Category: Alumni

From Polimoda in Florence to Shima Seiki USA

By , October 10, 2012 3:11 pm

The type of letter our assistant dean Sass Brown swoons over:

Dear Sass,

My name is Lindsay Mann and I’m a BFA graduate of FIT who specialized in knitwear. I studied at Polimoda in Florence, where I first met you in 2005. I’m lucky and proud to have had such opportunities. Hands down, FIT’s design programs are the best.  I thought I’d take a moment to catch you up on my professional work.

I work with Melinda Danko, also an FIT grad who studied in Florence, for  Shima Seiki USA, a Japanese knitting machine manufacturer.  The company uses a technology called WholeGarment, to  produce garments as entire pieces with little or no leftover yarn. It is a high-quality, eco-friendly method of machine knitting.

About a year ago, Shima Seiki asked us to start a brand to help promote the technology. Melinda and I were ecstatic! With the support of an internationally recognized knitwear manufacturing powerhouse, we started KOTOBA.

Our brand development decisions are made as a team, which also includes Akira Tsuno and Alexandra Sarabia. Our motto is “the whole becomes the one.” Kotoba means “language” in Japanese. The languages people speak, or the language of knitwear or technology can be an obstacle — but for us, it brings our team together.

The sustainable aspect of KOTOBA’s manufacturing process is incredible. We feel it meets high ethical standards. Our New Jersey factory is a beautiful facility. We work directly with our technicians and seamstresses, an important part of creating a quality product.

Shima Seiki is a big family in Japan. We’ve been adopted into its smaller family in the U.S. There’s pride in what we’ve created and while we’re new and still learning, we hope to inspire designers to adopt a similar approach.

We showed our Spring 2013 collection during New York Fashion Week. The presentation and launch party was a big success for us. Our design aesthetic, knitting technology, and message were well received. Our guests and models had a great time connecting with our theme of leisure activity.

We are truly excited about KOTOBA as a made-in-USA, high-quality, sustainable fashion brand. We believe that the key to changing the industry is to educate the consumer about ethical means of manufacturing.

Your know-how in eco-fashion has inspired and helped guide us as designers with the desire to improve on ethics of fashion.

For this we cannot thank you enough.



photos used with permission

Daniel Vosovic admitted to the fashion incubator

By , August 20, 2012 2:40 pm
The Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Fashion Incubator isn’t for preemies. The CFDA’s two-year program is designed to foster emerging designers with noted experience and recognition.  Fashion design grad Daniel Vosovic initially met all requirements but one.

photo of Daniel Vosovic courtesy of CFDA

Here’s what the CFDA looks for and here’s what Vosovic had to his name:
  • A designer of demonstrable talent, i.e. have garnered substantial editorial coverage

Vosovic’s resume: Four days after graduating FIT,  Vosovic began filming season two of Project Runway.  He was a finalist and fan favorite. His 13-piece collection, shown at New York’s Fashion Week, received glowing reviews. He designed chic uniforms for the hotel staff of NYLO and authored the book, “Fashion Inside Out: Daniel V’s Guide to How Style Happens from Inspiration to Runway and Beyond.”

  •  Be American or have established a primary design business in the US
Vosovic’s origins: Mosovic is a Michigan native. Prior to coming to FIT he attended Grand Rapids Community College.  He was a nationally ranked gymnast for 12 years. But who couldn’t use a leg up?
  • Be in business for a minimum of two years
The glitch:  After Project Runway, Vosovic went on to hold various head designer and assistant positions for four and a half years before launching his own line in 2010.  But Vosovic’s label was two months shy of Incubator’s two-year requirement. He was a preemie.
  • Be able to occupy CFDA’s Fashion Incubator studio space; relocation expenses, if applicable, will be the responsibility of the tenant.

