ARTISTS FIND VIRTUAL CONNECTIONS
Faculty and alumni hosted a series of Virtual Artist Talks to share their experiences making art and finding connections in a pandemic. On November 5, Fine Arts professors Sue Willis and Joel Werring spoke about their experiences and showed the art they made in lockdown. On November 12, FIT art fellow Christopher K. Ho and Abigail DeVille, Fine Arts ’09, discussed their site-specific installations. In the January 28 event “Who Is Hippy Potter?” recent alum Thaddeus Coates shared his journey to becoming an artist, starting a design company, and participating in Target and American Eagle ad campaigns. On March 25, photographer and Political Science Professor Praveen K. Chaudhry presented the exhibition New York City: Pandemic, Resilience and Hope, documenting the city from spring lockdowns to summer protests to the November presidential election.
GLOBAL DISCUSSIONS GO VIRTUAL
With COVID-19 curtailing most in-person activities, the Office of International Programs, the Cultural Fellows, and the History of Art Department launched a series of 45-minute online events focusing on global education. Globally Connected @ FIT sponsored 15 discussions on themes including art, sustainability, fashion, racial equity, and life in the pandemic. They included a September 24 conversation with artists from Athens, Venice, and Tehran around art galleries’ response to the health crisis; a November 9 presentation on the history of cultural appropriation in fashion; and a March 18 roundtable on the artistic and therapeutic power of stitching and mending.
COLLEGE WINS HIGH RANKINGS
FIT ranked near the top of many college lists this year, reflecting the excellence of its diverse programs and its unparalleled value. The magazine CEOWORLD named FIT the top fashion school in the world for 2021, while Prep Scholar named it the best fashion school in the country. The website Best Value Schools ranked the college number one among fashion design schools. CollegeCalc designated FIT the most affordable school in New York State. Hispanic Outlook on Education magazine noted that FIT had the second-largest number of Hispanic students pursuing visual and performing arts degrees. In Payscale.com’s 2020–21 College Salary Report, FIT rose to number 10 among two-year programs at U.S. colleges. PayScale determined that the median mid-career salary for an FIT AAS graduate was $77,200, while among bachelor’s degree holders, the median rose to $107,900, in the top 5 percent nationally. Individual programs also received recognition. UniversityHQ ranked the Advertising and Marketing Communications major in the top 20 of all marketing programs nationwide, while Learn.org ranked FIT number 35 nationally for its business programs.
FALL FASHION CULTURE PROGRAMS TACKLE POLITICS, DESIGN
The Museum at FIT’s fall Fashion Culture programs spanned the worlds of fashion and politics while bringing in world-renowned designers. Director Valerie Steele spoke with Prabal Gurung in a September 20 event that touched on his international career, manufacturing in New York, and donating money to his native Nepal. “Fashion Metropolis Berlin,” on October 13, brought together author Uwe Westphal, FIT historian Keren Ben-Horin, and journalist Jennifer Altmann to speak about Berlin’s thriving fashion scene in the 1920s. On October 20, famed editor Stefano Tonchi and Grazia d’Annunzio, former Vogue Italia executive, discussed the influence of military uniforms on high fashion. On October 27, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Robin Givhan spoke with Dr. Steele about the relationship between fashion, politics, and power, using examples from the Black Lives Matter protests, the boogaloo bois’ Hawaiian shirts, and garments promoting voting.
MFIT WINS SILVER MUSE AWARD
In July, The Museum at FIT won recognition from the American Alliance of Museums for its work on the Virtual Fashion Archive. The archive, launched in 2019 in collaboration with the studio Superficial, animates culturally significant fashion objects, including 20th-century designs by Clare McCardell, Comme des Garçons, and Issey Miyake. The project received a silver MUSE award for Research and Innovation, the fourth MUSE Award MFIT has received to date.
VALERIE STEELE GUEST CURATES JAPAN SHOW
Museum at FIT Director Valerie Steele guest curated an exhibition at the Kobe Fashion Museum in Japan, the first show she has led outside the United States. Treasures of Fashion was on view through August 30, 2020. Steele chose 150 items to tell a fashion story in several chapters, including French rococo styles of the 18th century, the influence of Chanel and her contemporaries in the 20th, and the adaptation of the kimono in Western fashion, and concluding with contemporary Japanese designers.
GIRL SCOUT UNIFORM GETS AN FIT UPDATE
Three Fashion Design students from the class of 2020 were selected to redesign the Girl Scout uniform, the first change in the organization’s look in over 20 years. Nidhi Bhasin, Zhuo Ran (Jenny) Feng, and Melissa Posner were chosen by FIT’s DTech Lab. The design process, in collaboration with DTech faculty, started with interviews with current Girl Scouts and progressed through virtual design and prototyping, thus eliminating design waste. Launched August 25, the Girl Scout uniform includes a utility vest and pocket sash, while the apparel collection comprises 18 interchangeable pieces including leggings, a skater dress, a sweatshirt, and a button-up shirt.
