University of Fashion Blog

Category "Current Topics in Fashion"

Move Over Hollywood- There’s a New Act in Town

Apple TV+’s  production of  The New Look, is one of a growing number of fashion entertainment projects. LVMH is now developing its own film production company. (Photo Credit: Apple TV +)

If you are an avid follower of fashion then no doubt you’ve have already watched all 10 episodes of  The New Look (Apple TV+). The clothes, the history, and the acting were all superb (despite its 57% average Rotten Tomatometer score). And, if you haven’t already viewed these 12 other must-watch fashion films, well…what are you waiting for? Get out the popcorn and get going: Cristóbal Balenciaga (2024-Disney+), Westwood: Punk Icon, Activist (2018-Amazon Prime); McQueen (2018-Amazon Prime, Hulu, Apple TV+); Saint Laurent (2014-Amazon Prime, Hulu, Apple TV+); Coco Before Chanel (2009-Amazon Prime, Apple TV+); Martin Margiela: In His Own Words (2019-Amazon Prime, Apple TV+); Lagerfeld Confidential (2007); Dior and I (2014- Apple TV+); Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008); House of Gucci (2021- Amazon Prime, Apple TV+); and although Bill Cunningham wasn’t a fashion designer, he was instrumental in putting many a young designer on the map, including UoF’s founder, Francesca Sterlacci, so you’ve got to watch The Times of Bill Cunningham (2020).

Image of Bill Cunningham movie

The Times of Bill Cunningham a film by Mark Bozek (Image courtesy: Greenwich Entertainment)

 

It was only a matter of time that the fashion industry, who have been dressing Hollywood’s glitterati for decades, would cross-over into the world of film making. One could argue that the  MET Gala started it all with their coverage of fashion’s version of the Oscars, which is live-streamed on DirecTV, Fubo, Hulu + Live TV and Sling. The MET turned their bi-yearly fashion exhibitions into red carpet media productions, with reported costs for mounting each exhibit upwards of $7 million. This year they raised $26 million just from the Sleeping Beauties show Gala. Ticket sales for the exhibition itself will be icing on the cake! By the way, if you ever wondered what goes into the making of a MET exhibition be sure to watch The First Monday in May (2016- YouTube) documentary

FASHION BRANDS TAKE ON HOLLYWOOD

Once confined to runways and glossy pages, fashion companies are now venturing into the entertainment industry and capitalizing on the connection between fashion and film. From established luxury houses to avant-garde designers, the allure of storytelling through film has become a captivating new frontier. Let’s take a look at how some of the biggest names in fashion are effortlessly infiltrating the entertainment space.

TOM FORD

Nocturnal Animals is Tom Ford’s second film. (Photo Credit: Focus Features)

Renowned for his impeccable taste in fashion, Tom Ford has made a remarkable mark in the world of cinema. Transitioning effortlessly from designing stunning couture to crafting compelling narratives, Ford has proven himself a visionary filmmaker. With critically acclaimed films like A Single Man (2009) and Nocturnal Animals (2016), Ford’s unique blend of style and substance has captivated audiences worldwide. His films not only showcase his talent for storytelling but also serve as an extension of his distinctive aesthetic, making him a true icon in both fashion and film.

SAINT LAURENT PRODUCTION COMPANY

The poster for Strange Way of Life, a new film by Pedro Almodóvar. Photo (Credit Saint Laurent: Productions)

Saint Laurent, the epitome of Parisian chic, has expanded its influence beyond the runway with its own production company. Led by creative director Anthony Vaccarello, Saint Laurent Production Company delves into the world of film with a focus on creating visually stunning content. From short films to documentaries, each project reflects the brand’s signature edgy glamour. With a roster of talented directors and actors, Saint Laurent’s foray into filmmaking offers a fresh perspective on the intersection of fashion and cinema.

