Alumni Spotlight: Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung

Reid Bartelme, Fashion Design ’12
Harriet Jung, Fashion Design ’11

Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung

After twelve years working as a dancer in New York City, Reid Bartelme (Fashion Design ’12) decided to launch into a new career in fashion. FIT was a clear choice for making that transition, and it was where he connected with fellow classmate Harriet Jung (Fashion Design ’11). The two bonded over their obsession with Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons and, throughout their studies, they nurtured each other’s work with considered critique. Their shared fashion sensibility and aesthetic would soon lead them into a great business partnership. Since graduating, they’ve teamed up on costume design projects for such dance productions as the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. We caught up with this talented duo to talk about their collaboration, Reid & Harriet, and their ideas on fashion and dance.

Tell us how your design collaboration started.
Bartelme: In the fall of 2011, I began receiving costume commissions from dance companies and a job came my way that I thought would be the perfect opportunity for the two of us to design collaboratively. Justin Peck, from the New York City Ballet was looking for a designer to dress a small piece of his, and so he asked to see some of my work. I asked him if it was okay if I showed him a combination of work from both Harriet and myself. I suggested to him that we redesign an existing ballet in the New York City Ballet repertoire, so he could see how Harriet and I design as a team. These drawings that we presented to Justin were our first collaborative effort.

Jung: In general, our design collaboration is very fluid and open. We throw out ideas at each other and build upon each other’s ideas. It’s a creative, collaborative discussion and process.

Furiant, a ballet by Justin Peck, costumed by Bartelme and Jung. Photo by Erin Baiano

Reid, as a longtime dancer, did you set out to design dance costumes after completing your studies?
Bartelme: No, actually. I thought that once I graduated from FIT I would apply to work as an assistant to a designer at a label, but the summer after school was over my costume business took off.

Did you always know you wanted to be a fashion designer, Harriet?
Jung: Initially, I thought I wanted to be a doctor so I completed a Pre-Med degree in Molecular Cell Biology from UC Berkeley. Obviously, that changed. After more self reflection, I realized where my talent and most importantly interests have always been.

What are some recent dance projects?
Bartelme: We just finished a set of costumes for American Ballet Theater. It’s a piece choreographed by Marcelo Gomes and will be performed at the opening night of their fall season. We also designed costumes for Mr. Gomes for the opening night of their Spring season. We also designed two Justin Peck ballets over the summer swell as a duet choreographed by Emery Lecrone.

Do you find there is a relation between the expression of dance and fashion design?
Bartelme: Yes. There is a great deal of rhythm in dance, and control of proportional rhythm is key in fashion design. There are also similar dynamic qualities in dance and fashion design: fluid, hard, crisp, transparent are all dynamic qualities that can be applied both to fashion design and dance.

Jung: They both stem from an idea or story wanting to be shared. Like dance, good design requires a balance and a sort of natural progression as a collection and within each garment. A strong, clear vision is also extremely important for both.

Harriet, how is designing dancewear different or similar to designing eveningwear at Jill Stuart?
Jung: Comfort is a secondary design priority when designing eveningwear or womenswear. If we can make it look great and keep it comfortable–that’s a real feat. In dancewear, however, comfort, functionality, and movement are essential. We need to fuse design and the technical needs of the dancer together from the beginning.

How does the motion of the dancer factor in to your designs?
Bartelme: There are two different ways this factors into the design process. The qualities of the dancer will often elicit and an emotional design response and have a profound effect on the design itself. Second, there are many construction parameters that need to be considered in dance costumes. The dancers need full range of movement, and the costumes need to stay in place and remain neat even during vigorous physical movement. It is also best if the costumes are washable and durable so they can withstand abnormal amounts of sweat and frequent washing.

What’s your favorite part of this work?
Jung: Lots, but one of my favorite parts is initially seeing the piece and speaking to the choreographer about their vision for the piece then coming up with our vision and concept for the costumes. It’s the most creative and stimulating part for me.

Bartelme: I love that in each job I begin I get to explore a different aspect of my design personality.

