Category: Faces & Places in Fashion

Ozwald Boateng’s comeback via Skype

By , January 24, 2013 4:14 pm

Ozwald Boateng is making another comeback. Or at least another attempt to speak to the FIT community. (Mr. Boateng’s earlier scheduled appearance was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy’s unwanted visit.)

This time Boateng’s appearance will be virtual, digitally live from London. A Question and Answer session with Boateng via Skype will follow a screening of “A Man’s Story” — the documentary that details Boateng’s rise to Savile Row, the street renowned for menswear bespoke tailoring, and his post at Givenchy.

Hold the date: Monday February 4, 2013

Ozwald Boateng

The event is part of Prof. Joshua Williams’ “Faces and Places in Fashion” lecture series CL112.  Seating priority will be given to students enrolled in this class.

The event is open to the public. Admittance is based on first-come-first-serve available seating. Doors open 4:00 p.m. Schedule starts promptly at 4:15. Location: Katie Murphy Amphitheater on the first floor of the Pomeranz Center on the corner of 27th Street and 7th Avenue


Sarah Campbell the print lady

By , November 27, 2012 5:43 pm

Celebrated textile designer Sarah Campbell brought her keen sensibility, warmth and  signature style to Faces & Places in Fashion this past Monday. “She was really heart warming, and intrinsically British,” said Assistant Dean Sass Brown who was in attendance.

Currently a collaborator with the furniture company West Elm, Campbell’s client list includes Yves St Laurent, habitat, and Marks & Spencer.

“You have to know your customer, but the reason they’ve hired you is for you,” Campbell said regarding how graduates can retain their own style when entering the industry.

Sarah Campbell signing a copy of “The Collier-Campbell Archive: 50 Years of Passion in Pattern”

Following tea and cakes Campbell critiqued the silk scarf paintings of 10 of Prof. Sussman’s students whom she mentored in the use of Campbell’s techniques. The scarves hung as part of a temporary wall exhibit in the foyer to the Katie Murphy Amphitheater. The students received copies of “The Collier-Campbell Archive: 50 Years of Passion in Pattern,” which Campbell co-wrote with her late sister Susan Collier and Emma Shackelton.

Students lined up for autographs of he “Collier-Campbell Archive: 50 Years of Passion in Pattern”

“Her career is ideal. She’s doing the collaboration with West Elm but her name is on her work. Most times your name isn’t recognized,” said fabric design student William Storms. “They’re just going to take your design and it’s the end of the day.”

“She’s invested in the hand process,” says Brown about Campbell’s paintings on silk.  “For her the physical process of working with water color was really valuable. The connection from the brain down through your arms down to the paper — it just isn’t always as direct with the new technologies.”

Campbell mentioned her FIT talk and “crit” of the scarf paintings, as she called it, on her blog, Sarah Campbell Designs.

Ruthie Davis – from Reeboks to Beverly Hill pumps

By , October 18, 2012 10:19 am

“If you think these big companies have it all figured out, they  don’t,” said Ruthie Davis speaking to students of Faces and Places in Fashion class this Monday. Davis is now a leading American shoe designer with collections in top retail stores worldwide. She was referring to Reebok in the 90s. It was her first major job and she saw some surprising fashion disconnects.

“People wanted their shoes to hook-up with their outfits” said Davis. “At Reebok the apparel was on one side of the street and the footwear on the other. They didn’t cross-pollinate.”  Davis ushered in some fashion-conscious teens for a brainstorming session with Reebok higher-ups. “It’s like the shoe people aren’t talking to the clothing people,” one teen blurted out. Bingo.

Ruthie Davis

Another time when Reebok heads were stumped about why Reeboks weren’t selling abroad, Davis booked a trip to the Netherlands.  She discovered they liked brown running shoes over there, not white ones.

When you feel like a “peon” at a big company, said Davis, think bigger.

When you’re fresh out of the gate, working for a big company can be a strategically good move. “Learn on someone else’s dime,” she said. It’s nearly impossible to graduate and start a successful business right away.  “It’s better to take time to learn, save money and plan before jumping headfirst into your own collection.”

Accessories design chair Vasilios, who had a front row seat, has known Davis for a long time and has followed her career closely. “I’m proud to say she’s America’s leading female footwear designer. She’s stomping down the doors for others to follow,” he says.


Photo used with permission

The weekly scoop from fashion innovators

By , September 5, 2012 2:12 pm

The Faces & Places in Fashion lecture series is all straight talk, practical advice, fashion forecasting, and insider dishing delivered by formidable fashion innovators. “This semester we have an outstanding array of entrepreneurs with a focus on footwear and accessories,” says Faces & Places professor Joshua Williams.

Lectures are open to the public.

Lectures are held in the Katie Murphy Amphitheater  in the Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center (D building),  Seventh Avenue at 27th Street.

Schedule subject to change

An open invitation to Faces & Places in Fashion

By , January 31, 2012 7:09 pm

Get out your date books. The Faces & Places in Fashion lecture series is all the straight talk, practical advice, forecasting (and a little dishing on the side) that you could want from formidable industry innovators. This semester there’s special focus  on design, new media and innovative retail, says Professor Joshua Williams who runs the series.  The lectures are open to the public.