The company screened three films at this past Cannes Film Festival, including David Cronenberg’s The Shrouds, which stars Diane Kruger and Vincent Cassel, and Jacques Audiard’s Emilia Perez with Zoe Saldana and Selena Gomez. It’s a clever way to strengthen a company’s Hollywood ties while recruiting prospective brand ambassadors.

LVMH’S 22 MONTAIGNE

Antoine Arnault will lead LVMH’s new Hollywood production company called, 22 Montaigne Entertainment. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

When two icons meet, the world pays attention. LVMH, with its constellation of 75+ luxury brands, and Hollywood, with its global influence, are joining forces to create something truly spectacular. The name itself, 22 Montaigne, resonates with heritage and prestige. It’s the address of the iconic Dior headquarters in Paris, a symbol of elegance and creativity. And now, it’s making waves in the world of entertainment.

22 Montaigne Entertainment is not just about fashion. It’s a groundbreaking collaboration, in partnership with Superconnector Studios. Co-founders Jae Goodman and John Kaplan will work with LVMH North America Chairman/CEO Anish Melwani to find the right match between its brands and creators, producers and distributors. LVMH will co-develop, co-produce and co-finance these entertainment properties. Directors, writers, actors, and fashion designers will be working hand in hand to craft immersive experiences that captivate audiences on and off the screen. It’s a fusion of storytelling and style, where every detail, from costumes to set designs, becomes a work of art.

NICK KNIGHT’S SHOWSTUDIO

Step through the looking glass and backstage with Naomi Campbell in this Nick Knight and SHOWstudio fashion film. (Courtesy of Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio)

At the forefront of fashion innovation, Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio is a digital playground for creatives. Through groundbreaking projects and collaborations, SHOWstudio explores the intersection of fashion, art, and technology. From live-streamed photo shoots to experimental films, Knight pushes the boundaries of visual storytelling. With its dynamic online platform, SHOWstudio invites audiences to engage with fashion in a truly interactive way, bridging the gap between virtual and reality.

KERING

Salma Hayek with François-Henri Pinault whose company Kering now owns CAA Talent Agency. (Photo Credit Getty: Images)

Beyond its portfolio of luxury brands, Kering has diversified its reach by acquiring CAA Hollywood Talent Agency. With a roster of A-list actors and directors, CAA represents some of the biggest names in entertainment. By merging fashion and film under one umbrella, Kering has created a synergy that opens up endless possibilities for collaboration. From red carpet appearances to brand partnerships, Kering’s presence in Hollywood solidifies its status as a powerhouse in both industries.

Hollywood and Fashion find a new synergy with Kering’s acquisition of CAA Talent Agency. (Photo Credit: The Wrap)

The convergence of fashion and entertainment has given rise to a new era of creativity and collaboration. Whether it’s through filmmaking, production companies, immersive retail experiences, or talent agencies, fashion companies are leaving an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. As these boundaries continue to blur, one thing is certain: the marriage of style and cinema is here to stay, captivating audiences and inspiring creatives around the world.

So, tell us, do you have a fav fashion film?

 

 

 

SLEEPING BEAUTIES: REAWAKENING FASHION – THE 2024 COSTUME INSTITUTE EXHIBITION

Dress by Undercover, spring 2024. (Photo Credit: The Met)

Did you know that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the fourth largest art museum in the world, and that its Costume Institute boasts the largest collection of fashion? This season the Costume Institute’s semi-annual exhibition is entitled Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion and opens to the public on May 10th. It promises to cast a spell of awe and wonder upon all who enter its realm and delves into the realm of dreams, where fashion becomes a vehicle for exploration, transformation, and reawakening.

Left and Right: Dresses by Loewe, fall 2023. Center: Evening Look by Nina Ricci, circa 1958. (Photo Credit: The Met)

The exhibition, runs from  May 10 through September 2, 2024, and features approximately 250 garments and accessories that are connected visually through nature, which also serves as a metaphor for the transience of fashion. According to the Met’s press release, “The show will bring to life the sensory capacities of these masterworks through a wide range of encounters: visitors will be invited to smell the aromatic histories of hats bearing floral motifs; to touch the walls of galleries that will be embossed with the embroidery of select garments; and to experience—via the illusion technique known as Pepper’s ghost—how the “hobble skirt” restricted women’s stride in the early 20th century. Punctuating the galleries will be a series of “sleeping beauties”—garments that can no longer be dressed on mannequins due to their extreme fragility.”

