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LOOKING FOR A HOT INVESTMENT TIP? TRY COLLECTING FASHION ILLUSTRATIONS

Fashion Illustration by Roberto Calasanz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

(Fashion illustration by Roberto Calasanz)

(Fashion illustration by Roberto Calasanz)

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

Francesca: Who encouraged you to pursue your dream?

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

(Fashion illustration by Roberto Calasanz)

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

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

(Roberto Calasanz for Ralph Lauren RLX)

(Roberto Calasanz for Calvin Klein)

(Roberto Calasanz for Calvin Klein)

(Fashion illustration by Roberto Calasanz for Rogelio Velasco Couture)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Fashion line sketches by Roberto Calasanz)

(Roberto Calasanz illustrations for Norman Norell)

(Roberto Calasanz, Rendering Demo for students)

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

Check out Roberto’s IG @demainny

The Power & Beauty of Fashion Illustration

- - Fashion Art

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

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

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

Enjoy,

Francesca Sterlacci
Founder/CEO
University of Fashion

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

Kenneth Paul Block

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

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

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

(Image credit: archival image from 1940s illustrations)

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

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

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

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

Robert Young

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

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

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

Robert Passantino

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

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

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

Charles Boone

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

Kichisaburo Ogawa

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

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

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

Steven Meisel

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

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

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

Catherine Clayton Purnell

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

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

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

Steven Stipelman

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

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

Richard Rosenfeld

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld for WWD)

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld)

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

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

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld for WWD)

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

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld)

Can Fashion Illustration Make a Comeback?

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

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

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

 

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

Fashion Art: Drawing and Illustration

French Fashion Plate: 1880

French Fashion Plate: 1880

Fashion Art is the process of visualizing your design ideas through the medium of fashion drawing. The art of fashion drawing dates back to the sixteenth century, much before Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, blogs, and ‘costume’ books depicted regional and ethnic dress. From the seventeenth century through the nineteenth century, France and England produced a multitude of fashion magazines containing fashion illustrations.  Among the most proliferate were Lady’s Magazine, Godey’s Lady’s BookLa Belle Assemblée, Ackerman’s Repository of the Arts, Le Cabinet des Modes, & Gallery of Fashion.  Within these early magazines, fashion plates depicted the latest fashion trends of the times.

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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?

 

 

Winter’s Coming: Why Not Draft & Make Your Own Coat or Cape?

poster frame for Wrap Coat lesson

University of Fashion’s new lesson: Drafting a Women’s Wrap Coat

The temperature is dropping, the leaves are falling and you’ve been looking for your next challenge – well, here it is! Why not draft and make your own coat or cape? We have just added a wrap coat lesson and a cape lesson to make that happen. Our wrap coat lesson teaches you how to draft a women’s belted wrap coat with an oversized collar, set-in sleeves and patch pockets. You will also learn how to draft a full lining for the coat. Wrap coats are great. No button and button closures to deal with (sigh!) and it is one of the most casual coats to wear. Whether you choose a soft wool gabardine or a medium weight cashmere, or even a velvet so you can wear it for formal occasions, a wrap coat is versatile. If you are a skilled sewer, why not even consider making it in faux suede?

In the lesson you will learn how to interpret our wrap coat sketch to determine such things as: the coat’s length, the collar width, the pocket size and placement, the belt width, and the amount of wrap underlay and coat sweep.

sketch of women wearing a wrap coat

University of Fashion wrap coat illustration by Steven Broadway

image of drafting a women's cape lesson

University of Fashion’s new lesson: Click to view the lesson preview: Drafting a Women’s Cape Coat

Our women’s cape coat lesson includes a hood and a full lining. You will learn how to interpret the cape sketch, starting with the cape’s length, its sweep, the pocket placement, hood height, button and buttonhole placement and how to draft a lining.

Capes can be formal or casual when made in either velvet, or a wool and wool plaid. And if you’re up to it, why not make it reversible, with one side out of a water-repellant material and the other side a lightweight wool? There are so many design options with this style. Let your imagination take over!

It All Starts with the Sloper Library

poster frames for lessons teaching how to convert basic slopers to coat slopers

University of Fashion lessons on how to convert Basic Slopers to Suit & Coat Slopers

As every smart designer/pattern maker knows, it all starts with the right slopers. Our coat and cape lessons are based off the slopers that we teach on the University of Fashion website. Starting with sleeves: how to draft a basic straight sleeve sloper from measurements, then how convert it to a fitted sleeve, then how to convert that fitted sleeve to a suit sleeve.

For the body, we start with drafting a basic bodice from measurements, and then convert it to a torso sloper. From there we convert the torso sloper to a suit jacket sloper, and then the suit jacket sloper gets converted to a coat body & sleeve sloper. Once your sloper library is complete, you’ll have a ball designing coats (and suits) to your heart’s content!

 

Share your cape and coats with us on Instagram @uofprojects. We’d love to see how creative you can be!

