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.