What did you study while you were at FIT? What year did you graduate? Fashion Design, womenswear. December 2010.
What do you think you learned at FIT that has benefitted you the most in the real world? Sewing class. I didn’t know how to sew when I arrived at FIT. I actually got a tip from a senior who told me to stuff cotton under the sewing machine pedal.
How much preparation went into creating your entire brand? Last November, I began working on the legal aspects, which took six weeks. I worked on the logo, changed the name of the brand. I wanted everything to be just right.
Do you think it’s important for every design student to understand the business aspect and for the business students to understand the design aspect? Yes, I had to teach myself. My friends and husband helped me on the business side. Students should definitely do at least one business class or network with other students who do know about business.
When did your underwear brand, Ken Wroy, launch? The online store is up, and it will be sold in stores in both the USA and France.
Why did you decide to design men’s underwear? Because I genuinely believe men should wear fun underwear and I was always interested and always using prints and patterns. I also noticed a hole in that part of the industry. Underwear is the first thing you wear and it’s the last thing you take off – give it the attention it deserves!
Many brands, including Ken Wroy and retailers are looking to F-Commerce, the selling of products on Facebook pages. What made you decide to use this modern approach of selling your product? The prospect to buy. The customer is confused when they see brand’s blogs with products but no way to purchase them. This way it allows the customer to directly purchase the item.
Your brand has really unique packaging. Is that a key element of the brand? Packaging is a huge element. It’s really for women because it’s easy to give it as a gift, but also represents how men’s accessories, like socks or wallets, are sold.
Are digital prints a large part of your design concept as well? Yes, it’s about the spirit of New York. Just like there are three types of men, there are three types of underwear prints. Suave, trendy, and bold.
Where do you see your brand in a few years? New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, as well as exploring Mexico, India and France. I’d like to potentially brand more products.
You made a big leap from Paris for New York City to launch your career in fashion. Why did you choose to study at FIT and tell us about the transition. I chose FIT because I wanted to follow specific courses in patternmaking and drawing. The advantage of having tailored courses like those offered at FIT was important to me as I already had the business background from previous studies. I was engulfed by NYC from the minute I stepped out of the cab from JFK. The speed, the lights, the people , the noises . I was able to adapt to the pace and found most of my inspiration for my designs through my daily experiences.
Did you always know you wanted to be a fashion designer? At first I was in the Marketing Department at Celine (LVMH Group) in Paris and after my studies, I was off to work for l’Oreal in Miami for Biotherm. As a result of the numerous compliments that I received on my clothes that I designed for fun, I decided to launch my own brand and become a fashion designer.
And now you find yourself celebrating the opening of your first store in Manhattan’s Upper East Side! How does it feel to own your own space? It’s like having a baby. It’s very personal and you take every decision to heart, from the choice of the lights, to the furniture and the paint. It is the accomplishment of several years of perseverance with ups and downs. I never had a doubt that this was going to be a very difficult and long road.
What’s a typical day like? I spend my day between the showroom on Central Park South and the store at 153 East 70th. It’s a mix between the creative team, marketing and sales teams. I keep a very close and attentive eye on the artistic side of my business.
How do you balance the design and business aspects of your brand? I handle the design and my husband and partner handles the entire business side. We regularly sit down and brainstorm ideas, projects and any issue that might come up.
What plans do you have for the store? We plan on expanding to Tribeca.
What are your thoughts on store locations and neighborhoods in the city? Store location is prime. Base yourself on where your clients are.
Describe the client you design for. She’s a working woman that likes to show off a strict and casual side at the same time. She likes to show off her features and feels comfortable about herself.
In addition to designing and operating your new store, you also host a TV show that takes you around the world. Tell us about it and how your travels influence your design. I’m the host of New York, New York/Paris, Paris, a lifestyle show that presents all the new, upcoming and hidden places of cities such as LA, Miami, New York City, Paris, Hong Kong, Milan, London, and many other cities. It was a concept I came up with five years ago, and it has now turned into a weekly show. This year, I will be traveling to Dubai, Tokyo, Aspen, and will cover Fashion Week in New York and Paris. My travels are definitely my source of inspiration in my designs.