Favorite item on your desk?
Bartelme: Unlined moleskin pads, mechanical pencil and refillable eraser, and two grey scale markers.

Jung: Mechanical pencil! My watercolors.

Most treasured possession?
Bartelme: Vintage Commes Des Garçons dresses from my mother.

Jung: My box of letters and notes from friends and loved ones. They’re not as common these days.

What advice would you like to share with peers and current students?
Bartelme: It is impossible to know what will come your way in the future, but it is important to approach all your work with rigor and integrity. Discipline in your design practice will really serve you well. With diligence and time the practice of design becomes more fluid and more rewarding.

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Alumni Spotlight: Jes Wade, Fashion Design ’96

From the Desk of…
Jes Wade

Fashion Designer Jes Wade at her command central! This 19th century bankers desk is one of her favorite antique finds from Hudson, New York.

Jes Wade moved from Austin, Texas with great aspirations to study fashion design in New York City and start her own label. Since completing her degree at FIT, Wade’s dream to launch her business became a reality. She has continued to stay involved with the college, recently joining the MFIT’s Couture Council, attending alumni talks and receptions, and participating in Design Entrepreneurs NYC. We talked to Wade about her journey, her fast growing clientele, and some of her favorite things.

Tell us how the idea of starting your own business came about.
When I was a Marketing major at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, Donald Fisher, the founder of Gap, came to speak at the business school and said, “If you’re going to start a business you wouldn’t be sitting here.” I decided right then that I needed to make some changes.

Why did you choose FIT?
I had fallen in love with NYC while traveling there to do the ENK shows for a designer friend. I would return to Austin and think about how much I wanted to live in NYC. When I started looking at fashion design schools in NYC I saw that FIT offered a one-year associate degree program that was very intriguing. I had already been to a great college, so I wasn’t looking for a long academic experience. I wanted an intense technical training and in that year I slept less, worked harder and loved it more than anything. I fondly refer to the one-year associates degree at FIT as fashion design boot camp.

Which FIT class or professor shapes your work today?
The draping professor who taught us to sculpt, the illustration professor who showed us how to fingerprint and smear our work to make it our own and the Italian tailor who turned fabric into molten butter with his hands.

Tell us the story behind your label.
While working for major labels I spent most of my time in meetings and in front of a computer communicating with textile mills and garment manufacturers and I was disappointed with how little design takes place. As a result, I set up a design studio and began designing, patterning and sewing and developing my own design vocabulary and aesthetic. This is how I spent many nights and weekends for nearly a decade before launching my label full time. Then and now every step of the design process (from sketch to final stitch) is equally important in our Atelier.

What’s your aesthetic?
I love the classic clean shapes of American sportswear combined with old world couture fabric and detail. In our Atelier every pattern and design goes through some kind of simplification or purification before it is ready. We joke in the Atelier that a pattern isn’t ready to go into production until it hits that perfect harmonic note… or until it sings. Since the human body has a perfect symmetry and harmony each pattern can reach its own perfect harmony as well. With new styles there is always a tug of war with measurements and geometries but then after hours or even days of working on the pattern there will be a moment where it will all start falling into place.

Describe your team.
Our Showroom and Atelier is located in a TriBeCa loft. We design and manufacture everything in our Atelier and it is open to our Showroom where we sell the collection direct to private clients. I work very closely with my Head Seamstress who has been with the company since 2010 and during that time she has been taking night courses at FIT in couture sewing and patternmaking. We both share a love for taking raw materials and turning them into a beautiful final product.

Unlike mass market fashion, you have a small operation driven by very intimate relationships with your clients. How do you hope to maintain that intimacy while still growing the business?
I believe there is so much opportunity with mobile technologies and cloud networking that it is possible to stay intimate despite growth. Technology can insure intimacy with customer service and sales. I believe it can also be developed to allow for customization in manufacturing. I have an obsession with developing the technology to combine body scanning with digital patterning software. I think this technological development would be valuable in “direct to client” custom manufacturing as well as in global applications where body shapes vary with genetics and lifestyle from region to region and country to country. When FIT gets its new technology and research lab up and running I want to be first in line!

