-how, the LVMH Group will bring its immensely creative talent to this project and enable us to benefit from its extensive experience. This partnership also sends a powerful signal that France’s leading businesses are behind the Paris 2024 Games, which will let our country shine brightly around the entire world. We want to thank the LVMH Group and its artisans for their confidence and their active engagement. Together we are going to make the Paris 2024 Games a truly exceptional experience.” – Tony Estanguet, President of the Paris 2024 Olympic Committee.

THE BIRTH OF SPORTSWEAR: CHANEL AND THE NAUTICAL TREND

Coco Chanel wearing her nautical striped top. (Photo Credit: CNN)

No discussion of sports-inspired fashion would be complete without mentioning Chanel. In the early 20th century, Coco Chanel revolutionized women’s fashion by introducing elements of comfort and functionality borrowed from men’s attire. Inspired by the leisurely activities of the elite, Chanel popularized the nautical trend, incorporating sailor stripes and relaxed silhouettes into her designs. This infusion of sportswear aesthetics laid the groundwork for the modern concept of athleisure, blurring the lines between sports and high fashion.

A look from Chanel’s Cruise 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Chanel)

The French luxury house continues to draw inspiration from the world of sports, infusing its collections with elements of athleticism and leisure. Examples include the iconic Chanel tweed suit, reminiscent of traditional equestrian attire, the brand’s signature quilted handbags inspired by the jackets worn by English polo players, and the sporty-chic ensembles inspired by tennis and golf; Chanel’s sporting heritage is woven into the fabric of its DNA. With a nod to the past and an eye toward the future, Chanel continues to redefine the boundaries of luxury fashion, proving that style and athleticism are truly inseparable.

BURBERRY’S HERITAGE OF EXPLORATION: FROM THE TRENCHES TO THE TERRAIN

Luxury brands like Burberry are stepping into the sports arena. (Photo Credit: ModernRetail)

For Burberry, a brand steeped in heritage and tradition, the spirit of adventure has always been at the heart of its designs. Inspired by the rugged terrain of the British countryside and the adrenaline of outdoor sports, Burberry’s iconic trench coats and weatherproof jackets exude a sense of timeless elegance and rugged functionality. Whether braving the elements or navigating the urban jungle, Burberry effortlessly combines style with substance, embodying the essence of modern-day explorers.

PRADA’S SPORTY CHIC: EMBRACING URBAN CULTURE

Prada sneakers dedicated to the America’s Cup, launched in the Nineties. (Photo Credit: Prada)

Prada, synonymous with innovation and avant-garde style, has long embraced the fusion of sports and fashion. From its nylon backpacks inspired by utilitarian gear to its futuristic sneakers adorned with bright accents, Prada effortlessly blends athleticism with urban chic. With a finger on the pulse of street culture, the brand consistently pushes the boundaries of traditional sportswear, infusing its collections with a sense of rebellious energy that resonates with fashion-forward consumers worldwide.

Miu Miu’s Playful Aesthetic: Blending Sport and Surrealism

A look from Miu Miu’s Spring 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Miu Miu, the whimsical sister brand of Prada, embraces a playful aesthetic that seamlessly integrates elements of sport and surrealism. From retro-inspired tracksuits to embellished sneakers adorned with whimsical motifs, Miu Miu injects a sense of youthful exuberance into every collection. With its bold colors and unexpected juxtapositions, the brand challenges conventional notions of athleticism, inviting wearers to embrace their inner child and revel in the joy of self-expression.

So, tell us, can you name how many other sports that have influenced fashion?

SHAMROCK STYLE: A LOOK AT IRELAND’S FASHION LEGENDS THROUGH THE DECADES

Couturier Sybil Connolly photographed at the launch of her US collection in June 1953. (Photo Credit: Irish Independent)

March is not only known as Woman’s History Month, but it is Irish American Heritage Month as well. So, it is only fitting on St. Patrick’s Day, to pay homage to Ireland’s rich cultural heritage, including its vibrant contributions to the fashion world. From the traditional craftsmanship of tweed and lace to the avant-garde designs of contemporary couturiers, Irish fashion designers have left an indelible mark on the industry.

As we honor Ireland’s rich cultural heritage, let’s also take a moment to salute the visionary designers who have helped to put Irish fashion on the map. From the timeless elegance of Sybil Connolly to the avant-garde creations of Simone Rocha, their contributions to the world of fashion will continue to inspire generations to come. So, whether you’re donning a piece of Irish knitwear or a bold statement hat, let’s tip a beer to the creativity, innovation, and style of Ireland’s fashion legends. Sláinte!

Join UOF as we take a journey through the decades to explore the legacy of some of Ireland’s most influential fashion icons.

SYBIL CONNOLLY: DUBLIN’S DIOR

A look by Sybil Connolly. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

No discussion of Irish fashion would be complete without mentioning Sybil Connolly, often referred to as Dublin’s Dior. Connolly gained international acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s for her exquisite couture creations, which often featured traditional Irish textiles like handwoven tweed and delicate lace. Her designs were celebrated for their romantic elegance and attention to detail, earning her a devoted clientele that included Jacqueline Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor.

IRENE GILBERT: PIONEER OF IRISH FASHION

A selection of Irene Gilbert’s designs on display at the Little Museum of Dublin. (Photo Credit: Little Museum of Dublin)

Irene Gilbert was another true pioneer of Irish fashion, breaking boundaries and challenging conventions throughout her career. Gilbert became Ireland’s first ever couturier and the first woman to successfully run a fashion business in Ireland in 1947. She was known for dressing high society ladies throughout Ireland, as well as Grace Kelly. She will forever be known as the Irish designer who helped pave the way for Irish fashion designers.

NEILLI MULCAHY: HAUTE COUTURE

Designer Neillí Mulcahy at work. (Photo Credit: Little Museum of Dublin)

Neilli Mulcahy ran an haute couture salon in Dublin from 1951 to 1970 and was known for her bold use of color and extensive use of local materials such as linen, poplin and printed wool, but specifically tweed for evening wear. Along with fashion designers Ib Jorgensen, Irene Gilbert and Clodagh Kennedy, she founded the Irish Haute Couture Group to promote Irish fashion in the U.S..

SIMONE ROCHA: A MODERN VISIONARY

Looks from Simone Rocha’s Fall 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar)

Simone Rocha has emerged as one of the most exciting voices in contemporary fashion, blending elements of Irish tradition with a distinctly modern sensibility. Since launching her eponymous label in 2010, Rocha has garnered widespread acclaim for her romantic yet rebellious designs, which often feature delicate embroidery, voluminous silhouettes, and unexpected twists on femininity. Her ability to seamlessly blend the old with the new has cemented her status as a true fashion visionary.

ORLA KIELY: QUEEN OF PRINTS

Orla Kiely and her playful bags. (Photo Credit: The Times)

Orla Kiely’s bold prints and retro-inspired designs have made her a household name in the world of fashion. Since founding her label in the late 1990s, Kiely has become known for her playful yet sophisticated aesthetic, which often draws inspiration from mid-century modernism and vintage motifs. Her iconic stem print, in particular, has become synonymous with her brand and has been featured on everything from handbags to home goods.

PHILLIP TRACY: MASTER MILLINER

Naomi Campbell modeling Philip Treacy’s iconic butterfly hat. (Photo Credit: Vanity Fair)

Phillip Treacy is not only one of Ireland’s most celebrated fashion designers but also one of the world’s foremost milliners. Known for his whimsical and avant-garde approach to hat design, Treacy has created iconic headpieces for everyone from royalty to pop stars. His sculptural creations push the boundaries of traditional millinery, transforming hats into works of art that defy convention and captivate the imagination. Camilla Parker wore a Philip Treacy hat at her wedding with Prince Charles in 2005. He’s also created hats for some f the most iconic women including Madonna, Lady Gaga, Princess Beatrice of York, Victoria Posh Beckham, Isabella Blow and Sarah Jessica Parker. Treacy has also created runway hats for Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, and Valentino, to name just a few.

