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).

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?

The Power & Beauty of Fashion Illustration

- - Fashion Art

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

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

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

Enjoy,

Francesca Sterlacci
Founder/CEO
University of Fashion

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

Kenneth Paul Block

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

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

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

(Image credit: archival image from 1940s illustrations)

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

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

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

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

Robert Young

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

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

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

Robert Passantino

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

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

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

Charles Boone

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

Kichisaburo Ogawa

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

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

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

Steven Meisel

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

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

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

Catherine Clayton Purnell

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

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

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

Steven Stipelman

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

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

Richard Rosenfeld

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld for WWD)

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld)

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

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

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld for WWD)

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

(Image credit: Richard Rosenfeld)

Can Fashion Illustration Make a Comeback?

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

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

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

 

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

Meet MOTIF: An Online Fashion Industry Education Hub

(Image credit: MOTIF)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catherine Cole – MOTIF CEO (Image credit: MOTIF)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Image credit: MOTIF)

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

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

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

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

(Image credit: MOTIF)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sincerely,

Francesca Sterlacci

CEO/University of Fashion

Welcome Jessica Krupa Our Newest Instructor Swimwear

- - CAD, Swimwear

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

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

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

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

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

(Preview – Drawing a Swimsuit Block Template in Illustrator)

To see more of Jessica’s work:

Her Intimates brand – www.pantypromise.com @pantypromise

Her Swimwear brand – www.krupacouture.com @krupacoutureswim

 

Happy New Year From UoF!

(Image credit: @mark_higden – www.markhigden.com)

Well, you’ve got to admit, this was a year like no other!

Good riddance 2020. But before you go, we’d like to remember those who tragically lost their lives due to the pandemic and those of us who still mourn the friend or relative that is gone. Please accept our sincere condolences.

As we learned to adjust to the new 2020 normal, we gained insight into what’s really important in life. We even caught a glimpse what life might be like in the future. And there is some hope on the horizon.

We learned the term ‘essential worker’. Health care professionals and others who stepped up while many of us locked down. The ‘thanks’ list is long. From grocery store personnel and other service sector workers, to truckers, FedEx, UPS and Amazon workers, to farmers, meat packers and countless others. How can we ever repay them?

(Image credit: University of Fashion)

Schools and teachers found out what we at UoF have known for years…the future of education is online, and that content is King! When schools demanded their teachers start teaching remotely, hundreds of teachers from many different schools around the world wrote to us for help. We gladly gave free access to our content to help them through the semester. Many schools became subscribers as a result. In addition, we actively promoted Fashion Learning Pods on our blog page.

(Image credit: Homeschooling Parent Association)

Parents became teachers and had to adjust to a whole new lifestyle, many with the help of UoF. In 2020, the HomeSchooling Parent Association certified the University of Fashion as a qualified educational provider for its members.

UoF certificated by Homeschooling Parent Association (Image credit: Homeschooling Parent Association)

(Image credit: Custom Collaborative)

Our hearts were broken as we watched events unfold in May, beginning with the senseless killing of George Floyd. UoF responded to the #BlackLivesMatter movement by covering the fashion industry’s reaction on our blog and by offering free unlimited access to the UoF library to Custom Collaborative, a Harlem non-profit that advocates for women with low to no-income and immigrant women, to build the skills necessary so that they can achieve economic success in the sustainable fashion industry. We also gave free unlimited access to Black Fashion World an organization that provides black fashion professionals access to higher education, capital, mentorship and the advice of experts. We continue to showcase African American designers on our blog because together we can make a difference.

(Image credit: Menswear designer/bespokesman/UoF Instructor Rishabh Manocha -Photo credit: Mitchell Helson)

We were sad to hear that so many small businesses were forced to shutter and that some of our entrepreneurial subscribers and instructors with bespoke fashion businesses were completely locked down. We are hopeful that they’ll be able to reemerge and thrive.

(Image credit Jennifer Coffman)

Many of us made and wore masks, followed social distancing rules and continue to play by the rules. We watched in horror as others didn’t. Our mask contest in April brought out sewers from around the U.S and as far away as Africa, Iraq and Mexico. It warmed our hearts to see how the sewing community and the fashion industry stepped up to the plate. Our founder, Francesca Sterlacci, sewed 300 masks for her local nursing homes.

While we witnessed the most contentious election in our lifetime, we continue to have hope that as a country, we can unite and work together.

Now for some Silver Linings. The pandemic brought climate change into focus. The fashion industry is finally examining its carbon footprint and looking at textiles and technology to help. In March we reported how this is happening in our post Pandemic, Pollution – A Fashion Industry Wake-Up Call? Our 3-part series on  3D design explored how 3D design will help save the planet and our 3-part lesson series on how to design sustainably, taught by founder Noor Bchara of Upcycle Design School, continues to inspire designers to start their own upcycle/recycle brand.