Ballgown by Charles Frederick Worth, circa 1887. (Photo Credit: The Met)

The glamorous Met Gala®, known as one of Fashion’s biggest nights, kicks off the exhibition on Monday May 6th.  This year’s gala is co-chaired by Anna Wintour, Zendaya, Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth, and Jennifer Lopez. The event is the Costume Institute’s prime source of annual funding for exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, operations, and capital improvements.

An Evening Cloak by Charles Frederick Worth. (Photo Credit: Nick Knight for the Met)

While gala attendees dress to impress, the official dress code for the night will be “The Garden of Time.” Shou Chew, Chief Executive Officer of TikTok and Jonathan Anderson, Creative Director of LOEWE, both serve as honorary chairs. The exhibit showcases approximately 250 rare items drawn from the Costume Institute’s permanent collection, spanning 400 years of fashion history. The masterpieces include looks by Schiaparelli, Dior, Givenchy and pieces that are too fragile to ever be worn again—such as a Charles Frederick Worth ball gown from 1877,  and therefore are displayed via video animation, light projection, AI, CGI, and other forms of sensory stimulation.

Venus ball gown and Junon ball gown, both by Christian Dior, fall 1949. (Photo Credit: The Met)

Upon entering the exhibit, guests will discover an arrangement of self-contained galleries organized into three sections. Each gallery will explore a different element inspired by nature – earth, air, and water – with historical fashions juxtaposed with contemporary counterparts in an immersive experience that will engage a visitor’s sense of sight, smell, touch, and sound. According to Andrew Bolton and Wendy Yu, Curators in Charge of the Costume Institute, “It is very much an ode to nature and the emotional poetics of fashion.”

A Dress by Alexander McQueen, spring 2011. (Photo Credit: The Met)

Watch The Met Gala® red carpet arrival live-streamed on Vogue.com or you follow the event on social media to join in the conversation. Use #ReawakeningFashion, #CostumeInstitute, @MetCostumeInstitute and #MetGala.

So, as your social media feed will be bombarded with Met Gala® coverage, tell us, which stars are you hoping to see on the Red Carpet?

A NEW CROP OF NIGERIAN DESIGNERS

Looks from Mai Atafo. (Photo Credit: Mai Atafo)

Nigeria, the vibrant heartbeat of Africa, is a kaleidoscope of cultures, colors, and creativity. It is home to the second largest film industry on the globe while also being the fashion, technological and creative hub of Africa, according to Nigeria’s tourism site. In recent years, a new wave of fashion designers have emerged, infusing traditional Nigerian aesthetics with contemporary flair and global appeal. There have been plenty of rising fashion designers coming out of Africa, here we will highlight a few from the new crop of fashion darlings – Mai Atafo, Banke Kuku, Cute-Saint, Dye Lab by Rukky Ladoja, and Eki Kere – all of whom are redefining Nigerian fashion and captivating the world with their unique styles.

A display from Brooklyn Museum’s Africa Fashion exhibition in 2023. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

“Currently the global fashion community is looking to the African continent for more than inspiration,” said Ernestine White-Mifetu, the Sills Foundation curator of African art at the Brooklyn Museum, in an interview with NYT. “The fashion world at large is finally ready to pay attention.”

MAI ATAFO

A look from Mai Atafo. (Photo Credit: Ebuka Mordi)

With a penchant for luxury and sophistication, Mai Atafo stands as a beacon of haute couture in Nigeria. His designs are a seamless blend of classic elegance and modern glamour, appealing to fashionistas both locally and internationally. From meticulously tailored suits to breathtaking bridal gowns, Atafo’s creations exude timeless charm and impeccable craftsmanship.