Fashion Industry’s Top Recruiter: Sue Lamoreaux

 

Sue Lamoreaux Managing Director at Solomon Page

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

If you have been working in the fashion industry for a while, then you probably already know that the best executive recruiting firm is Solomon Page. And, if you’re lucky, you may have already met Sue Lamoreaux, one of the founding members of Solomon Page.

This week’s blog is dedicated to Sue, who is celebrating her 32nd year with SP. She has been placing candidates in roles ranging from Presidents, VP’s, Directors, Chief Commercial officers, Supply Chain, Marketing leads, Global Sourcing, ECommerce, Chief Digital, General Managers (GM’s), Product Development, Creative Directors, in addition to strategic mid-level positions across all disciplines in the fashion industry.

In 2022, and for the sixth year in a row, Forbes named Solomon Page as one of America’s Best Professional Recruiting firms.

I have personally known Sue for years, ever since I was chair of the Fashion Dept. at FIT. Sue regularly gave of her time critiquing, advising and guiding graduating students on their portfolios, resumes and interview preparation (she has been doing the same for Parsons for the past 10 years).

Recently, I had a chance to sit down with Sue to talk about the job market, current and future hiring trends in the fashion industry, and how the industry is utilizing University of Fashion for upskilling its personnel. Sue is a treasure trove of information, and I am thrilled and honored that she has agreed to share her knowledge with us. Here goes:

Francesca: What are the main jobs you recruit for in the fashion industry?

 Sue: I recruit Design Directors, VP of Design, Creative Directors, Merchandising, Planning, Digital Marketing, Brand Marketing, Ecommerce, Technical Design, Sales, Global Sourcing /Production, Supply Chain/Operation. These would be the most frequent, but there are plenty of other titles and categories in Fashion that I place.

fashion industry job titles

Francesca: Can you give salary ranges for each job?

Sue: This is a tricky question since the salaries vary from city/state, companies, associated benefits packages, a job’s specific responsibilities, if it’s hybrid or on site (salary adjustments post Covid). The hot topic right now is salary equity for those who are back in office versus those who are permitted to remain remote or hybrid (as commuting and tax situations can result in cost differences). I have found that many candidates are assuming that they will still have the option to be hybrid or remote when seeking a new job, but the majority of New York area companies have a return to office directive and new employees will especially have even less flexibility than most. It’s always best to ask upfront about specific related policies, since this is not a negotiating point for most companies.

Francesca: How important is going to a fashion school for someone looking for a job as a designer, a product developer, etc.?

 Sue: Very important… Some companies even have a baseline requirement for a bachelor’s degree, or at least an associate’s degree, and there are many competing candidates who have master’s degrees that you will be competing with for candidate selection. But the relevant skills are still critical in your application.

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.

Francesca: Are there certain fashion schools that employers value most? And why?

Sue: There’s a wide variety… FIT, Parsons, CSM, SCAD, Otis, RISD, Kent, Marist College, University of Cincinnati, among others.  Sometimes it’s the knowledge and endorsement of the faculty, or the hiring manager is an alumnus, or sometimes it has to do with the way the programs are structured, and they know the students have worked substantive internships all 4 years. Companies like when they can hire a graduate who has had work experience at a brand they know. Or even stay on part time during the school year, post working in the summer of junior year work experience.  Brand experience matters much more than a study abroad program your junior year of college, if you are weighing out whether or not it’s worth it or will make a difference in your application.

list of fashion schools

Francesca: For product development positions, do companies require hands on knowledge of on-the-table skills such as pattern making, sewing, and draping?

Sue: Yes, it’s very important for product development people to have foundational knowledge of garment construction. Many times, they are involved in the fit sessions and it’s important when they are looking at cost, fabric capabilities, what will work, and offering options/alternatives for better pricing etc.  Sometimes companies forgo the designer and just have a product developer who could be creating private label for their accounts and are adapting and modifying garments for the client. They don’t always need to sketch, and many times have a great overseas partner to work with.

Francesca: How important is a portfolio in a job search?

Sue:  A designer must have a portfolio; a pdf of work that is ready to go (and can be edited easily) and/or a website that is easy to access. Remember, many may be looking at your website from their phone, so be sure it’s easy to view from a mobile device.

 

portfolio

Francesca: Can you provide insight into what should be included in a portfolio for a design position?

Sue: It should be comprised of several components: Trend/aspirational boards showing images, color, fabric and details. Illustrations are important, flats and something technical to show you can execute a tech pack. Additionally, computer work, Photoshop, illustrator is a baseline requirement for everyone! As soon as your work is being viewed, it takes an experienced hiring manager seconds to determine if he/she connects with your style, your brand messaging, and your technical accuracy. If they don’t connect, you probably won’t be asked to interview.

View UoF’s 9-part series on how to plan a stellar portfolio:

Creating An Inspiration Board and Creating A Customer Board

Creating a Mood Board and Inspiration Board

Creating a Fabric Board and Creating a Color Story

Creating a Design Development Board and Flats & Figure Board

Creating a Fashion Figure Line Sheet

Francesca: How in demand is 3D design education in the industry?

