Category: Guest Speaker

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.

Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr: vibrating in a space of intentional discord

By , September 28, 2012 6:40 pm

Husband and wife founders of the “benevolent satire” line of Idiots Books, Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr will be guests of a Town Meeting in the John Reeves Great Hall on October 25.  Their books, illustrated by Behr and written by Swanson, are satirical kids’ books for adults.  Two popular titles, “The Baby is Disappointing,” and “Facial Features of French Explorers,” suggest something quite different than baby manual or historical non-fiction.

The non-traditional book publishers (they currently have 38 titles), operate out of a renovated barn in Maryland.  They work with paper cutter, printer, stapler, and glue. “That’s how we do it,” says Swanson. “We both have cheerful outer expressions and very dark twisted interiors,” he joked on an interview on News Channel 8′s “Let’s Talk Live.”

Town Meeting guests Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr on October 25

“If we’ve done our job well,” say the couple on their website “our words and pictures tend to quarrel provocatively, vibrating in a space of intentional discord. We invite the reader to consider and adjudicate and draw what conclusions he will.” Come and hear more!


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.

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


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


The Sámi & The Reindeer

By , April 18, 2011 5:32 pm

On April 15th, award-winning photographer and Fulbright recipient, Erika Larsen, spoke to Brad Paris’ portfolio review class about her time with Sámi reindeer herders of the Scandinavian arctic.


Ms. Larsen showed stunning images and video segments of reindeer herding and hunting, meal preparation, family portraits and aspects of daily life.

Johan and Cammu

Over a four-year period, she gained access gradually:  “The first trip I didn’t shoot much, only 45 photos.” Living with two Sámi families she started out “picking herbs and cleaning…They started by making me ‘do’ the Sámi culture through daily work,” she said.

Sámi Woman and Baby

Not until a year later did she see reindeer and understand its importance to the culture. “It wouldn’t exist without reindeer,” she said.

Among Boazu

Her stays became progressively longer.  Ms. Larsen is now studying the Sámi language full time. She plans next to chronicle the seaside Sámi. Reindeer, she said, is only 10 percent of Sámi culture.

All photos by Erika Larsen

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