University of Fashion Blog

Posts by: Francesca Sterlacci

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Francesca Sterlacci is the CEO of University of Fashion (UoF) which she founded in 2008 as the first on-demand 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).


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 on topics like color theory, trend forecasting, fashion history, influencer marketing, textiles, fashion law, the plus size market, 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) Promo Code: Learn1


$5 off the first month of our Monthly subscription (was $19.95 now $14.95) Promo Code: Learn2


35% off any of our books: Beginner Techniques: Draping or Pattern Making or Sewing Promo code: Uof35


(Graphic courtesy Mark Higden: @mark_higden –


If you are a fervent fashion follower like me, then you know that extreme super sleeves have been trending since 2018 and at each of the recent 2020 fashion week shows.

This reminded me that in our pattern drafting archives, we feature how to draft several of these gems, like the Leg o’ Mutton, the Extended 2-piece, the Princess Puff Short Sleeve, the Darted & Extended Sleeve Cap, and several others like the petal, the bell, the bishop, the short puff and short flare. Click on the links to catch a preview of our newest sleeve lessons and how each sleeve is drafted.



If you follow my blog and social media channels then you know that I absolutely love fashion history, which is why I am always happy to provide insight and background whenever I can about a particular fashion trend, detail or event. In fact, my book, the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, Second Edition, is a treasure trove of info if you love reading about the history of our industry. I invite you to check it out.

History has taught us that fashion cycles come and go. Skirt hems rise and fall, pants go from skinny to full, silhouettes from fitted to sack, and frilly looks to androgynous.

Today’s fashion cycle is bringing back the ‘shoulder’. What better way to do it, other than with shoulder pads, is with the puff sleeve!

Thinking about how the puff sleeve and the broad shoulder gained popularity over time, I decided to explore it’s rise and fall throughout history, beginning in the Renaissance.

Renaissance 1450-1600

With the rise of culture, style, art and architecture developed during the Renaissance, the sleeve became a prominent fashion statement. Fun fact: did you know that dresses in the Renaissance consisted of detachable sleeves that were given by the groom to their new wife? And that sleeves were also be passed down from mother to daughter, aunt to niece, or even be rented?

Italian artist Agnolo Bronzino – A Young Woman and Her Little Boy, circa 1540

Elizabethan Era 1558-1603

Inspired by the very stylish Queen Victoria, a variety of puffed sleeve styles dominated fashion during her reign and continued on and off, inspiring trend cycles for years to come.

Elizabeth I Armada Portrait

Victorian Era 1837-1900

Typical of the middle 1890s was the puff and the ‘leg o’ mutton’ sleeve (named because it resembled a mutton leg). Dresses included tight bodices and back bustles.

Victorian Era (Source:


Edwardian Era 1890 – 1914

The Edwardian era revolved around the ‘S’ curve, where corsets created an S-shaped female silhouette. This was a change from the Victorian hourglass figure, but with more lavish sleeves, as depicted below, which were interlined with layers of organza to help keep their shape.

1894 from La Mode Illustree (Source:

Suffragette/Abolitionist Susan B. Anthony circa 1900 (Source:

1930s & 1940s

The 1930s saw a departure from the body-skimming silhouettes of the 20s. Gilbert Adrian, designer to the stars, brought back huge puff sleeves in the 30s and broad-shouldered suits for women in the 40s.

Joan Crawford, “Letty Lynton” 1932. Laura Loveday. (Source:

Gilbert Adrian 1940 (Source: Pinterest)


Fast forward to the 1980s when the shoulder once again took center stage. One of the best examples was Princess Diana’s famous wedding dress and its leg o’ mutton sleeves. And, in ‘88 when Lagerfeld (for Chanel’) created a new take on the puff sleeve by dropping the shoulder.

Wedding of Princess Diana to Charles Prince of Wales July 29, 1981

Chanel 1988 (Source: Getty Images for



Decades worth of body conscious fashion would dominate before we would see the rebirth of the puff sleeve, however, this time in the form of Steampunk, which was basically a re-interpretation of Victorian fashion.

Steampunk puff sleeve look by Atomic Jane Clothing

2018 – 2020

The latest sightings of puff sleeves to enter the fashion cycle began in 2018, and ever since designers have been flirting with them. However, this season they went full boar and they’ve been reimagined in some of the newest and most voluminous versions.

Miu Miu Fall 2020; Alexander McQueen Fall 2020; Fendi Fall 2020; Paco Rabanne Fall 2020; Gabriela Hearst Fall 2020; Rodarte Fall 2020 (Source:

The timing is perfect, since no one has had this trend in their closet for decades. And so, it’s the perfect ‘bait’ to lure all fashionistas into the stores. Or, better yet, view our sleeve tutorials and make your own extreme-sleeved garment!

Come on…aren’t you sick and tired of living in your athleisurewear since the pandemic began?  