Sue: Some companies have invested heavily in it and will only interview candidates who have been trained on it, since it’s expensive for them to train you and you will have a transition of time before you are proficient. So, if you have the opportunity to learn it, it’s in your best interest to learn it!

Browzwear: Introduction to 3D and V Stitcher

Francesca: Is agism a ’thing’ in the fashion industry?

Sue: Age and experience are not something to hide! Experienced people are the managers and leaders of companies. VP level, SVP, Chief, President, CEO’s all need experience in order to have earned that position. With that said, it is critical to stay up to date on key technology skills and things like industry trends and purchasing habits. Continuing to educate yourself ensures and protects your longevity in the industry.

Francesca: How hard is it for someone right out of school to get a job?

Sue: Right now, the hiring market is soft, but people who have work experience during college and have standout work in their portfolios, the right skills companies are in need of, and are seeking work in the growing disciplines, they are still getting jobs. If you don’t get hired full-time, see if you can get an entry level freelance job so you can earn some work experience and brand to document.

Francesca: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about a design job in the fashion industry?

Sue: Get your education at the best place you can, be sure you work during school and set your expectations realistically. You may not ultimately be a runway designer, but you could just as valuable as a technical design/patternmaker, who is the right hand to the Design Director. (i.e.: if the garment doesn’t fit, the customer isn’t buying it!).

tech pack for swimwear

University of Fashion’s lesson: Creating a Swim Bottom Tech Pack in Illustrator

Francesca: How can working with a recruiter help me in my job search and where can I go about making those contacts?

 Sue: Working with an experienced recruiter is a huge plus, but not every company will pay for the service. Many companies post jobs on their own website and LinkedIn. Entry level jobs are infrequently listed with recruiters and are addressed internally, generally. Sometimes I will get an entry level assignment because the internal recruiting has been unsuccessful, so always ask.

If you are able to work with a recruiter for a particular search the benefit will be that you will have guidance for interview preparation, portfolio recommendations, resume tips, salary negotiation assistance, etc. Honesty, it is very important in this partnership. Please know that if you have already submitted your resume to a company on your own, your recruiter will be blocked from representing you for that role.

Solomon Page logo

Francesca: What are some things I should be sure to highlight in my resume, cover letter, and portfolio that employers look out for? And how can I make myself stand out to an employer when I am one of so many candidates applying for a role?

Sue: They look for relevant experience to their brand identity and the specific position they are recruiting for. Research the company and say something about them. Look at their job post. For example, if they want 3D experience and you don’t have it, you probably won’t get flagged to interview. Or if your portfolio work is so different than their aesthetic, you may not be selected.

 Francesca: What advice would you give to someone going on an initial interview?

 Sue: Remember, first interviews are still predominantly video. Be prepared for that.  Make sure that you can upload everything smoothly and quickly while you are speaking.  Be sure to load whatever video format the company is using to your computer well before the interview, so it’s ready to go (I have 5 different brands loaded on my computer, so don’t assume that everyone uses, Zoom) And of course the obvious, research the company!

Computer interview

 

Be sure to subscribe to the Solomon Page Blog, where you’ll find lots of free tips:

Francesca: What is your outlook for the future of employment within the fashion industry? Which sectors do you predict will grow and which do you think may decline?

Sue: Marketing is still the biggest department for fashion companies. Looking for work in this area and all of the subsets (i.e., brand marketing, digital marketing, performance marketing, social, ecommerce, communication, etc.) gives you a better chance of finding work. Some departments, such as sales, have shrunk (but not gone away) as more companies are direct-to-consumer (DTC), although there still is a need for good salespeople to be represented in a brick & mortar setting.

Many thanks to Sue for sharing her expertise with our UoF subscribers and followers. Here is Sue’s contact info should you want to thank her yourself:

Susan Lamoreaux

Solomon Page

P (212) 824-1580 x2582

C  (908) 451-5537
in Connect with me

WEBSITE LINKEDIN FACEBOOK TWITTER INSTAGRAM

 

Spotlight on Sustainable Designer: Eudora Tucker

image of Eudora Tucker

Eudora Tucker – New York City sustainable fashion designer (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

This week’s blogpost is dedicated to Custom Collaborative’s latest success story, NYC-based sustainable fashion designer, Eudora Tucker. But first, a bit about Custom Collaborative (CC).

Custom Collaborative is a Harlem-based non-profit 501(c)(3) founded in 2015 by Executive Director Ngozi Okaro. The organization provides free training and ongoing support for women from low-income and immigrant communities through their entrepreneurship and workforce-development programs. Their Training Institute teaches the art, craft and techniques used in sustainable garment-making, as well as ethical business practices in the fashion industry.

 CC’s mission is to help women professionalize their sewing and design skills, overcome barriers to employment, and, ultimately, bring greater equity and inclusivity to the business of fashion.