JW ANDERSON: REDEFINING FASHION

A look by JW Anderson’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Lauchmetrics)

Joathan Anderson has earned a reputation as one of the fashion industry’s most innovative and boundary-pushing designers for his label JW Anderson. Born in Northern Ireland, Anderson has become known for his gender-fluid designs and eclectic aesthetic, which often combines elements of British and Irish heritage with a modern twist. His eponymous label has garnered critical acclaim for its bold silhouettes, unexpected fabric combinations, and subversive approach to fashion.

LOUISE KENNEDY: TIMELESS ELEGANCE

Various looks from Louise Kennedy. (Photo Credit: Forbes)

Louise Kennedy is synonymous with timeless elegance, thanks to her sophisticated designs and impeccable tailoring. Since launching her label in the 1980s, Kennedy has dressed everyone from royalty to Hollywood stars, earning a reputation for her classic yet contemporary aesthetic. Her luxurious creations often feature clean lines, luxurious fabrics, and subtle embellishments, embodying the epitome of understated glamour. In 2013, Kennedy was called the “uncrowned queen of Irish fashion”.

SINEAD O’DWYER: PUSHING BOUNDARIES

Looks from Sinead O’Dwyer’s Fall 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Yahoo)

Sinead O’Dwyer is a rising star in the world of fashion, known for her boundary-pushing designs and commitment to inclusivity. O’Dwyer’s work often challenges traditional notions of beauty and body ideals, celebrating diversity and self-expression. Through her experimental use of materials and avant-garde silhouettes, she seeks to challenge the status quo and redefine the parameters of fashion.

PAUL COSTELLOE: FASHION ROYALTY

Princess Diana wearing a Paul Costelloe suit. (Photo Credit: ncweb)

With a career spanning over five decades, Paul Costelloe is a true Irish fashion legend. Known for his exquisite tailoring and timeless designs, Costelloe has dressed everyone from Princess Diana, Laura Whitmore, Vogue Williams and Binky Felstead. His eponymous label embodies the essence of classic elegance, with a modern twist, earning him a loyal following around the world.

So, tell us, which Irish designers have inspired you?

Celebrating Women’s History Month: A Tribute to Fashion’s Inspiring Muses

Jean Paul Gaultier and his muse Madonna. (Photo Credit: Herb Ritts)

Happy Woman’s History Month! As we celebrate women and their innumerable accomplishments, UOF would like to pay tribute to the many fashionable women, throughout history, have inspired some of the most influential designers through the decades. Like they say…”behind every great man is a great woman”!

Givenchy and Hepburn go for a stroll together in Paris in an undated photo. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In the world of fashion, the relationship between designers and their muses is a tale as old as time, a symbiotic dance of  inspiration, creativity and innovation. Throughout history, these duos have shaped the very essence of style, leaving an indelible mark on the fashion landscape. From the glamour of the Golden Age of Hollywood to the avant-garde runways of Paris, the bond between male designers and their muses has been a driving force behind some of the most iconic fashion moments. To prove it, we are dedicating this blog to some of these timeless partnerships and would like to hear from YOU as to others you may be in the ‘know’ about and want to share.

PAUL POIRET AND DENISE BOULET

“My wife is the inspiration for my creations, she is the expression of all my ideals,” Poiret said. Here is the designer with his wife Denise Boulet. (Photo Credit: Getty)

At the dawn of the 20th century, Paul Poiret revolutionized fashion with his bold designs and visionary approach. Central to his creative vision was his wife, Denise Boulet. Poiret’s muse and collaborator, Boulet embodied the spirit of his designs, infusing them with grace and elegance. Together, they pioneered the shift from restrictive corsets to flowing, avant-garde silhouettes, forever changing the course of fashion.

HUBERT DE GIVENCHY AND AUDREY HEPBURN

Hubert de Givenchy and his muse Audrey Hepburn in 1988. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

In the enchanting world of couture, few partnerships have captured the imagination quite like that of Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn. Their collaboration began serendipitously when Hepburn, seeking a wardrobe for the film Sabrina,  crossed paths with Givenchy. The rest, as they say, is history. Hepburn became the epitome of chic sophistication, while Givenchy’s timeless designs adorned her with unparalleled elegance, creating an enduring legacy of style.

CHRISTIAN DIOR AND MIZA BRICARD

Christian Dior’s and his muse Mizza Bricard. (Photo Credit: MilkX TW)

In the aftermath of World War II, Christian Dior emerged as a beacon of hope, ushering in a new era of luxury and opulence with his iconic New Look. Central to his creative vision was Miza Bricard, his muse and confidante. With her impeccable taste and innate sense of style, Bricard inspired Dior to redefine femininity, thus shaping the fashion landscape for generations to come.

COCO CHANEL

Coco Chanel in her Paris apartment. (Photo Credit: Architectural Digest)

Not only male designers had muses. A fiercely independent Coco Chanel was her own muse, embodying the liberated spirit of the modern woman. Chanel’s timeless designs, from the iconic little black dress to the revolutionary Chanel suit, continues to resonate with women worldwide, a testament to her enduring legacy.

YVES SAINT LAURENT, BETTY CATROUX AND LOULOU DE LA FALAISE

Designer Yves Saint Laurent, Betty Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Yves Saint Laurent’s illustrious career was defined by his close relationships with muses Betty Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise. With their androgynous allure and bohemian spirit, Catroux and de la Falaise inspired Saint Laurent to push the boundaries of fashion, creating groundbreaking designs that captured the zeitgeist of the era.

ROY HALSTON AND LIZA MINNELLI

Halston with his muse Liza Minnelli. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In the dazzling world of Studio 54, Roy Halston reigned supreme, transforming American fashion with his minimalist yet glamorous aesthetic. At the heart of his creative vision was Liza Minnelli, the iconic entertainer whose charisma and allure captivated audiences worldwide. Together, they epitomized the hedonistic glamour of the ’70s, leaving an indelible mark on fashion history.

BOB MACKIE AND CHER

Bob Mackie and his muse Cher. (Photo Credit: Elle)

Few partnerships have ignited the imagination quite like that of Bob Mackie and Cher. With her fearless style and boundary-pushing creativity, Cher became Mackie’s muse, inspiring some of the most unforgettable looks in fashion history. From the infamous sheer gown at the 1974 Met Gala to the elaborate costumes of her concert tours, Mackie’s designs transformed Cher and secured this duo’s place in fashion history books.

AZZEDINE ALAÏA AND GRACE JONES

Azzedine Alaïa and his muse Grace Jones. (Photo Credit: L’Officiel)

Azzedine Alaïa and Grace Jones forged a legendary partnership defined by their shared passion for sexy, avant-garde design. Jones’s striking beauty and fearless attitude inspired Alaïa to create sculptural masterpieces that defied convention, blurring the lines between fashion and art.

RALPH AND RICKY LAUREN

Ralph Lauren with his wife and muse Ricky Lauren. (Photo Credit: Architectural Digest)

Ralph Lauren’s iconic brand epitomizes the American Dream, embodying a vision of timeless elegance and sophistication. Central to his creative vision is his wife, Ricky Lauren, whose impeccable taste and refined sensibility have shaped the brand’s aesthetic for decades, creating a legacy of enduring style and luxury.

MARC JACOBS AND SOFIA COPPOLA

Marc Jacobs and his muse Sofia Coppola. (Photo Credit: L’Officiel)

Another dynamic duo is Marc Jacobs and Sofia Coppola. This creative partnership is defined by their shared love of art, culture, and style. Coppola’s effortless chic and understated elegance inspired Jacobs to create designs that resonate with women of all ages, blurring the lines between fashion and culture.

GIANNI AND DONATELLA VERSACE

Gianni Versace and his muse Donatella Versace. (Photo Credit: Elle)

Gianni Versace’s bold, provocative designs epitomized the excess and glamour of the ’80s and ’90s. Central to his creative vision was his sister, Donatella, whose fierce style and unwavering support propelled the Versace brand to international acclaim, creating a legacy of bold, daring fashion that continues to captivate the world. When Gianni was murdered in 1997, Donatella took control of the Italian Luxury brand and kept her brother’s legacy alive.

