The Girl With The Sequin Shorts

I have a confession to make. I’ve got a thing for sequins. A thing for rhinestones. Quirky quotes. Glitter. If it sparkles, I love it. There has to be at least three dresses, two sweaters, a vest, a skirt, a shirt, and a pair of shorts covered in sequins. And that’s without actually going to check. This past week, I wore the most adorable bronze sequin shorts from Authentic Icon to class.

I was wearing these with a chambray button down shirt. black tights, and boots.

But that was an exception. More often than not, when I buy something crazy, something sparkly, it languishes behind chambray button-downs and sensible skirts.
I was running for the bus (in cute little heeled booties) to get to Manhattan last week for the Design Fair, wearing a Chanel-esque black sweater (with chunky appliqued flowers around the collar and matte-finish sequins woven in with the yarn) and a rust-colored faux-suede pencil skirt, and I got at least three strange looks. The bus is less than half a block away from my house. It feels like there’s an unspoken dress code of what’s “cool” where I live. The uniform is basically a pair of Uggs, either (tucked in) sweatpants or skinny jeans, and a brand-name T-shirt with the logo across the chest. I’ve honestly never owned a pair of Uggs, or worn sweatpants and a brand T-shirt like that to go somewhere. To me, it’s almost an insult to the nice stuff I have.
I’ve been told that it’s “weird” to dress up all the time, that there’s “no reason” to wear out my nice things in everyday use, to “save it for something special”. The way I see it, every day is special. Not in that cheesy, “you should be happy because you’re alive” kind of way… but in a way that’s closer to “you woke up this morning, you have these beautiful things, you should use them”. Maybe going to a school with a uniform contributed to this, maybe it’s me buying clothes either secondhand or on sale with money I worked hard for, maybe it’s just because I’d rather stand out for what I wear than look like everyone else. But even though I stepped out of my house feeling fabulous, happy to be finally wearing my sequin shorts, by the time I got to FIT I was pretty self-conscious. I’d never worn them before. Thankfully, my friend Nicole told me they were cute and that made me feel a little better, I still wasn’t fully comfortable. But I made it through the day. And next week, I think I’m breaking out a sequined dress.
“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”
― Coco Chanel

What’s the most outlandish thing you’ve worn? How did you feel in it?

Designers Unite!

Welcome back to another epic installment of “Emily’s Precollege Blog Posting”! Today’s topic is the design industry.
I’m a part of the Cooper Hewitt DesignPrep Scholars Program. At its most basic level, it’s a great opportunity for learning skills related to the design industry. At the Scholars level, it’s an invaluable tool for creating a network of people who can help you get an inside edge. Here’s the link to the program page: Cooper Hewitt Design Prep Many other museums offer similar programs: for example the MET, the Rubin Museum of Art  and many others. There’s this great event the MET holds twice a year called the Teen Open House where most museums in NYC come together to show off their teen programs. These programs are great for getting involved with museums, and look GREAT on both college and job applications. Some of the programs are even paid internships!
Monday, October 15th was the 7th annual Teen Design Fair, held at the Altman Building (135 West 18th street) by the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. Designers from across the industry were there, from industrial to architecture to media to apparel and fashion. Everything was represented. There were even some college admissions tables located on the lower floor, including FIT. I spent my time floating around the tables occupied by the fashion designers. They included Ann Taylor Inc, Kate Spade, and Mal Sirrah.
Tim Gunn, THE Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame, was the keynote speaker. The other Scholars and I got to speak with him in a private setting for almost a half hour. I even got to take a photo with him! It was honestly one of the most exciting moments in my life.


His standout piece of advice I remember, however, didn’t have to do with fashion, Project Runway, or college. It was about the industry. “You have to be so passionate about your design, that you cannot imagine doing anything else”. You can’t just want to design on the side, because there are at least ten other people who want to design full time. You have to devote yourself fully to your craft, to being the best you can be at it. Another designer I met was Malcom Harris of Mal Sirrah. His advice was to “make one thing so well that no one can beat you at it”. He’s known for his “One Dress”, artfully- designed garment that is only limited in the ways it can be worn by your imagination. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each color dress benefits a different charity.

So what can you do right now? Get your name out there. Make a Facebook fan page for your designs. (Mine’s here!) Go to college tours. Interviews. Don’t be afraid of people. The more people you talk to, the more people will know your name. The more people who know your name, the better of a chance you have of getting into the industry. Mr. Gunn even said that being a designer is a cutthroat field, and you have to be able to go out of your comfort zone to excel. FIT classes are a great example of this- they help you learn new skills that can actually be applied in college and the real world.
How do you guys get involved outside of FIT classes?