University of Fashion partnered with Custom Collaborative in 2020, gifting full access to our fashion education content library. Since then, Custom Collaborative has graduated 10 cohorts of ‘fashion-preneurs’ who are making their mark by starting their own sustainable fashion brand.

Last week, I had the chance to interview Eudora and learned about her studies at CC, her design philosophy and her career aspirations. Here goes:

 Eudora Tucker’s Graffiti dress

Eudora Tucker’s Graffiti dress (Image credit: Camila Falquez)

Francesca: Tell me about your journey into fashion. Are you NYC born and raised?

Eudora: I was born and raised in Brooklyn. As a Native New Yorker, fashion has always been on my radar. I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer early on and attended The High School of Art and Design to study fashion illustration and then went on to study at FIT. Unfortunately, life happened, forcing me to pivot, but fashion has always been a huge interest. I started seriously getting back into fashion when my idol, Prince, died in 2016. As a lifelong fan, I was devastated when he passed away and I started making Prince themed jean jackets and outfits as a tribute to him. I wore them to different Prince related events that I attended. People seemed to love and admire my designs and complimented me on my creativity. That reignited my passion and pushed me to seriously pursue my dreams of being a fashion designer again. I was hand sewing and using adhesives to create my designs, which meant there were constant repairs and maintenance needed. I knew finding sewing classes would be the next step if I wanted to seriously start making custom designs for others.

Eudora Tucker’s Embellished Purple Vineyard Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: Can you tell me about the program at Custom Collaborative? How rigorous was it and what types of things did you learn?

Eudora: The program is a 15-week course that meets Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm. It was a serious commitment, and it was truly intense. I had never used a sewing machine before so when our instructor, Delia Alleyne, showed us how to thread the needle on the first day, my head nearly exploded. I didn’t think I would ever be able to thread the machine, let alone sew something together. Fear and self-doubt overcame me, and I was questioning why I ever signed up. Delia encouraged and helped us overcome our fears and by the end of the day, I was able to successfully thread my machine. I knew it was going to be a tough road ahead, but I was up for the challenge. During those 15 weeks there were many tears shed out of frustration, but also with happiness when I was able to get through another tough lesson. In the end I completed the course with the ability to design and sew; a portfolio of work including illustrations for two collections, which included inspiration, mood and fabric boards; an awesome business plan that I wrote, and most importantly, the knowledge and confidence to go forward in pursuit of my dream.

Eudora Tucker’s Rocket Man Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: How were the University of Fashion lessons utilized at CC?

Eudora: We constantly referred to the University of Fashion lessons while studying. We used them to reinforce lessons that Delia taught us and to complete projects on our own. I am a visual learner, so it was a tremendous help and resource for me. The videos that were the biggest help were the lessons on the invisible zipper, pattern making and layout, and draping. These were life saving for me. Due to time constraints, and the amount of projects we covered, it was impossible to learn and complete everything in class. The videos allowed us to review the task, step by step, on our own time to complete the projects correctly.

 

Eudora Tucker’s Incomparable Lady Day Shirt Dress

Eudora Tucker’s Incomparable Lady Day Shirt Dress (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: Can you tell me about your capstone project at CC?

Eudora: My capstone project was a hand painted, full length gown with a train. My design was inspired by the feelings of fear, uncertainty and sense of lawlessness in NYC post Covid-19. With the closing of so many businesses, the graffiti artists had once again transformed our city’s landscape with their artwork, reminiscent of the late 1970s and 80s. Using donated fabric that I treated to create the Ombre effect, the design ascends from darkness to light, reflecting the transitioning of Oppression and Anarchy, rising out of Out Rage and Despair, through Faith and Unity, to ultimately arrive at Love and Peace. My design was chosen as the finale of Cohort 9’s graduation runway show and was also featured in both Vogue Business and Harper’s Bazaar articles. Not only were these very proud moments for me, but they also serve as a testament that my perseverance and hard work are truly paying off.

Eudora Tucker’s Queen Bee Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: What made you want to focus on upcycling and sustainable design?

Eudora: Custom Collaborative is an organization that is built on the principles of fashion sustainability. I never heard of fashion sustainability and, to be honest, I was a consumer of fast fashion without even knowing it. I had never heard of the term “fast fashion” until I came to Custom Collaborative. Once I found out what it was and how it affects the planet; coupled with the unfair labor practices that affect the seamstresses that work in the factories, I quickly got on board. I started changing my purchasing habits and decided to focus on upcycling and sustainable design. I truly enjoy taking a “pre-loved” garment and repurposing it into something new and creative. It allows me to create one of a kind, statement pieces that make my clientele feel special when they wear it.

Eudora Tucker’s Dear Mum Jacket (Image credit (Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: What is the hardest thing about being a sustainable fashion designer?

Eudora: The most challenging aspect of being a sustainable designer is figuring out how to alter an existing garment. When you are locked into a design it is sometimes hard to come up with creative ways to change the garment to fit your new design. You have to use your imagination and become an out-of-the box thinker and really think about the techniques to use in order to execute your new design with the least amount of complication and in a timely manner.