HERMÈS AND JANE BIRKIN

Jane Birkin and her namesake bag created by Jean-Louis Dumas of Hermes. (Photo Credit: Wonderland)

The former chairman of Hermès, Jean-Louis Dumas met actress Jane Birkin in 1984 and witnessed the contents of Birkin’s carry-on bag fall out while on a flight.  In a 2015 interview with The Telegraph, Birkin recounted that Dumas, who was sitting next to Birkin, said, “you should have one with pockets.” Birkin replied, “The day Hermès make one with pockets I will have that”, and he said: “But I am Hermès and I will put pockets in for you.”  Shortly after the two collaborated, the Birkin was created, becoming one of the most covetable accessories in fashion history. It has been reinvented many times since it was first introduced to the public in the 1980s. The Hermès bag’s classic elements include two rolled handles, a flap top, a touret, a clochette, and four clou “feet” and is available in sizes, 20, 25, 30, 40, 42 and 50 centimeters, some featuring exotic crocodile skin paired with diamond-encrusted white gold hardware. Today, there’s a year’s long wait list with some vintage Birkin bags selling for up to $2 million. Now that’s one successful female muse collaboration!

Care to share your designer muse story?

 

CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE: THE INTERSECTION OF BLACK HISTORY, ART & FASHION

Black History Month Image. (Photo Credit: Break The Tape Leadership)

As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, we are reminded of the mark that African Americans have left on the arts. Within this kaleidoscope of expression, the realm of fashion emerges as a vibrant canvas where Black visionaries have sculpted history, broke barriers, and have redefined norms. Join UOF as we delve into the world of African American creativity, as we explore the narratives, styles, and some of the individuals who are shaping the fashion industry today.

At the nexus of cultural expression and sartorial innovation, Black designers stand tall, their creations echoing the richness of their heritage while pushing the boundaries of contemporary fashion. Names like Telfar Clemens, Duro Olou, LaQuan Smith, and Christopher John Rogers resonate with a new generation of fashion enthusiasts, infusing their collections with narratives that transcend mere garments, weaving stories of resilience, empowerment, and identity. Join us as we explore these influential persons of color, who are leaving an indelible mark on the fashion landscape.

TELFAR CLEMENS

Telfar Shopping Bag. (Photo Credit: Telfar)

A pioneer of inclusivity and accessibility, Telfar Clemens has revolutionized luxury fashion with his unisex designs and iconic Telfar Shopping Bag, also called the “Bushwick Birkin,” the brand’s best-selling item. His eponymous label, Telfar, stands as a testament to his commitment to democratizing style and celebrating individuality.

AURORA JAMES

Aurora James and her Brother Vellies Shoes. (Photo Credit: Dre Bless)

Founder of the 15 Percent Pledge, Aurora James has emerged as a leading voice for diversity and representation within the fashion industry. Through her advocacy and her brand, Brother Vellies, James champions BIPOC designers and artisans, amplifying their voices and ensuring their inclusion on the global stage.

OLIVIER ROUSTEING

Cher with Olivier Rousteing Closes Balmain Spring 2023 Runway Show in Custom Jumpsuit. (Photo Credit: WWD)

As the creative director of Balmain, Olivier Rousteing has redefined luxury with his opulent designs and boundary-pushing aesthetic. With a focus on diversity and empowerment, Rousteing has transformed Balmain into a symbol of inclusivity and modernity.

DURO OLOWU

A look from Duro Oolowu’s Spring 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Renowned for his eclectic prints and masterful use of color, Duro Olowu celebrates the beauty of diversity in every stitch. His eponymous label reflects his global perspective and unwavering commitment to craftsmanship, earning him accolades from fashion insiders and enthusiasts alike. Oh, and did you know he is married to Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, the world’s leading institution devoted to visual arts by artists of African descent.

KENNETH IZE

A look from Kenneth Ize’s Fall 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Drawing inspiration from his Nigerian heritage, Kenneth Ize infuses traditional textiles with a contemporary twist, creating vibrant and dynamic collections that celebrate African culture. His innovative designs have garnered international acclaim, positioning him as a rising star in the fashion world.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN ROGERS

A look from Christopher John Rogers’ Pre-Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

With his bold use of color and theatrical silhouettes, Christopher John Rogers captivates audiences with his unapologetic celebration of joy and self-expression. His eponymous label reflects his belief in the transformative power of fashion, empowering individuals to embrace their true selves.

LAQUAN SMITH

A look from LaQuan Smith’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

From dressing global icons to redefining notions of sensuality and empowerment, LaQuan Smith is a force to be reckoned with in the world of fashion. His eponymous label exudes confidence and sophistication, embodying the essence of modern glamour.

VICTOR GLEMAUD

Designer Victor Glemaud walks the runway with a model from his Spring 2023 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Championing knitwear as a canvas for self-expression, Victor Glemaud creates luxurious and versatile pieces that blur the lines between fashion and art. His inclusive approach to design celebrates diversity and individuality, inspiring a new generation of knitwear enthusiasts.

THEBE MAGUGU

A look from Thebe Magugu’s Spring 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Hailing from South Africa, Thebe Magugu infuses his designs with storytelling and symbolism, exploring themes of heritage, identity, and empowerment. His eponymous label reflects his commitment to social commentary and cultural preservation, earning him acclaim from critics and consumers alike.

TORISHEJU DUMI

Naomi Campbell walking the runway for Torishéju Dumi’s spring 2024 collection in Paris. (Photo Credit: Torishéju Dumi)

With her avant-garde designs and sculptural silhouettes, Torisheju Dumi pushes the boundaries of fashion, creating wearable works of art that defy convention. Her visionary approach to design reflects her belief in the power of fashion to inspire and transform.

A SHOUT OUT TO THE QUEEN BEAUTY MOGUL

Widely regarded as one of the most influential makeup artists of all time, Pat McGrath has revolutionized the beauty industry with her visionary artistry and boundary-pushing creativity, she is also deemed the most influential makeup artist in the world by Vogue magazine. As the founder of Pat McGrath Labs, she has created a cosmetics empire that celebrates diversity and empowers individuals to express themselves through makeup.

Social media has been a hotbed of speculation about how Pat McGath created the waxen shiny skin on models for the Maison Margiela couture show. (Photo Credit: Pat McGrath Labs)

In the world of haute couture, innovation and artistry reign supreme. Pat McGrath’s collaboration with Maison Margiela for their Spring-Summer 2024 show exemplified the pinnacle of creativity. With her masterful use of color, texture, and technique, McGrath transformed the faces of the models into living works of art, each one a testament to the beauty of individuality and self-expression. “The legendary creative transformed models into living dolls, complete with porcelain skin, pencil-thin eyebrows and strikingly shaded eyes, lips and cheeks. But it was the waxen, glazed complexions she created that really stole the show, spawning countless pieces of magazine analysis and TikTok tutorials, some of which have already amassed millions of views”, according to CNN.

As we celebrate Black History Month, let us honor the contributions of these trailblazing designers and visionaries who continue to shape the future of fashion. Their creativity, innovation, and unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come, reminding us of the transformative power of art and the enduring legacy of African American excellence.

In the words of Maya Angelou, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Let us celebrate the metamorphosis of Black creativity, embracing the myriad hues of expression that adorn our world, enriching it with depth, vibrancy, and soul.

So, tell us, how are you supporting the 15% Pledge?

UoF Instructor Update: Silvia Perramon

 

headshot of Silvia Perramon

Silvia Perramon – University of Fashion’s award-winning Master Designer Beader/Embroiderer
(Image credit: Silvia Perramon)

In 2014 we were fortunate to have been introduced to Silvia Perramon by Parsons instructor Darlene Donohue (also a UoF instructor). We were immediately blown away by Silvia’s multi-talents. We promptly signed her up and produced a six-lesson series that included beading and embroidery, using both embroidery hoop and Tambour frame, and fabric manipulation, whereby Silvia uses couture techniques to create her own unique textiles. In a world where handwork seems be on a slow decline, Silvia’s lessons are proof that Millennial and Gen Zers love and respect these crafts. Her lessons continue to be extremely popular with our students.