Where can we catch New York, New York/Paris, Paris? The show is carried by the June Network and is aired in Europe (France, Belgium, Switzerland, Monaco), in Canada, and on board all Air France flights worldwide.
What advice would give others hoping to open a store? Learn from your mistakes. Never give up and persist!
153 East 70th St (Corner of Lexington Ave)
New York, NY 10021
Contemporary sweater and belt designer is looking for an Independent Sales Rep to market and sell her new high quality edgy yet sophisticated collection to the appropriate boutiques and department stores. Candidate should have at least 1 to 2 years of prior experience in the field. The ability to present collections directly to buyers is priority. This job relies heavily on knowledge of the industry, excellent communication, and persuasive closing skills.
Originally, I came to FIT to pursue an FMM career because I knew the opportunities here would be limitless. I knew that participating in clubs like BSU and BRAG would be a great way to add to my college experience and gain access to those opportunities. Last week, BRAG welcomed FMM alumna Kimberly Goldson as our guest speaker. I was ecstatic to meet the Project Runway finalist and to hear how she used her classes from FIT to hone in on her designing abilities. The transition she made after her time here made me realize all the job possibilities I could venture into with an FMM degree.
Like me, Kimberly studied Fashion Merchandising Management while at FIT, but had dreams of learning how to sew to eventually launch her own line. With the creativity and ideas for designs but no technical know-how, Kimberly registered for electives, such as beginning sketching classes, which allowed her to express her ideas on paper. I immediately was able to relate to her because that was my exact mindset entering the school.
I initially wanted to attend FIT to study Fashion Design; however, I didn’t have the skill set to sew an entire garment, but I couldn’t give up on my dream of having a career in the fashion industry. It was amazing to hear Kimberly’s story and I realized how my studies would be the foundation for starting my business one day. I realized that by learning the fashion business as well as the design aspect, I can be more innovative. In Kimberly’s words, down the road, “I ultimately just want to march to the beat of my own drum.”
While speaking to us, she displayed some of her recent designs, including a pair of her famous trousers in grey with a bow detail on the waist, which could either be pulled through to one side or worn as a prominent bow. She also showed pieces from her debut spring 2012 collection which featured a boat-shaped neckline aquamarine knee length dress, with a pleated peplum attachment with beaded detail. That dress is also sold exclusively on Zappos.com and was worn by Condola Rashad, Phylicia Rashad’s daughter, on ABC’s The Chew. Kimberly also designed Condola a black dress with a full embroideredlace skirt over it, which she wore to the remake premiere of the 1989 classic film Steel Magnolias.
From a student’s perspective, listening to Kimberly’s story of merging FMM and Fashion Design was truly inspiring. When I graduate from FIT, I never want to become a person that stays average, and by trying my hand at design, I can have more opportunities to expand my degree into different areas of fashion, and achieve my dream of being an independent designer. Kimberly was able to successfully use her time at FIT to merge her FMM degree into fashion design, and her story inspires me to do the same.
We registered, we checked in, we learned, we voted! With our smartphones charged and itineraries plotted out, we hit Go Brooklyn Art to meet alumni who were taking part in this weekend-long open studios event. It was a great opportunity to support those working in the arts and to hear about their work–what inspires it, how it’s produced, why it’s important. What made it especially great was playing a role, along with members of the community, in voting for artists to be nominated for a chance to be included in a group exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. At the end of the day, there was a total of 147,000 studio visits to 1,708 artists and 9,457 nominations! From textile art to photography, it was amazing to zigzag across Brooklyn and explore the inspiring work of alumni. Here are some photos from our weekend:
Cynthia Alberto (Textile/Surface Design ’02) and Carolina Sukaj (Textile/Surface Design ’11) ofWeaving Hand
Carla Reyes (Fine Arts ’99; Restoration ’02)
Tenement, the photo studio of FIT alums Mike Falco (AMC ’11), Jolene Lupo (Photography ’09) and Richard Solinger (Photography ’09)
Michelle Tolini Finamore, M.A., Museum Studies: Costume History ’98
First of all, congratulations on your recent appointment as Curator of Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston! Tell us what a typical day is like working in this role. Well, like most people, I often get in and start checking email, and being a curator entails much more administration than my previous positions, i.e. a lot more meetings! Yet there are so many fascinating aspects to the job. I regularly interact with collectors who are enthusiastic about what they are collecting, I develop exhibition proposals, I work on building our 20th and 21st century fashion collection, and help with our Fashion Council, which is a group of fashion enthusiasts who support our department. Sometimes I veer off into directions I would not expect. Thanks to a very generous donor, the MFA is now the repository of the life’s work of English designer John Bates and I am working on a chapter for a book that revolves around his creation of Diana Rigg’s catsuit in the 1960s television show The Avengers.
