The 68th commencement at FIT, the Fashion Institute of Technology, held May 23, at the Javits Center, New York City. More than 1,700 students were assembled for the day to receive associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Two new programs celebrated their first graduating classes – 1) Entrepreneurship for the Fashion and Design Industries, and 2) Sustainable Interior Environments.

Fashion industry executive Fern Mallis was keynote speaker for the 10:30am ceremony, the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology and the School of Liberal Arts. Mallis also received the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement. Designer Rebecca Minkoff addressed the afternoon ceremony, graduates from FIT’s School of Art and Design and School of Graduate Studies. Designer Dennis Basso (’73) received an honorary degree.

Of course, commencement at FIT is more than a graduation, it’s also a fashion event, with custom designed mortarboards, and what makes it really special… the shoes. Slideshow of the styles on FIT’s facebook page. ~photos courtesy FIT

Congrats and best wishes to all the grads!

The Future of Fashion show, presented by FIT, The Fashion Institute of Technology, on May 1. Runway highlights here from the design students of the graduating class of 2013, in Special Occasion and Intimate Apparel. You can see the entire fashion show video on FIT’s site, and the bio of each design grad.

Mentor designers chose winners of their Critic Awards. For Special Occasion: Trung Vu, and Elle Loow. Intimate Apparel: Alina Kulik.

More on the FIT show in 2 other posts: Sportswear, Knitwear. photos: M.K.

The Future of Fashion show, presented by FIT, The Fashion Institute of Technology, on May 1. Runway highlights here, the creations of the design students of the graduating class of 2013, in Knitwear design. You can see the entire fashion show video on FIT’s site, and the bio of each design grad.

Mentor designers chose winners of their Critic Awards. For Knitwear: Sijeo Kim, Marines Padilla. Siempre Mujer magazine gave an award for best use of color to Tae Kyung Kim.

In addition, Cotton Inc. gave awards for best use of cotton. 1st place: Tae Kyung Kim, 2nd place: Jong Suk Park, 3rd: Emily Levine.

*note: FIT runway pix of Sportswear and Special Occasion/ Intimate Apparel in separate posts. (photos: M.K.)

The Future of Fashion show, presented by FIT, The Fashion Institute of Technology, on May 1. Runway highlights here, the creations of the design students of the graduating class of 2013. Sportswear design is featured in this post. Posts for other categories: Knitwear, Special Occasion/ Intimate Apparel. While it isn’t possible to feature all 90 looks that came down the runway, I’ve pulled random selections from each category. You can see the fashion show video on FIT’s site, and the bio of each design grad.

The professionally produced show is supported by a $2M gift from alumnus Calvin Klein. The students were mentored by major designers and design houses, including Amsale Aberra, Maggie Norris, Lisa Perry, David Neville & Marcus Wainwright (Rag+Bone), Gary Graham, Flora Nikrooz, Tom Scott, Lars Andersson, and Bonnie Young. The mentors selected the most exceptional garment in each category, as a special Critic Award winner. They are:

Sportswear: Jae Lee, Carly Rosenbrook, Miguel Pena

Special Occasion: Trung Vu, and Elle Loow

Knitwear: Sijeo Kim, Marines Padilla

Intimate Apparel: Alina Kulik.  Childrenswear: Thaiana Cruz.

- - - It is my pleasure to feature the new design talent (as an FIT grad myself), and wish them best of luck and success!  photos: M.K.

Panel discussion about famed fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, with authors of the Antonio Lopez book, Roger & Mauricio Padilha of MaoPR, last night at the Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC. Model Pat Cleveland on panel. Book signing followed.

More info about Antonio and the book in my previous posts here and here. The authors at a book signing in Oct ‘12. To purchase book, see theAntonioLopezbook.com.

photos courtesy MaoPR, and Marc Sifuentes (regram, photo1)

Movie screening Versailles ‘73: American Runway Revolution, at the Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC, on March 5. The documentary tells the story of a runway show outside Paris on Nov 28, 1973, that changed the course of fashion history, and brought American fashion onto the world stage. The Versailles show started as a fundraiser, but turned into a showdown between 5 American designers, Halston, Anne Klein, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, and Oscar de la Renta and 5 French couturiers (YSL, Dior, Givenchy, Ungaro, Pierre Cardin). To have black models was revolutionary then, and the freshness, the way they moved in the clothes, was in stark contrast to the old school French presentation. American design outshone the French, and the upset changed fashion forever.