The University of Fashion is honored to add Roza Salahshour to our distinguished list of talented instructors.  Roza is a Digital Marketing Consultant & founder of Branderella, a 360° branding agency based in Paris.  She will be sharing her knowledge and expertise in our new Digital Fashion Marketing series. We are pleased to announce the launch of her first lesson, Introduction to Influencer Marketing.

Whether you are an established fashion brand or an aspiring fashionprenuer, knowing the ins and outs of digital marketing puts the power in your hands when launching your brand.

Roza began her career as a graphic and multimedia designer for tech startups before pursuing her interest in digital academically through a bachelor’s degree in Web Media technology (BSC), a  joint degree program between Staffordshire University UK, and Asia Pacific University, Kuala Lumpur.

During her studies abroad in Kuala Lumpur,  Roza had the opportunity to model part-time and participate in the marketing campaign for various fashion brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, JOGSHarper’s Bazaar & Bimba & Lola. In 2012 Roza took on the role of a fashion events coordinator launching & curating fashion shows for Harley Davidson & product shows for Laura Star through their Asian divisions.  In 2013 Roza co-founded MAVN Models designing and launching its digital presence before moving to Paris to pursue her MBA in fashion, luxury & Cosmetics at IFA PARIS. 

After short assignments for COTY Beauty & Iman cosmetics, Roza was sought out by various business schools to share her diverse international experience at the intersection of fashion, technology & business.

To date, Roza has served a variety of different universities including IPI (Group IGS), IPSSI, a digital marketing school, INGETIS, a BTS web & engineering school, Toulouse Business School, GBSB Business school, Madrid  and CIEE Paris, a study abroad Institution for American students wishing to explore Paris.

During her time at INGETIS, Roza created the Introduction to Technoprenuership Program for undergraduate students in Web Development and Networking curating a range of mini-modules including Startup Universe, Cash Cow & Founder’s Story.

At IPI, Roza designed and founded the Introduction to Digital Marketing Program along with practical coursework and online examination.  For Toulouse business school, she designed the Marketing Exchange Evolution program, a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary module at the cross-section of luxury, digital, and entrepreneurship.

At GBSB Business School she teaches Social Media & Public Relations for master’s students in luxury & business.

As a creative individual passionate about digital technology, Roza enjoys creating innovative modules that help creative enterprises tap into the exciting opportunities in the digital ecosphere!




Check out the lesson preview:



Looking for a new fashion career idea?

Start a Fashion Learning Pod

Pandemic learning pods, also called microschools or co-ops, are popular options for parents looking to fill in the academic and social gaps for children, teenagers or fashion college bound students, who will be learning virtually this fall.

How it works: Parents pool resources to hire YOU, a fashion professional, to preside over a small cohort of students directing their studies and providing general supervision so parents can work. Just reach out to your local grade school, high school or college and offer your services.

The benefits: Pods are a great way to: learn about fashion in small groups; help reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19; have better control over social distancing, mask-wearing and sanitizing.

The University of Fashion is the perfect teacher’s aide. With 500 videos in 13 disciplines from beginner to advanced, you can hold classes in your home or their home with the help of a phone, tablet or laptop.

Inspire you students to learn about a career as a fashion designer with our hands-on lessons in draping, pattern making, sewing, fashion art, product development, accessories, CAD Fashion Art, CAD Pattern making, menswear, childrenswear and knits. Our fashion business lessons teach students about fashion merchandising, buying and merchandising, licensing, branding and digital marketing. We also have a lecture series with lessons on color theory, textiles, sustainability, eco-textiles,  costume history, trend forecasting and what a career as a museum curator entails.

Students will love learning about fashion and our video instructors are all professionals, either teaching at a fashion college of in the fashion industry.

We’re here to help get you started.

Contact Myrna, our sales consultant, to learn more about how our group subscriptions work.


ATTENTION TEACHERS: Are you ready for remote teaching?

Are you ready for remote teaching? Do you have enough content to keep your students engaged?

If not, let University of Fashion help.

Now that the fall school term is rapidly approaching, the University of Fashion is reaching out to schools and teachers everywhere, reminding them of our educational content library of 500 videos in 13 different disciplines in the areas of fashion design and fashion business.

UoF is offering free, all access for 30 days so that schools and teachers have a chance to plan which lessons they would like to include in their curriculum.

We are aware that some schools are still uncertain about their fall enrollment or whether they will be conducting classes remotely or onsite and we would like to help. Once you’ve had a chance to peruse our content, via our free 30-day trial, and should you decide to subscribe, we are offering flexible subscription terms and special school group subscription pricing.

Just reach out to Myrna, our sales associate 

When Covid-19 hit back in March, the University of Fashion realized that schools were being forced to transition to remote teaching and we felt the need to step up. We offered free 30-day access to any school that asked. Over 100 schools reached out to us and we worked with them, helping to make the end of term an easier one, were you one of them?