Poster frames shots of lessons: Beading Needle Embroidery and Silk Ribbon EmbroideryUoF Beading Needle Embroidery lesson                                        UoF Silk Ribbon Embroidery lesson

poster frames of lesson: Tambour Embroidery and Tambour Beading lessons UoF Tambour Embroidery lesson                                                  UoF Tambour Beading lesson

poster frame of UoF lessons: Frbric Manipulation- Swirl Pattern and Fabric Manipulation- Tier MotifUoF Fabric Manipulation – Swirl Pattern  lesson                      UoF Fabric Manipulation – Tier Motif lesson

Recently, UoF founder, Francesca Sterlacci, had a chance to sit down with Silvia to catch up on what she’s doing now. It turns out that since creating lessons for UoF, Silvia has won a prestigious Hand & Lockembroidery prize in 2018, lives in Milan designing embroidery and beading for many of Europe’s top fashion houses and continues to express herself through the most incredible beading and embroidery art pieces that are sought after by global collectors. Be prepared to be blown away!

Interview

Francesca: You were born in Spain, but where do you live and work now?

Silvia: I currently live in Milan and am Head of Embroideries of a hand embroidery studio, Atelier Aamir. We are based in the heart of the capital of fashion, which means we can get commissions and delivery projects for VIP, clients and show pieces in a short period of time. We work for couture houses from all Italy and, also, we receive commissions from European high fashion brands. On the other hand, I always keep my own art alive, producing pieces for my collection and private commissions.

Francesca: Where did you study embroidery?

Silvia: My teacher was and always will be Mr. Robert Haven of the Bead Embroidery & Design Studio in Kentucky. He taught me all the basics of embroidery, opening my career to an infinite of possibilities to experiment and discover. I studied architecture at Universidad Internacional de Cataluña, which means that not just design, but the technique, amazed me. I changed my path because I was in love with Lunèville technique, which is the French name of Tambour beading done with the hook. In 2017, I furthered my studies at Scuola di Ricamo Alta Moda in Rome. This technique, with a lot of work and discipline, is the one that made me arrive to work with all the couture houses that I am now collaborating. I had to work hard to enter into the fashion world without having a degree in fashion, I worked many years for free in workshops, to increase my knowledge and being able to have a proper resume to find a paid job, to the point that after five years being in the embroidery world, when I moved to Italy, seven years ago, in less than a month I got an offer from Dolce Gabbana Alta Moda, because of my experience. Since then, I work and have contact with many embroidery designers, who are also passionate for embroidery.

 

Silvia discussing her Hand & Lock first place prize on YouTube of Andy Warhol created with layers of embroidered seed beads, paillettes and sequins, all done on a Tambour frame. (Video credit: YouTube)

Silvia discussing her Hand & Lock first place prize on YouTube of Andy Warhol created with layers of embroidered seed beads, paillettes and sequins, all done on a Tambour frame.  (Video credit: YouTube)

Francesca: What was it like to win the Hand & Lock first place prize?

Silvia: Wining the First Prize at Hand and Lock in 2018 was such an honor. They are worldwide renown Institution of Embroidery. An amazing experience I would say. In addition, two of my embroidery students also won the price the following years.

Silvia Perramon’s Beaded & Embroidered Art Pieces

 

Silvia art work Male embroidery

Silvia Perramon- painted and embroidered art (Photo credit: Silvia Perramon)

Silvia Perramon- Tambour beaded & embroidered art of Diana Vreeland (Photo credit: Silvia Perramon)

Silvia Perramon- Tambour beaded & embroidered art of Diana Vreeland (Photo credit: Silvia Perramon)

Silvia Perramon- Tambour beaded & embroidered art of Rudolf Nureyev (Photo credit: Silvia Perramon)

Silvia Perramon- Tambour beaded & embroidered art of Rudolf Nureyev (Photo credit: Silvia Perramon

 

To learn more about Silvia

Check out her website: https://www.silviaperramon.com/designs

Instagram @SilviaPerramonRubio

If you would like to know more about entering your embroidery work in the 2024 Hand & Lock competition (first prize is $3,500), click this link: https://handembroidery.com/the-prize/faqs/

 

 

ANNE LOWE: CELEBRATING THE LEGACY OF AN AMERICAN COURTIER

In the hushed corridors of high fashion, Ann Lowe stands as a beacon of timeless elegance and innovation. Her creations, woven with meticulous craftsmanship and a touch of magic, have graced the shoulders of First Ladies and socialites alike. Now, a new exhibit at the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, which is located in Delaware, promises to unveil the secrets behind Lowe’s enduring influence on American couture.

The exhibit is titled “Ann Lowe: Threads of Elegance,” the exhibition transports visitors into the enchanting world of this unsung fashion genius. As the doors swing open, the ethereal presence of Lowe’s designs beckons from the pedestals, drawing admirers into a realm where every stitch tells a story.

Anne Lowe’s whimsical creations. (Photo Credit: Winterthur Museum)

Ann Lowe’s journey to becoming a couturier extraordinaire was marked by resilience and passion. Born in rural Clayton, Alabama in 1898, Lowe’s early fascination with fabrics and design was nurtured by her mother and grandmother, a former slave and skilled dressmaker. Lowe was only a teenager when she developed not only her expert technical skills, but also her distinctive style—feminine, graceful, and elegant. Her beautiful creations often incorporated her signature hand-made floral elements which society women adored.

Her remarkable career took her through the Jim Crow South, from Montgomery, Alabama, to Tampa, Florida, and in 1928 to New York City, the fashion capital of the United States. Although Lowe’s work made her an asset to wealthy society women around the country, as a young black woman she also experienced the chaotic hardships of the fashion business and segregated America in a period of dramatic change.

Lowe’s creations place her amongst America’s exceptional fashion designers, and her life illustrates a legacy of Black women’s knowledge and skills that began as enslaved labor. With the odds against woman of color at the time, Lowe fought hard and positioned herself as a creative designer, a fashion insider, and a vital contributor to American culture. This legacy of creativity and determination set the stage for Lowe’s rise in the fashion world.

The Winterthur exhibit expertly curates Lowe’s life’s work, showcasing her evolution from an apprentice to a trailblazer who challenged racial and gender barriers in the early 20th century. Each garment on display is a testament to Lowe’s ability to blend sophistication with simplicity, creating pieces that resonate with grace and charm.

Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding dress when she married John F. Kennedy in 1953. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

A highlight of the exhibit is Lowe’s groundbreaking creation for Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding in 1953. Despite the prevailing racial prejudices of the time, the First Lady’s iconic wedding dress was a testament to Lowe’s unparalleled talent. The Winterthur Museum has spared no expense in recreating the magic of that historic gown, allowing visitors to marvel at the intricate details that captivated the nation.

Jacqueline Kennedy in her Ann Lowe-designed wedding dress. (Photo Credit: Elle Magazine)

In 1964, The Saturday Evening Post referred to couturier Ann Lowe as “Society’s Best-Kept Secret.” Although Lowe had been creating couture-quality gowns for America’s most prominent debutantes, heiresses, actresses, and society brides—including Jacqueline Kennedy, Olivia de Havilland, and Marjorie Merriweather Post—for years, Lowe remained practically unknown to the public. The designer has been given far too little recognition for her influence on American fashion, but this exhibit will surely breath new life into Lowe’s whimsical creations.

Elizabeth Mance wears an Ann Lowe design in a wedding photograph circa 1968. Lowe can be seen behind the bride and her father being escorted into the church. (Photo Credit: Elle Magazine)

As you wander through the exhibit, it’s impossible to ignore the influence Ann Lowe had on shaping American fashion. Her designs were a symphony of elegance, transcending the trends of the moment and becoming timeless classics. From glamorous ball gowns to chic day dresses, each piece is a masterclass in the art of couture.

The Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library have gone above and beyond to create an immersive experience. The exhibit space is adorned with floral arrangements reminiscent of Lowe’s favorite blooms, creating an ambiance that mirrors the grace and beauty of her designs.

Ann Lowe, photographed for the December 1966 edition of Ebony magazine. (Photo Credit: Elle Magazine)

Beyond the couture, the exhibit delves into Lowe’s personal life, offering glimpses into the challenges she faced as a woman of color in a predominantly white, male industry. It’s a poignant reminder that her success was not only measured in the stitches and seams but also in the resilience that defined her journey.

