Monthly Archives: December 2013

A FINAL TIP OF THE HAT TO ELAINE STONE

The audience in the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre was a sea of hats on December 4, when the FIT community gathered to pay tribute to Elaine Stone, professor emerita of Fashion Merchandising Management and one of the college’s true icons.

“She was an old-school retailer,” Christine Helm, coordinator of the Enterprise Center, remembered. Helm worked under Stone since the late ’80s and considered her a mentor and friend. “She was very much a career girl from Queens who knew her industry and was serious about teaching. She had a real presence. It was fun knowing her.”

Stone wore a hat every day—usually something flamboyant. “Everybody had a story of when they saw her without a hat on,” Helm said. “What people don’t know is that she had a very small head. All those hats were stuffed with plastic to keep them on.”

Attendees of the memorial were encouraged to wear hats, and Melanie Reim, chair of the Illustration MFA department, sketched a few of her favorites. Hue thinks her drawings speak for themselves.

Ten people spoke at the event, including President Joyce F. Brown; Peter Scotese, chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees, and Robin Sackin, chair of Fashion Merchandising Management.

As for Helm, she barely said anything, instead showing a video of Stone. “Elaine always did the talking.”

In the spirit of letting Stone speak for herself, check out this compilation of video clips of her. Jump to about 7:25 to see the professor at her cleverest.

FACULTY MEMBER TAKES LIFE’S LEMONS, MAKES…WELL, YOU KNOW

Recently, Hue has been enjoying excerpts of Lemonade, an autobiography by Bernard L. Dillard, an assistant professor of mathematics at FIT. The book won the gold award in the “Autobiography/Memoirs” category in Dan Poynter’s 2013 Global EBook Awards. Not every word is true—Dillard includes a disclaimer that it was “inspired by actual events”—but boy is it ever juicy. We won’t disclose the scandalous bits; you’ll have to read the book yourself. Let’s just say that Dillard’s coming-of-age tale has a moment or two that might make you blush.

(Dillard with his sister and mother, 1980.)

But there’s heartache in the book, too. Dillard’s family owned a successful barbecue restaurant in Durham, North Carolina, but his parents fought constantly. One relative had a nervous breakdown; drugs entered the picture. Dillard writes, “Our name was respected in the community because of our restaurant business, but here we were, going through hell while everybody thought we were the Cosbys.”

(Above: Dillard, age 5 or so.)

The good news is, Dillard turned out all right.  More than all right, actually.  He—or the character based on him— graduated from Morehouse College with degrees in English and Mathematics.  Dillard has published essays on obscure math topics like “wavelet-based statistical techniques used for biosurveillance and national security.” He’s also made a name for himself as a model and actor.  We love the fact that he appeared on the TV show The Wire. You can watch a clip of him on the show here:

Read more about Lemonade here.

Check out Dillard’s site here.