Who We Are

The University of Fashion is the first and largest online fashion education video resource founded in 2008 by Francesca Sterlacci, a fashion designer, author, former professor & chair at the Fashion Institute of Technology and a graduate level instructor at the Academy of Art University, where she taught both onsite and online for six years. Francesca holds an MSEd in higher education administration and has designed, owned and operated her eponymous fashion label in New York City for 10 years.

At UoF, all of our teachers are either fashion college professors or industry pros. Each of our videos are professionally produced using the best videographers and editors.

Because we have been in the online business for over 12 years, we know a thing or two about how to recruit the best instructors and how to film & edit content in a clear, precise and effective way, that gets results!

Don’t take our word for it, read our school & teacher testimonials.

We are in the business of supporting educators around the globe by offering professional educational content. Let us help your school and your teachers by taking away the stress, time and cost of having to create original content.


An extra added benefit is that we offer books that are designed to work in tandem with our beginner draping, pattern making and sewing video lessons. Each book contains lesson objectives and learning outcomes for each lesson, required in today’s school/learning environment.


View hundreds of online fashion design and business video tutorials
from beginner to advanced

Draping Fashion Art Pattern Making
Sewing Menswear Fashion Business
Knits CAD Fashion Art Fashion Product Dev.
Fashion Lectures Childrenswear Accessories
CAD Pattern Making How Does the UoF Work Fashion Design Tools


Are you ready for remote teaching?

When Covid-19 hit and the University of Fashion realized that schools were being forced to transition to remote learning, we felt the need to step up and offer free access to our content library. As a company, we decided to help in any way we could, by providing a bit of a breather for schools to work towards the transition from classroom to remote teaching.

Over 100 schools reached out to us and we worked with them, helping to make their end of term an easy one. We were humbled by the expression of gratitude and the wonderful testimonials we received from both teachers and students.

We are making that same offer available again – free 30-day access to the UoF site.

Now that we are approaching the fall semester, we want to reach out again to let schools know we are offering a free 30-day trial access so that teachers and schools have time to plan their online curriculum before the term begins. And, we are now offering flexible subscription terms (to match up with their school’s semesters) and discounts, since we know all schools are uncertain about their fall enrollment numbers and whether they will be conducting classes remotely or onsite.

To get more information please contact Myrna at

The University of Fashion is the first and largest online fashion education video resource founded in 2008 by Francesca Sterlacci, a fashion designer, author and former professor and chair at FIT. All of our UoF teachers are either fashion college professors or industry pros, and all of our videos are professionally produced.

The UoF library consists or 500 lessons in 13 disciplines:

  • Draping
  • Pattern making
  • Sewing
  • Fashion Art
  • Accessories
  • Childrenswear
  • Menswear
  • Product Development
  • Knits
  • CAD Fashion Art
  • CAD Pattern making
  • Fashion Business
  • Fashion Lectures – covering topics such as color theory, textiles, trend forecasting, costume history, fashion law and more.

Many high schools and colleges around the world use UoF as a library research resource and/or as a source of teaching in their hybrid classrooms or online courses. Some schools use our hands-on technical lessons to supplement their existing design curriculum, while others are interested in our lecture series, which educates students on fashion careers such as fashion merchandising, buying, branding, licensing, fashion law, museum curatorial studies and costume history. Our lectures on color theory, sustainable fashion, textiles, trend forecasting and other relevant topics, have broad appeal even to students in non-fashion schools.

As you navigate the uncharted waters of remote education, the University of Fashion wants to be your partner. We have been in the online business for over 12 years and know a thing or two about how to recruit the best instructors, film content that it is clear, precise and effective and, that gets results. We also have books that work in tandem with our beginner draping, pattern making and sewing video lessons!

Don’t take our word for it, just read our school testimonials


In 2015, when UoF met Jerry Dellova, he was introduced to us as the “Crotch King.”  We immediately signed him up!

Ever since UoF went live in 2013, our subscribers had been asking us for lessons on fitting. Well, there is no better person than Jerry to teach you the process of how to fit a classic pair of pants.

Do you know the difference between the ‘saddle’ and the ‘rise’? How to identify and correct your pattern for a ‘wedgie,’ ‘camel toe’ or ‘whiskers’? Jerry to the rescue!

Together with well-known fit model, Pat Toth, Jerry demos how to analyze the fit of pants and then how to correct the patterns for each of the problems mentioned above.

In another lesson, Jerry demos how to draft a legging that is used as the foundation for a yoga pant, jegging, bike, tank and/or boy short.

Jerry Dellova has spent over 25 years as a fashion designer/designer director for upscale men and women’s sportswear companies, including Barry Bricken, GWheels, Misook, and Go Silk. He has overseen all product classifications: knits/sweaters, woven and outerwear for both menswear and womenswear and has traveled the world extensively for fabric and trend sourcing. Jerry has been profiled in the Style section of the New York Times, and quoted in many trade publications such as WWD, FGI & Premiere Vision, as well as in The Washington Post and People magazine. His sketches were recently published in the textbook ” Designing for your Portfolio.”  He has dressed Katie Couric, for the Today Show; consulted on clothing for TV; lectured to consumers on building a wardrobe and produced numerous fashion shows. In addition, Jerry has written for many publications, forecasting color and fashion trends.