Eudora Tucker’s Ode to Jean-Michele Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: What is your ultimate goal, or goals, as a designer in the fashion industry?

Eurora: I would like to continue creating one-of-a kind statement pieces and growing my fashion sustainability brand, Princess Arabia’s Atelier. I also plan to partner with environmental agencies in NYC to offer fashion sustainability workshops to teach others what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint through more mindful fashion practices. My ultimate goal is to travel around NYC and neighboring states to educate as many people as possible and bring awareness on how the fast fashion industry continues to proliferate the amount of waste in our landfills and how it is fueling the profound negative effects of climate change. This is my small way of giving back to the planet and carrying out my duty as a good global citizen.

 Follow Eudora on Instagram: @princessarabia9

The Rainbow of it All Vest

Eudora Tucker’s  The Rainbow of it All Vest (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Are you a woman from a low-income community interested in starting a career in fashion? Apply to our Training Institute.

If you are interested in providing paid internships for their students write to us at: CS@UniversityofFashion.com

Are you a small or start-up clothing business? Apply to their Business Incubator. They provide services including manufacturing, technical assistance, and consulting for those who need it.

Want to volunteer? Sign up here. They’re always looking for folks to help as teacher’s assistants, guest speakers, graphic designers, special event coordinators, or fabric inventory sorters.

Want to donate fabrics, machines, or supplies? Complete this form.

To support their work in supporting striving women. Donate today.

 

JUNETEENTH: Celebrating African American Quilters & Creatives

 

(Image Credit: Louisville Black Creatives – Facebook.com)

Juneteenth marks the day when General Gordon Granger of the Union Army strolled into Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, to announce that the last of the 250,000 remaining enslaved people in the Confederacy were freed from the shackles of slavery, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

To celebrate Juneteenth, this week’s blogpost is dedicated to African Americans artisans, both past and present, who use their creativity to tell stories through the art of quilting. We will also highlight African American quilters and artisans who, through textiles and handcraftsmanship, are modern-day griots, these creatives are continuing the tradition of African tribal storytelling to preserve the genealogies and oral traditions of their culture.

Fashion has always held an important role in the evolution of mankind, whether to express status or as a vehicle for social change. But the art and craft of fashion, specifically quilting, has held an even deeper meaning for the African American community and is as almost as old as the history of America.

One of the first enslaved African women to be officially recorded in the colony of Virginia in 1619 was Angela (likely born in present-day Angola). Angela is considered one the ‘First Africans” and like many Black women to follow, were charged with spinning, weaving, sewing, and quilting on plantations for their enslavers, while often weaving their own family’s clothing to keep warm and survive.

Over time, some African American household slaves became highly skilled in creating quilts and while very few examples of these early quilts survived due to the heavy wear they received, what was initially a tool of oppression became an expression of liberation.

Hidden in Plain View by Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard

UNDERGROUND RAILROAD QUILT CODES

The Underground Railroad (UCRR) was a network of people and places that assisted southern slaves escape to free states in the North and Canada prior to the start of the Civil War in 1861. According to legend, a safe house along the UCRR was often indicated by a quilt hanging from a clothesline or windowsill. These quilts were embedded with a kind of code, so that by reading the shapes and motifs sewn into the design, an enslaved person on the run could know the area’s immediate dangers or even where to head next.

In the book entitled, Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, the authors reveal how enslaved men and women made encoded quilts and then used them to navigate their escape on the Underground Railroad. Quilts with patterns named “the Charleston Code,” “wagon wheel,” “tumbling blocks,” and “bear’s paw”, contained secret messages that helped direct slaves to freedom.

Example of a Charleston Code Quilt – helped navigate slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad

When slaves made their escape, they used their memory of the quilts as a mnemonic device to guide them safely along their journey. For example: a bow tie meant “dress in disguise to appear of a higher status; a bear paw was an instruction to “follow an animal trail through the mountains to find water and food; and a log cabin warned “seek shelter now, the people here are safe to speak with”.

Example of a Log Cabin quilt with an embedded code to help slaves to freedom.

At the end of the Civil War, African American women continued telling their stories through quilting, maintaining the long-standing cultural significance and its profound roots of ‘woven’ resistance. For more on the history of African American quilting as folk-art visit: http://www.womenfolk.com/quilting_history/afam.html

HARRIET POWERS

Quilter Harriet Powers

Harriet Powers 1837-1910 (Image credit: Museum of Fine Arts Boston)

Born into slavery in Athens, Georgia in 1837, Harriet Powers created quilts once she was emancipated. She used quilting as a catalyst for change and to inspire conversations about race. Her storytelling quilts made use of appliqué techniques and the textiles of Western Africa and are notable for her ability to transmit, through the fabric, her religious faith depicting biblical stories, local events, and celestial occurrences. Powers debuted her first exhibit in 1886 at the Cotton States and International Expo.

For much of the 20th century Powers was erased from the art historical canon, but today she is deservedly considered one of the most accomplished quilt makers of the 19th century.