 Let’s just say: Vosovic must appreciate good working conditions. “Well, [the Incubator] has air-conditioning, which is always plus!” Vosovic told Ally Betkar from The Cut. He also is reminded of a response once given by  supermodel Karen Elson: “‘The reality is, in fashion everyone’s going home to a fourth-floor walk-up in Brooklyn…’”

Serendipity:  One of the original 10 designers chose to decline involvement in the Incubator program. By this time, Vosovic meets the two-year minimum requirement and is soon invited to join one of the best “nurseries” for new fashion designers!

“I’m so grateful for this opportunity and to have been chosen to represent the program,” says Vosovic. “In just the few short months I’ve been a part of the CFDA Incubator my business plan has been refined, my design focus sharpened and my brand’s visibility raised. I can’t wait to see what two years brings!”

All designs by Daniel Vosovic. Photos used with permission.

Eozen Agopian’s painting and thread works

By , June 25, 2012 5:29 pm

Eozen Agopian has traversed many artistic mediums since the precision work she did as an AAS (’87) student in Graphic Design.  Many of her mixed medium canvases combine abstract painting, needlepoint, shimmering shapes, and downpours of cascading treads. Tantalizing to the eye, there is nothing still or stagnant to her imaginative work, which is now on view at the Lesley Heller Workspace on 54 Orchard Street through July 6.

Eozen Agopian at the Lesley Heller Workspace on Orchard St.  photo: Rachel Ellner

“After FIT I could see things differently. I could see the lines, shapes, forms, in architecture and my surroundings.  Education trains your eye, and design becomes more specific.  From my education in graphic design I learned how to be precise,” says Agopian who went on to get her MFA from Pratt Institute.

"Flutter" by Eozen Agopian

“I have this attachment to fabric and threads. I thought it was because I grew up in Greece,” says Agopian who has duel citizenship. “I used to do needlework growing up but I’d get bored and go to the margins and do my own thing. I’d always thought that my experience at FIT was a lot about fabric. I’d see a lot of fashion design, so there’s a connection to that, and you can’t help notice the fabric stores in the area.”

“Fading Away” by Eozen Agopian

“It was better for me that I started in Graphic Design,” says Agopian. “To combine that with the freedom the fine arts and your own thoughts really intrigued me.”

"Red Thread" by Eozen Agopian

“I really loved FIT. It changed my life,” says Agopian.

For more about the artist, visit her website:

photos of Eozen Agopian’s work courtesy of Lesley Heller Workplace.


Dana Ganci and the Oreo cookie

By , March 22, 2012 5:55 pm

Oreo cookies have been eaten and washed down throughout many of our country’s momentous historical moments. On the celebration of the Oreo’s 100th birthday this month there were  many such highlights to contemplate.   The Oreo, points out the  Christian Science Monitor,  is “older than the sinking of the Titanic (by a month), women’s voting rights, and the Russian Revolution.”

Dana Ganci, Junior Art Director at Draftcb, and FIT Advertising Design alumna,  worked on an ad campaign that captures cultural moments the Oreo survived — from Prohibition and the Moon walk to Pac Man and “Jaws.”  Her team was asked to “brainstorm events and create visual executions that incorporated Oreos and milk into those events,” said Ganci.

The Oreo survives Prohibition

Milk is still the favored beverage to accompany Oreos. Perhaps we can thank Prohibition.

“We came up with hundreds of ideas and covered the office with our sketches,” says Ganci. “Working with creative directors from Draftfcb Paris, our chief creative officer and group creative director, along with other creative directors on the Oreo brand, [we] narrowed down which events they wanted to highlight.”

Reflections on One Giant Step for Mankind

Christian Science Monitor reports that 490 billion Oreos have been sold in the cookie’s hundred year history. One on top of another, the Oreo stack would be two million miles high — ten times further than the Moon.

“I got to help with laying the images out, with the copy and logo to create the full ads.  I worked with two other art directors and a designer at this phase. We ended up doing 17 ads total.”

The Oreo cookie shark looking for beach goers

“In the end I was responsible for laying them out and adapting them for various publications  (three of the ads broke in People’s Oscar issue and another ran in Food and Family) tablets (digital versions for the iPad), wild postings and a digital billboard in Times Square.  