Currently, Jerry is Manager of Color and Trend at Trend House and an Adjunct Asst. Professor in the Fashion Design Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where he teaches Senior Thesis Collection, CAD/KALEDO computer design, draping, construction and visual concept classes. Jerry was FIT’s Fashion Design Director for Student Contests and is now their International Study Abroad Coordinator.

Jerry is a member of numerous professional organizations including: Fashion News Workshop (Current Co-President/ board member), DIFFA, Fashion Group International, the FIT Alumni Association and Standing Tall, a school for special needs children. He had been a member of the Murray Hill Committee, New York, The Horticultural Society, Apollo Circle at the Met, and the Art Students League. He holds a B.F.A. in Apparel and Accessory Design/Merchandising from FIT. Along with his husband, an Advertising and Executive Search data professional, and their beloved Havanese, Barklee, Jerry lives between New York City and Tuxedo Park… soaking up all the culture and style life the city has to offer!

In the age of Covid-19, Jerry encourages his student designers to be ‘Designers Without Borders.’ He encourages them to look around and design for the lives we are now living, but also think of the lives to be in the future. What have learned from the pandemic? Do consumers need more or less? Do we recycle, repurpose and reuse? Think out of the box…do not let physical quarantine, quarantine your mind and creativity! NO Borders ever!

Check out Jerry’s lessons and 500 others at

Felice DaCosta – Meet Our Instructors

Meet Felice DaCosta

Felice DaCosta is a fashion industry professional with over 35 years of experience as an art director and freelance illustrator. She is currently an Associate Professor at Parsons School of Design, teaching fashion design and drawing for the last 25 years.

As a founding member of Fashion Art Source, Felice is active in promoting the visibility of fashion illustration. She was also co-owner of THE FASHION ART BANK, a fashion art and licensing company.

Felice is co-author of the textbook entitled, Fashion Flats and Technical Drawing released December 2016.

Her love of teaching extends to the discipline of ESOL, which she has taught for the past 8 years. She has received teaching certificates in art K-12 from Parsons/Bank Street and in TESOL from the New School. Felice holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Parsons School of Design.

We recently asked Felice for some words of wisdom for future fashion designers and here’s what she said about designing fashion in the age of Covid-19:

“We are all living in deeply speculative times. This pandemic has forced us to think about the future with a heavy dose of uncertainty. We feel a spectrum of emotions from sadness, lethargy, anger, to fear. I’m sure, as future fashion designers, you may be questioning your commitment to this craft. With many retail doors shuttered, you may be wondering if there will be a market in place to sell your products. Will there be customers willing to shop? It’s hard to find bouts of creativity in this environment.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “if I have to make one more mask, I’m going to go bonkers!” As altruistic as that may be, I don’t think you planned to start your career making masks. You really want to make a living at this. Well I’m here to tell you, “it’s not over.”

Fashion consumption is going through a transformation and a welcome one at that, in my humble opinion. Well, guess what? You get to be instrumental in the shaping of what fashion will look like in the future. You have the opportunity to embrace sustainability practices or redefine luxury and how it’s produced. This is an auspicious time to turn the ideas you have about fashion on their heads and become leaders. Do your research and decide what intentions you have. Is it going to be the same ole, same ole or something new?

So, while you are polishing your skills drawing, draping and drafting, prepare to adjust your torso centered view of fashion. We won’t be indoors forever. One day we all be released from our spaces and we’re going to need pants.”

Here’s what Felice teaches at UoF

At University of Fashion, Felice shares her very own technique for drawing the fashion croquis, which she developed while teaching at Parsons with great success. In her Advanced Illustration Techniques lesson, Felice critiques the work of various fashion designers’ illustrations and explains what makes their work special.

See for yourself with this free lesson. Felice demos how to draw a female contrapposto front pose.


Catch more of Felice’s lessons by clicking on the previews below to get a taste (and subscribing to UoF to see the full lesson). Once you subscribe to University of Fashion, you’ll get full access to ALL of our lessons (500 to be exact) in 13 different discipline like: Draping, Pattern Making, Sewing, Fashion Art, Childrenswear, Menswear, Knits, Product Development, CAD Fashion Art, CAD Pattern Making, Accessories, Fashion Business and Fashion Lectures covering topics like color theory, textiles, trend forecasting, costume history and lots more.

Drawing Female Frontal Figure Template


Drawing Female Contrapposto Back Pose


Drawing Female: Head, Front & Profile


Advanced Illustration Techniques


Designer Matthew M. Williams & wife Jennifer (Photo credit: Alyx Instagram)

At UoF, we get lots of inquiries from our subscribers asking, “is it possible to make it to the top as a designer in the fashion industry as a self-taught designer or without a formal degree? The answer is yes!