ALUMNI IN VOGUE
Vogue’s September 2020 issue highlighted a plethora of FIT alumni. Among more than a dozen alumni in the issue were Fashion Design graduates Chadeese Perriel, Su Jin, Zoe Schultz, and Kenneth Ivey. The four, who were shown wearing their own designs, were selected based on their senior thesis projects. A separate project that asked photography students to capture handbags in unusual settings included the work of Kahdeem Prosper Jefferson, Siena Saba, and Pamela Martinez. The issue also featured the work of 10 other alumni, from Sincerely, Tommy owner Kai Avent-deLeon to hairstylist Jawara Wauchope.
ETHICAL FASHION WEEK
The college sponsored two events at New York Ethical Fashion Week, which took place online September 11–16. The event, founded by Thr3efold CEO Jessica Kelly, aims to educate the industry on clean and fair fashion. A panel dubbed “Sustainable Innovation: Concept to Product” discussed high-tech fibers and finishes and biodesign, and featured alumni Veronica Apsan ’18 and Eden Spatz ’13, Sustainability Council Chair Karen Pearson, and Associate Fashion Business Management Professor Ann Cantrell. A second panel, “Circularity for Fashion Brands,” focused on using creative recycling and reuse to reach zero waste. Jacqueline Jenkins, executive director of Strategic Planning and Innovation at FIT, moderated.
GRADUATE STUDENTS LAUNCH NYC-CENTRIC INSTALLATION
Three MFA students created a digital installation commemorating the experience of moving to New York—something that half of the city’s 8.5 million residents have done. Planning a site-specific installation, YunRay Chung, Fashion Design, and Tina Columbus and Chang Lee, both Exhibition and Experience Design, invited participants to share memories of moving to the city. When the pandemic prevented in-person events, the trio reworked the project as an interactive website. Aided by a $4,000 grant from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the site, “our nyc journeys,” launched in October.
SUSTAINABILITY AWARENESS WEEK
The college’s Sustainability Awareness Week this year was fully virtual and the first time almost all programming was open to the public. The October 5–9 events included workshops, panels, and discussions on a range of topics. Panels included an alumni-led discussion on building a brand with sustainability in mind and a conversation between activist and model Amber Valletta and Professor Theanne Schiros on bioengineered textiles. Workshops ranged from applying for sustainability grants to repurposing a pair of jeans into a handbag.
HONORING CIVILITY AND DIVERSITY
This year’s Civility Week, October 13–16, focused on social justice and how discussion and mutual respect can further or impede progress. Guests and FIT faculty led an exploration of collective trauma and healing and screened a documentary about students’ experiences during the 2019–20 academic year. Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Jericho Brown delivered a keynote on the limits of civility and speaking out through poetry. The Diversity Comic-Con capped off the week (October 16–17), with a virtual cosplay contest and discussions on breaking into Hollywood and the importance of representation in comics.
PHOTOGRAPHY STUDENT’S WORK SELECTED FOR MICHAEL KORS SHOW
FIT alum Michael Kors promoted his October 15 fashion show with the work of Photography student Olivia McDowell. Kors reached out to students for an image to represent his urban garden-themed show. McDowell’s winning photo, a vertical shot of a rooftop garden, was used in full-page newspaper ads and digital invitations to the event.
STUDENT MAGAZINE RECOGNIZED FOR EXCELLENCE
FACULTY, ALUMNI PAINT THE VOTE
Ahead of the November election, MTV commissioned Illustration faculty member Dan Shefelman to help raise awareness of early voting, part of a 20-city civic-engagement effort. Shefelman hired two alumni, Angel Garcia and Victor Saint-Hilaire, to help him chalk an East River barge the with the words “Vote Early” and “Vote for your life.” The colorful creation launched October 24. Farther uptown, Computer Animation and Interactive Design alum Daniel Bonilla raised $5,000 on GoFundMe to paint a mural on Dyckman Street in Inwood. The piece depicts hands putting votes in boxes while a USPS truck delivers mail-in ballots, along with the words “Your vote matters.”
FIT PLACES IN ADOBE BUSINESS COMPETITION
Competing against major research institutions from around the world, a team of FIT students placed third in the 2020 Adobe Analytics Challenge, a yearly business contest in which university students use data from Adobe’s sales platform to develop sales strategies for major brands. For this year’s challenge, sponsored by Nike, FIT’s team parsed data from the brand’s e-commerce platform and mobile app to create profiles of the most engaged consumers and make recommendations to drive sales. Team Flash, whose members were Fashion Business Management students Muskaan Arora, Joyce Ishikawa, and Sofia Simoniello, was awarded $6,000 at the November 17 judging. Their advisor was Maria Hwang, assistant professor of Computer Science.
