Category Archives: Obituary

Death of an FIT luminary.

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.

THOUGHTS ABOUT ELAINE STONE, PROFESSOR EMERITA, AND HATS

by Alex Joseph, managing editor of Hue

“Fashion fades; style is eternal.”—Yves Saint Laurent

The subject of the day is hats.

Those of us who knew Professor Emerita Elaine Stone, who died August 6, knew her as a hat wearer par excellence. I never saw her without one.

Elaine Stone once told me she had 60 to 70 hats.

Thirteen years ago, when I first came to FIT, I was a little afraid of Professor Stone. She was tall. She was always impeccably dressed. Tales of her steadfast, iron-clad will approached legend. But it was her hats that fascinated me. I didn’t yet know anything about fashion, so that’s what I thought they were: I thought her hats signified fashion.

As time went on—and those of you who’ve been at FIT a while, you might know how this happens—I caught the fashion virus myself. I watched as what I paid for individual items of clothing went up…and up…  I bought a few hats myself. Then a few more. For a while, people referred to me as “the guy with the hats.”

When that phase passed, my feeling for hats died out. Elaine kept right on wearing them.

Stone began wearing hats when she worked as a buyer at Macy’s.

At first the persistence puzzled me, but as I watched Professor Stone more, I slowly came to understand. For her, hats weren’t just a phase, or a trend. They weren’t a slavish attempt to fit into some time period. They represented ideas, if you will. They—she—stood for something.

That something was not ephemeral; Elaine had been in fashion business all her life. She wrote the book on it—literally. Although the industry changed over time (“That’s the definition of fashion,” she reminded me), the need for outstanding merchandising never flagged. That’s what Elaine Stone stood for; those were her values.

So I came to learn that a piece of clothing, an accessory, can come to mean something quite deep. More than achieving a surface effect, it can indicate character.

And that was the richest lesson I learned from Elaine Stone.

HUE SAYS GOODBYE TO MARVIN TRAUB

The fashion industry lost a luminary yesterday: Marvin Traub, former chairman and CEO of Bloomingdale’s.

Marvin Traub

Marvin Traub, 1925-2012 (Photo courtesy of Women's Wear Daily)

It’s hard to add to The New York Times’ obit, but here’s an executive summary:

He started at Bloomingdale’s bargain basement in 1950, often feigning interest in the merchandise tables to encourage shoppers. He literally climbed the ranks at Bloomie’s to become president in 1969. After turning the department-store chain into a fashion leader, he left in 1991 to launch a consulting firm.

He was good to FIT, and vice versa. FIT’s Home Products Development department gave Traub a distinguished global leadership award in 2006. And a conservation lab in the Shirley Goodman Resource Center is named after his mother, Bea Traub.

Dear reader, what do you remember about Mr. Traub? Do share in the comments section.

PROFESSOR CAMHI, YOU ARE MISSED

Artist, designer, and educator Ethel Brown Camhi died on October 22, 2011. She taught Patternmaking and Fashion Design at FIT for 33 years. She also practiced and taught the art of collage. Now (through May 13), 65 of her works are on view at the Art League of Long Island.

Hue is no collage expert, but Camhi’s look surreal, whimsical, and reminiscent of bygone days. The Art League is selling them for $80 to $200, a bargain as original art goes, and perhaps an even greater steal for those who harbor fond memories of their former professor.

HUE REMEMBERS AN ALUMNA FROM FIT’S FIRST GRADUATING CLASS

Hue recently learned that Marie Mirisola ’46, an alumna from FIT’s first graduating class, died at 84 on September 23.

Hue'll be missing you

Marie Mirisola '46

In 2004, Network (Hue’s forebear) profiled Mirisola. She and her husband Charles founded a Greenwich Village boutique called Etcetera, which sold customized outfits for women. Her star rose through the decades, and soon she was selling her coats to Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale’s. She invented a spandex dress that could be stuffed into a handbag without wrinkling, worn in prominent ads by Warhol darling Baby Jane Holzer. She closed the last Etcetera store in 1986 and worked until the early oughts.

Hue salutes her achievement.