Ann Lowe: Threads of Elegance” is not just an exhibition; it’s a celebration of an artist who broke barriers and left an indelible mark on American fashion. As you step into the Winterthur Museum, be prepared to be transported into the world of Ann Lowe—a world where elegance knows no bounds, and creativity is truly timeless.

Ann Lowe: American Couturier can be purchased at the Wintherur Store online. (Photo Credit: Wintherur Museum.)

If you cannot make it to the exhibit, you can purchase her book which features vivid new photographs of Lowe’s creations—including intricate details of her exquisite handwork and signature floral embellishments. The book also includes essays that explore the trials and achievements of Lowe’s life, contextualize her work, as well as profile Black designers whose work reflects her influence. There are also behind-the-scenes looks at the astonishing efforts to preserve Lowe’s gowns.

Lowe, photographed for the December 1966 edition of Ebony magazine. (Photo Credit: Elle Magazine)

So tell us, which historic designers have had the greatest influence on your designs?

DID YOU KNOW? UNIVERSITY OF FASHION OFFERS A CERTIFICATE PROGRAM !

UoF Certificate(Image credit: example of University of Fashion Certificate of Completion)
Our subscribers had been asking us about how they could earn a certificate upon completion of our lessons. We get it, who wants to invest hours of time and money and not get a reward? Well, at last, and after hours of computer programming (and money), we are proud to announce our University of Fashion Certificate of Completion program, available to all our paid subscribers.
Sure you can attend fashion school and pay thousands (that is if you are lucky enough to get accepted), but for those in the ‘know’, why not take advantage of 500+ lessons all taught by top fashion college professors and industry pros, learn at your own pace any time of day or night, in the privacy of your own home, rewind and replay a lesson over and over until you get it, at a fraction of the cost of fashion school?
Ask any of our subscribers, UoF’s customer service is top notch! Have a question about one of our lessons? No problem, our teachers are ready, willing and able to answer them within 24 hours. We always love hearing from our students.

Now You Can Earn a UoF Certificate for Your Efforts


(Image credit: University of Fashion subscriber draping and sewing a dress)

How UoF’s Certificate of Completion Program Works

(Image credit: An example of a student’s My Learning page – listing lessons ‘in-progress’ & 100% completed)

All University of Fashion paid subscribers can now receive a Certificate of Completion for any and all completed lessons and lectures. You can track your individual progress toward earning a certificate by clicking on the My Learning tab on the left side of your Account page. Here you can track all of your lessons and your lesson progress.

(Image credit: University of Fashion student calculating fabric consumption & costing a garment)

 

Is there a Cost for a UoF Certificate of Completion?

No. There is NO extra charge for a University of Fashion Certificate of Completion. If you are a paid monthly or yearly subscriber and completed one of our lessons, you are eligible to obtain a certificate. Our certificate program just launched and we have subscribers who have already earned 20+ certificates!

(Image credit:Example of a student’s My Learning page showing lesson discipline, certificate & date earned)

 

Benefits of a UoF Certificate of Completion

Beyond that feeling of accomplishment at having learned and mastered a new subject or technique, there are many other benefits to earning our Certificates:

  • Present your certificates to prospective employers, along with examples of your completed draped, drafted and sewn projects
  • Include UoF certificates to your portfolio for job application and college admission purposes
  • Frame your certificates as proof of your competence in multidisciplines to your clients
  • Export and email your certificates to your instructors for extra credit
  • Prove to your employer that you have up-skilled in a particular area
  • Demonstrate to a school administrator proof of your competence and proficiency in teaching additional subjects

More Good News

Now until 12/31/23 we are offering $40 off a yearly subscription to UOF. Was $189/Now $149

Use promo code: BEST

Sign up at https://www.universityoffashion.com/sign-up/

Spread the word! Start completing lessons and printing out your UoF certificates. Let us know how many you’ve earned!

MOVE OVER HERITAGE BRANDS- THERE’S SOME NEW KIDS IN TOWN PART 2

- - Fashion Shows

Looks from Feben’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

In the vibrant world of fashion, Milan and Paris stand as bastions of innovation, creativity, and timeless elegance. With their rich cultural heritage, a plethora of heritage brands and unwavering dedication to craftsmanship, these fashion capitals have finally opened their arms to new design talent. This week’s blog is part two in our coverage of fashion’s newest darlings.

Initiatives such as fashion incubators, mentorship programs, and grants are gaining momentum, providing invaluable support to emerging designers as they embark on their creative journeys. Through these initiatives, Milan and Paris are reaffirming their commitment to fostering the next generation of fashion visionaries and ensuring that their legacies endure for years to come.

By embracing and nurturing young talent, they are not only preserving their rich sartorial heritage, but are also pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation. As emerging designers continue to make their mark on the global stage, one thing is certain: the future of fashion shines bright in the hands of those who dare to dream in the shadow of Milan and Paris.

MILAN

Milan, Italy’s fashion capital, is synonymous with luxury and sophistication. It’s a city where tradition seamlessly intertwines with modernity, providing a fertile ground for emerging designers to thrive. One of the defining features of Milan’s fashion scene is its commitment to craftsmanship and attention to detail, traits that are instilled in aspiring designers from the outset.

Milan’s Fashion Week serves as a platform for emerging designers to showcase their collections alongside established fashion houses. This exposure not only catapults their careers but also solidifies Milan’s position as a nurturing hub for burgeoning talent.

Here are a few of Milan’s emerging designers:

FEBEN

A look from Feben’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

This season, Feben was selected and sponsored by Dolce & Gabbana. Feben, is a London designer with Ethiopian roots who was born in North Korea and grew up in Sweden.

A Central Saint Martins 2020 graduate, Feben sells her designs to established retailers, Ssense and Browns. She is known for her colorful, form-fitting clothes and has developed a cult following with celebrities like Beyoncé, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and Janelle Monáe.

The designer often plays with texture in her work, and claims “Because if you can work with textures, you can create really cool things.” She went on in an interview with Vogue: “I want you to feel something, either with your eyes, heart, or your hands, and I find texture so fun.” This season Feben cut her signature puckered “Twist” dresses in velvet, which was oh so flattering.

MICHAELA STARK LAUNCHED HER NEW LINGERIE LINE PANTY

A look from Panty’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Michaela Stark)

Australian artist/designer Michaela Stark’s bold lingerie and ready-to-wear line, Panty, goes up to a size 5XL, which is truly size inclusive. The collection is a celebration of all body types with its transparent bloomers, corsets, garters and baby-doll dresses. Panty celebrates the body’s natural curves and does not conceal them with rigid shapewear. Stark showcased her debut collection in Milan at the Fondazione Sozzani via an exhibition and a performance called “Michaela Stark’s Panty Show.” “I put an obscene amount of time into making lingerie that makes fat desirable,” Stark told Kerry Olsen for The New York Times.

Stark launched her couture business in 2022, operating on a made-to-order basis. She has quickly become known for creating avant-garde pieces created from corsets and ribbons. The pieces are constructed with strategically placed holes to create bulges or cradle the curve of a breast or stomach, according to Vogue Business.

Stark’s creations has been featured in photoshoots for a number of publications, including Vogue Italia, Dazed and Perfect magazine. She has also collaborated with Jean Paul Gaultier and in September 2023, was selected to design a capsule for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, as the brand’s aim is to be size inclusive.

SAGABOI

A look from Sagaboi’s Fall 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Tagwalk)

Sagaboi was founded in 2015 by Geoff K. Cooper. The label is inspired by the Caribbean region’s culture, history, lifestyle, people and practices. So naturally for his Milan Fashion Week debut, Cooper brought Caribbean Flair to Milan with a calypso music-filled show for both his menswear and womenswear collections.

Cooper’s background was not in design, according to WWD, he was a menswear editor. Launching Sagaboi was very personal to him because he wanted to give a voice to the Caribbean culture he felt was underrepresented in the industry. Drawing its name from the West Indian word meaning “a playboy” or someone who dresses fashionably, the collection captures the essence of the Caribbean with vibrant colored skirts, tailored suits, fanciful furs, and a nod to safari.

PARIS

Across the border, Paris exudes an aura of romance and refinement that transcends generations. As the birthplace of haute couture, the city is revered for its unparalleled craftsmanship and visionary design. However, Parisian fashion isn’t just about adhering to tradition; it’s about pushing boundaries and challenging conventions. Young designers flock to Paris, drawn by its reputation as a melting pot of creativity and innovation.