So…the future. As we move into 2021, UoF is committed to delivering the best in fashion education with the best talent that our industry has to offer. Here’s a preview of a few new lessons and series that we’re working on:

  • Swimwear
  • Intimate Apparel
  • Advanced Draping
  • Advanced Menswear
  • Visual Merchandising
  • Advanced Pattern Making

As we eagerly welcome the mystery of 2021 with open arms, we would like to thank all of our UoF behind-the-scenes professionals (especially Brad, Myrna, Chen, Toni and Barbara), our instructors, our individual subscribers and our many school, library and company subscribers.

We wish you all a very Happy New Year!

 

Best wishes,

Francesca Sterlacci – Founder/CEO University of Fashion

Jeff Purvin – Executive Chairman

Introducing our ITAA Sustainability Design Winner Lynda Xepoleas

Lynda Xepoleas of Cornell University – winner of the UoF/Alvanon/Motif Sustainability Award

The University of Fashion, in partnership with the Alvanon dress forms and MOTIF, were proud sponsors of this year’s Sustainability Award presented at the annual International Textiles & Apparel Association (ITAA) conference Nov 16th – 18th.  If you are unfamiliar with the ITAA, they are a professional, educational association composed of scholars, educators, and students in the textile, apparel, and merchandising disciplines in higher education. The association dates back to 1935, when the United States Office of Education cooperated with institutions of higher learning in studying the curricula. As a result of these curricula studies, conferences of textile and clothing professors have been held annually in the U.S. since 1944.

The recipient of this year’s Sustainability Award is Lynda Xepoleas, a Ph D candidate in the Fiber Science and Apparel Design Department at Cornell University, for her sustainable dress design entitled “Collision”. The Sustainability Design Award is a $3279 value and includes: 1) a one-year subscription to the complete catalog of Alvanon’s virtual AlvaForms via the Alvanon Body Platform, https://abp.alvanon.com/ ($2500 value).  2.) an all-access pass to the entire library of professional apparel courses on MOTIF https://motif.com ($590 value), and 3.) a one-year full access subscription to over 500 fashion design and business education videos via University of Fashion, https://www.universityoffashion.com ($189 value).

Lynda Xepoleas “Collision” sustainable dress design front view. (Photo credit: Lynda Xepoleas)

Lynda Xepoleas “Collision” sustainable dress design detail. (Photo credit: Lynda Xepoleas)

Lynda Xepoleas “Collision” sustainable dress design back view (Photo credit: Lynda Xepoleas)

Lynda’s “Collision” dress design was borne out of an opportunity where she witnessed the ecological footprint of the fashion industry firsthand while visiting several manufacturing facilities in different regions of India. Lynda was surprised by the amount of textile waste created during the cutting process. This experience not only led her to undertake upcycled design scholarship using cut-offs (production scraps), but also to think about how sustainable practices could be incorporated within the cutting and manufacturing of mass-produced apparel.

Currently, sustainable fashion is quite exclusive and unattainable for most individuals who can’t afford to spend $100 on a t-shirt. Therefore, Lynda hopes to work with several manufacturing facilities in India to identify ways whereby they can work with local vendors to transform production scraps into products for the domestic market. For Lynda, this really embodies the nonlinear nature of the upcycle design process, which she feels often requires us to reshape and rethink how we approach apparel design. This is also something that is reflected in her Collision dress design, which she attempted to capture visually, by positioning each cut-off at a different angle to create the illusion of intersecting diagonal and vertical lines.

Like many of us who chose fashion as a career, Lynda has had quite a unique and interesting past. In her own words:

“Initially, fashion served as another creative outlet that allowed me to express myself in ways that differed from my association as a high-performance athlete and competitive tennis player. From the ages of 10-18 I trained 6 hours a day and attended school online. My decision to attend school online was based on the fact that I started to play tennis quite late. Most competitive tennis players start at the age of 4 or 5. I started around the age of 8, so I had a lot of catching up to do. In the end this paid off, I was one of the top ranked tennis players in the United States for my age and was sponsored by Wilson for a couple of years. The transition from high school to college was actually quite easy for me since I was already in charge of staying on top of all my coursework and assignments. A typical day for me would consist of two, three-hour training sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon with a one-hour lunch break in between. Afterwards, I would do about three hours worth of schoolwork every night. I didn’t have the chance to attend a school dance or anything like that, but I was able to travel the country and meet people from all over the world. I have trained with coaches and hitting partners from countries like Egypt, Uganda, France, England, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, Thailand, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia. 

“In my spare time, I would often make my own clothing to wear on and off the court. When faced with the decision to play on the professional tour or attend college, I decided to pursue a career in the field of fashion. I attended Purdue University on a full athletic scholarship and earned my B.S. in Apparel Design. Even though I enjoyed designing apparel, I was also interested in exploring the two-dimensional representation of fashion in art and photography. I decided to pursue a M.A. in Art History at Arizona State University. This experience allowed me to investigate the representation of fashion in 1930s fashion photography for my M.A. thesis.”  

“As a Ph.D. student in the Fiber Science and Apparel Design Department at Cornell, I have begun to bring together my interests in apparel design and art history. My dissertation examines the ways in which several museum collections in New York City informed the design of early twentieth-century American fashion and simultaneously contributed to the normalization of cultural appropriation in the American fashion industry.”