A WEALTH OF FACULTY PUBLISHING
Faculty members’ published works this spring ranged from reference books to first-time fiction. Sara Fruner, professor of Modern Languages and Cultures, published L’istante largo, a novel in Italian. The coming-of-age story is a first novel from Fruner, after three volumes of poetry. William Mooney, chair of Film, Media, and Performing Arts, published Adaptation and the New Art Film: Remaking the Classics in the Twilight of Cinema, which considers how contemporary filmmakers approach classic films in their work. Carli Spina, head of the Gladys Marcus Library’s Research and Instructional Services, and Helen Lane, instructional design librarian, published E-Textiles in Libraries: A Practical Guide for Librarians, offering advice on incorporating everything from light-up scarves to solar-powered backpacks into library programs.
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FUNDS SUSTAINABILITY RESEARCH
The college received a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to fund interconnected sustainability initiatives throughout 2021—the third NEA grant received by FIT, of which two focused on sustainability. The funds will be directed toward the 15th annual Sustainable Business and Design Conference, as well as a seminar about the global fashion industry and three workshops for high school students, conducted in partnership with the High School of Fashion Industries.
TEXTILES MEET TECHNOLOGY
The Gladys Marcus Library, IT, and PrintFX/FabLab collaborated on a workshop series to help people learn new skills during a time of distancing. Participants in the MakerMinds event series learned about e-textiles and wearable technology with the hardware company Adafruit (February 3); practiced 3D sculpting by playing a game of Exquisite Corpse using Sculptris (February 9); built 3D-printed molds to make soap or candles (March 9), and created augmented-reality filters with Zappar (April 13).
SPRING FASHION CULTURE PROGRAMS CONSIDER HISTORY, DIVERSITY
The museum’s Fashion Culture programming this spring touched on multiculturalism and diversity. On February 25, Italian-Haitian designer Stella Jean, whose clients include Rihanna and Beyoncé, spoke with Museum at FIT Director Valerie Steele about expanding diversity in the Italian fashion system. On March 11, Circe Henestrosa, head of the School of Fashion at LaSalle College of the Arts in Singapore and recent curator of two exhibitions about Frida Kahlo, explored how exhibition spaces can include people with disabilities, who have historically been marginalized in fashion. Historian Alphonso McClendon and vintage performer Dandy Wellington discussed the influence of jazz on 1920s menswear in a March 25 event with MFIT Assistant Curator Elizabeth Way. Author and photographer Robert Faire, who worked with Vogue for more than a decade and recently published Alexander McQueen: Unseen, shared his experiences of McQueen’s runway shows.
BOOKS ON SHOW
Adjunct Associate Professor of Communication Design Pathways Sondra Graff mounted a sculptural book installation at Manhattan’s Center for Book Arts January 15–February 14. The exhibition, titled traversingwithonions | or in pursuit of the butter chair and other encounters … , uses site-specific installations, suspensions, and strings to explore the meaning of a book, and the relationship between narrative and physical structure#F0ECEC
COMMEMORATING BLACK HISTORY
This year’s Black History Month events celebrated the complexities of Black Americans’ experience in the United States while highlighting Black creators active today. Piper Anderson, an entrepreneur and storyteller who founded the social impact firm Create Forward, delivered the keynote on February 3. FIT’s Ron Milon and Taur Orange presented a history of structural racism (February 4) and hosted “How to Talk About Race,” a workshop on having productive conversations about difficult topics (February 11). Adjunct faculty member Steven Johnson led a series of guided drawing workshops (February 22–24). Shara McHayle and Jade Everett, the mother-daughter founders of Hoop 88 Dreams, spoke on Black entrepreneurship (February 25).
BLACK STUDENT UNION MOUNTS ACTIVIST RETROSPECTIVE
The college’s Black Student Union reached out nationwide to find art about protest and activism for this year’s Black History Month exhibition. Back to the Present, which opened virtually February 1, comprised photographs, videos, and paintings that showcased similarities between the 1960s and the 2020s, both periods of social upheaval and reckoning with racism. Taken together, the works aim to evoke shock at the similarities between the two time periods while celebrating the fashion and style sensibilities of contemporary creators. The BSU’s Joi Berry (Communication Design AAS ’21), Ashleigh Simpson (Fashion Design AAS ’21), and Kia Ward (Textile/Surface Design BFA ’21) curated the exhibition, which was hosted by the Art and Design Gallery at FIT and sponsored by the college’s Diversity Council.
ILLUSTRATION PROFESSOR’S STAMP HONORS CHINESE AMERICAN PHYSICIST
A commemorative USPS stamp unveiled February 11 features the work of Assistant Chair of Illustration Kam Mak. Mak’s portrait of nuclear physicist Chien-Shiung Wu shows the scientist wearing a traditional high-collared qipao against a backdrop of lapis lazuli. Wu, an immigrant from China and an advocate for women in a male-dominated field, broke ground in experimental physics and made important contributions to the Manhattan Project.