Oreo Pac-Man

Pac-Man was a popular arcade game when Ronald Reagan was president. Oreos are the right shape for a Pac-Man.

A pop-up party was held in Union Square to celebrate the 100th birthday. “I worked with a really great team to execute everything. It was a ton of work, but such an awesome, rewarding experience,” says Ganci.


images used with permission

Natallia Pilipenka in the MUUSE

By , December 13, 2011 5:52 pm

It’s not hard to follow FIT fashion design grad Natallia Pilipenka.  She’s always making news. While at FIT Pilipenka’s final thesis project “Confusion,” was featured as a cover story in Women’s Wear Daily.  Her most recent work is featured in MUUSE, an online showcase for the works of top design school graduates internationally. They show the original pieces from designer workshops.  Pilipenka’s latest collection, Children of the Dark, appears on the MUUSE website with five pieces in the online store.

from Natallia Pilipenka's Children of the Dark collection featured in MUUSE

Five of Pilipenka’s designs appear MUUSE, an online platform.

Natallia Pilipenka’s design featured in MUUSE

Upon graduation from FIT in 2007, Pilipenka received the school’s Critique Award for her work “Current Scene,” as well as a Cotton, Inc. design award. She was also a semi-finalist in the CosmoGIRL! Born to Lead design competition.

Natallia Pilipenka’s design featured in MUUSE

Based in Copenhagen, MUUSE represents designers internationally from top design schools.  “There is chance for wide exposure — MUUSE ships to the UK, Europe, and the US — and to sell pieces on their online store without financial risk to the designer.  There is no need to put money in the collection production.  MUUSE works with renowned tailors to reproduce the pieces after the online order has been placed.”

Natallia Pilipenka's design featured in MUUSE

“It certainly has been a wonderful opportunity and a great experience to become one of the MUUSE selected designers,” says Pilipenka who was the first FIT grad selected by MUUSE. “I hope there will be many more from FIT,” she says.


photos by Jordan Doner


Jason Jobson Returns!

By , May 4, 2011 3:08 pm

Fashion expert and brand ambassador Jason Jobson visited his alma mater on Monday to speak to students of FIT’s Faces & and Places in Fashion lecture class. Jason began his career as fashion stylist for fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo. He has since worked both in-house and as an independent consultant for French and Italian luxury goods markets based in New York City.

Jason Jobson

Jason spoke to an engaged student audience about his stints at top fashion houses–and his relative ease in moving from house to house. Ferragamo, Thierry Mugler, Chanel, Valentino, Dior, and Chloe are all on his resume.

Jason's start: from FIT to Scavullo (courtesy of Jason Jobson)

Jason’s anecdotes revealed an insatiable interest in fashion history, an understanding of the predilections of designers, fashion writers, entertainers and clientele, of embracing new mediums, and learning where he could make the greatest impact:

“I loved the relationships I had with big brands that had small U.S. based offices. You had a chance to make a point, or to really make a contribution…I was only 24 and able to work directly on a live TV segment for the Vogue/VH1 Fashion Awards, (which had chosen Thierry Mugler as an opener). It was all because I worked in an office with five of us.”

Thierry Mugler (courtesy of Jason Jobson)

“The Internet can be a powerful weapon,” warned Jason. “There’s never been a time that you can reach these companies or they can reach you.”

Yet the Internet can be perilous for its real-time capability as the example of John Galliano shows.

blog post from:

“For a French company to fire someone over night is unheard of,” he said. “ The internet and social media tools are priceless for marketing, but you have to be careful what you put out there.”

Entertainers can reach the masses as well: “Lady Gaga was able to make Thierry Mugler relevant again, to a generation who didn’t know his fashion collection. That she was able to reference it shows her dedication to design– It’s not easy to wear.”

