Category Archives: Tastemaker

A piece about someone with major aesthetic influence.


FIT being a school of art and design, business and technology, some people don’t realize that high-caliber novelists often visit.

Mostly recently, FIT hosted Helena Maria Viramontes, author of The Moths and Other StoriesUnder the Feet of Jesus, and Their Dogs Came With Them, and chair of the creative writing MFA program at Cornell University. Her most famous story, The Moths, about a teenager’s relationship with her dying grandmother, has been anthologized hundreds of times.

The talk, sponsored by FIT Words, the college’s creative writing club, was called “Writing Your Truth in Fiction,” and Viramontes spoke about how her upbringing as a Chicana (the identity of many Mexican-Americans) in Los Angeles influenced her writing.

We were struck by some of her early inspirations, fragments of her childhood that she alchemized into literary gold.

New roads: “The freeways started in 1959 and finished in 1970. Much of my upbringing was about seeing the destruction of our community.”

The encyclopedia: “Growing up, we had a World Book encyclopedia, but we weren’t allowed to touch it. I’d pick up a volume and run to the bathroom to read it. Whenever I opened a book, it was with a sincere and profound faith that it would inform my life.”

The Bible: “I’d read the parables and stories and recite them to my younger brothers and sisters.”

James Joyce: “With The Moths, I wanted to do a Joycean Dubliners for East L.A.”

Her family: “My first short story began with my mother and my father. I wanted people to know us. I realized I was writing not about my family but a community.”

Hue Too readers, what traces of your childhood inspire you today?


Hue has recently been expending quite a bit of energy trying not to feel jealous of Adam Ezegelian, a Toy Design student who is making American Idol a must-watch this season.

Adam Ezegelian does FIT proud.

Our hometown hero: Adam Ezegelian does FIT proud.

In his audition, before launching into a freewheeling, revved-up rendition of “Born to Be Wild,” Ezegelian showed off a few spectacular caricatures he’d drawn of the judges.

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Next came Hollywood Week, and he sang a version of “Demons” by Imagine Dragons. It’s hard to tell what J.Lo’s grimace meant, but they seemed happy with his performance.

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And on group day, singing “Pretty Young Thing,” he killed it with buoyant, driving energy, nabbing himself a spot in the competition proper. Not only that, while the other contestants quaked in their boots, he seemed to be having a rollicking good time.

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We can’t wait to see what vocal pleasures Ezegelian will bring to our televisions in the coming weeks!


Hue loves a good Halloween scare. But even more than that, we love design-competition reality TV. And Martha Stewart delivered.

Shriek or Chic, a Halloween-themed web miniseries, is a competition to craft Martha’s Halloween costume this year. Miraculously, all three contestants–Joelle Samaha, Taylor Ormond, and Gabrielle Ruffino–went to, or are enrolled at, FIT!

The show is delicious–and if it’s not quite as dramatic or catty as Project Runway, it’s still impossible to stop watching. And if you’re game for the insanely work-intensive decorations Martha Stewart is famous for, then you might get some pointers on sewing your own costume. Or you could just go to FIT.

So skip the Halloween party and check it out.


Did you know? Halloween is Martha Stewart’s favorite holiday. Photo courtesy



On Season 8 of Project Runway, Michael Costello was known as the one who cried a lot. Now he’s known as the designer who created Beyonce’s show-stopping dress for the Grammys this year—along with two dozen slinky costumes for her On the Run tour with Jay-Z. Hue considers that a step up.

Project Runway alum Michael Costello gives students a glimpse of his online presence.

Project Runway alum Michael Costello gives students a glimpse of his online presence. Photo by Smiljana Peros.

Costello, who has almost 592,000 followers on Instagram as of today, and who regularly grosses six figures a month from his L.A. showroom, guest-spoke at Fashion Events Planning Confidential, a class in FIT’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies taught by Barbara Berman, on Wednesday. He gabbed about designing dresses for the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, and, of course, the Queen Bey.

The Beyonce dress came about after her stylist, Ty Hunter, scheduled a visit to his showroom. Hunter, always referring to Beyonce as “she,” said, “She wants to be naked. She wants to be sexy. She wants to effortless.”

Costello showed him all 300 dresses in the showroom, but nothing clicked. Hunter asked what he was working on. It was a collection called “Winter Wonderland,” inspired by a recent trip to New York. (Those of us who actually had to live through this past winter might have selected choicer verbiage to describe it.)

Hunter gravitated toward an unfinished white gown made of fabric pieces shaped like flowers and lined with nude mesh. “When we put it on the model, he was like ‘Yesssss,’” Costello recalls.

Beyonce wore Costello's dress for the 2014 Grammy Awards.

Beyonce wore Costello’s dress for the 2014 Grammy Awards. Credit: Getty Images.

But no one told Costello when or whether Beyonce would actually wear the dress. He prayed that she would wear it to the Grammys. She wasn’t on the red carpet, though, and when she did appear, in a smoking La Perla “Cage” vest for her opening act, his heart sank.

Less a minute later, Hunter posted a close-up of the white flower fabric on his Instagram feed and linked to Costello’s page. A few seconds after that, Costello got 5,000 followers.

Once the performance was over, Beyonce appeared in the dress. “After that, it just blew up,” he says.

Costello spent two full hours talking with the class.

Costello spent two full hours talking with the class. Photo by Smiljana Peros.


“Comics gift the written word with color and line and bless the drawn image with narrative,” graphic memoirist Lucy Knisley rhapsodized, when she spoke at FIT in late March, sponsored by FIT Words, the Culinary Arts Club, and the English and Speech Department.

Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley, plotting something.

Knisley gave an annotated reading of her graphic-memoir-cum-cookbook, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, which came out in 2013 but is still being translated into more languages. The story follows her foodie family (her mother is a chef), with family recipes interspersed. The drawings, Knisley noted, make the recipes much easier to follow.

“Comics are a nice balance between learning to cook from a cookbook and learning to cook from someone,” she explained.

The cover of Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

The cover of Relish: My Life in the Kitchen.

The Culinary Arts Club whipped up a few recipes from the book—including chocolate chip cookies and a delicious spaghetti carbonara—and served them to guests. At this moment, for some reason, Hue began to like Knisley very much.

Hue asked her if it was tricky, writing about and drawing real people in her work. She responded that she follows a few basic rules. “I never use comics as a weapon. I usually ask permission. And I always draw them as attractive as possible.”

Knisley's illustrated recipe for Huevos Rancheros, from her book, Relish.

Knisley’s illustrated recipe for Huevos Rancheros, from her book, Relish.