WWD’s headline named the show “The Battle of Versailles”. The movie documents that extraordinary event, when the American designers and black models wowed and won over the crowd, and gained newfound respect and recognition for U.S. fashion. Versailles ‘73: American Runway Revolution was directed and produced by Deborah Riley Draper of Coffee Bluff Pictures. The film debuted in Cannes in May 2012, and has received numerous awards, including Best Documentary at the 2013 Winter Film Awards in NY.

Versailles ‘73 movie has its own site, where you can see the trailer, or purchase the DVD or downloads.

courtesy photos. FIT group photos: Jerry Speier

Shoe Obsession exhibition at the Museum at FIT, opened during NY Fashion Week, and runs now thru April 13, 2013. The exhibit explores our culture’s current obsession with extravagant, extraordinary shoes, showcasing approximately 150 pairs of high fashion shoes from the past 12 years. On display are extreme and imaginative styles from both shoe designers and fashion houses, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Nicholas Kirkwood, Alexander McQueen, and Prada, to name a few.

Companion book by Dr. Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at FIT, with Colleen Hill, associate curator of accessories at the Museum at FIT, scheduled for release Apr 1, from Yale University Press. Shoe Obsession exhibition made possible with support of Saks Fifth Avenue and the Couture Council. Photos from inside the exhibit here.

For further info and museum hrs, see The Museum at FIT website. A related exhibit upcoming, Boots: The Height of Fashion, March 5 - April 6.

photos: Courtesy, and M.K.

Congratulations to The Museum at FIT!!!  (so proud of my alma mater!)

The Museum at FIT (MFIT) has received the highest national recognition for a museum – accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). Accreditation, which is awarded to only 4.5% of America’s estimated 17,500 museums and less than 1% of college and university museums, signifies the highest level of excellence. The AAM accrediting commission found MFIT not only to have “one of the most important collections of its type” but also to meet “national standards and best practices for a U.S. museum” and “to be a good steward of its resources held in the public trust and committed to a philosophy of continual institutional growth.”

Established in 1967, MFIT is the only museum in New York City, and one of a handful around the world, dedicated solely to the art of fashion. Located at Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, it is free and open to the public. Best known for its innovative and award-winning exhibitions, MFIT has a collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present. The museum’s mission is to advance knowledge of fashion through exhibitions, publications, and public programs.  

MFIT joins an elite group that includes the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., along with 20 prestigious accredited institutions in New York City, such as the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, and the Museum of Art and Design, to name a few.

“The Museum at FIT is very proud to receive this distinction,” noted Dr. Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT. “We sought accreditation through the AAM to emphasize the museum’s commitment to the core values and principles of collections stewardship. However, this recognition validates the dedication of our staff to the highest standards in all aspects of the museum’s operations, from governance and planning to exhibitions and public programming. We will continue to serve the FIT community, the Chelsea neighborhood, New York City, and the global fashion community by advancing knowledge of fashion, preserving this important collection, and mounting our innovative and exciting exhibitions.”

***The photos above are just a sampling from the many MFIT exhibitions I’ve covered over the past several years. Some of my favorites: IMPACT/50yrs of the CFDA, Daphne Guinness, (more Daphne), Gothic Dark Glamour, and Fashion A-Z, Highlights from the collection of the Museum at FIT, Part One and Part Two. Companion book available late fall through Taschen. By the way, there’s still time to catch Part Two until Nov 10.

ANTONIO’S WORLD, gallery show to open September 7, 2012, at The Suzanne Geiss Company, 76 Grand Street, New York, NY. Show will run from Sept 7-Oct 20.

Antonio’s World, a survey of the work of Antonio Lopez (1943-1987), fashion illustrator extraordinaire. The exhibition will showcase three decades of the artist’s creative output, including never before seen drawings, photographs, and ephemera. Lopez’s seminal works, which appeared in Vogue, The New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, and Interview throughout the 1970s and 80s, remain a powerful source of inspiration, energizing contemporary visual culture, not only through fashion illustration, but fine art and digital media, as well.

** Antonio is an idol to anyone who has studied fashion illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology, myself included. As an FIT student, Antonio came to visit our classroom. Quite a confronting experience, having someone with his extraordinary genius and natural gift, being able to view my own drawing. Completely in awe of his masterful work!

Lopez’s intrinsic virtuosity established him as a top fashion illustrator and one of the most influential tastemakers of his time. Antonio was inspired by his muses, contemporary culture, varied historical and artistic movements, plus his creative partner/art director Juan Ramos. His work encompasses a variety of media including pencil, ink, charcoal, watercolor, and film. Images of his muses can be found throughout, notably Pat Cleveland, Jerry Hall, and Grace Jones.