We’d love to have you back! Now, we have a few “favorite” questions, beginning with your favorite item on your desk.
It must be the desk itself. I have a 19th century standing bankers desk in dark wood with these great carved legs. I found it at an antique dealer in Hudson, NY which is right near our little farmhouse upstate where we go nearly every weekend.

Favorite spot in New York City?
When I need inspiration there are two places that always work: the MET Museum and the Hudson River.

Song to get the day started?
Anything by Morningwood. The band is no longer together but their popularity on Pandora proves that in fact it is possible to be ahead of your time.

Book on your nightstand?
I recently started the “The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance” by Edmund de Waal. I just finished “Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life” by Justine Picardie and it was fantastic and I recommend it to everyone. I don’t care how much you know about Coco, you have to read it.

Most treasured possession?
My two daughters.

Little-known fact about you?
I am a closet jock. I was a competitive tennis player in high school and I slalom ski every summer and snowboard every winter.

Exciting future ventures?
We are hosting the Couture Council for an event in November. I became a Couture Council member this spring and can’t say enough positive things about the organization, their events and the Museum at FIT. I have always been a fan of Valerie Steele’s work and it is so exciting for me to keep up with and support that work in real time.

What advice would you like to share with peers and current students?
Do what you love, work hard and be patient.

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Alumni Spotlight: Irene Mak, Fashion Design ’82

From the Desk of…
Irene Mak

Irene Mak (Fashion Design ’82) at work in the New York & Co headquaters

Irene Mak (Fashion Design ’82) recently attended our Kickstarter School panel to support her friend, Stefan Loble (SCPS ’10), who was one of the alumni panelists. Stefan’s presentation about his hugely successful menswear startup, Bluff Works, was nothing short of inspirational and was a testament to the importance of building relationships in the industry. Stefan’s connection with industry veterans like Irene proved invaluable, as she offered expertise and consulting for his new business venture. With great enthusiasm and commitment, Irene has long supported the entrepreneurial work of peers and continues to serve as a mentor to so many who are getting their apparel startups off the ground.

After spending the last few years consulting, Irene decided to reenter the fashion corporate world. This summer, she joined New York and Company as Vice President of Technical Design, where she leads a team of 18 technical designers and 5 patternmakers. We visited her at the headquarters to get a glimpse of her operations and to hear all about her rewarding career in the industry.

We started the morning off at a fitting session, where the most minor details were pinpointed and ironed out in a discussion among both Technical Designers and Fashion Designers. The model, Dierdre, also offered input on getting the fit right. Seamlessly, the team worked through one garment after another in an effort to ensure the most flattering and comfortable fit for the NY & Co customer. According to Irene, the looks must strike the perfect balance between casual and wear-to-work, which is not easy to achieve.

After the session, we toured the office, passing cubicles punctuated by racks of garment samples ready to be tried on and tweaked before hitting store floors. We sat in her office with a view that looks out to the west and faces the Post Office on 8th Ave, not far from the FIT campus. Irene had just received a shipment of two versions for a wrap skirt that awaited her executive decision: she went with the one that required less fabric and was, in effect, more cost efficient. She talked about her studies, her design jobs at Anthropolgie and Victoria’s Secret, and her upbringing in the Lower East Side with a mother and two sisters who were seamstresses.

It quickly became clear that her technical design skill has been refined over many, many years. Her cheerful personality and openness speak to her leadership skills, too. It is a composite of both technical and leadership skills that Irene is able to make a perfect fit for the everyday working woman and mold future designers–in her team and in the classroom. She will begin teaching in the Product Development and Technical Design Certificate programs at FIT’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, beginning October 1. We’re thrilled that Irene continues to stay involved with FIT as an alumna and now an instructor, and we look forward to hearing about the next brand she helps launch!