Meet Matthew M. Williams, who on June 15th was named creative director at Givenchy, the 68-year old French heritage brand, founded by Hubert de Givenchy in 1952. Upon Givenchy’s  retirement (1995), the house has had a parade of notable creative directors, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien McDonald, Ricardo Tisci and Clare Wright Keller.

So how Williams an admitted self-taught designer land such a plum job? Let’s take a look at his backstory.

No Fashion School Training

Born in Chicago in 1986, Williams was brought up in Pismo Beach surrounded by California skate culture. With an appreciation for the arts but nothing more than a high school sculpture class under his belt, he enrolled at University of California, Santa Barbara to study art, but dropped out after only one semester. Finding a sales position at Maxfield’s, a high-end L.A. boutique, he was exposed to some of the best designer brands like, Dries Van Noten, Maison Margiela, Raf Simmons, Rick Owens and Commes des Garçons. These edgy brands helped shape his appreciation for tailoring and craftsmanship. 

Networking is Key

Eventually, Williams moved to New York to attend fashion school, but was rejected by Parsons. A self-confessed club kid, Williams got lucky. He met and dated Lady Gaga and began collaborating on her videos, stage shows and her on and offstage costumes. Once in that circle, Williams was able to meet famed photographer, Nick Knight, who worked with generations of fashion talent, including Yohji Yamamoto and Alexander McQueen.

Hard Work & Passion

Williams met Kanye West and became art director for his touring productions and album designs. It was there that he witnessed Kanye’s work ethic, his drive and his passion. While at Kanye, Williams was introduced to Virgil Abloh, Kanye’s then creative director (before Abloh founded Off-White and became creative director at Louis Vuitton).

By being in Kanye’s inner circle, Williams, Abloh, along with Heron Preston and Justin Saunders, founded a self-styled art and DJ collective called Been Trill, and created a social media hyped streetwear line with tons of celebrity connections. However short-lived that venture was, it lasted long enough to help define Williams’ aesthetic grounded in luxe streetwear.

Getting the Right Backer Helps

With help from 30-year streetwear veteran Luca Benini, founder of Slam Jam, Williams opened his NYC studio in 2015 on St. Mark’s Place and debuted his haute streetwear line, 1017 ALYX 9SM, named for Williams’ birth date 10/17, his daughter Alyx and 9SM, his St. Mark’s address.

His look? Tailored suits & trousers, chunky boots, signature Six Flags-inspired rollercoaster buckle belts and cross body bags, all workwear-inspired with street-smart, hard-edge military-esque undertones.

ALYX womenswear (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

ALYX womenswear (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

ALYX Six Flags rollercoaster-inspired belt buckle (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

ALYX mid-sock boot (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

In 2017, Williams added menswear and accessories to the mix. He has also done collaborations with Nike, Dior, Moncler, and Mackintosh.

ALYX men’s suit and matching crossover bag (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

ALYX jewelry (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

Williams x Nike collaboration in 2019 (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

Being at the Right Place at the Right Time

In 2016, Williams got on the radar of Sidney Toledano, the chief executive of the LVMH Fashion Group, the largest luxury conglomerate in the world, when he was chosen as one of 8 finalists for the LVMH Prize. In another strategic move, Williams debuted his collection at Paris Fashion Week in 2018 to enormous hype. In 2019, he created a buckle for his friend Kim Jones artistic director of another LVMH holding, Christian Dior Men.

Apparently LVMH was mining for another master of the high-low street-luxe hybrid for their Givenchy label, like that of Abloh and Jones. Alas, Williams fit the bill. According to a recent article in The New York Times, “the future of luxury will have less to do with a designer’s ability to cut a pattern than their ability to amalgamate the broader cultural moment.” Here at UoF we say a designer should be able to do both!

As formally-trained designer myself and the owner of my eponymous clothing line in the 80s, and now founder of UoF, I believe that there is no single sure fire way of making it in the fashion industry. However, I think there are a combination of things and attributes that are key to making it in our industry: A Good Taste Level, A Unique Design Philosophy, Hard Work, Ability to Network, Business Savvy, Appreciation for the Craft and last but not least…Luck!

Other Self-taught Famous Designers Who’ve Succeeded  

In the researching and writing of my book, Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, Second Edition, I was surprised to learn of so many famous designers in history, who had either never attended fashion school, or did but dropped out. One thing is for sure though, an appreciation for the craft is critical, whether you learn it at fashion school or via the University of Fashion.