Only two of Powers’ story quilts have survived: the Bible Quilt which hangs in the Smithsonian Institution and her Pictorial Quilt which is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Harriet Powers – Bible Quilt circa 1886 (Image credit: Smithsonian Institution)

Weaving scraps together became a metaphor for threads of resilience stitched together to preserve remnants of culture, faith, and hope in the African American community. Though often not attributed with bringing the tradition of quilting to the U.S., Black women are among the originators of today’s needle and thread technique.

From navigating the Underground Railroad to telling a family’s story, quilts are more than an heirloom to African American families—they are an act of woven resistance.

Close-up of African American ‘Pine Burr’ quilt circa 1920 found in Selma, Alabama. For sale on 1st Dibs $7,500

One of the most beautiful quilt patterns is the Pine Cone or Pine Burr, which is a three dimensional quilt made of overlapping triangles. These triangles are put in a circular pattern starting at the center, giving the look of a pinecone. The quilt pictured above was made by an African American of unknown provenance. It took weeks to make and was found in Selma, Alabama circa 1920. It is for sale on 1st Dibs for $7,500.

QUILTERS OF GEE’S BEND

Gee’s Bend Quilters Jennie Pettway and Jorena Pettway, 1937 (Photo credit: Arthur Rothstein).

Among the most important quilt contributions to the history of art were made by quilters in the isolated African American hamlet of Gee’s Bend, Alabama in the 1930s. Gee’s Bend quilters developed a distinctive style and are known for their lively improvisations and geometric simplicity.

In 2003, 50 quilt makers founded the Gee’s Bend Collective, which is owned and operated by the women of Gee’s Bend and their work has been exhibited in museums across the country, the most notable in 2004 at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Gee’s Bend quilters working a quilt 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia.com)

In 2015, Gee’s Bend quilters Mary Lee Bendolph, Lucy Mingo, and Loretta Pettway were joint recipients of a National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States government’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.

And in 2023, the Gee’s Bend quilters collaborated with generative artist Anna Lucia to create digital works of art on the blockchain in a project called Generations.

Quilt by Anna Lucia of Gees Bend Quilted physical NFT on a clothesline in Alabama 2023 (Image credit: rightclicksave.com)

 

FAITH RINGGOLD

Faith Ringgold in front of her quilt Tar Beach 1993

Faith Ringgold in front of her quilt Tar Beach 1993 (Image credit: Wikipedia.com)

Faith Ringgold is an artist, activist, quilter, educator and author of numerous award-winning children’s books. Tar Beach, her first children’s book, based on a quilt of the same title, has won over twenty awards including the Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King award for the best-illustrated children’s book of 1991. Ringgold has made a career-spanning commitment to social justice and equity through a variety of media including oil paintings, tankas, soft sculptures, story quilts and prints. If you are in LA, be sure to catch her show at the Jeffrey Deitch Gallery from May 20-August 12.

 

BISA BUTLER

Artist/quilter Bisa Butler – Quilting for the Culture (Image credit & video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_P3_61nh3xo)

Bisa Butler has been called a modern-day Griot, but instead of using words to tell stories, she uses stitches and cloth. Her quilts have graced the covers of magazines, have been the subject of numerous exhibitions and she created the striking illustration for the book “Unbound,” the memoir of activist and Me Too movement founder Tarana Burke. Her show entitled “Bisa Butler: The World is Yours“, is currently showing in NYC from May 6 to June 30, 2023 at 18 Wooster Street. You will be dazzled! Here’s a link to the show info: https://deitch.com/new-york/exhibitions/bisa-butler-the-world-is-yours

 

Artist/Quilter Bisa Butler (Image credit: YouTube)

In my work, I am telling the story— this African American side— of the American life. History is the story of men and women, but the narrative is controlled by those who hold the pen. My community has been marginalized for hundreds of years. While we have been right beside our white counterparts experiencing and creating history, our contributions and perspectives have been ignored, unrecorded, and lost. It is only a few years ago that it was acknowledged that the White House was built by slaves. Right there in the seat of power of our country African Americans were creating and contributing while their names were lost to history. My subjects are African Americans from ordinary walks of life who may have sat for a formal family portrait or may have been documented by a passing photographer. Like the builders of the White House, they have no names or captions to tell us who they were.” ~ Bisa Butler

AFRICAN AMERICAN CRAFT INITIATIVE

The African American Craft Initiative – a division of the Smithsonian Artisan Initiative (Photo credit folklife.si.edu)

The African American Craft (AACI) Initiative works to expand the visibility of African American artisans and ensure equitable access to resources. Established through a consultative dialogue process with African American makers and organizations, and the mainstream craft sector in the United States, AACI outlines concrete actions for sustainable change.

Through collaborative research, documentation, and public programming, the initiative builds upon the relationship between craft and community by amplifying and supporting the efforts of African American makers to sustain their craft practice.