During Paris Fashion Week, the world’s fashion elite converge to witness the unveiling of groundbreaking collections by both established and emerging designers. This global stage provides young talents with a rare opportunity to showcase their work on an international platform, attracting attention from buyers, influencers, and press alike.

Here are a few of Paris’ emerging designers:

MAXHOSA AFRICA

Looks from Maxhosa Africa’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo launched his Maxhosa Africa label in 2011 at the age of 24. The designer studied textile and pattern design in school before pursuing a degree in textile design and technology at Nelson Mandela University in his hometown of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He then received his 2-year master’s degree at London’s Central Saint Martins.

A Missoni fan, Ngxokolo viewed knitwear as the best medium to translate traditional beadwork. These techniques rely on networks of pixel-like units — a stitch or a bead — but the Italian brand’s artistic approach echoed the way he wanted to “apply our [Xhosa] art in an African-centric way,” he stated in a WWD interview.

While it’s important for Ngxokolo to preserve his cultural heritage, he is adamant that people approach the brand as a high-end fashion line, one that is “sacred on the celebration of culture.”  He believes that  “Culture is magnificent and therefore can be celebrated globally as much as people celebrate heritage. My culture is bold and extravagant but the point I wanted to prove is that culture can be fashionable, tasteful and worn on a daily basis — if done right.”

RENAISSANCE RENAISSANCE

Looks from Renaissance Renaissance’s fall 2024 collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

For designer Cynthia Merhej, her label Renaissance Renaissance is the story of renewal and keeping hope alive in the direst of  circumstances, as the name indicates.

Merhej grew up in the aftermath of Lebanon’s 30-year civil war, “everything was decimated and was just starting to be reconstructed,” the designer recalled to WWD. “A lot of what I learned about design, culture, art and so on came from a huge curiosity and desire to see what’s out there.”

Leaving Lebanon for London, the designer pursued visual communication and illustration courses at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art. “But everything I was doing inevitably led back to fashion, my first love, [particularly] as the way I saw storytelling was always through clothes,” she said to WWD. After all, her mother, aunt, and great-grandmother all had ateliers of their own.

Merhej created her first collection in 2019, and in 2020 she was selected as part of Net-a-porter’s Vanguard program in 2020. The brand was on the way up when COVID-19 struck. To make matters worse, when she was back home in Beirut, the 2020 explosion at the city’s port happened, which left hundreds dead, thousands injured and scores without homes or livelihoods. “It was really like being stuck on a roller coaster and not knowing when it’s going to end,” she said to WWD. Yet she proceeded. Merhej opened an atelier for her brand Renaissance Renaissance in the Lebanese capital in 2022. The designer produces her collection in her homeland to foster creativity after all the trauma in her country.

Bringing her collections to Paris has already put Merhej’s work on fashionista radars. She was chosen to create the costumes for an upcoming adaptation of “Bonjour Tristesse,” the 1954 novel by French author Françoise Sagan, starring Chloë Sevigny.

JULIE KEGELS

A look from Julie Kegel’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

“For me, it’s all about finding a balance between beauty and ugliness, seriousness and ridiculousness because while designing I just want to have fun,” Belgian designer Julie Kegels told WWD ahead of her debut collection. “I also want to feel a lot of emotions while also coming out of my comfort zone.”

Fashion design was a dream Kegels wanted since childhood, after all, her father worked in accessories and bags. She attended the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts’ prestigious fashion department, where she sharpened her skill under the wings of Walter Van Beirendonck and Dirk Van Saene. She’s also worked under Pieter Mulier at Alaïa.

Eventually, she launched her namesake brand Julie Kegels. “I always had in mind the desire to start something when the time was right, but I thought that if I waited too long, I’d be a bit afraid,” she said in an interview with WWD.

 

So, if you are an aspiring and/or an up-and-coming designer, we hope this blog post will give you some encouragement. Passion is everything. So are the right skills. That’s why the mission of the University of Fashion has always been “Learn fashion design, one step at a time”.

 

So, tell us, as an emerging designer which city would you want to unveil your brand?

 

 

MOVE OVER HERITAGE BRANDS- THERE’S SOME NEW KIDS IN TOWN

- - Fashion Shows

Looks from Agbobly’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Move over Marc (Jacobs), Michael (Kors), Ralph (Lauren), Stella (McCartney) and all of you French heritage brands, there’s some new kids in town who are nipping at your heels. While the fashion capitals of the world, New York, London , Milan and Paris have long been touted as the breeding grounds for creativity, innovation, and style, it is really the up & comers are making their way into the spotlight. No, they can’t afford million dollar fashion show productions like the big guns but thanks to social media and and tons of talent, there is a new crop of young designers who are stealing the spotlight and captivating audiences with their fresh perspectives and daring designs.

From avant-garde creations to sustainable fashion statements, these young designers are not only making a name for themselves but are reshaping the fashion landscape as we know it.

In New York, the runway buzzed with excitement as designers like Jacques Agbobly and Meruert Tolegen made their fashion week debut, infusing the city’s fashion scene with a sense of youthful energy. Their collections, inspired by a fusion of cultural influences and personal experiences, offered a refreshing take on modern elegance. From striking silhouettes to unexpected fabric combinations, each piece told a story, inviting viewers to embark on a journey of sartorial exploration.

Meanwhile, across the pond in London, a similar sense of innovation permeated the catwalks as emerging talents such as Talia Byre and Zeng Yue, the creative directors for Momonary, captivated audiences with their bold vision. Embracing diversity and inclusivity, their collections celebrated individuality in all its forms, challenging traditional notions of beauty and style. With nods to streetwear and couture alike, these designers showcased the eclectic spirit of London’s fashion scene, where creativity knows no bounds.

But beyond the glamour of the runway, the importance of young designers presenting their collections extends far deeper. In an industry often dominated by established names and commercial giants, Fashion Week provides a crucial platform for emerging talents to make their mark. It’s a chance for them to share their unique perspective, connect with industry insiders, and gain invaluable exposure globally.

A look from Kate Barton’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Moreover, the rise of young designers signifies a broader shift towards sustainability and ethical practices within the fashion industry. Many emerging talents are placing greater emphasis on eco-conscious design, opting for organic materials, ethical production methods, and zero-waste principles. By championing sustainability, these designers are not only shaping the future of fashion but also driving positive change within the industry as a whole.

In a world where creativity knows no bounds, the importance of supporting young designers cannot be overstated. Their fresh ideas, bold experimentation, and fearless innovation are the lifeblood of the fashion industry, driving it forward into uncharted territory. As we reflect on the Fall 2024 shows in New York and London, let us celebrate the next generation of talent and embrace the endless possibilities they bring to the world of fashion. Because after all, the University of Fashion is the breeding ground for training new talent.

So, here’s to the dreamers, trailblazers and visionaries—these new young designers are reshaping the future of fashion, one collection at a time.

NEW YORK FASHION WEEK 2024

AGBOBLY

A look from Agbobly’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Jacques Agbobly is a 26-year-old designer whose namesake knitwear brand, Agbobly, honors the designer’s Togolese heritage while celebrating Black culture. Stemming from the designer’s first brand, BlackBoyKnits, Agbobly embodies numerous layers of the designer’s identity, through colorful knit pieces that tell a story with every stitch.

“Grateful,” Jacques Agbobly told WWD, a few minutes before his first show at New York Fashion Week. This up-and-comer was WWD ‘s One to Watch honor and was also just nominated for the LVMH Prize. Fall served as a “bienvenue” he said to WWD, a welcome to his work, his culture and his skills at a time when a lot of industry eyes are directed at the brand.

Agbobly seamlessly merges his Chicago and Togolese (African) roots in his collection. Western-inspired shirts with detailed topstitching came from watching countless western movies, while his suits had flashes of the Togo flag colors. The collection also featured plenty of bold knitwear, which is quickly becoming his signature look. Agbobly also played with eveningwear with a vibrant green corset minidress, proving that the designer is more than a one-trick pony.