Hugs,

Emily

Perfection in Question

Hey everybody! Welcome back to my little corner of the internet. The second week of class was awesome. After a group discussion about our favorite designers from A-D in Phaidons’ The Fashion Book, we took inspiration from one of them to create a 3-piece paper couture collection. This is the first one I did:

While this isn’t directly related to fashion or FIT, a positive self-image is something many struggle with. It’s something I have struggled with. The fact that some people take time out of their day to say  hurtful words without a good reason astounds me. It just proves how bullying is such a problem in today’s world.

People generally look towards runways, red carpets, and magazines for direction of what “beautiful” looks like. But trends today don’t focus one just the “standard of beauty”, something that has changed dramatically over the years. It puts out an ideal of what’s “beautiful”, what’s “sexy”, what’s “attractive”, basically what looks good; and you don’t look like a Covergirl, or a model, or an actress- all with their own team of make-up artists and hair stylists. They have people surrounding them with the sole purpose of perfecting their looks. And magazines generally remove imperfections during post-production with software editing tools. Also, most models are airbrushed to convey the intangible notion of “perfection”.

However, this week, I wanted to focus on something that was more current-events related, to standards of beauty held by society. The ideal female form portrayed by the fashion industry is one of a tall, slender girl with not too many curves. The ideal from on the street is a more fleshed-out and curvy girl. But the majority of women carry around more than a little extra weight, have acne, stretch marks, or other blemishes, have some issues with frizzy hair, and they don’t have a team of professionally-trained makeup artists at their disposal.

This past week, a TV anchor by the name of Jennifer Livingston received an email criticizing her, based only on her appearance, from a sender who admitted he did not watch her show often. He calls her overweight and a bad role model for girls in the community. She responded in a way that made me glad that people like her exist.

“And here’s where I want us all to learn something from this. If you didn’t already know – October in National Anti-Bullying month. And this is a problem that is growing everyday in our schools and on the internet…What really angers me about this…there are children who don’t know better. Who get emails as critical as the one I received or in many cases even worse – each and every day.”

 

-Jennifer Livingston

Here is the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUOpqd0rQSo

And she’s right. People do get bullied for their appearance, their ideas, even their sexual orientation; all things that can’t be changed, or shouldn’t be changed. Personally, I was made fun of for my natural curly hair, all the way back in sixth grade. It has taken me until last year, my sophomore year of High School, to be able to be fully comfortable with it.

Even in the magazines I read like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle… all I saw were gorgeous models with perfectly smooth hair. If curly hair was being portrayed, it was not natural.

When I started breaking out, I started noticing all the acne-prevention ads, concealer, and foundation advertisements. Normal teenagers and normal bodies are rarely, if ever, portrayed by the media in a positive light. The stereotypical portrayal is that of an awkward teenage girl in need of a total transformation, or of a nerdy teenage boy who needs to go the gym. Even the figure I did in class falls victim to the standard of perfection held by the industry, which, in illustration, is not necessarily a bad thing.

But the fashion industry needs to realize that people as young as seven are dieting to look like the unrealistic images surrounding them. And we can do that. This group of designers, those who will be editing the magazines, securing the models, holding the fashion shows, dressing the mannequins… everyone working towards a career in fashion can help change this. But that’s too limiting. Everybody can help change this, everybody can make a conscious decision to think before they speak. One of my favorite quotes is “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. I’d like to think that this is the first step, and when the destination is reached, the world is a place where natural beauty isn’t something that has to be “perfected” before it can be shown.

So what do you guys think?

Hugs,
Emily

First Day Back

The first day of class this year was the first Saturday in two weeks I couldn’t sleep late. But it’s worth it. It’s so worth it.

This past summer, I couldn’t attend FIT’s classes due to a design camp, and design workshops from the Cooper Hewitt Museum. While I did learn lots of things there, I honestly missed getting on the B train by my Grandma’s house, and then switching to the F at West 4th to FIT. I missed the (slightly rushed) walk through eerily quiet (for Chelsea) streets. I missed being able to immerse myself in my first passion, fashion.