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Faces & Places in Fashion Fall 2013

Faces & Places in Fashion Lecture Series – Fall 2013

Mondays, 4:00 – 5:00 pm
Fashion Institute of Technology
Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center
Katie Murphy Amphitheatre
Seventh Avenue and 27th Street

Please join us for the Faces and Places in Fashion lecture series, which is led by FIT alumnus Joshua Williams (MPS Global Fashion Management ’07) and takes place every Monday. The lecture series is a forum for prominent fashion professionals, including executives, designers and marketers to discuss their trade, their experience and their perspective on the business. Select lectures will be followed by networking receptions open to alumni, students and industry professionals. Reservation is required. We hope to see you there!

September 9 - Michael Niemtzow, Jon Harari, Raul Tovar, Windowswear

September 16 - Irina Pantaeva, author, model and celebrity

September 23 - Samata Angel, author, Designer’s Resource Book

September 30 - Jami Reinsch, Xerox, Carr Business Systems
RSVP for Talk & Reception

October 7 - Melissa Lefere-Cobb (Fashion Buying & Merchandising ’95), SVP, Merchandising & Sales, Oscar de la Renta
RSVP for Talk & Reception

October 14 - Coty Konda, SVP Shoes & Accessories, Saks

October 21 - Jason Jobson (Fashion Buying & Merchandising ’92), Sales Consultant, Ferragamo/Chanel

October 28 - Marty Staff, President, Marty Staff & Associates

November 4 - Joy Herfel Cronin (Fashion Buying & Merchandising ’86), President Childrenswear, Ralph Lauren
RSVP for Talk & Reception

November 11 - Eva Chen, Chief Editor, Lucky magazine

November 18 - Aprelle Duany (Accesories Design ’08), CEO, KikoRomeo

November 25 - Shane & Shawn Ward, Founders/Designers, Shane&Shawn

December 2 - Michi Raab (Fashion Design ’80), Director of Talent Acquisition, Ralph Lauren

December 9 – Fashion Service Network
RSVP for Talk & Reception

*POSTPONED* - Tae Smith (MA, Museum Studies ’04), Costume Designer, The Great Gatsby        

Posted in Accessories Design, Fashion Buying and Merchandising, Fashion Design, Fashion Merchandising Management, Global Fashion Management, Museum Studies: Costume History | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Brian Williams: 2013 FITSA VP of Alumni Affairs

Brian Williams, 2013-14 FITSA VP of Alumni Affairs

The Office of Alumni and Faculty Relations is excited to start working with Brian Williams, a first-year FMM student, who was recently elected as Vice President for Alumni Affairs on the FIT Student Association (FITSA)! We caught up with Brian and asked him about his studies, the importance of alumni role models in students’ lives, and his upcoming plans for strengthening the connection between alumni and students.

First of all, welcome to FIT and congratulations on becoming the new FITSA VP of Alumni Affairs! How does it feel to be a student at FIT and a student body leader?
Thank you! It is an honor to be a student at FIT. I am very excited to be on Student Association, and cannot wait to start working with the alumni and putting on some exciting programs.

Tell us about your decision to transfer from SUNY New Paltz to FIT.
I went to New Paltz for a year to get some of my General Education requirements out of the way. At first, I was planning on staying at New Paltz, and was going to major in Psychology. But after taking a variety of classes and also connecting with different people in the industry, it helped me realize that FIT was the right choice for me.

Was there a particular person or experience that served as a catalyst for choosing FIT?
I won a scholarship at the end of my senior year of high school from an organization called Live Out Loud. Many of the supporters of the organization are in fashion related industries. After being connected with some of these individuals, I became extremely interested in being in the fashion industry as a career.

What’s your major and expected grad year?
I am a Fashion Merchandising Management major. I will finish my Associates at the end of this year.

Do you plan on continuing onto a Bachelors degree?
I do. I am not sure what I want to specialize in, or if I want to move onto another program.

What are some of your favorite courses and professors so far?
I really love Intro to the Fashion Industry and Fashion Business Practices. All my professors are great!