Antonio’s art reflected the nightlife persona he cultivated while working with Karl Lagerfeld in Paris from 1969 to the mid 70s. The celebrity coterie that surrounded him during his Paris years became the subjects of his drawings and photographs. The iconic Instamatics and Polaroids of Paloma Picasso, Yves Saint Laurent, among others, remain important cultural records of a time of exuberant creative productivity and consumption. By the time Lopez returned to New York City in 1976, he was a celebrated name inspiring designers such as Norma Kamali and Anna Sui. By the 1980s, he led commercial campaigns for YSL, Valentino, Missoni, and Versace.

A monograph book, Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex, and Disco, will be released by Rizzoli New York in conjunction with the exhibition. Written by Roger Padilha and Mauricio Padilha, contribution by Bill Cunningham, forward by André Leon Talley and epilogue by Anna Sui.

Antonio’s World exhibition will run September 7-October 20, 2012, at The Suzanne Geiss Company, 76 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013. Hours open: Tues-Sat, 12-6PM. More info on suzannegeiss.com.  (images1&2: courtesy)

FASHION MUSEUM ONLINE: The Museum at FIT relaunches expanded and improved Online Collections site.

The MFIT Online Collections, a digital resource – or e-museum – that enables designers, students, educators, and members of the public to interact with the museum’s world-class permanent collection at http://fashionmuseum.fitnyc.edu. This repository of digital images, documenting over 600 objects, allows users to search, browse, collect, and share online images of fashion and accessories dating from the last 300 years to the present. New objects and images will be added to the MFIT Online Collections every month.

“The Museum at FIT is thrilled to make available this repository of fashion and accessories,” said museum director Dr. Valerie Steele. “Access to the museum’s extraordinary collection advances knowledge of fashion, supports research and teaching, and inspires creativity.”

MFIT Online Collections features a new, more integrated design, as well as over 875 images of more than 600 objects. This is more than twice as many objects as were previously available on the site. Users can search the collections by keyword in the Quick Search box, or they can browse pre-existing collections created by museum staff. The pre-existing collections are based on time periods, such as the 1930s, or topics such as menswear. A special feature of the MFIT Online Collections is the ability for users to create one or more personal image sets. They may save these collections for their own research and inspiration or share them with other users. These personal collections, called MyCollections, require registering a username and password on the site.

*Images courtesy The Museum at FIT, Dr Steele photo: M.K.

Franca Sozzani lecture at FIT, May 4. As the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia since 1988, the magazine has become known for pushing the creative envelope. Never shy about controversy, Franca promotes diversity in the fashion world. She spoke about a few of her most famous issues, the Black Issue, Jul ‘08, featuring black models, and the Aug ‘10 issue whose cover and editorial featured the Gulf oil spill. Franca cautioned that subject matter receives different responses in different countries. Vogue’s other initiatives include promoting healthy body image (Vogue Curvy), supporting young talent, and promoting manufacturing in Africa.

See the key points of the lecture in Franca Sozzani’s own words on her blog, Blog del Direttore at www.vogue.it.  Ms. Sozzani was introduced at the podium by FIT’s Dr. Valerie Steele. The lecture is part of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Fashion Culture Program.  photos: M.K.

Author John Tiffany speaks about his book, Eleanor Lambert: Still Here, at FIT on March 14. The lecture is part of FIT’s Fashion Culture programs. The book is a biography of the remarkable woman who founded the CFDA in 1962, and put American fashion on the map, at a time when only European houses were acknowledged. Lambert lived an extraordinary 100 years, from 1903-2003, still attending NY Fashion Week in Sept 2003. John Tiffany worked for Eleanor Lambert, and had access to never-before-seen fashion photos and press releases.

Miss Lambert was a publicist whose driving passion for promoting American design talent, and fashion as an art form, became her focus. She was smart, stylish, imperial…and a rebel. Hard as it is to imagine now, when Eleanor started, she had to convince even top American fashion magazines to promote U.S. designers. She was one of the first to promote designers as individual personalities… previously, manufacturers put their own label in the clothing.

The pivotal moment came in 1973, the Battle of Versailles, a fashion show organized by Lambert, that pitted 5 top French designers against 5 Americans: Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, and Anne Klein. One of the only existing programs left was Lambert’s own (photo above). The audience was so ecstatic, everyone threw their programs in the air in celebration. American fashion had arrived. *see WWD remarkable fashion moment.