The list is long (91) so here goes:

André Courrèges

Anne Marie Beretta

Azzedine Alaïa

Bob Mackie

Bonnie Cashin

Calvin Klein

Carlos Miele

Carol Lim & Humberto Leon (Opening Ceremony)

Carolina Herrera

Charles Frederick Worth

Charles James

Charlotte Ronson

Christian Dior

Christian Lacroix

Christopher Bailey

Coco Chanel

Cristóbal Balenciaga

Diane Von Furstenberg

Donatello Versace

Eileen Fisher

Elie Tahari

Elsa Schiaparelli

Emanuel Ungaro

Emilio Pucci

Franco Moschino

Geoffrey Beene

Gianfranco Ferre

Gianni Versace

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo

Gloria Vanderbilt

Guy Laroche

Guy Paulin


Hedi Slimane

Hubert de Givenchy

Issey Miyake

Jean Muir

Jean Patou

Jean Paul Gaultier

Jeanne Lanvin

Jeanne Paquin

Jessica Simpson

Jil Sander

John Varvatos

Joseph Altazurra

Karl Lagerfeld

Kate and Laura Mulleavy (Rodarte)

Kenneth Cole

L’Wren Scott

Laura Ashley

Liliana Orcas Casabal (Morgane Le Fay)

Lily Daché

Lily Pulitzer

Liz Claiborne

Madame Grés

Madeleine Vionnet

Marcus Wainwright & David Neville (Rag & Bone)

Mary Kate & Ashley Olson (The Row)

Michael Kors

Miuccia Prada


Nina Ricci

Nino Cerutti

Oleg Cassini

Olivier Theyskens

Oscar de la Renta

Paco Rabanne

Paul Poiret

Pauline Trigére

Perry Ellis

Phillip Lim

Pierre Cardin

Rachel Roy

Raf Simons

Ralph Lauren

Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons)

Richard Tyler

Ron Chereskin

Rudi Gernreich

Sir Hardy Amies

Sonia Rykiel

Thierry Mugler

Thom Browne

Tom Ford

Tommy Hilfiger

Tory Burch

Vera Wang

Victoria Beckham

Virgil Abloh

Vivienne Westwood




- - Contest

Nurses from Huntsville Hospital, Alabama, wearing Jennifer Coffman masks (Photo credit: Jennifer Coffman)

On March 22, I learned that there was a need for face masks and that nursing homes were particularly hard hit by the virus. I immediately went into full production making non-surgical masks and started delivering them to two local nursing homes when it dawned on me, that if I was moved to action, so might thousands of our UoF subscribers. I was right!

Through a shout-out on our UoF social media channels, I announced a face mask contest (one year free all access to the UoF library) and immediately started getting responses. What really freaked me out was how many of these beautiful people had already been making masks and donating hundreds of them to hospitals, nursing homes, supermarkets and making them for friends and family to help keep their neighborhoods safe from the virus’s spread. I was literally brought to tears!

These incredible mask makers hail from countries all around the world, Ecuador, Nigeria, Germany, Mexico, Los Angeles, New York City, Cleveland and Pulaski, Tennessee. Our contest rules were that we would choose five winners but, you know what? They were all worthy!

Needless to say, each of these lovely ladies were thrilled when they learned that they now had full access to UoF for a whole year. Here’s their story, in their own words. Feast your eyes on their unique mask creations.



Jennifer Coffman and her daughter (Photo credit: Jennifer Coffman)

My name is Jennifer. I’ve been making masks since March and donating them to local organizations in Pulaski, TN, and Huntsville AL. I’ve donated to local nursing homes, hospitals, health care facilities, shopping centers and friends. I’ve donated 225 masks between March and April. I’ve used cotton fabrics from my own collection of fabric, and I’ve purchased some cotton from a local quilting shop to help support her business. I would love to win the contest to work towards perfecting my dressmaking skills and my goals of being a professional dress maker.”

Jennifer Coffman masks (Photo credit: Jennifer Coffman)

Jennifer Coffman and her daughters (Photo credit: Jennifer Coffman)

Jennifer Coffman masks (Photo credit: Jennifer Coffman)

Jennifer Coffman masks (Photo credit: Jennifer Coffman)

Therapists wearing Jennifer Coffman masks (Photo credit: Jennifer Coffman)

“The pictures of the two ladies are the therapists that work in the clinic. They shared this photo on their Facebook page thanking me. I’m really excited to study the UoF classes. I can sew from patterns but I’m excited to learn to drape and draft my own designs and learn to draw my ideas on the croquis! Huge Thank you!! I will be happy to share the skills I’ve learned from the courses and promote University of Fashion!!”



Cristiane Hüsing wearing her mask/headwrap combo (Photo credit: Cristiane)

“My inspiration comes from the rainforests of the Amazon & Pantanal, where I grew up. From the age of eight I spent hours drawing and designing clothes with shapes & patterns from the exotic nature around me. 

 I am now a mother of two, living and working in Germany for the past 20 years. Being a mum, I didn’t have the opportunity to go to a fashion school, but I have attended a part-time atelier course here in Hamburg. From my basement, with two sewing machines, I bring my designs to life – there is nothing more I love right now! 

 After lockdown I wanted to do my bit to help, so I designed and made a few masks for friends and family. The reaction was quite unbelievable, and people started asking for more! After that my machine has been going non-stop and I can’t keep up with demand! It makes me so happy to help people and for the first time in my life make a little money doing what I love!”