What made you want to take on the role of FITSA VP of Alumni Affairs?
At New Paltz, I was very involved on campus, so when transferring to FIT I expected nothing less of myself than to get involved. During Welcome Week, there was a booth for the Student Association, so I walked up and asked if there were any open positions. One that caught my attention was the VP of Alumni Affairs. It sounded like a great opportunity and an interesting position.

What are some programs you plan on organizing to involve alumni at FIT?
I want to organize panel discussions with alumni, as well as a few other networking opportunities, such as shadowing opportunities for students.

From a student’s perspective, how important is the role of alumni in students’ success?
I think alumni are some of the most important assets to a student’s success. The alumni know what it is like to go to FIT, and have a lot of valuable knowledge to share. Many students do not know what they want to do when they graduate, and alumni can act as a role model for these students.

Are there any alumni in particular that you have met or know of who inspire you?
I haven’t met that many alumni, but I cannot wait to meet as many as possible! I think all the alumni are very inspiring. After being here for a while, I see how intense the programs are. Everyone works so hard, and knowing that others before me have completed the program inspires me.

What do you plan to do after graduating?
After graduation, I will hopefully get the opportunity to start my career. I’m not sure what I want to work in exactly, but that will develop over time. I like to go with the flow and see where life takes me!

What message would you like to extend to the FIT Alumni community on behalf of FIT’s student body?
Thank you for paving the way for us, and for being such an inspiration!

To get involved with FIT, alumni can sign up here!

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Class of 2013 Emerging Designer Showcase

Winner Jae Lee (Fashion Design ’13) with his model and Project Runway finalist Viktor Luna


We were thrilled to team up with the iconic InterContinental New York Times Square for our “Class of 2013 Emerging Designer Showcase” last night. FIT alumni and friends came together to celebrate our newest graduates as they displayed looks from their senior runway show in the hotel’s Gotham Ballroom. The garments were judged by attending guests and key industry insiders including Project Runway Season 9 finalist, Viktor Luna, who also attended FIT.

We’re very proud of Jae Lee, who received the most votes from guests and won the grand prize! The InterContinental New York Times Square has awarded him an overnight stay for two with breakfast and will display his designs throughout the hotel for the entirety of New York Fashion Week. You can drop by to view his work September 5-12, 2013 at the hotel, which is located at 300 West 44th Street.

We are especially grateful to InterContinental New York Times Square for their generosity hosting us in their beautiful hotel and for their generous prize for the winning designer. We applaud all the participating designers and thank everyone who joined us to celebrate the work of FIT’s Fashion Design 2013 graduates! Click here to view more photos from the event.

About Jae Lee: Before entering the world of fashion design, my main focus was in Fine Arts. Fashion was never something I thought I would be a part of. But the more I became involved, the more I fell in love. I won the AAS Art Specialization Critic’s Award, worked as a fashion production coordinator, studied abroad at Central Saint Martins, won the BFA Lisa Perry Sportswear Critic Award at FIT’s Future of Fashion senior runway show, and am currently working at Helmut Lang, one of my dream companies. All these experiences have helped mold me into the unique designer I am today. I aim to create visual conversations between the old and new—a dance of tradition and innovation. Now I offer designs fueled by conceptual ideas combined with consumer-aware aesthetics, a multicultural mix between the avant-garde and the functional. I strive to not only design beautiful clothing, but to also tell stories through my creations. Embrace the then, embrace the now, and embrace what’s to come.

Class of 2013 Emerging Designer Showcase Participants
Yazmil Flores
Larissa Lampitelli
Sijeo Kim
Angela Matarazzo
Lanae Anderson
Chelsea Maxine Agawa
Jane Jang
Jae Lee
Soo Jin Kim
Carlene Maat
Mark E. Menzie
Vitasta Kaul

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Alumni Spotlight: Leslie Pellegrino Peck, Illustration ’87

Top: Peck in the studio; Bottom: A 1996 book jacket with a painting
by Peck.