Lambert is responsible for the creation of NY Fashion Week, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum, the CFDA Awards (formerly Coty Awards), and the International Best Dressed List. For more details, see the CFDA page about her, and a great writeup about John Tiffany’s lecture at the Library of Congress on Feb 2.

The book Eleanor Lambert: Still Here can be purchased from Pointed Leaf Press.

During the Q&A at FIT, John Tiffany was asked “What was the best piece of advice Miss Lambert ever gave him?” He said when he asked Miss Lambert how she created all that she did, Miss Lambert replied she didn’t make them up, nor think of things to do. She did them because they needed to be done. She created Fashion Press Week, because she needed a platform to showcase the designers’ collections. Her advice: “Do what is in front of you. Don’t try to figure it out.” Only 10 years from now will you be able to connect the dots. John added, we should also remember that one of Miss Lambert’s most important achievements came in 1973 (the Versailles fashion show) at the age of 70. The lesson: never give up. (photos: M.K.)

In Conversation~ Bob Mackie and Hal Rubenstein, an FIT Fashion Cultureevent. Designer Bob Mackie and InStyle magazine Fashion Director Hal Rubenstein had an entertaining, colorful chat about their spectacular careers on Friday evening, March 9. Photo, from left: Hal Rubenstein, Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator at The Museum at FIT; Bob Mackie. (Photo courtesy The Museum at FIT) Mackie is a CFDA Special Award winner most widely remembered for his Emmy-winning costume designs for Cher and The Carol Burnett Show. Rubenstein is an authority on celebrity style who has appeared on TV shows such as The View and the Today Show. He is the author of the book 100 Unforgettable Dresses.  He was the 2011 recipient of the Eleanor Lambert Founder’s Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. 

Fashion Culture programs and events are free and open to the public and students (but a reservation is required), and are organized by The Museum at FIT to provide insightful perspectives on the culture of fashion.

I included a photo of Bob Mackie’s design on display now at the IMPACT exhibit at The Museum at FIT. A companion book IMPACT: 50 Years of the CFDAis available from Abrams Books, and also at Barnes & Noble on the FIT campus.

Diane von Furstenberg spoke at FIT, Fashion Institute of Technology, on the evening of March 6, as part of FIT’s celebration of 50 Years of the CFDA, and in conjunction with the IMPACT exhibit on view thru Apr 17. Diane spoke candidly about the ups and downs of her fashion business over the years. In 1976, after her Newsweek cover story, her company was producing 25000 dresses a week.

As president of the CFDA for 6 yrs now, Diane also spoke about all of the CFDA’s many initiatives to support American fashion and NY’s fashion industry. She said Mayor Bloomberg is a great ally, the fashion industry is 2nd only to the financial market in the number of NYC jobs it produces. One of the programs that supports the Garment District is MadeInMidtown.org.

List of the CFDA's many initiatives, that support fashion designers & the industry:

• CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund - to provide funding & business mentoring for emerging designers

• CFDA Fashion Incubator - to help promising fashion talent grow & sustain their business, with low-cost studio space, mentoring, more.

• CFDA Fashion Awards, NY Fashion Week, FNO (Fashion’s Night Out)

Scholarship Funds

Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University - to protect designers’ intellectual property, including support on all other law issues

• Philanthropy - the CFDA is involved in numerous philanthropic efforts. Ex: the CFDA raised over $500K for Haiti.

Diane ended the presentation with a Q&A and practical advice for the audience of students and DVF admirers. In response to one design student’s question about startup, Diane said your factories are your best ally, they want you to be successful. If you can make an arrangement to pay them after you have been paid, that is a great way to get started. In closing, Diane shared how inspired she is by the accomplishments of all the women she meets. Great way to commemorate International Women’s Day, March 8! (photos: M.K.)

Note: IMPACT: 50 Yrs of the CFDA exhibit will be at the Museum at FIT thru Apr17. Former CFDA presidents are scheduled to speak: Stan Herman on Apr 10, Oscar de la Renta on Apr 19.

Daphne Guinness at FIT’s Fashion Icons and Insiders Symposium. Held in conjunction with the Daphne Guinness exhibit at The Museum at FIT, exhibit runs through Jan 7, 2012. Celebrated for her experimental and eclectic sartorial taste, Daphne appreciates fashion as art form. (Courtesy Photo ©MFIT by Eileen Costa)

More about the exhibit plus photos, on my original blog: Daphne post1, post2.


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