Atafo’s influence extends beyond the runway; he is also a mentor and advocate for emerging designers, nurturing talent and promoting excellence within the Nigerian fashion industry. With his eponymous label, Mai Atafo continues to elevate Nigerian fashion to new heights, one exquisite ensemble at a time.

BANKE KUKU

A look from Banke Kuku. (Photo Credit: Bella Naija)

For Banke Kuku, fabric is her canvas, and she paints with an eclectic palette of colors and patterns. Drawing inspiration from Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and her Yoruba roots, Kuku’s designs celebrate traditional Nigerian textiles while infusing them with a contemporary twist.

Each piece by Banke Kuku tells a story, weaving together intricate motifs and bold prints to create wearable works of art. From silky pajama-inspired looks to statement accessories, her collections exude a sense of joy and individuality, inspiring women to embrace their heritage with pride and style.

CUTE-SAINT

Looks from Cute-Saint. (Photo Credit: Cute-Saint)

In the fast-paced world of streetwear, Femi Ajose, the designer behind the label Cute-Saint is making waves with his bold, edgy designs that push boundaries and defy conventions with his genderless collections. He has a finger on the pulse of urban culture, Ajose’s aesthetic is raw, rebellious, and unapologetically Nigerian.

From graphic tees adorned with Afrocentric motifs to oversized jackets, Ajose’s creations for Cute-Saint resonate with a younger audience seeking authenticity and self-expression. His brand reflects the dynamism of Nigerian youth culture, celebrating diversity and individuality in all its forms. The designer also has sustainability on his mind as all his creations are made in Nigeria with dead stock fabric that comes from prior collections or has been found at the city’s famous Yaba market.

DYE LAB BY RUKKY LADOJA

Rukky Ladoja on Building a Socially Responsible Nigerian Fashion Brand Dye Lab. (Photo Credit: Okay Africa)

In an era of eco-consciousness, Rukky Ladoja is leading the charge for sustainable fashion in Nigeria with her brand, Dye Lab. Using traditional dyeing techniques and natural materials, Ladoja creates vibrant, one-of-a-kind garments that are as kind to the planet as they are stylish.

From tie-dye dresses to hand-painted skirts, every piece from Dye Lab is a testament to Ladoja’s commitment to ethical fashion. By championing sustainable practices and supporting local artisans, she is paving the way for a more environmentally friendly future for Nigerian fashion.

EKI KERE

Nigerian Actress Nancy Isime Stuns in Eki Kere. (Photo Credit: Fashion Ghana)

With her free-spirited designs and bohemian aesthetic, Abasiekeme Ukanireh, the designer behind the label Eki Kere, captures the essence of wanderlust and adventure. Drawing inspiration from her travels across Africa and beyond, Ukanireh ‘s collections are a tapestry of cultures, textures, and colors.

From flowing kaftans to embellished headpieces, Ukanireh’s designs for Eki Kere’s evoke a sense of wanderlust and whimsy, transporting wearers to far-flung destinations with each piece. Her brand embodies the spirit of exploration and self-discovery, inviting fashion lovers to embrace their inner nomad and journey beyond the ordinary.

 

Remember to view UoF’s lessons on West African textiles.

So, tell us, do you think Africa can become the next fashion destination?

HONORING EARTH DAY- The Rise of Fast Fashion: How Did We Get Here, and Where Do We Go?

image of planet and with text Planet vs. Fashion

In honor of Earth Day 2024, on April 22, we thought we might take a look at the rise of fast fashion and what we can do about it. As fashion students, designers, educators, retailers and as citizens of the world, we owe it to our planet!

 

The Rise of Fast Fashion

Neutral-colored clothing hangs on a store rack (Photo Credit: Pexels/Rachel Claire)

Neutral-colored clothing hangs on a store rack (Photo Credit: Pexels/Rachel Claire)

Did you know that over 100 billion new garments are manufactured globally each year?