Whether or not their dramatic poses and lurid landscapes set your heart afire, classic romance novel covers are arresting works of technical expertise. The scene on this page was painted by Leslie Pellegrino Peck, Illustration ’87, who created more than 700 romance covers over two decades. Often, the artist was better paid than the writer, because a “sleepworthy” cover—as in, “Would you want to sleep with that guy?”—sold the book.

All of Peck’s covers are closely based on black-and-white photographs. In fact, she got her start while assisting a photographer who specialized in shooting for illustrators in publishing—not just romance novels but science fiction and Westerns, too. Art directors for books wandered into the studio all the time; one agreed to let her illustrate an upcoming novel on spec. The result, an image of a nubile couple waist-deep in a moonlit lake, became the cover of The Rialto Affair, published in 1989. From there, assignments flooded in, for the gamut of romance publishers from Avon Books to Zebra/Pinnacle, and, of course, Harlequin.

For each cover, she would style a shoot for a dramatically lit, windblown photo, based not on the novel itself but on a one-page description of the characters and the setting (“I’m sure the authors would be horrified,” she admits). When painting, she kept within the genre’s rigid conventions; outside considerations such as historical accuracy, consistency with the plot, and the laws of physics were summarily ignored.

A few years ago, when the publishing industry’s coffers began to shrink, lush oil paintings were cast aside in favor of inexpensive photos (a glass of wine, a rose, an unmade bed), and digital watercolor effects were used to make a photographed scene look painterly. The genre is still publishing’s juggernaut though, racking up more than $1.3 billion in sales each year, giving it the largest share of the U.S. consumer market, according to a 2012 report.

Peck moved on, but she remembers her “romantic” career fondly.

This Alumni Spotlight originally appeared in the summer 2013 issue of Hue magazine.

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The Militant Modernist: A Q&A with alumnus Michael Kors

The Militant Modernist
A Q&A with alumnus Michael Kors, Fashion Design, a designer who needs no introduction
By Alex Joseph

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Have you ever wished that one day you would answer the phone and hear a nicesounding lady say, “Hi, would you like to speak to Michael Kors?” Don’t hate me, but this happened to me the other day. The staggeringly successful sportswear designer, former Project Runway judge, and FIT alumnus recently endowed a $1 million scholarship for a Fashion Design student. He took some time to tell Hue about his plans for the lucky recipient, Michelle Obama’s style, and the future of fashion. Kors grew up on Long Island and came to FIT in the late ’70s to study fashion design. Soon after arriving, he got a job at the upscale boutique Lothar’s, where he began designing and selling his first collection. He was discovered by a Bergdorf Goodman buyer, and launched his namesake line there in 1981. Over the years, he’s dressed numerous celebrities and won awards from the Council of Fashion Designers of America for women’s wear in 1999 and menswear in 2003, and in 2010, a lifetime achievement award. The brand has grown to encompass a diffusion line, KORS (footwear and jeans). It was through his appearances on Project Runway, however, that his larger-than-life personality became generally known, particularly for his quips: Once, he described a contestant’s gown as “Mad Max rigatoni.” In our interview, he said, “I don’t know where I got those from,” and the wisecracking persona was nowhere in evidence. He was, instead, thoughtful and perceptive, an articulate businessman in charge of a flourishing career.

Hue: What’s it like to see your designs on Michelle Obama—in the official White House portrait, no less?
MK: I’ve met her numerous times, though we’ve never had an official “fashion repartee.” What’s interesting to me is that, in my lifetime, other than Jackie Kennedy, first ladies were always more formal and buttoned-up. Mostly they disdained fashion. Mrs. Obama demonstrates how you can be smart and interested in fashion while keeping your hectic schedule. Traditionally, the first lady would wear a suit or something colorful for the White House portrait. I never thought we’d see a first lady in black matte jersey!

Who else wears your designs well?
We have a huge range of clients of all ages and sizes. We also dress celebrities. Blake Lively, Jennifer Hudson, Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain—these women are all full of confidence. They want to walk in a room and be the person you look at. I think of myself as the framer; the woman is the picture.

