University of Fashion Blog

Posts by: Francesca Sterlacci

Francesca Sterlacci

Francesca Sterlacci is the CEO of University of Fashion (UoF) which she founded in 2008 as the first online fashion video library bringing the art and craft of fashion design and business to schools, libraries, organizations and the general public. As owner of her eponymous label for ten years, her collection sold in fine stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Barneys and Nordstrom. As a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology for 11 years, she became Chair of the Fashion Design Department where she initiated the complete revision of their AAS and BFA degree programs, as well as wrote three certificate programs: Leather Fashion Design, Outerwear and Haute Couture. Francesca has also taught graduate level fashion design at the Academy of Art University San Francisco for six years, both on site and online. Her publishing accomplishments include: Leather Apparel Design, the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry (First and Second Editions), the A-Z of the Fashion Industry, Leather Fashion Design and a 3-volume beginner series on Draping, Pattern Making and Sewing designed to complement the UoF lessons. She has also made literary contributions to both the Encyclopedia of Clothing & Fashion and You Can Do It! The Merit Badge Handbook for Women. Francesca holds an AAS, BA and an MSEd (master’s degree in higher education).

LEARN TO DRAFT CASCADING RUFFLES & LET YOUR CREATIVITY RUN WILD!

- - Draping

Draping a Cascade Ruffle Dress by Fiona Liu

Learning how to work with cascade ruffles opens up endless design possibilities that will let your imagination run wild. In this lesson, Fiona Liu demonstrates how to draft circular fabric pieces and then how to apply them onto a sheath dress foundation, which will be sure to inspire you. This design detail is great for creating dramatic eveningwear pieces that are quite easy to achieve.

Whether you choose to create your ruffles out of a crisp or stiff fabric like silk gazar, organdy, taffeta or voile, or you opt for soft cascading ruffles using a silk charmeuse, georgette, chiffon or crepe, you will have fun experimenting with this pattern making technique.

Image credit: Fiona Liu University of Fashion

Fiona has taught more than 13 lessons for the UoF that include pattern making, draping and zero-waste design. Here’s a sample of her many talents:

From UoF’s lesson Creative Draping—2D Draping

 

DRAWING CASCADE RUFFLES

AND…to learn how to draw cascade ruffles, be sure to view these lessons by our very own fashion illustrator extraordinaire, Roberto Calasanz.

From UoF’s lesson Drawing a Cascade Skirt Ruffle by Roberto Calasanz

From UoF’s lesson Drawing a Cascade Neck Ruffle by illustration by Roberto Calasanz

Send us pics of your cascade ruffles designs, we’d love to feature you on our social media platforms!

MEET OUR NEWEST INSTRUCTOR: PABLO V. CAZARES

Pablo V. Cazares newest lesson for UoF

Pablo V. Cazares

As CEO of UoF, the best part of operating the world’s largest fashion education video library for me is meeting and recruiting our many talented instructors. With over 500 videos in 13 different disciplines and with 13 years in business under my belt, I have made a lot of new friends. The fact that these experts are so eager to share their passion makes them all-the-more special.

So, it’s with great pleasure that I introduce the newest addition to our family…Pablo V. Cazares.

Pablo is an apparel designer and visual artist based on the west coast. Splitting time between Portland Oregon and the American Southwest, Pablo has been constructing apparel and art pieces since childhood, following his dauntless curiosity wherever inspiration takes him.

With a background in fine art, he attended The Art Institute of Portland for apparel design. In his first month, one of his pieces was accepted to be shown on the runway at Portland Fashion Week.  He was the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s first costume intern, integrating dress-up clothes to augment and enhance children’s learning experiences. Pablo’s broad interests served him well in product development. As lead technical designer for the Boys and Unisex divisions at Hanna Andersson, he had the opportunity to tour factories abroad and delve into the manufacturing process. Inspired, he began pursuing small scale manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing and laser cutting. Technical illustration and the manufacturing process are a realm of play that is heavily explored in his conceptual work as well.An obsessive creator with atypical perspective, throughout his career he has also done art direction for independent films, thematic costuming, and works as a creative illustrator. He is always looking ahead to his next creative project and experimental design. Pablo’s objective in his work is to inspire a sense of wonder in the viewer. For the University of Fashion, Pablo will be creating lessons focused on CAD, illustration, technical design, hand-mending and experimental apparel repair techniques.