QUILTING & THE FASHION INDUSTRY

A$AP Rocky and Rihanna 2021 Met Gala

A$AP Rocky and Rihanna at the Met Gala 2021 (Image credit: GraziaMagazine.com)

Quilting continues to provoke conversations and contemplations around identity, heritage, and healing within the African American Community. African textiles are often central to quilters and fashion designers at large.

 

To learn more about African textiles check out these UoF lessons:

 

To learn more about quilting and various quilt patterns visit Quilt Index https://quiltindex.org

To find out where to purchase African fabrics visit: https://www.quiltafricafabrics.com/collections

Have you viewed our West African textiles lessons yet?

 

WHY THE LAGERFELD MET SHOW IS CALLED “THE LINE OF BEAUTY”

Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty—Exhibition tour with Andrew Bolton. Video Courtesy of the MET’s YouTube video.

Have you already been to the new MET exhibit, Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty, or are planning to attend? Lucky you. If not, then you must view Andrew Bolton’s tour of the exhibit on You Tube.

THE ‘S’ OR SERPENTINE CURVE

 

book Analysis of Beauty

The Analysis of Beauty by William Hogarth in 1753 . Hogarth considered line #4, the Line of Beauty”. (Image credit: ResearchGate.net)

The highly anticipated Karl Lagerfeld MET exhibit, which opened on May 5 and is on display until July 16, 2023, is a remarkable homage to the iconic designer and, for all you fashion illustrators nerds out there, a study in line, brushstroke and architectural principles. As the basis for the exhibition, the MET has focused on Lagerfeld’s interest in the work of William Hogarth (1697–1764), a British artist, printmaker and theorist, who published “The Analysis of Beauty” in 1753 and who is considered the initiator of line aesthetics, particularly the “S” or serpentine curve. Hogarth called waving lines, “lines of beauty” and serpentine-lines “lines of grace.”  He depicted seven waving lines, declaring line number 4 as the most beautiful and called it the “line of beauty.”

sculpture Venus de Milo- contrapposto pose

Venus de Milo sculpture – contrapposto pose (Image credit: Wikipedia)

Historically speaking however, the S-shaped concept actually dates back to the 4th century BC and is attributed to the famous Greek sculptor Praxiteles in the form of the contrapposto pose, whereby the figure is depicted as slouching, or placing the center of gravity to one side. Today it has become a very popular pose in fashion illustration.

THE LINE OF BEAUTY: AN ARTISTIC FOUNDATION

Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty. (Photo Credit: MET)

The MET used Hogarth’s principle to skillfully intertwine Lagerfeld’s love of the Serpentine or ‘S’ line (the line of beauty) and contrasting it with Lagerfeld’s love of the Modern Straight line. In this blog post, we will delve into the fascinating connection between these concepts, highlighting Lagerfeld’s innovative vision and its impact on the world of fashion. We will also teach you more about the ‘S’ line and the Modern Straight line by referring you to our fashion drawing lessons on how to draw the “S’ and Straight line fashion poses and when to use each in your fashion illustrations. We will also point you to our lessons on  how to draft romantic sleeves and our beading and embroidery lessons so that you can achieve some of the looks featured in the Lagerfeld MET show. 

THE ROMANTIC SERPENTINE: EVOKING GRACE AND MOVEMENT

Karl Lagerfeld’s Line of Beauty Exhibit. (Photo Credit: The Met)

The Romantic Serpentine or “S” line, represents a curvilinear aesthetic inspired by nature and organic forms. Lagerfeld skillfully infused this concept into his designs, allowing garments to embrace the natural contours of the body. The MET show did a great job of arranging Lagerfeld designs that in groups that demonstrated the Serpentine concept of flowing lines, delicate drapes, and soft textures that brought a sense of fluidity and movement to the exhibit.

THE MODERN STRAIGHT LINE: EMBRACIMG MINIMALISM AND PRECISION

Karl Lagerfeld’s Line of Beauty Exhibit. (Photo Credit: Invision)

In contrast, the Modern Straight Line gained prominence in the early 20th century with the advent of modernism. Characterized by clean lines, simplicity and precision, this style revolutionized the world of design with Coco Chanel and Paul Poiret among the the concept’s early-adopters. The MET show  masterfully showcases these sharp silhouettes, geometric patterns, and minimalist aesthetics, by juxtaposing Lagerfeld’s sleek designs against the backdrop of rectangular shadow boxes, creating a visually captivating experience for visitors.

LAGERFELD’S VISION: BLURRING BOUNDARIES AND REDEFINING FASHION

Karl Lagerfeld’s Line of Beauty exhibit. (Photo Credit: The Met)

Karl Lagerfeld’s exhibit not only paid homage to the historical artistic concepts but also demonstrated his ability to push the boundaries of fashion. By intertwining the Line of Beauty with the Modern Straight Line and Romantic Serpentine, Lagerfeld challenged conventional ideas and redefined the way we perceive fashion and design. His innovative approach encouraged the fusion of diverse styles, allowing for endless possibilities and a new era of creativity.

