Professional Review Fashion Design Department MassArt

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On Thursday I was invited to serve as a professional reviewer for the Fashion Design Department at MassArt. It’s an honor to be invited to participate in this Review, and my third year being asked back. It was a real treat to take an up close look at the portfolios, sketches, and actual garments of the 4 students I was assigned.

My first student Daniela Cabal, greeted me with a bit of nervousness, but with a beautiful smile. Daniela said that the female body was one of her great influences, that her designs are created to flatter the body, she appreciates high waisted garments as was evident in her own outfit choice– a sheer black flowing cape over a midriff black tank shirt and highwaisted pants. She went on to tell me her collection was influenced by geodes. (To be honest, I had no idea what geodes were, until she showed me her sketches, and went on to explain that they were secondary structures… Then, coincidentally over Passover, my kids were given geodes as their affikomen to crack open in this scientific rock kit. You can be sure that geodes are something that I will now never forget!)  Her four looks were each named after various types of rocks: bismuth, gray charcoal, black lava, and volcanic. I especially enjoyed the cut of her gray charcoal piece, it had beautiful seams and fit the mannequin beautifully. All of her dresses were extremely flattering to the female form, and would make any woman feel sexy.

IMG_4261 A black pleather dress by Daniela

IMG_4257Portfolio photos by Daniela

IMG_4264some detailed sketches by Daniela

The second student I encountered, Kimberly Gale Nowers, went on to show me some sketches in her design book, and swatches from her inspiration book where she spoke of her grandmother’s passing as an influence for her collection. The stone Garnet which symbolized strength and love was her main source. According to Kimberly, Egyptians buried their dead with garnet. It was a bit morbid, but I can relate to the artistic process as something that is often derived from sadness and struggle. Kimberly had beautiful sketches which were very mathematical, she is obsessed with fit and detail, which is something that is extremely important to me too! I loved that she created 3-4 muslins before sewing her dresses. My favorite part of her collection was her handmade flowers. She designed the patterns for all of the flowers, and hand sewed them all. The detail of her cascading flowers in her final piece, created by strips of fabric cut on the bias and cinched was genius, and my favorite of her 4 looks. She is someone to look out for!

IMG_4276Kimberly’s Inspiration book with swatches IMG_4275Gorgeous handmade fabric flowers

IMG_4291 my favorite piece of Kimberly’sIMG_4289note the detail in the ruffle bottom.

The third student that I got to spend time with greeted me with a smile and she herself represented her brand expertly–being dressed the part, a smart pencil skirt with a tailored top and beautiful statement necklace. I really appreciated the effort Carolina Espaillat put not only into her collection, but into her own appearance and her presentation. I gave her an A+ for this! Carolina’s collection was inspired from her roots, the ocean, the fish and the way the light shines on the ocean. He dresses were elegance with a touch of uniqueness, and breathed femininity. One of her looks was based on the Beta fish–the folds were like petals of flowers, or the fin of the fish. Her royal blue dress was like an upside down tulip. She told me a story about how she was obsessed with Zac Posen (one of my favorite designers), and how she always wondered how his garments had such great body, and how could she accomplish this herself? She told me that she studied his garments and found out by cutting one open that she needed to back up sections of the garment with interfacing. This little anecdote warmed my heart, because I loved the idea that she went that extra step to figure out how to accomplish her goals. I know Carolina will do well wherever fashion takes her.

IMG_4308 Carolina Espaillat and her sketch bookIMG_4306A beta fish inspiration tear sheet IMG_4300Details on the tulip bottom IMG_4295

The final student that I spent time with, Nicole Oppedisano, like Nowers had a slightly morbid influence…the Valley of the Dead. Her collection was influenced by circular movements, and the unity within marriage. Rich fabrics such as silk, silk faille, and taffeta comprised her collection. The Valley of the Dead was a burial ground where women who passed away from the plague were lay to rest. Nicole viewed her collection as a modern runaway bride, and what her wedding gown would have been if these women in this masse grave had not passed. I loved that though her collection was 4 wedding gowns, she was able to incorporate color by creating a custom print, which was a lavender floral print on silk. She used the reverse side of the silk, which spoke to me because it is a beloved technique that I enjoy using in my own company. I loved the modern nature of the pantsuit with a detachable train. I could really picture a bride of today–either young or mature, wearing this suit, then ripping of her train and boogying on the dance floor. Brides lookout for Nicole’s creations!

IMG_4314Nicole with her inspiration book IMG_4313Detail of inspiration book and photos of the muslins

IMG_4318 Custom print as lining of detachable train

What I loved about this review was that all the students were able to successfully convey a story through the influences in their lives which helped create cohesive collections. This is something that I think is key for designers from a storyline standpoint, because a collection without a story is no collection at all.

See ALL of the senior students collections and MORE on May 9th, 2014.

This article originally appeared in StyleBoston.

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