MERUERT TOLEGEN

A look from Meruert Tolegen’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

New York-based designer Meruert Tolegen presented her first runway show with a calming, romance-tinged fall collection. After debuting her namesake label in 2020, the bio-scientist turned fashion designer has honed in on mixing elements from her Kazakh culture and her New York life, with fanciful, and often historical fashion, touches.

“I’ve been exploring a lot with textures in previous seasons. This time, I haven’t shifted focus — I’m still mixing fabrics, but in a smarter way. In the creative aspect, I wanted to balance that with creating those interesting shapes and prints, which add to the quirkiness,” she explained backstage to WWD. Her whimsical “floral” print, was created with AI tools, and was seen on the season’s myriad sweet dresses and quilted topcoat. It’s actually a motif of flying ghosts, “which ties into that search of yourself, which is what the season is quite a bit about.”

In her runway debut, Tolegen featured bustiers, fitted shapes and interesting volumes,  crafting a mix of calico dresses, voluminous mantle, and pannier gowns. But the real winners of the collection were her bow-adorned, beaded, and ruffle-trimmed romantic dresses.

Tolegen also introduced menswear for the first time. “Let men be whimsical as well,” she said to WWD. And UOF couldn’t agree more.

NIGEL XAVIER

Looks from Nigel Xavier’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Nigel Xavier completed in Netflix’s show, “Next in Fashion” and went from reality TV star to fashion week darling. His unique upcycled designs struck a chord with judges and viewers, as he won the show’s second season last year.

“It was the perfect opportunity for me to just show all my talents because I always approached [design] from a more art standpoint than just fashion design,” he told WWD. “There, I could actually show just one piece and not have to worry about the business side of it. It was just like tailor-made for how I approached fashion this whole time. Then I got the win and now I’m just building the brand to be even more on that fashion house level, rather than just staying in the mode of what I’ve done before.”

Tapestry Collection is the title of Xavier’s debut collection, which continues the nostalgic vibe he’s always incorporates in his pieces. The limited-drop collection offers puffer jackets and trousers made from upcycled tapestries depicting images of angels, wolves, eagles, and other motifs. Xavier is making sustainability oh so fashion forward.

LONDON FASHION WEEK 2024

TALIA BYRE

A look from Talia Byre’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Who doesn’t love a stripe?  Talia Byre sure does. They were the central motif in her collection, which included every incarnation from Breton to candy and awning to pin.

Not only was the designer inspired by her love of stripes, but she also looked to the artist Amedeo Modigliani’s portraits of Beatrice Hastings, his longtime partner. The color palette took cues from Modigliani’s hues of browns and tans, with pops of blue and red.

“This season we wanted to hone the silhouette. We added collars, detailing, zip trims, but stayed true to our quite tight silhouette with flared flamenco hem,” the designer explained to WWD.

LUCILA SAFDIE

A look from Lucila Safdie’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Lucila Safdie’s emerging brand is an expression of femininity and empowerment, but with a flirty, girlish twist.

Motivated by the writer Sylvia Path’s work “The Bell Jar”, Safdie created a collection inspired by ’50s shapes, but with a more contemporary edge. Safdie told WWD, her label has a “schoolgirl, coming-of-age aesthetic of my brand”. 

The line-up was filled with A-line mini dresses, as well as cropped polo shirts and jackets. There were also low-waisted denim trousers, slouchy shirts and leggings.

MOMONARY

Looks from Momonary’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Zeng Yue, the creative director for the brand Momonary, was inspired by map-making and said in an interview with WWD, the aim was to layer lightweight material to create a heavily textured look. “Thin, map-printed chiffon layers cascade, revealing the ever-changing terrain. Gold-stitched embroidery flowers act as coordinates, marking our journey.”

Yue worked with a delicate wash of soft pastels and adding fragile floral and sparkling crystal appliqués to the collection.

For fall, Yue also created a partnership with 3M and used the organization’s animal-free loose fill insulation for outerwear. They were quilted and dotted with fluttering silk flowers and were paired with wide-leg trousers and bubble skirts.

FINANCIAL CHALLENGES YOUNG DESIGNERS FACE

Designer Carly Mark of Puppets and Puppets presented her final RTW collection deciding to shift her focus to accessories only. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Amidst the glamour of fashion, young designers encounter a formidable foe: financial hurdles that threaten to overshadow their creative vision.

In the competitive landscapes of fashion capitals, the journey from sketchbook to runway is fraught with challenges, particularly for those at the dawn of their careers. For budding designers, the quest for financial stability can feel like navigating a labyrinth, with numerous obstacles blocking the path to success.

One of the foremost challenges facing young designers in New York and London is the exorbitant cost of living and operating a business. In both cities, sky-high rents for studio spaces and storefronts devour a significant portion of a designer’s budget before a single garment hits the market. Securing a prime location in SoHo or Covent Garden may be a dream, but the reality often entails sacrificing profitability for visibility.

Moreover, the expenses associated with production and materials add another layer of complexity to the financial puzzle. From sourcing high-quality fabrics to hiring skilled artisans, the costs can quickly spiral out of control, especially for independent designers with limited resources. While mass production offers economies of scale, it dilutes the artisanal essence that sets emerging designers apart in a sea of fast fashion.

In the age of social media and influencer marketing, establishing a brand presence is essential for success. However, building a strong online presence requires a significant investment in digital marketing and e-commerce platforms. From website development to targeted advertising campaigns, the costs can accumulate rapidly, leaving young designers grappling with the dilemma of allocating limited funds between creativity and commerce.

Despite these formidable challenges, the resilience and ingenuity of young designers continue to shine through. Many have embraced innovative approaches to circumvent financial barriers and carve out their niche in the competitive fashion landscape. Collaborations with established brands and retailers offer a mutually beneficial opportunity to gain exposure and access additional resources, albeit with compromises on creative control.

Furthermore, the rise of sustainable and ethical fashion presents a silver lining for environmentally conscious designers seeking to differentiate themselves in a crowded market. By prioritizing transparency and responsible sourcing practices, they not only appeal to a socially conscious consumer base, but also align with the values of a younger generation increasingly disillusioned with the excesses of fast fashion.

In recent years, initiatives such as mentorship programs and incubators have emerged to support aspiring designers in overcoming financial obstacles and realizing their entrepreneurial ambitions. Through guidance from industry veterans and access to funding opportunities, these programs empower young designers to navigate the complex terrain of fashion business with greater confidence and resilience.

Ultimately, while financial hurdles may persist for New York and London’s young designers, they are not insurmountable. With perseverance, creativity, and strategic thinking, emerging talents can defy the odds and carve out a niche for themselves in the fiercely competitive world of fashion. As they navigate the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, they embody the spirit of innovation that defines the cultural fabric of their beloved cities.

So, tell us, what is the biggest challenge you’re facing as an emerging designer?

A FEAST FOR THE SENSES: THE THRILL OF EXPLORING FASHION EXHIBITS

Looks from The Met’s Women Dressing Women Exhibit. (Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

In a world that’s constantly on the move, where trends come and go in the blink of an eye, there’s something undeniably magical about stepping into a fashion exhibit. It’s not just about admiring exquisite garments or marveling at the ingenuity of designers – it’s an immersive journey into the heart of creativity, a celebration of beauty, history, and culture.

In this week’s UOF blog, we are highlighting a few fashion exhibits that are currently on display and where you will find tons of great inspiration.

EXPLORING THE ESSENCE OF STYLE IN THE CITY BY THE BAY

Rodarte’s gold evening dress from the Spring 2011 Collection. (Photo Credit; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco0

San Francisco, the city that birthed the Beat Generation, fostered the Summer of Love, and continues to be a hotbed of creativity and innovation, has always been a bastion of style. Now, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) celebrates this rich sartorial heritage with its latest exhibit, “Fashioning San Francisco: Celebrating the Style of a City” the exhibit is now open and will run through August 11, 2024.

This immersive exhibition is a love letter to the unique fashion sense that has defined the City by the Bay for generations. Curated from one of America’s largest collections of fashion, the exhibit presents a carefully curated selection of garments and accessories that collectively tell the story of San Francisco’s evolving style identity.