I also want to mention that I’m thrilled to work alongside two fellow FIT alumni: Pam Parmal, who received her M.A. in 1987, is the head of our Textile & Fashion Arts department and Lauren Whitley, who also got an M.A. in Museum Studies: Costume & Textile history in 1992, is curating the Hippie Chic exhibition that opens on July 2, 2013 and closes November 11, 2013.
Did you always envision yourself working in a museum? I knew that I wanted to study art history from a relatively early age and my first undergraduate internship landed me in the costume and textile department at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. That experience opened my eyes to the idea that art history encompassed the entire visual world, from imagery to objects to what people wear. One of my projects was to help catalogue an early twentieth-century dress shop collection and I spent hours upon hours poring over a wonderfully rich time capsule of clothing, 1920s beadwork, and gorgeous French textiles. I knew then that this was something I could do forever.
What made you want to pursue graduate studies at FIT? I studied Western art history as an undergraduate and decided to pursue graduate studies because I knew I was passionate about fashion history, yet could not find coursework on the subject. FIT was the perfect fit for me in many ways because it provided the history classes I was seeking and practical training on how to handle and “read” objects. While there I had internships at the Costume Institute and held jobs at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Museum at FIT, and then went on to various jobs including one as a fashion specialist in Sotheby’s Fashion Department. I then decided to attend the Bard Graduate Center for my Ph.D. in decorative arts and design history and continued to work in the museum field. And now, I am at the MFA in what I consider my dream job.
What was your favorite course or professor at FIT? That is an easy one – Valerie Steele and all of her courses were the most inspiring to me. Not only because they were directly related to my interest in 20th century fashion but also because her balance of cultural history, material culture, and fashion theory was presented with such enthusiasm and intelligence.
What resources at FIT did you most value? In addition to professors like Valerie and Desiree Koslin, I valued the remarkably rich costume and textile collection at the Museum at FIT. Learning directly from objects makes the abstract concepts more tangible. When I was teaching design history at RISD, I always included regular trips to the museum collection there, and the students always told me those were the most memorable classes for them.The Special Collections in the Gladys Marcus library are yet another treasure trove at FIT and I have returned there for research time and again.
You’ve worked on very interesting exhibits, such as Driving Fashion: Automobile Upholstery of the 1950s and Cocktail Culture. Is there a particular era or topic that fascinates you most? That is a hard question. I had such fun with Cocktail Culture, which encompassed the entire 20th century, because so many of my interests crystallized in that show. I made a concerted effort to present how clothing fit into the larger social and cultural context and relished the challenge to integrate decorative arts, fashion photography, fashion, and illustration to communicate the exhibition ideas. That said, I have a soft spot for the 1910s-1920s and much of my own research has focused on that era.
What other exhibits or projects do you have in the works? I have a couple of exhibitions I would like to do that have yet to be approved, but our department will be opening Hippie Chic in the Fall of 2013, and we are currently working with the designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo for an exhibition of their work in Fall of 2014. I’m also working on my next book, Hollywood Before Glamour: Fashion in American Silent Film (Palgrave, 2013). It is an offshoot of my dissertation and a cultural investigation of fashion in early twentieth century cinema. The book is the result of ten years of archival research, film viewing, and writing, so I am thrilled at the prospect of seeing it in print.