Unsustainable practices, like overproduction and unethical manufacturing, have become commonplace in the world of fast fashion. Today, fast fashion is a prevalent part of our world, but it wasn’t always this way.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to stay this way, either. In this article, we’ll explore how fast fashion rose to prominence, the issues that came with it, and how we can make change to create a more sustainable future for fashion, where ethical and sustinable practices become the new norm.

The Origins and Expansion of Fast Fashion

Fast fashion companies prioritize rapid production methods to make inexpensive, low-quality clothing. They typically copy popular styles of other designers and make them at lower costs through mass production.

Before the Industrial Revolution, new clothing was mostly handmade by skilled workers, accessible primarily to the wealthy classes. With the rise of new technologies in the early 20th century, fashion production began to see big changes. Manufacturers found ways to lower costs through new machinery and outsourcing to low-paid workers.

Men pull racks of clothing through the Garment District, New York City, in 1955 (Photo credit: World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna)

Men pull racks of clothing through the Garment District, New York City, in 1955 (Photo credit: World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna)

In the mid-20th century, fashion companies shifted to global manufacturing, leveraging overseas production to pay workers lower wages. This sparked a new wave of clothing production, where clothes were made faster and at a lower cost.

By the 1990s, this trend was accelerating rapidly. One notable player is Spanish fashion brand Zara. Founder Amancio Ortega began his company by making lower-cost versions of already popular designer looks, which were created in small batches to get them into stores as fast as possible.

Rows of jackets hang in a Zara manufacturing facility (Photo credit: Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)Rows of jackets hang in a Zara manufacturing facility (Photo credit: Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

In 1989, shortly after Zara expanded to New York, the New York Times referred to the company as “fast fashion,” thereby naming the movement.

In the years that followed, fast fashion would come to drastically change the industry: the clothing itself, the societal view of clothing, as well as the impact on the planet as a whole.

Environmental Issues and Social Impacts of Fast Fashion

As clothing prices changed, so did societal attitudes. The view of clothing changed from something to be cared for to something to be disposed of.

This leads to increased consumption and higher waste, which is especially problematic given the high environmental toll that fast fashion practices take: an estimated 2-8% of annual global carbon emissions come from the fashion industry alone.

Fast fashion also prioritizes the use of cheaper fabrics. While both natural and synthetic fabrics can be used sustainably,fast fashion companies opt for cheap and low-quality options. This often means non-organic cotton, which is referred to as the world’s dirtiest crop due to the high amounts of pesticides used, or cheaply made synthetics like polyester, which rely on high amounts of virgin fossil fuels and cause microplastic pollution.

Fast fashion is also harmful to garment workers. It’s estimated that only 2% of fashion workers worldwide are paid a livable salary, and many work in unsafe or unhealthy environments.

Transitioning Towards a More Sustainable Future

Though the current state of fast fashion may seem grim, as awareness begins to grow around these issues, times begin to change.

Advocacy groups like Fashion Revolution and Good On You bring light to these issues and highlight brands that produce clothing more ethically.

Woman holds a bag made from Econyl, a recycled textile (Photo credit: econyl.com)

Woman holds a bag made from Econyl, a recycled textile (Photo credit: econyl.com)

 

Innovative materials are having an impact as well. For example, Econyl and rPET (recycled polyester) are creating new fabrics from post-consumer waste, like recycled fish nets and water bottles.

Yellow jacket by Danish brand Ganni made in collaboration with Polybion from their bio-based textile, Celium. (Photo credit: Ganni/Polybion)

Yellow jacket by Danish brand Ganni made in collaboration with Polybion from their bio-based textile, Celium. (Photo credit: Ganni/Polybion)

Sustainable alternatives to leather and pleather are also on the rise. One example is Polybion, which is growing a plant-based leather alternative from fermented fruit waste.