Lada Gaga wearing Thierry Mugler (courtesy of Jason Jobson)

Without Gaga, Jason said, “We probably would not have seen the re-re-launch of a collection receive such fanfare.”

McQueen/Sarah Burton (courtesy of Jason Jobson)

Another Internet-aided transformation has changed the profile of Alexander McQueen. “With one dress (and a royal wedding) Sarah Burton was able to change the House of McQueen’s image. It was dark and interesting and now it’s feminine, sweet and pretty –or at least – now it can be,” said Jason.

In September 2008, Jason launched, a gossip free website dedicated to “the education and promotion of design related to fashion, film, interior design, and modern art.” The site has readers in over 40 countries.

Blog posting from:

“Reaction to my website has been amazing…I recently had a meeting with the CFO of a Dubai based hedge fund that is investing in fashion brands. He had been reading my blog for about a year…We are in talks to plan a project together, which is something I could have never planned – all because of the internet”.

Keep your reputation intact, cautioned Jason. “The fashion world might feel huge, but the clientele is one percent or one-half a percent of the population. Usually there is one circle of women in each city.”

Photo of Jason Jobson: Rachel Ellner

Audrey Schilt Returns to FIT

By , May 21, 2010 6:01 pm

 FIT ’65 Alumna Audrey Schilt’s Illustrations

As They Were On View In our D-building lobby, Winter 2010
Drawings of Audrey’s Ralph Lauren gowns worn by Gwyneth Paltrow to the Academy Awards &  Emmy Rossum to the Golden Globes, plus original concept drawings, advertising images, design silhouettes.
Audry Schilt Exhibition - 2

Audrey Schilt Exhibition - 2

Illustrations of Audrey Schilt, a Fashion Institute of Technology alumna who worked closely with Ralph Lauren for 22 years, werer on display at FIT in an exhibition titled Art of the Collection: The Design Spirit of American Fashion Artist Audrey Schilt from December 3, 2009 through January 27, 2010.

Included were sketches of the pink silk Ralph Lauren gown worn by Gwyneth Paltrow at the 1998 Academy Awards, on which Schilt collaborated, as well as sketches of the white silk and organza Lauren gown worn by Emmy Rossum to the 2005 Golden Globes, which Schilt designed.  These were among the approximately 250 works created by Schlit between 1986 and 2008 on view, including original concept drawings,  advertising images, design silhouettes, and works in watercolor and chalk on paper.
Audry Schilt Exhibit -1

Audrey Schilt Exhibit -1

After graduating from FIT in 1965 with a degree in illustration, Audrey Schilt started her career as sketch artist for Halston, where she drew several of the hats for which Jacqueline Kennedy became known, including the pillbox, and Halston’s first women’s collection line.  From there, Schilt moved to freelance work, creating fashion ads for such clients as The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Bergdorf . Schilt also returned to school to learn pattern-making and draping.  She then worked as a designer for Jacque Bellini for five years, as well as on a children’s line of clothing.

Hired as concept artist at Ralph Lauren, Schilt rose during her 22-year tenure to vice president and creative director of collection for the company.  Now retired from her position at Ralph Lauren, Schilt has turned her attention to other artistic endeavors and continues to consult as a designer.
exhibition was co-sponsored by the college’s School of Art and Design, the Gladys Marcus Library at FIT, and the library’s PrintFX Graphics Lab.
Audry Schilt - Window Display

Audrey Schilt - Window Display

FIT’s School of Art and Design offers programs leading to both the AAS and BFA degrees, including Accessories Design, the only program of its kind in the country, and two other pioneering programs– Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design and Toy Design.  Its most acclaimed program, Fashion Design, was established when the college was founded in 1944.

FIT, a leader in professional career-oriented education, is a selective college of art and design, business and technology of the State University of New York (SUNY), with 44 majors leading to the AAS, BFA, BS, MA, and MPS degrees.  The college serves more than 10,000 students and offers courses in a wide range of fields.  Visit

Photos:  Rachel Ellner

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