VISITING THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Karl Lagerfeld’s Line of Beauty Exhibit, Floral Lines. (Photo Credit: The Met)

The Karl Lagerfeld Met Exhibit stands as a testament to Lagerfeld’s exceptional talent and his ability to draw inspiration from various artistic movements. By channeling William Hogarth’s Line of Beauty and seamlessly blending the Modern Straight Line with the Romantic Serpentine, Lagerfeld created a mesmerizing display of fashion that showcased both precision and grace. The exhibit not only honored Lagerfeld’s legacy but also served as a catalyst for future designers to explore the intersections of art and fashion, challenging traditional norms and fostering innovation in the industry. To learn more about Lagerfeld’s fashion illustrations read our earlier blogpost, Celebrating Karl Lagerfeld: As Both Illustrator & Designer.

LEARN ABOUT LAGERFELD’S DESIGN CONCEPTS THROUGH THESE UOF LESSONS:

Learn more about LINE and how to draw the S curve and the Modern Straight line silhouette. Try your hand at some of Lagerfeld’s BIG sleeves like the Leg o’ Mutton and other decorative sleeves and learn how to bead and embroider by viewing these lessons:

SO TELL US, are you an ‘S’ curve or a Straight Modern line fan?

UOF INSTRUCTOR UPDATE: RUCHIRA AMARE

Our fans and subscribers LOVE to hear what our esteemed instructors are up to these days and if you’ve been reading this blog for the past month, then you know that some of our instructors are newly minted entrepreneurs: our menswear instructor, Rishabh Manocha and our swimwear instructor, Jessica Krupa, each have launched their flourishing new businesses.

This week, we’d like to put the spotlight on Ruchira Amare, an amazing talent who manages to combine her artistic talents with her technical fashion design skills. And, she too has launched her brand.

At UoF, Ruchira shares her expertise as an “artistic engineer” in her lessons:  Designer’s Inspiration & Portfolio, Fashion Illustration Using Pastels, Fashion Illustration Using Watercolors, Drafting a Women’s Jacket and Women’s Jacket Pad-Stitching & Inner Construction.

RUCHIRA AMARE (AKA Y.R. Egon)

UoF instructor, artist/designer Ruchira Amare (Image courtesy: Ruchira Amare)

Ruchira was born and raised in Mumbai and is a life-long learner. Although she earned a bachelor’s degree in technology and communication engineering at the University of Mumbai, Ruchira, who has always been interested in the arts, listened to her heart, and pursued individual study with famous Mumbai artists, photography at the National Institute of Photography Mumbai and eventually moved to New York to study fashion design. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Parsons the New School for Design and has worked under fashion designers Donna Karan, Laura Smalls and Peter Speliopoulous.

fashion illustration by Ruchira Amare

Live model fashion illustration by Ruchira Amare, aka Y.R. Egon (Image courtesy: Ruchira Amare)

Ruchira is a modern-day polymath. She is just as comfortable using her engineering skills to draft and sew tailored jackets as she is with a paint brush in her hand. As a fine artist, Ruchira’s work has been exhibited in Manhattan at the Dacia Gallery, The Leo House and Space 776. In Brooklyn her artwork has been exhibited at Established Gallery and the Greenpoint Gallery, and her photography at 440 Gallery. Her work was also featured at the Rochester Contemporary Art Centre in Rochester, New York, in Laguna Beach at Six Summit Gallery and online at the Colors of Humanity gallery.

Illustration by Ruchira Amare

Collage by Ruchira Amare – watercolor on paper with newspaper print entitled: Girl with Yellow Glasses (Image courtesy: Ruchira Amare)

Ruchira’s fashion illustrations have been featured during New York Fashion Week and her work was chosen as part of The New School Alumni Bookshelf 2022, a highly curated list of works by their most notable alum.

fashion illustration by Ruchira Amare

Fashion illustration by Ruchira Amare (AKA Y.R. Egon) exhibited during NYFW Art Hearts Fashion event at Angel Orensanz Church. (Image courtesy: Ruchira Amare)

In 2021, Ruchira continued her studies at the New York Academy of Art and the School of Visual Arts. She also explored block printing in India, using plant-based natural dyes from turmeric, dogwood and indigo. Ruchira’s new business venture combines age old block printing techniques, with contemporary motifs from her paintings, to create a fresh take on sustainable fashion.

block printing

Ruchira’s Indian block-printing using plant-based natural dyes. (Image courtesy: Ruchira Amare)

fashion sketches by Ruchira Amare

Block-printed fashion designs using sustainable dyes inspired by Ruchira’s artwork. (Image courtesy: Ruchira Amare)

block printed scarf by Ruchira Amare

Ruchira’s mission is to lead a happy life and be able to share her craft with the world, We wish Ruchira much success in all of her endeavours and especially with her new block printing sustainable clothing venture!

For more info on Ruchira:

Facebook: Ruchire Amare

Instagram: @ruchiraamare

Website: www.yregon.com