Hope Njubigbo wearing her mask (Photo credit: Hope Njubigbo)

“Hello. My name is Hope. An upcoming fashion designer in Nigeria. I have been producing my face masks and distributing to my neighborhood, also to my family and friends to ensure everyone is being safe. I also supplied to my mum’s supermarket to share out to others too. I derive so much joy knowing I am able to do this. My face mask is made from cotton material very breathable and also with an inner filter.

I will be glad if I am able to win the subscription as I have been wishing to learn from UoF but haven’t been able to afford the subscription. This will enable me to broaden my fashion design knowledge, and in the future, make an income from it and be able to afford my future subscriptions. Thank you.”



“I was searching how to be a fashion artist on Pinterest and University of Fashion came up. So, I decided to check and follow on Twitter. I am using printed wax for the mask and head scarf. The head scarf is popularly known among the Nupe Women, a tribe in North Central Nigeria, where I’m from. The wax is normally worn during special occasions like a wedding, festival or cultural days. I have been making them for my friends and family and I have five pieces so far.

Awesome, I cannot describe the level of my excitement that I won a UoF one year subscription. Thank you so much!”



Annanee Wong wearing her mask (Photo credit: Annanee)

I’m a native New Yorker, a fashion industry professional and worked as a lead technical designer for over 30 years. I currently live in Gramercy NYC, which is also where my studio is. 

I started making masks when I heard there was a call to action. I’ve personally donated about 50 pieces so far, (they take a long time to make). Working with a group of industry professionals, the masks were donated to nurses and nursing homes.  

Then, I started pulling out my collection of fabrics and started to put colorful combos together and family and friends started requesting them when It became mandatory to wear them in public. 

Posting on FB Instagram & Nextdoor, I  began taking orders and receiving payment by Venmo, Paypal, Zelle, and Cash app. I ship from my apt. using, and it has been helpful in paying my bills. It’s been an interesting journey and I’m still a one-woman operation.”

Check out Annanee in a new video about the NY Garment Center!

Annanee’s reversible brocade & lace masks (Photo credit: Annanee)

Annanee masks (Photo credit: Annanee)

Annanee reversible mask (Photo credit: Annanee)

Annanee masks (Photo credit: Annanee)



Ester Adike wearing her mask (Photo credit: Ester Adike)

Wow. Thank you so much. I am thrilled that my little contribution to help some people in my neighborhood stay safe has been greatly rewarded. 

I am a dressmaker and a ‘fashionpreneur’ in the making. I make my clothes for my customers with plans to expand my business and offering to include a physical fashion center with teaching aides and sewing facilities for aspiring fashion designers. I have had various local training but I eventually trained under a fashion designer who is good in pattern making. Since then my focus has been making pattern-made dresses. 

I got to know about the University of Fashion while searching for a credible online fashion academy to further improve on my skills. I am thrilled at the extent of the international standard of exposure I have had since I enrolled and been receiving training from the UoF learning platform. I had desired this degree of exposure, now I am getting it from the comfort of my location. Most of the lessons on the UoF platform were new to me. Since then, I have studied consistently especially pattern making, sewing, draping, and other lessons. 

Now, with this new opportunity, I will continue my lessons to perfect pattern making, draping fashion art, and working with knit fabrics. The lessons are quite detailed and insightful, and I am glad my classes continue. 

I started a summer fashion coaching classes for young aspiring fashion designers with the experience I have gained so far at the UoF.  The last summer session was a success. I desire to spark the drive and passion for fashion design for these young lads. The idea is to get them as early as possible. By the grace of God, I plan to grow it into a fashion school and hope there will be an opportunity in the future to partner with UoF in using the videos as part of our training tools.”



“My name is Evelisse Mosquera and I started off by making masks for my family and my local community but now my goal is to expand and make sure everyone is safe! All of our masks are made of cotton fabrics (except for the ACTIVO [ACTIVE] ones made of Neoprene).

We at MOSQUERA are making stylish yet protective face masks for everyone in the family (adult and children sizes)! Not only do I want to provide the public with cute but safe masks, I also wanted to include more so I put together face mask kits. In each mask kit there are PM 2.5  filters and a waterproof pouch, to store your mask(s) and to prevent contamination.

I am creative director and CEO of MOSQUERA the brand. I am of Ecuadorian descent (Middle of the Earth Ecuador, South America). I also work with my talented seamstress, Teresa, who has helped me with making the present mask designs. We actually only met due to these special circumstances that I am, in some way, thankful because we have been working in a partnership ever since @mosquerathebrand.
I have been following UoF’s Instagram and I love their useful content.”



Lauren Fonville and her daughter Alice (Photo credit” Lauren Fonville)

“I made my fabulous caftan/tunic and mask from beautiful fabric my friend brought home from India years ago. I’ve been raiding my stash during the pandemic and making incredible discoveries right in my own sewing studio. This look has gotten compliments everywhere I go, which is mostly the grocery store and on hikes with my little daughter. I place a lot of self-worth in my sewing, so the praise is nice to hear and helps me remember who I am. 