As visitors step into the exhibit, they are transported through time, beginning with the Gold Rush era when San Francisco was a bustling frontier town. Here, they encounter opulent Victorian dresses adorned with lace and intricate beadwork, reminiscent of the city’s affluent elite who sought to flaunt their newfound wealth.

Moving forward in time, the exhibit captures the bohemian spirit of the 1960s, a period that forever altered the city’s cultural landscape. Vibrant tie-dye shirts, bell-bottom jeans, and psychedelic prints evoke memories of the Summer of Love, when Haight-Ashbury became ground zero for the counterculture movement.

But “Fashioning San Francisco” is not merely a nostalgic journey through the past; it also highlights the city’s ongoing influence on contemporary fashion. A section dedicated to the tech boom of the late 20th and early 21st centuries showcase sleek, minimalist designs favored by Silicon Valley’s elite. Visitors marvel at innovative garments crafted from cutting-edge materials, reflective of San Francisco’s position at the forefront of technological innovation.

What sets this exhibit apart is its immersive approach to storytelling. Visitors are not passive observers but active participants in the narrative. Interactive displays invite them to try on replica garments from different eras, allowing them to experience firsthand the evolution of San Francisco style. Additionally, multimedia installations featuring archival footage and interviews with fashion designers offer deeper insights into the city’s fashion landscape.

Fashioning San Francisco” not only celebrates the past, but also serves as a reminder of the city’s enduring spirit of creativity, individuality, and innovation. In a world where trends come and go, San Francisco’s style remains timeless.

EXPLORING THE VIBRANT WORLD OF PACITA ABAD

Pacita Abad with her trapunto painting Ati-Atihan, 1983, wearing garments and jewelry collected on her travels. (Photo Credit: Pacita Abad Art Estate)

Sadly the exhibit ended on Jan. 28th, but the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) featured the kaleidoscopic universe of Pacita Abad. The exhibit offered a vibrant tribute to one of the Philippines’ most celebrated artist, whose work transcends boundaries of culture, geography, and medium.

Walking through the doors of SFMOMA, visitors were greeted by a riot of color that spills across the gallery walls. This is the world of Pacita Abad – a world where every stroke of the brush, every splash of pigment, tells a story of joy, resilience, and the unbreakable human spirit.

Curated with a keen eye for detail, the exhibit traces Abad’s artistic journey from her early explorations of social realism to her later experiments with abstract expressionism. Here, visitors are treated to a visual feast of paintings, textiles, and mixed-media installations that showcase Abad’s boundless creativity and relentless pursuit of beauty in all its forms.

One of the exhibit’s most striking features is its emphasis on Abad’s use of everyday materials to create art. From traditional canvas and paint to repurposed fabrics, found objects, and even whole cars, Abad’s work defies convention and challenges viewers to reconsider their preconceptions of what constitutes art.

But perhaps what sets Abad apart is her unwavering commitment to social justice and human rights. Throughout her career, Abad used her art as a platform to raise awareness of issues such as poverty, environmental degradation, and political oppression. Her iconic “Trapunto” series, which features large-scale textile paintings adorned with stitched motifs and embellishments, served as a poignant reminder of the struggles faced by marginalized communities around the world.

As visitors delved deeper into the exhibit, they were struck by the sheer diversity of Abad’s oeuvre. From her colorful “Sail” series, inspired by her travels to remote corners of the globe, to her haunting “Portraits of Exile” series, which captured the faces of refugees fleeing war and persecution, Abad’s work transcends the boundaries of culture and language to speak to the universal human experience.

Interactive displays invited visitors to engage with Abad’s work on a deeper level, prompting them to reflect on their own experiences of migration, displacement, and belonging. From interactive storytelling sessions to hands-on art workshops, the exhibit offers something for everyone, regardless of age, background, or artistic ability.

In a world that often seems bleak and divided, the art of Pacita Abad offered a ray of hope – a reminder that beauty can be found in the most unexpected places, and that art has the power to heal, inspire, and unite us all.

UNSUNG WOMEN: THE MET CELEBRATES WOMEN DRESSING WOMEN

Looks from The Met’s Women Dressing Women Exhibit. (Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

In the heart of Manhattan, where the pulse of fashion beats strongest, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) unveils its latest exhibit, “Women Dressing Women” which will run until March 10, 2024. It’s a celebration of femininity, creativity, and the transformative power of fashion. Stepping into the hallowed halls of the MET, visitors are transported into a world where women are not just the wearers of fashion but also its creators, visionaries, and muses.

Curated with meticulous care, “Women Dressing Women” showcases the work of female designers who have shaped the landscape of fashion throughout history. From Coco Chanel’s revolutionary designs that liberated women from the confines of corsets, to the boundary-pushing creations of contemporary designers like Rei Kawakubo and Phoebe Philo, the exhibit offers a panoramic view of women’s influence on style.

Women Dressing Women” is not just a retrospective; it’s a celebration of diversity, inclusivity, and empowerment. Throughout the exhibit, visitors are introduced to designers from diverse backgrounds and cultures whose work challenges traditional notions of beauty and femininity. The exhibit will include iconic pieces established designers, including looks by Sarah Burton, Gabrielle Chanel, Ann Demeulemeester, Elizabeth Hawes, and Jeanne Lanvin. Pieces representing designers who have maintained a significant presence in The Costume Institute’s collection and exhibition history—such as Germaine Émilie Krebs, who created under the names Alix and Mme. Grès; Miuccia Prada; and Elsa Schiaparelli—are also featured.

Contemporary designers are also included, such as Hillary Taymour for Collina Strada, Anifa Mveumba for Hanifa, Iris Van Herpen, Norma Kamali, Ester Manas, Jamie Okuma, Simone Rocha, Marine Serre, Yeohlee Teng, and Isabel Toledo, among others, illustrate the creative and conceptual possibilities of contemporary design, highlighting inclusive definitions of womanhood, collaborative practices, a sustainable mindset, and the plurality that has come to define the spirit of fashion today, according to the Met’s press release on the exhibit.

Interactive displays invite visitors to participate in the conversation, prompting them to reflect on their own relationship with fashion and identity. From discussions about body positivity to explorations of cultural appropriation in fashion, the exhibit encourages visitors to think critically about the ways in which fashion shapes our perceptions of ourselves and others.

Here, women are not passive objects of desire, but active agents of change, using fashion as a tool for self-expression, empowerment, and social transformation.

BLOSSOMING ELEGANCE: THE ORCHID SHOW AT THE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN

The Orchid Show Florals in Fashion. (Photo Credit: New York Botanical Garden)

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle that is New York City, there exists an oasis of tranquility and beauty – The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). Every year, this verdant sanctuary plays host to The Orchid Show, a dazzling celebration of one of nature’s most exquisite creations. But in 2024, the show takes on a new dimension with the introduction of the “Florals in Fashion” installation, inviting visitors to explore the intersection of nature and haute couture. This year the exhibit will run from Feb. 17 to April 21st.

Visitors are transported into a world of unparalleled beauty and elegance. The air is filled with the intoxicating scent of orchids in full bloom, their delicate petals unfurling in a riot of colors – from vibrant purples and pinks to soft pastels and pristine whites. Against this backdrop of natural splendor, mannequins adorned with exquisite floral-inspired garments stand as silent sentinels, their ethereal beauty capturing the essence of the Orchid Show’s theme.

Curated in collaboration with leading fashion designers and floral artists, the “Florals in Fashion” installation showcases the creative ways in which orchids have inspired fashion. The installation features works from Collina Strada by Hillary Taymour, Dauphinette by Olivia Cheng, and FLWR PSTL by Kristen Alpaugh, fashionistas sure to create dramatic, picture-perfect floral displays at the Garden that always capture the orchid’s good side.

But “Florals in Fashion” is not just a celebration of beauty; it’s also a reminder of the importance of conservation and sustainability. Throughout the exhibit, interactive displays educate visitors about the fragile ecosystem that orchids inhabit, and the efforts being made to protect these delicate flowers from extinction. From initiatives to combat deforestation and habitat destruction to programs aimed at curbing the illegal trade of rare and endangered orchid species, the exhibit encourages visitors to reflect on their role in preserving the natural world for future generations.

So, tell us, which fashion exhibit are you most excited to see?