 

GETTING TO KNOW PABLO

With today’s launch of Pablo’s first lesson, Creating Custom Brushes in Illustrator, I sat down (virtually of course) to find out more about Pablo and his extraordinary background story.

Francesca: Can you tell me a bit about where you were brought up and how it continues to influence your creativity?

Pablo: I was born in agricultural central California (Salinas, near Monterey). My family has been in commercial agriculture all my life. I moved all over rural California and lived on nearly every type of farm, ranch, dairy, orchard you could think of. I would play in old, abandoned barns and rural junkyards, building forts and wearables and art from things forgotten or thrown away. I’ve been creating things for as long as I can remember.

Right now, I live out on some property in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, helping build what will be a future intentional community (a bit like Arcosanti). I am learning and building with concrete and stone and driving around tractors and gardening. I am definitely a farm boy at heart. I do that in the mornings, then the rest of the day I am in my big cave/office/studio where I draw and design all day. Quarterly, I go to Portland to work on art and film projects, everything from sci fi erotica films to pirate festival design. I drive there every time, visiting friends and ocean views and forests as often as I can along the way.

Francesca: What was behind your motivation to pursue fashion?
Pablo: When I lived in Portland full time and worked in technical design, getting to go to the factories in India and Peru was absolutely incredible. I love seeing the inner workings of things and understanding processes. Friends have told me I get a sort of electricity in my eyes when I have a new idea or am learning something I didn’t know before.

Examples of technical design work by Pablo Cazares for Hanna Andersson

One thing that going to the factories did is make me realize my love of engineering. I actually left Hanna Andersson, to pursue a mechanical engineering degree! I am convinced that my love of apparel combined with a knowledge of engineering could help streamline and create new sustainable processes in apparel manufacturing. But then COVID hit, so I put that on hold and have been re-focusing on my creative pursuits. There’s still time for engineering, and while I don’t have a date in mind, I do intend to go back to it in the next few years.

Experimental work – hand-forged and fiber wrapped primitive electrical circuit

Between my knowledge of agriculture, apparel product development, building construction techniques, and engineering, I have a decent idea of how our world is built. And I am absolutely convinced that we can build a better more sustainable world. I adore the potential of 3D printing and laser cutting, and I am always thinking of more sustainable ways to create new things. (Neri Oxman at the MIT Media Lab is my role model).

I especially have a passion for re-using and upcycling, I feel that repairing things is a virtue. Patching and darning and thrift shopping and hand-me-downs give garments a soul and honor the tremendous amount of design and sewing labor that goes into creating them.

Francesca: What do you like to do when you are not designing or helping build a future intentional community?

Examples of children’s illustration

Pablo: In my spare time I am always drawing or designing or building things. I am kind of a machine, haha. In this next month, I’ll be creating an installation art piece in this great big cave studio I work in. I am also creating a comic book (I find huge inspiration in Phillipe Druillet and Eyvind Earle). In the next couple years, I hope to get accepted into an artist residency somewhere. I love traveling and working on collaborative art pieces. I am always chasing the next project or inspiration, whatever lights that fire in my mind.

I’m delighted to be part of the University of Fashion community!

Learn more about Pablo and his work:

Website: PabloTheKatz.com

Instagram: unnavigableunmade

Will We Ever Have a First Lady or President like Isabelle d’Estes, Catherine De Medici, or the Uncrowned Queen of France?

François Boucher’s painting of Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour frame (Photo credit: DailyArt Magazine)

U.S. First Ladies were never really promoted for being ‘hands-on craftsy’ and yet women like Madame de Pompadour, the uncrowned Queen of France, was an avid embroiderer and huge patron of the arts. While many U.S. First ladies knew how to sew and sewed their children’s clothing (see Martha Washington’s silk brocade sewing case and Ida McKinley’s handmade slippers), a First Lady’s role was primarily ‘hostess of the White House’. Thankfully, that role would evolve over time.