Tell us what you find most interesting about the cultural and social forces that shape fashion. There are so many aspects I find fascinating about fashion, but perhaps most compelling is that fashion can simultaneously express a wearer’s inner dreams, hopes and desires and reflect the larger cultural aesthetic ideas of the external world. There are not many media that can do this and, because we all wear clothing, we all participate in this phenomenon in some way.
What is the earliest memory you have of a museum experience? My most important memory of a museum experience is actually at my current place of employment – the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. When I was a teenager my parents took me to see the blockbuster Renoir exhibition there and that show quite literally changed the direction of my life. I was so inspired by the beauty of those paintings, I became obsessed with art history from that point onward.
What have been some of your favorite exhibits? Alexander McQueen was a watershed fashion exhibition on so many levels but I particularly liked the way the exhibition design reflected his creative energy and communicated his conflicted, yet brilliant mind. And those clothes! The exhibition on Wiener Werkstatte designer Dagobert Peche at the Neue Galerie was another that similarly captured the energy of the artist and was beautifully installed. Others that pop into my mind include Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim and the Ruben and Isabel Toledo exhibition at the Museum at FIT in 1998. It was a wonderful melding of fashion and illustration. That was my introduction to their work and I have been a fan ever since…so I feel like having an exhibition of their work at the MFA is like coming full circle. All of these stand out as memorable and dynamic installations that challenged the way I think about exhibiting art.
What was the best advice you received that you’d like to share with peers and current students? When I was in college one of my dear friends sent me this, by Goethe: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the School of Graduate Studies, please click here and be sure to sign up to attend the upcoming Open House on October 15, 2012!
In our effort to support alumni working in the arts, the Office of Alumni Relations will be visiting the studios of FIT alumni taking part in Go Brooklyn Art, a community-curated open studio project taking place on September 8 – 9. If you’re a participating artist or know fellow alumni who are, let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope the rest of the FIT community joins us in supporting FIT’s talented alumni as they open their studios for a chance to be included in a group exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum! If you’re checking out some of the studios this weekend, be sure to include the following alumni to your intinerary:
It is with a passionate entrepreneurial spirit that Colette Young (International Trade and Marketing ’12) has been busy since graduating this year, launching her fourth business, MIKEL, and receiving various distinguished recognitions. Her achievements go back to her time at FIT, as a recipient of two scholarships from Warnaco Group and New Times Group as an outstanding ITM student, as well as two entrepreneurship scholarships from the McKelvey Foundation and NFIB upon joining ITM. Colette recently has been acclaimed as one of the nation’s top young entrepreneurs in the Empact 100 Summit, being recognized by President Obama at The White House for her first business, a clothing boutique.
Colette started building her fourth company, MIKEL, in early January 2012 and enlisted the help of a few of her professors: Josh Green, Henry Welt, and Christine Pomeranz. Colette found a huge void in the space and thinks that fashion will change more in the next five years than it has in the past fifty, whereas traditional brands do not understand how to successfully transition into the online space, and with that, leads to entire market open for disruption. She has successfully been able to build out a team of industry leaders, gathered support from several top fashion CEO’s, and is currently raising a round of venture funding for her endeavor, MIKEL. Being a Warnaco scholar, Colette has acknowledged the invaluable support of Joe Gromek, the former CEO of Warnaco Group, and Helen McCluskey, current CEO of Warnaco Group.
MIKEL is a luxury lingerie, intimates, and lifestyle brand focused on a social-based shopping experience, centered around MIKEL’s five different female personas, known as Muses. MIKEL integrates a social-shopping experience though our Muses, and will foster the use of our platform by offering incentives for our customers to share and recommend our products. We will also offer a pin-board where our Muses will be posting their favorite articles, food, music, styles, etc. Think of this as a personalized Vogue for your personality. This allows for strong emulation and connectivity amongst our consumers, while building a community through shopping.
Please send cover letter, resume, and salary history to employoppty at metmuseum.org with the position title in the subject line.
The Conservation Assistant (CA) will assist with the care and preservation of the Costume Institute Collection. Additionally, the CA contributes to the preparation, maintenance, and deinstallation of Costume Institute exhibits and loans. Additional duties include ordering supplies and maintaining lab equipment. This position is full-time with an end date of June 30, 2014.