Sounds like something Chanel would say.
Well, like Chanel, I think about how clothes work in real life. Of course, celebrities—like Angelina Jolie, who’s been a client for years—have a heightened real life. But again, I think it’s really that confidence that’s the connective thread. Also the idea that good fashion doesn’t have an expiration date. The dress Michelle wore to the last inaugural reception was four years old.

Do you have a muse?
I have my mix of muses, just like women have different moods. It’s not one woman; it’s a cast of characters, like an Almodóvar or Fellini film. My mom has always been a bellwether. She likes simplicity, understatement, a laid-back look. My grandmother, on the other hand, was over the top. She loved beads and glamour. They’re two sides to one coin. I do a blend.

Last fall, you endowed a $1 million FIT scholarship. The student recipient gets a full ride, plus an internship at your firm. What’s the most important thing you have to tell them?
Two things. One, they have to know the customer. They have to spend time watching people shop. But they also need to have a curiosity about what’s going on, past and present. Pop culture, film, music, TV, travel…. Even if you can’t afford to travel, in today’s world, you can sit in traffic and on a bus and go to Bali on your phone. You can’t be bottled up. You can’t say, “I’ve seen it all.” Fashion is the big picture. We tell the story of what’s happening in the world, so we have to know that story.

Over the years we’ve noticed that a lot of designers on Project Runway have vision, but limited technical skills. How important are they in today’s global fashion world?
There’s no set way of doing things. I’ve been sketching since I was 4 or 5, but I am a disastrous sewer. I like to work fast. Sewing is like baking, and sketching is an impromptu stew. I am not a baker. You do need to know how clothes are made—the finishing, the fit. But I think more of the skills needed today are, Can you talk to the press? Do you know who the customer is? When you meet that customer, can you talk to them? Can you strike a balance between art and commerce?

What’s different about young designers today from when you started out?
In a word, the internet. It changed everything about fashion. I used to go to the FIT library and look at 1935 issues of Vogue. That’s not the same as putting Poiret into Google. Today, there’s a lot more sampling of styles. Back then, you could start quietly. For my first fashion show, we only had one TV show—Style with Elsa Klensch on CNN. Today, you can graduate from school, put a collection together, and suddenly there are a million blogs with all these opinions being thrown at you. Then, if you didn’t live in a big city, you didn’t have a chance, but now anyone can watch a show live stream from Manitoba. So you can get that attention very quickly, but you haven’t learned how to sustain things. You’re finding your way, but doing it very publicly. There’s more opportunity today than when I started because of a greater curiosity about new designers. But it’s much harder to work when the spotlight is blaring at you with such a high intensity.

What’s the future of fashion?
We never thought fashion would be so global. Once, I had to learn about the customer in Texas; now, it’s Singapore. We’ll never go back to Kay Thompson in Funny Face saying, “Think pink!” and everyone’s suddenly wearing pink. We’ll definitely see more democracy of fashion, which began in the ’70s. More and more, individuals will dress for their own individual styles, their own group. And the rest of it—who knows? We’ll see where the world takes us, and that’s where fashion will go.

This interview originally appeared in the summer 2013 issue of Hue magazine.

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Class of 2013 Emerging Designer Showcase at NYFW

To kick off New York Fashion Week, we’re celebrating the amazing work of FIT’s Fashion Design 2013 graduates at our second annual “Emerging Designer Showcase”! The reception will take place at the Gotham Ballroom at the InterContinental New York Times Square on September 4, 2013 from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm. RSVP is required.

RECENT GRADUATES are encouraged to take part in this exciting opportunity to present their designs in the swanky lobby of the InterContinental Hotel in front of fellow alumni and guests.