Martha Washington’s Silk Brocade Sewing Case

Ida McKinley’s slippers

It was reported that Eleanor Roosevelt liked to knit but she was most known as an advocate of art education through the WPA arts program. Jackie Kennedy was a poetry fan and dedicated follower of fashion but her legacy was the White House restoration initiative. Hillary Clinton famously read her WikiLeaks leaked emails at Italy’s 2019 Venice Biennale as part of artist/poet Kenneth Goldsmith’s exhibition entitled, Hillary: The Hillary Clinton Emails. Michele Obama supported the arts by becoming honorary chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) and a championed art education through the Reinvesting in Arts Education initiative. Although Betty Ford studied dance with Martha Graham and could have gone on to become a professional dancer, she married Gerald Ford and became an activist for breast cancer awareness and for creating the Betty Ford Center for addiction. Roslyn Carter made an effort to advance the appearance of the White House by accumulating American paintings and took up the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) which, sad to say, has still not passed after 98 years of trying. 

Literary contributions by First Ladies are many, beginning with Worthy Partner, the papers of Martha Washington and her Booke of Cookery. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote four books and although memoirs, were not very popular until the 1978 publication of Betty Ford’s The Times of My Life every First Lady since has written one (Melania Trump is said to be considering it). Michele Obama’s book, Becoming, was the #1 best-selling book in 2018, selling more than 10 million copies and Barbara Bush penned an adorable account of what life was like at the White House, ‘told to her’, by her dog Millie.

Barbara Bush’s Millie’s Book – published in 1990

Prior to her marriage to Woodrow Wilson, Ellen Axson, at the age of 18, won a bronze medal at the Paris International Exposition for her art piece School Scene. Funds from her one-woman show of 50 pieces in Philadelphia went to the Berry School in Georgia to help underprivileged children. As First Lady, she began to realize that her social duties took precedence, so she utilized her love of art and created the White House Rose Garden. Ellen Axson Wilson was one of only a few female American Impressionists.

Landscape painting by Ellen Axson Wilson

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time that we could use a little more hands-on creativity at the White House. We still haven’t gotten our very own Isabella D’Este (1474-1539), considered the First Lady of the Renaissance, nor a Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589). Catherine was the inventor of women’s knickers and introduced the corset. Ok a corset lined with wood, iron, and whalebone may not be high on the list, since the women who wore her corsets (known as “femme fatales”) were mandated to possess a 45 cm waist (roughly 17”). And, unfortunately, thanks to Catherine, the hour-glass shape became the envy of France with the trend persisting until well until the 19th century. But what a boost to the fashion industry it would be if our First Lady could inspire a new fashion trend or hairdo! Aviator glasses are just not cutting it!

Madame de Pompadour

According to the Daily Art Magazine, Madame de Pompadour, mistress to King Louis XV, (also known as the Queen of the Rococo and Queen of the Arts) was full of good creative endeavors. She founded the famous Sèvres porcelain factory, popularized fresh cut flowers in vases, and trended goldfish in bowls as pets. She was once quoted as saying “Every day, I wish to make the world more beautiful than I found it.”

Her intellectual interests included learning and supporting the works of Age of Enlightenment philosophers Diderot and Voltaire and she reportedly had personal book library consisting of some 3,525 books.    

What did Elvis Presley & Madame de Pompadour Have in Common?

Madame de Pompadour (Wikipedia.com)

Elvis Presley’s ‘Pompadour’ Hairstyle (Image credit: Pinterest)

Elvis Presley’s famous hairstyle was named after Madame. And the pompadour has never gone out of fashion really.

A French champagne glass is believed to have been modelled after her breast and, as legend has it, the ‘marquise cut’ diamond was commissioned to resemble the shape of her mouth, according to DailyArt Magazine.

A modern Pompadour Fade (Image credit: Pinterest)

So, tell us, what creative endeavor would you like to see coming from our country’s leadership?

ANNOUNCING OUR NEW LESSON: Introduction to Textile Print Design

We are so happy to announce the newest lesson to our fashion education video library: Introduction to Textile Print Design taught by textile design veteran, Lindsay Boehl.