Lynda Xepoleas “Collision” sustainable dress design side view (Photo credit: Lynda Xepoleas)

As part of her Collision project, Lynda utilized Optitex fashion design software and found it to be quite user-friendly compared to other systems that she had used before. In the future, Lynda also plans to use CLO3D to identify additional methods for upcycling production scraps, since much of her design scholarship seeks to use technology as a means of identifying sustainable solutions for the design and manufacture of apparel.

Upon receiving her Ph.D. in Apparel Design, Lynda hopes to become an Assistant Professor in the field of fashion studies or apparel design. While conducting research for her dissertation, she discovered that the very practices and systems which have informed the development of fashion education in the United States, continue to perpetuate Western ideals related to beauty, race, sexuality, gender, and indigeneity. Her objective therefore is to create more inclusive teaching practices in hopes of destabilizing the exclusive foundation of fashion education.

On behalf of Alvanon, Motif and University of Fashion, we wish Lynda all the best for a successful and productive career in fashion!

 

AT LAST! OUR ONCE-A-YEAR HOLIDAY PROMO IS HERE!

Having trouble finding the right gift for that fashionista in your life? Well, search no more, we’ve got you covered. More than 500 lessons to learn from in 13 different disciplines like drawing, sewing, draping, patternmaking, menswear, childrenswear, knits, product development, accessories, CAD art & CAD patternmaking, fashion business and fashion lectures in color theory, trend forecasting fashion history, influencer marketing, sustainable design and much, much more!

We only offer our book & video subscription discounts ONCE A YEAR so get going!

Offers expire 12/31/20

$40 off our Yearly subscription (was 189 now $149)

https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/ Promo Code: Learn1

$5 off the first month of our Monthly subscription (was $19.95 now $14.95) https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/ Promo Code: Learn2

35% off any of our books: Beginner Techniques: Draping or Pattern Making or Sewing

https://www.universityoffashion.com/3-book-series-ad-lkp-discount/ Promo code: Uof35

(Graphic courtesy Mark Higden: @mark_higden – www.markhigden.com)

INTRODUCING OUR NEW INSTRUCTOR: NOOR BCHARA Upcycle Design School

Noor Bchara – Founder Upcycle Design School – upcycledesignschool.com (Photo credit: Michael Cooper @mcoopercreative)

For years, the fashion industry insisted that upcycling would never be able to scale to the level of volume & profitability. And then along came climate change, irresponsible landfill overages, a global pandemic and sustainable-focused brands like Eileen Fisher, Reformation, Patagonia and Mara Hoffman. Brands like Alexander McQueen and Eckhaus Latta had experimented with upcycling for years, while other ethics-focused companies began using deadstock fabrics. By the end of 2019, sustainable design began trickling down to even more brands like Prabal Gurung, Tanya Taylor, Jonathan Cohen, Gabriela Hearst, Marine Serre, Coach, Collina Strada, PH5, Stella McCartney, Miu Miu, John Galliano for Maison Margiela and Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga.

But the real challenge our industry faces is how to educate aspiring designers on the importance of designing sustainably. And that is where Noor comes in.

Noor Bchara is a New York based fashion designer, sustainability consultant & educator. She is the founder of Upcycle Design School where she offers on-demand video classes specializing in the scalability of upcycling and repurposing. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and Polimoda in Florence, Italy.

Noor got her start in fashion by interning at Marc Jacobs and has since designed for Zac Posen, Tahari, Ellen Tracy and Kate Spade. In 2015, she founded NOORISM, after being disheartened by the volume of poorly-made, practically disposable clothes produced every year by the fashion industry.

NOORISM is a Brooklyn based women’s wear brand that produces clothing and accessories using repurposed jeans, all made in New York. Her mission is to inspire and educate people on upcycling and repurposed design and how to do it on a bigger scale.

Noorism by Noor Bchara (Photo credit: Michael Cooper @mcoopercreative)

Noor is a former Venture Fellow at the Brooklyn Fashion Design Accelerator, a Pratt initiative, as well as an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She is also an Alumni of the Arts Envoy Program where she travels through the U.S. Embassy and teaches about upcycling in other countries. She is a frequent guest lecturer at fashion industry events, as well as at major art and fashion colleges around the world.

We are proud and honored to announce that Noor has generously offered to share her knowledge about sustainable fashion design and upcycling with University of Fashion. As a UoF subscriber, you will have full access to these three lessons:

Introduction to Sustainable Fashion Design

Sustainable Materials for Fashion Design

Designing, Producing & Marketing a Sustainable Collection

Fun fact: Noor was a student in the late 1990s of our founder Francesca Sterlacci, while at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  We are all very proud of Noor and her accomplishments, especially as a pioneer of fashion sustainability.

You may contact Noor at info@upcycledesignschool.com

On Instagram: @upcycledesignschool

 

Why not give the gift of learning on how to become a more responsible fashion designer?

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