Compared to my last class, the one this semester is a small, intimate, no-more-than-10-people-in-it merry band of socially challenged fashionistas. As more and more of us came up to the room prior to the start of class, we joked around to the point that when Professor Uvenio got there, we were already friends. We’re on the fifth floor, which usually isn’t a fashion design floor, but it has these beautifully large tables perfect for spreading out magazines on…

All that aside, today was amazing. I love my professor, Christopher Uvenio. He’s so knowledgeable, bubbly, fun… He makes the entire room light up as soon as he steps into it. The stories he tells are so interesting, from the one about being a judge on the first episode of Project Runway to his godchildren and the museums to when Marc Jacobs walked into class wearing a kilt he’d made… there isn’t another person who could paint their office fuschia, hang a mini chandelier from the ceiling, have stunning illustrations blanket the walls and have it be fabulous.

During break, I hung back and showed him some of the sketches I’d done over the summer to practice faces and proportions. I was elated when he said the only thing that could be improved was the stylization of the fashion figure. He took the class to the Fashion Design Bookstore across the street to finish buying the supplies for the class. Afterwards, we sat around the table in front of the room and listened to Professor Uvenio’s stories. The entire class was so enthralled, nobody realized the time. We ended up getting dismissed at 12:45!

After class was over for the day, I went “wandering.” Getting semi-lost on streets I know is one of my favorite things to do. First, I went to the Goodwill on West 25th, scoring a pair of kelly green jeans, a purple and white ombré blouse, and a pair of black fringed boots. All for around $25. Highly recommend checking it out. Then I wandered further down West 25th street, towards Broadway, and ended up discovering this adorably quirky little flea market with such a variety of obvious trinkets and hidden treasures. Here’s a few photos from one of the booths:

So how did your first day go?
Emily

Introducing New Precollege Blogger: Emily

I’m Emily and I’m a junior from Rockaway, New York. I’ve taken Saturday classes at FIT since the fall of my freshman year, back in 2010. All in all, I’ve taken Sewing for Fashion Designers, Fashion Design Techniques, Fashion Art for Fashion Designers, Advanced Fashion Design Art Techniques, Junior Special Occasion, and I’m signed up for Anatomy of Fashion this semester. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m into fashion. But not street fashion, or everyday wear. I love evening gowns, wedding gowns, and prom dresses. If it’s a special occasion which requires a dress, I want to design the dress. I could go on for hours about gowns and fit and fabric… But my goal in life isn’t to design the most beautiful gown or to have the most successful label. It’s to change the way the fashion industry presents physical beauty, and to positively influence the way adolescents see themselves. Whether I do this through my primary passion, special occasion wear, or through any of the numerous hobbies I’ve developed over the years like handmade jewelry or photography, doesn’t matter. The simple fact that social standards of beauty have been changed would be enough for me.

I’ve been making beaded jewelry since I was nine, and have sold to some celebrities. Motivational Speaker Jerry “D’Rhino” Clark purchased a turquoise and pearl necklace for his wife, Marky Ramone, drummer of the rock band The Ramones is a repeat customer of mine, and I’ve sold fashion’s darling Isaac Mizrahi a pair of Swarovski Crystal earrings. Besides that, one of the more interesting facts about me is how I am the proud owner of five chickens.

I love my chickens.

There are so many different types of chickens, and they are so beautiful. The ones I have are twin Bard Plymouth Rock chickens named Marsala and Parmesan, two Easter Egger chickens named Hawkeye and Nugget, and the chillest Aracuna chicken named General Tso. One of my goals is to design a line of gowns inspired by their feathers. Hawkeye has spear-point shaped, off-white feathers with a multi-dimensional black stripe down the center around her neck, and mottled browns and grays over her wings, with eggshell white downy clouds underneath her tail. The twins are covered in black, gray and white striped feathers that have a metallic green sheen on the darkest part. Nugget is the color of a chicken McNugget, with the same little black speckles reminiscent of ground pepper. And General Tso. The General is a hazy day in the woods, small charcoal feathers covering her head, blending into more of a chestnut color down her breast into a body covered with feathers reminiscent of stormy clouds.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is the way I love the little things, the things not noticed at a first glance. That’s what I love about clothes. The little details on a shirt that make it unique. How an interestingly placed seam creates more than visual appeal, it can completely alter the mood a garment creates. The way a well-tailored jacket does more than just act as an essential accessory, it’s a way to exude confidence as you walk down the street. And those are all ideas I will come back to in upcoming posts. I’m really excited to  blog for FIT so I can share all the little things about my adventures in Manhattan after class, stories from class, deals in the fabric district, my thoughts on a particular designer, the concept behind a runway presentation, or even a particular garment. I want to be able to share the world as I see it, where the oft-overlooked, inspiring details are brought to the surface of the imagination.

Emily