“It’s a great series for understanding the dialectic between creativity and business,” says Williams. “Students love being connected to people who are working in the business dealing with current issues. The environment is great for both listening and asking questions.”

Visit the Faces & Places in Fashion Facebook page for more information.

At the experience makes the magazine

By , November 29, 2011 5:12 pm

Styles may change, but online content is what’s really on the runway at, one of the most visited online versions of a major fashion publication.  “Magazines aren’t what they were 10 years ago–it’s now an experience,” Keith Pollock, Editorial Director of told students of Faces & Places class last week.  It’s virtual engagement that Pollock and his team aim for. The “5 Es” of online publishing that rule he says are “engagement, extraction, entertainment, experience, exclusive.”

“What I’ve learned,” said Pollock is to utilize “instinct over intellect. Don’t over analyze; go with gut reaction. There’s no bad experiences, just learning experiences…Surround yourself with like-minded friends. Set high goals and aim to achieve them.”

Staying ahead of the fashion trends may just be the easiest part of it.

Designing like an “anthropologist”–Frank Zambrelli

By , November 15, 2011 4:49 pm

“Stop taking offense! It’s o.k. not to take things personally and to design for others.  Design can be approached as an art, or a science.  I liken it to an anthropologist. Both are valuable,” FIT grad and shoe designer (Banfi Zambrelli), Frank Zambrelli told students of Faces & Places class yesterday.

Banfi Zambrelli

Not surprisingly, Zambrelli, according to his published bio, planned on a medical career until a trip to the Milan fashion shows put him fashion-bound. After graduating FIT, Zambrelli landed a job at Chanel as a make-up artist, which led to his learning from the great Chanel shoe designer, Massaro.  This led to a design job at Cole Haan and then Coach, where he developed their first shoe line. After a stint at Reebok, Frank joined forces with shoe designer Silvano Banfi to create Banfi Zambrelli, a shoe design studio in New York, based on the European model.  Their eponymous line became an instant success and they continue to do private label for top American designers including Calvin Klein Collection, Derek Lam, Marchesa and Judith Leiber.

photo:  Joshua Williams


Nigel Barker: the man behind and in front of the camera

By , September 28, 2011 5:08 pm

Nigel Barker kept students riveted with insights and accounts of his experiences as  fashion model, photographer, judge of “America’s Next Top Model,” and service to causes for social good.

He talked about what matters most–and what doesn’t matter at all:

Nigel Barker @ FIT

“It’s truly about the imperfections, the scars, how you move, passion, motivation–that’s what I try to evoke…Emotion is the biggest part of what I do,”  said Barker. “Whoever I’m shooting I have to be in love with at the moment, boy, girl, cat, dog, seal.” (Barker donates his creative energies to the Humane Society to bring attention to the plight of Canadian seals.)

“Having a big budget doesn’t translate to a better photograph,” Barker told students.  “It’s about the personality. The look in the eyes–not the concept of dragging Nascar into the studio.”


Creative directors speak about “voice, vision and narrative”

By , September 27, 2011 5:00 pm

An engaging hour’s talk filled with industry experience and trend observation of who, and what, dictates fashion, was held in Katie Murphy Amphitheater on Thursday.  “What Makes a Good Creative Director?” was moderated by Faces & Places instructor Joshua Williams.

L-R David Wolfe, Emmett Shine, Piera Gelardi

One challenging topic was the response to fashion in the economic downturn. “There was never more luxury than in the 30s,” said David Wolfe of The Doneger Group.  “Will the middle class find a way to be inspirational or feel trapped in the new financial landscape that they’ll go for the generic…Some will have called it correctly and others will be off by a mile.”

Piera Gelardi of Refinery99 noted regional differences in fashion. “Even though fashion is becoming worldwide there’s still a lot that’s local…Cities have their own style.”

“There’s a degree of homogenization…brands have leveled out,” said Wolfe. “I don’t think we have a fashion dictatorship. We don’t have to buy something to be in style.

“Customers are playing a larger role,” in fashion said Emmett Shine of Gin Lane Media.  Yet creative directors he said still need to call the shots when they have a “gut feeling.”

Emmett Shine of Gin Lane speaking

“Staying true to your customers but not staying irrelevant,” is Gelardi’s approach. “People are trying new ways of testing products–to have people vote on products–it’s changing the whole brand system.”

Shine said he liked the “democratization” of social media. “I have my own taste but it’s fine for people to figure it out on their own.”  But you have to know your “voice, vision and narrative” he said.

A diverse panel of creative directors

Social media, the panel agreed, doesn’t replace meeting people and sharing ideas. “People who are at the right place and the right time put themselves at the right place and the right time 10 times,” said Shine.

On that note Piera, was keen to advise students “exceed expectations.”

Students lingered to ask questions. “It’s an awesome for students to be in touch with the brands they admire and the people who make the brands go round,” said FMM student, Claudette McQueen. “It makes it less fantasy and more tangible.”

Photos provided by The Doneger Group


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

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