Kyle Pearson (Fashion Design ’12), winner of last year’s Emerging Designer Showcase
Jordan Randolph (Fashion Design ’12) with Professor Ruben Cruz
Alumni and guests talk to FIT’s 2012 graduates about their designs
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Alumni Spotlight: Patrick Michael Greene, AMC ’11

From the desk of…

Patrick Greene

Patrick Greene and 2013 Playmate of the Year Raquel Pomplun

Even when he was a student at FIT, Patrick Greene (Advertising and Marketing Communications ’11) had great leadership qualities and a flare for the publishing world. He went from Editor in Chief of FIT’s student newspaper, W27, to a senior internship at ELLE, which landed him a full-time job at the magazine before graduating. He then went on to work at Details and most recently joined Playboy, where he is the Luxury Director for the magazine’s advertising. All this, by the age of 25. We talked to this young alumnus about his thriving start in the magazine industry, some goosebump-inducing ads, and a few of his favorite things.

Tell us about how you started out in the magazine industry.
The magazine publishing industry is very small and incestuous. After interning and then working full-time at ELLE for six months the magazine was purchased by Hearst. The shake up was rough for a lot of people, but I stuck around through the transition and eventually one of my bosses left ELLE for Details. About a month later, she asked if I wanted to join her at her new publication; I said yes.

How was it different working with a male audience?
Details was such a huge learning curve. Selling a women’s book is nothing like selling a men’s book. If you’re a big brand like ELLE or Vogue, people want and need to run with you month after month. At Details it took a lot of re-educating the clients on what men have to offer and why speaking to them through advertising is necessary.

How did the opportunity at Playboy come about?
After about three months at Details my publisher, Kevin Martinez, pulled me aside and told me that I had much bigger things in my future. He went out of his way to help groom me for the role I’m in now. Playboy reached out to me via a recruiter back in February after seeing my success with the fashion and luxury list at Details. After many meetings with key players and a lot of back-and-forth, I finally made the jump to Playboy, an iconic American brand.

What does the job entail?
As Luxury Director, I’m responsible for all of the fashion, grooming, watch and luxury auto advertising that runs in the book, online and via social media.

You must be extremely busy! What’s a typical day like?
I know it’s cliché, but there isn’t really a typical day. For instance, my third day on the job I was on a plane to Las Vegas for a tradeshow. A lot of my time is divided between attending client events/activations, going on sales calls, and constantly emailing, emailing, emailing.

What’s the upside of the bustle and “emailing, emailing, emailing”?
There’s a giant payoff. Like the rush you get when you break an account that you’ve been working on for a long time. Nothing like it.

Any client acquisition that was particularly memorable?
My favorite win to date has to be breaking the John Varvatos fashion account for September. The head of marketing for Varvatos is known in the industry to be a no-nonsense kind of lady, so I came prepared with the heavy artillery–my publisher and editorial director. You could actually sense the moment during the meeting when she was convinced Playboy was the right fit for their brand. The excitement in the air was palpable.

Talk a bit about the kinds of ads that run in Playboy.
A lot of our advertisers have a little more freedom with their creative by running with us as opposed to other books. They can get away with more. For instance, Jaguar ran an ad last Fall with copy that read, “Have you ever had a Piloerection?” which is the scientific term for goosebumps, something you get from driving a Jaguar.

Interesting how the copy adapts to the publication…
Yes! Our readers are definitely a different demographic and genuinely uninhibited. It’s always an exciting day at the Playboy offices.

On to the more personal. What’s your favorite item on your desk?
I have a small collection of owls all around my desk, so each one reminds me of the family member or friend who gifted it to me. I’ve always had this odd fascination with them. In certain cultures the owl symbolizes wisdom, perspective and intuition. All things I try to embody.

Favorite spot in New York City?
The promenade in Brooklyn Heights and the waterfront in DUMBO. I live nearby, and I make it a point to go there instead of schlepping into the city on the weekend.

What’s the last song you downloaded?
“The Stockholm Syndrome” by CLMD vs. Kish feat. Froder. I’m a little obsessed with EDM currently.

Most treasured possession?
This little glass and metal rose that my late grandmother always kept on her nightstand.

What advice would you like to share with peers and current students?
Network. More than anything it’s all about the people you know. Yes, classes and education is important, but 90% of what you learn will be on the job. The people who get you that job matter the most, so make sure to create genuine, meaningful relationships.


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