Primary Responsibilities and Duties:
* Assist in preparing condition reports for incoming/outgoing loans and acquisitions
* Assist in ordering conservation supplies and maintaining the Conservation Lab and its equipment
* Construction of mounts for re-housing of artifacts in conjunction with the Capital Project
* Assist in conservation treatments for CI objects
* Assist with installation and maintenance duties for special exhibitions and loans
* Other related duties
Requirements and Qualifications:
Experience and Skills:
* Demonstrated knowledge and experience with treatment of historic costumes/textiles
* Sewing experience as well as good hand skills
* Ability to document treatments and carry out condition reports and treatment proposals
* Photography skills
Knowledge and Education:
* Master’s degree in Textile Conservation, Museum Studies, or related field
The Metropolitan Museum of Art provides equal opportunity to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, mental or physical disability, pregnancy, alienage or citizenship status, marital status or domestic partner status, genetic information, genetic predisposition or carrier status, gender identity, HIV status, military status and any other category protected by law in all employment decisions, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, compensation, training and apprenticeship, promotion, upgrading, demotion, downgrading, transfer, lay-off and termination, and all other terms and conditions of employment.
The alumni relations team caught up with FIT alumni showcasing their work at Beacon Open Studios, a weekend-long art exposition that takes place every year in Beacon, New York. Amy C. Wilson (Toy Design ’08), Anna Bergin (Continuing Education ’04), and Martha P. Humphreys (Jewelry Design ’04) were among the talented artists participating in this year’s event. We were on site to get a close-up look at the workspaces and learn about their craft, their aspirations, and the incredible creative hub that is Beacon, New York.
Amy C. Wilson, BFA Toy Design ’08
Owner & Creator, Kokma Toys
I am a firm believer that the more you give your creativity to your community the more creative nourishment you will receive from it.
Beacon Open Studios weekend is a wonderful opportunity for individuals to showcase their work to the public. How many years have you been a participant? This is my third year and I love it. I get to meet all sorts of amazing artists, photographers, and designers. Beacon is such an amazing and supportive community. People are so accepting of new and creative ideas!
Toy Design alumni have some of the most imaginative creations and storylines for products. Tell us about your business, Kokma Toys. Kokma Toys is a mix of faux fur and rainbows in an imagination blender! My concepts come from various places, objects, fabrics, and even scents! I love to incorporate Japanese style, words and ideas into each design which I feel gives my toys a special feel. All the Kokma Toys are designed, patterned, and sewn by me. I give each character their own story and make them a little bit silly. The best for me is when people read the character’s story and laugh.
Which are your personal favorites? What inspired them? Henry and Kuriketto are by far my favorite, so far. Henry Cupcake Superstar! happened by accident. I had a lot of leftover lime green fur from a previous project and decided to create a monster. But not just any monster… he had to be Japanese, hungry and love cake. So I gave him a bib and made him a vanilla scented cupcake for him to snack on. Now all the kids in Beacon know who Henry is and press their faces against the store window of Dream in Plastic just to see him.
That’s great that children in Beacon know your characters! What were your favorite toys growing up? Surprisingly, I was really into Barbie dolls. I think I had more Barbies than any child should be allowed to own. I would always make clothes for them out of old fabric, paper, whatever I could find. That started my interest in making doll clothing and dolls. I also LOVED stuffed animals. I had so many they would cover my bed as a child. Cookie monster and my stuff bunny were my favorites. I still own both to this day.
What made you decide to launch your own business? I had managed and helped launch a couple businesses and had always dreamt about working for myself. The response I got at the Custom Toy Show, which featured “Harriette & Henry Adopt a Puppy,” was the push I needed to move forward with my dream! Now I am working on world domination with my cute creations.
In addition to studying Toy Design, you also studied Fine Arts at FIT. Describe that transition/merging of majors. Fine Arts was always a passion of mine. I lived and worked as a painter and sculptor for years before studying Toy Design. I had a roving art gallery, White Studio NYC, for a number of years before I decided a career change. I attended the Art Institute of Technology in Philadelphia, where I studied prosthetics design. I noticed they offered a class in toy design, which made me want to transfer back to FIT and attend the toy program there. For me, the transition was a natural one. And the Toy Design department at FIT is like no other!