As consumers, there are steps we can take to avoid fast fashion as well. From learning how to identify ethical companies to supporting small-scale designers, even a small step is a step in the direction of a more sustainable and ethical fashion future.

So, tell us, how will you choose to embrace sustainable fashion?

 

 

 

RIDING HIGH: THE RESURGENCE OF COWBOY FASHION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EMBRACE FRINGE FEVER

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

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

DUST OFF YOUR DENIM

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

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

GET YOUR HATS IN THE GAME

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

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

PLAY WITH PRINTS

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

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

DON’T FORGET THE ACCESSORIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Future of Fashion Education

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

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

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

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

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

TECHNICAL SKILLS NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE

Image of Sue Lamoreaux a top recruiter

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

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

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

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

ARE DESIGN SCHOOLS DESIGNERSAURS? 
image of Simon Ungless

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DECIPHERING THE DESIGN SCHOOL OF TOMORROW

Image of Steven Faerm, author and professor at Parsons

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTIONS DESIGN SCHOOLS MUST ANSWER

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

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

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

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

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

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

image of Francesca Sterlacci, founder of University of Fashion

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

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

Respectfully,

Francesca Sterlacci, Founder/CEO University of Fashion

UoF Launches Adaptive Fashion Series

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

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

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

Headshot of Tracy Vollbrecht - instructor at UoF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracy Vollbrecht Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To learn more about Tracy Vollbrecht:

Cell: 732-632-7071

Website: www.vollbrechtadaptiveconsulting.com

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

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

Learn More About the Adaptive Market

Read the book: All About Adaptive by Michele Chung

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

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

MARCH MADNESS: THE FUSION OF SPORTS & FASHION = ATHLUXURY

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

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

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

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

NIKE: THE POWER OF ATHLETIC INNOVATION

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

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

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

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

ADIDAS: WHERE SPORTS MEETS STREET STYLE

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

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

LACOSTE: BRINGING ELEGANCE TO SPORTSWEAR

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

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

RALPH LAUREN: FROM POLO FIELDS TO RUNWAYS

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

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

STELLA MCCARTNEY: CHAMPIONING SUSTAINABLE SPORTSWEAR

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

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

LOUIS VUITTON: ELEVATING ATHLETIC LUXURY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BIRTH OF SPORTSWEAR: CHANEL AND THE NAUTICAL TREND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRADA’S SPORTY CHIC: EMBRACING URBAN CULTURE

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

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

Miu Miu’s Playful Aesthetic: Blending Sport and Surrealism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SYBIL CONNOLLY: DUBLIN’S DIOR

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

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

IRENE GILBERT: PIONEER OF IRISH FASHION

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

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

NEILLI MULCAHY: HAUTE COUTURE

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

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

SIMONE ROCHA: A MODERN VISIONARY

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

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

ORLA KIELY: QUEEN OF PRINTS

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

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

PHILLIP TRACY: MASTER MILLINER

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

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

JW ANDERSON: REDEFINING FASHION

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

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

LOUISE KENNEDY: TIMELESS ELEGANCE

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

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

SINEAD O’DWYER: PUSHING BOUNDARIES

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

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

PAUL COSTELLOE: FASHION ROYALTY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PAUL POIRET AND DENISE BOULET

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

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

HUBERT DE GIVENCHY AND AUDREY HEPBURN

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

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

CHRISTIAN DIOR AND MIZA BRICARD

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

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

COCO CHANEL

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

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

YVES SAINT LAURENT, BETTY CATROUX AND LOULOU DE LA FALAISE

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

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

ROY HALSTON AND LIZA MINNELLI

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

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

BOB MACKIE AND CHER

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

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

AZZEDINE ALAÏA AND GRACE JONES

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

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

RALPH AND RICKY LAUREN

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

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

MARC JACOBS AND SOFIA COPPOLA

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

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

GIANNI AND DONATELLA VERSACE

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

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

HERMÈS AND JANE BIRKIN

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

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

Care to share your designer muse story?