This lesson covers the concept of roller printing, the print engraving process, as well as industry standard print roller sizes and dimensions as they relate to a particular print design.

You will learn about different types of repeats, such as a straight repeat, a drop, and a half drop. In addition, this lesson will get you started making your own print repeat in Adobe Illustrator, using our downloadable dot and rose print design files. Watch for more textile stripe, plaid, print and pattern lessons by Lindsay in the future.

MEET YOUR INSTRUCTOR

Lindsay Boehl is a New York-based textile designer who began her career as a CAD artist at a textile converter, designing men’s shirting stripes, plaids, prints and patterns for major brands such as Ralph Lauren, American Eagle and Wrangler.

Today, Lindsay is the Manager of Customer Advocacy at Aquario Design, a leading provider of fashion, textile, CAD design and printed products solutions for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. For the past eight years, she has managed a team of trainers and support specialists who work with users of that software platform. Lindsay’s textile design experience made her a great fit at Aquario, as their software product line helps textile and fashion designers produce their work inside of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop in a more streamlined way. In her role at the Aquario, Lindsay utilizes and shares her knowledge of textile design as it applies to fashion industry requirements. From color matching to knit design, wovens to technical fashion sketching, digital printing on fabric and end-to end-garment manufacturing, Lindsay’s expertise includes every aspect that the textile industry is positioned.

Lindsay considers textile design a wonderful journey, and she hopes to keep learning and exploring innovative and emerging technologies. Aside from her position at Aquario, Lindsay takes on freelance jobs to keep her multiple skill sets active and welcomes every design challenge she’s given, which she feels keeps her sharp and agile in her work.

Having graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a double major in Display & Exhibit Design and Fabric Styling, Lindsay translated those skills into a career in textile design. She is grateful to all the professors who nurtured her talent and is therefore thrilled to be able to pass along her knowledge to students at University of Fashion. Stay tuned for Lindsay’s next lesson: “Researching & Designing a Graphic Printed Textile”.

Find Lindsay on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lindsay-b-82305356

To learn more about textiles, be sure to view the following UoF lessons:

INTRO TO FIBERS & FABRICS

HIGH-TECH TEXTILES

ECO-TEXTILES

TEXTILE DYEING, PRINTING & FINISHING

Are you ready to design using Procreate?

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

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

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

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

(UoF Instructor Monica Merino)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our SECOND Visual Merchandising lesson has launched!


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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

DO YOU KNOW ABOUT COLOR THEORY?

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

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

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

 

ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH COLOR RELATIONSHIPS?

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

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

 

HOW IMPORTANT IS COLOR INTENSITY IN STORE DISPLAY?

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

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

 

HOW IMPORTANT IS COLOR & TEXTURE IN VISUAL MERCHANDISING?

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

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

 

WHY IS REPETITION A VISUAL MERCHANDISING STRATEGY?

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

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

 

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

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

(From UoF lesson –  Draping a Cascade Ruffle Skirt)

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

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

(Image credit: IAA International Association of Art)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

(From UoF lesson –  Draping a Pleated Raglan Sleeve)

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

 

(From UoF lesson  –  Drafting a Portrait Collar Jacket)

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

LEARN HOW TO DRAW CASCADE RUFFLES

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

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

 

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

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

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

Preview of UoF lesson Introduction to Visual Merchandising by Marcie Cooperman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Francesca: What sparked your interest in Visual Merchandising?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Francesca: Do you have certain career goals?

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

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

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

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

Pandemicwear…a new fashion category?

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

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

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

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

(Image credit: Cozy Earth)

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

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

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

(Image credit: Sew Sketchy)

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

 

Pandemicwear Looks

(Image credit: Atritz.com)

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

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

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

(Image credit: naploungewear.com)

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

(Image credit: Lellyan.com)

(Image credit: Tenmorden.com)

(Image credit: Tenmorden.com)

(Image credit: The Frankie Shop)

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

(Image credit: The Frankie Shop)

(Image credit: Nap.com)

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

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