I’ve been costume designing for theater, film and television in Los Angeles since 2009. After joining our union, Motion Picture Costumers IATSE Local 705 in 2018, I made a big leap toward sewing full time by becoming a custom-made costumer. (In our union, one can either be a “finished” or “custom-made” costumer, but not both). I worked primarily as a set costumer and shopper. My credits include “Star Trek Beyond,” “The Disaster Artist,” “Grace and Frankie,” “Jane the Virgin,” “One Day at a Time,” “Last Man Standing.” “The Mandalorian,” “Star Trek: Picard,” “Deadwood: The Movie,” ‘Superstore,” “Hollywood” and for TV “The Late Late Show with James Cordon.”    

After 15 years as a home sewer, I decided three years ago to sew for a living, full time. I enjoyed working on set, but my passion was designing and sewing my own clothes and clothes for my daughter Alice, who came along in 2015. Spending long days in and out of malls as a shopper for TV shows, gave me insight into the incredible waste and toll the fashion industry takes on our environment and labor force. I resolved to never buy new garments for myself or my family three years ago and I haven’t looked back. I now sew only with plant-based, natural fabrics.   

I was a very good home sewer, but I didn’t have much formal training in patternmaking, construction and draping. So, I enrolled in Los Angeles Trade–Technical College of Fashion Design and watched dozens of UoF videos. (In fact, I learned about UoF from fellow students at LATTC.) Both programs enable me to keep working in my industry while taking classes, which means the world to me and my family.

UoF has been instrumental in helping me transition from hobbyist to professional. Their classes enable me to keep working while learning, which is huge for me and my family. Right now, I’m trying to use this time to learn Tukatech, which will hopefully be a skill I can use to work remotely.  

Of course, the pandemic has suspended all production in my hometown of Hollywood. I’ve been using the time to sew piles of masks, tackle new projects and learn TUKAtech on UoF. I miss working, but I’m hopeful we’ll be back bringing new stories and characters to life in the coming months. 

I can’t wait to see myself on UoF Instagram. My public IG account is @whatsshesewinginthere if you’d like to tag me. On Facebook and LinkedIn I’m simply “Lauren Fonville.” 



Ayoola Hinds mask/bonnet combo (Photo credit: Ayoola Hinds)

My name is Kimanya ‘Ayoola’ Hinds, originally from the island of Barbados. I now reside in what I call my creative inspiration, Cleveland, Ohio.  I started designing my own masks as soon as the crisis started. I used a regular construction face mask to make a template and then my face mask evolution journey began. As there was a shortage of ¼” elastic, I used a design with one piece of 1” elastic going behind the head. When my 1” elastic ran out, I started using ties. Also, I modified the design of the masks through watching YouTube videos and from various patterns that were surfacing. The end result is shown below.

Ayoola masks (Photo credit: Ayoola Hinds)

“I wanted to donate to hospitals, and I found an organization who was doing just that. I worked with them supplying masks to a local hospital. I am still making masks for the hospital and was doing so while doing my own production. Some of the masks are shown below.”

Ayoola masks (Photo credit: Ayoola Hinds)

“The creative bug inside chewed at my desire to make a mask unique to me and my character, so amidst all that was going on, I put together these two masks based on my brand, LIVE LIFE LIKE AYOOLA, because life is key. They are based off two other versions of the mask designs I created. One has a piece of elastic around the back of the neck, and the other has an adjustable closure with velcro.”

Ayoola masks (Photo credit: Ayoola Hinds)

“In addition, my cousin who is a health care worker asked me to create a covering for her, so I made a bonnet with matching face mask. As shown in this picture.”

Ayoola Mask/bonnet masks (Photo credit: Ayoola Hinds)

“As you may have deduced, I love designing. I am self-taught and would love the opportunity to further my knowledge in fashion design, especially pattern making. Remember that no matter what is going on you still have life, which means another opportunity to live your dream.”



Maria Fernanda wearing her “Give a Damn” mask (Photo credit: Maria Fernanda)

Hello! My name is Maria Fernanda, I am a second-year fashion student in Mexico. During this pandemic some of our classes were online like costs and trends, but some of our classes were not qualified to be taken online since it’s hands-on work. I am spending the summer quarantined and have been since mid-March. Having a subscription to UofFashion would allow me to continue practicing and allow me to gain more experience once I head back. I made this mask with an embroidered saying “Give a damn” and a smiley sun inspired by Lingua Franca because I want to emit the message that it is all right to care about things that might not be “popular” and to stay positive during these times. Thanks so much for your time and stay safe :)”


We congratulate all of these thoughtful, compassionate and extremely caring people who use their talents for a good cause. On behalf of all of us at University of Fashion we welcome you to the family!!