What were your favorite classes at FIT? So many to choose from! By far my favorite classes were Drawing for Toy Design, Soft Toy and Doll Design, Model Making, Hard Toy Design, Graphic Design, and Packaging Design. I really feel those courses helped me develop Kokma Toys to the point it is today.
I understand you created the graphics for Beacon Open Studios Postcard, Poster and artwork for the catalog. How did that come about? When I participated in my first Beacon Open Studios in 2010, I noticed that they were looking for volunteer help. I offered to help with the graphics for the event. I have been creating the graphics since. I am a firm believer that the more you give your creativity to your community the more creative nourishment you will receive from it.
Anna Bergin, Continuing Education ’04
Beacon is alive, it wants to survive, it wants to thrive, and you can really feel that.
How long have you taken part in Beacon Open Studios weekend? This was my first year participating.
How has the community of Beacon helped nurture your talent? Beacon is great because I get to drop my son off at a creative arts preschool that is set right on the incomparable Hudson River, and when I talk to the other parents no one looks at me sideways when I tell them I’m an artist. It’s normal!
What makes this community unique from other creative hubs? When one of the corner stones of your city is an amazing contemporary art museum [Dia: Beacon], it is hard not to feel that energy spread throughout town. Beacon is alive, it wants to survive, it wants to thrive, and you can really feel that.
You have a great work setup in the private space of your home. Tell us about your workspace. When I was living in Manhattan, I was so worried about security deposits that I found myself mostly working on not spilling any paint. I could never fully let myself go in my work, which for me is one of the best parts about being an artist. It is truly free therapy. When I’m here in my own space, I am free to be the mess that I am. It’s a liberating feeling.
Tell us about your most recent work. What inspired it? In my most recent work, I really wanted to blast people with color. I want the paintings to kind of attack you, but you are being attacked with flowers and shapes and not anything truly threatening. I have begun two larger paintings with abstracted birds as the main subject. Birds, flowers, and textiles are so beautiful, and at their core they are just shapes and color. I love the feeling of stepping back from a piece and seeing a color just simply being pretty, it’s so simple.
What music are you currently listening to and do you listen to anything in particular when painting?
Music is a huge influence on me in my paintings and life. One of my goals in life is to create a painting that can mean as much to someone as a song can. I have to listen to my headphones while I’m painting, and I usually shuffle through my songs (because isn’t your own iPod always the best DJ!). As I’m listening to the songs shuffle, I’ll get stuck on a song and put the album on. I feel like all of my paintings have soundtracks. The last few paintings have had their soundtracks become, Bon Iver’s Bon Iver, Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and my favorite, Wilco’s The Whole Love. I name my paintings using lyrics from songs that I become obsessed with. I have been known to listen to a certain song fifteen times on repeat while I’m painting!
What artists have influenced you? Some of my favorite painters are Gerhard Richter, Cy Twombly, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Francis Bacon. I recently saw an exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum of Eva Hesse’s early paintings that really inspired me to keep working, it was wonderfully moving for me. I also have to give a nod to an unknown graffiti artist because in my latest paintings I have outlined the original drawings using a bright red paint, a direct result of powerful bright graffiti I passed on a drive through NYC.
What is your favorite museum? I feel so calm and at ease in the MoMA. I just feel surrounded by things I understand!
What were some of your most interesting courses at FIT? I took a display design course at FIT at a really frustrating time of my life when I was an administrative assistant just trying to live in NYC. There was a total lack of creativity in the job, and it was just a bummer. The class was extremely motivating. It really showed you that creativity was valued and necessary. We also went on mini tours of the city to see displays in action, and I saw shops and places that I don’t think I would have ever known about without the class!
What plans do you have for the future? I’m going to continue to be a Mom to my two boys and paint! I have been throwing the idea around in my head of possibly branching out and trying some installation pieces. I’m going to try and get as many people to see my work as possible!