PRIDE MEDIA PUBLISHES RON AMATO RETROSPECTIVE
A retrospective of Photography Professor Ron Amato’s work was featured by Pride Media, publisher of Out, The Advocate, and Out Traveler. The exhibition, published in daily installments in March, covers 21 years of Amato’s photographs of male nudes juxtaposed with natural environments and architectural structures. Pride Media noted that Amato’s award-winning work has become “a part of the LGBTQ+ visual landscape.” The Advocate also featured a two-page spread of Amato’s photos in its February/March issue.
MUSEUM STUDIES EXHIBITION COMPARES THE ’20S AND THE ’60S
For their graduating exhibition, students in the Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice MA program organized a virtual show comparing the 1920s and the 1960s—two decades that saw radical social upheaval and rejection of prior decades’ tastes. The Roaring Twenties and the Swinging Sixties, which opened March 15, used 26 objects from the museum’s permanent collection to examine similarities between the two periods’ styles, including simplified silhouettes, obsession with youth, and embrace of new musical genres.
STUDENTS’ SUSTAINABILITY WORK RECOGNIZED
Students Namra Khan, Fashion Business Management ’22, and Nicole Windram, Fashion Design ’21, were invited to present their sustainability initiative, Waste x Change, at Clinton Global Initiative University. Waste x Change aims to reduce fashion industry waste through brand transparency, social media campaigns, and mending and styling workshops. The students were among 600 changemakers to join the March 23–26 event, which also featured former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Kamala Harris, and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams.
PHOTOGRAPHY TECHNOLOGIST HAS SOLO SHOW
Photography technologist Pacifico Silano mounted a solo exhibition at the Houston Center for Photography. The exhibition, Cowboys Don’t Shoot Straight (Like They Used To), was on view March 12–May 9, and presented a series of large-scale photo installations sourced from vintage gay pornography magazines. The work “is keenly attuned to the sense of loss and invisibility felt by many in the gay community during the 1980s,” wrote the exhibit’s curator, Ashlyn Davis Burns.
FASHION PROFESSOR STARTS LEADERSHIP PODCAST
Laticha Brown, assistant chair and assistant professor of Fashion Business Management, launched a podcast in April. Titled This Is How They Did It, the show explores the career journeys of fashion industry leaders, and has hosted executives from Tommy Hilfiger, Walmart Beauty, Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Louis Vuitton.
INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION DURING A PANDEMIC
The Office of International Programs and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences hosted a faculty-initiated symposium April 6 to address how to pursue international education in a time of restricted travel. “International Education in Times of Global Crises: Reflections on Alternatives, Flexibility, and Resilience” was organized by professors Praveen Chaudhry, Social Sciences, and Kyunghee Pyun, History of Art, along with the Office of International Programs and the Center for Excellence in Teaching. Experts presented various potential solutions to pandemic disruptions, including globalizing curricula, creating virtual international exchanges, and educating refugees.
SPEAKING OUT AGAINST ANTI-ASIAN VIOLENCE
With 2020 seeing a disturbing rise in hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans, the UCE of FIT hosted a town-hall style event for the FIT community. “Stop Asian Hate” on April 8 was moderated by Isabella Bertoletti, Modern Languages and Cultures; Paul Clement, Social Sciences; and Felix Rivera-Perez, Career and Internship Center.
TEACHING ART AS LABOR
FIT faculty led a two-day virtual symposium dubbed “Art/Works: Teaching Labor and Capitalism in Art and Design.” Part of a National Endowment for the Humanities-funded project, the symposium brought together academics and practitioners to discuss teaching business and labor relationships in the creative fields. While artists and designers aspire to be creative trailblazers, they are also bosses, workers, members of professional associations, and citizens of nations, all of which are roles that weigh on their creative work but are rarely discussed. The April 8 and 9 virtual event examined the role of unions and collectives; the history of discrimination and cultural appropriation in creative fields; equity in the workplace; the evolution of internships, and the role of labor unions and collectives.
15 YEARS OF SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS & DESIGN
The 15th annual Sustainable Business and Design Conference (April 13–16) celebrated innovators in the creative industries. Topics at the online-only event ranged from textile engineering to using social media for change. Participants heard from FIT alumna Stacy Flynn, co-founder and CEO of the textile engineering company Evrnu; sustainable design pioneer Eileen Fisher; Abrima Erwiah, co-founder and president of the artisanal fashion brand Studio One Eighty Nine, and zero-waste design innovator Dr. Mark Liu.
PRESIDENT BROWN NAMED TO “POWER 100” LIST
Political magazine City & State named Dr. Joyce F. Brown to its Education Power 100 List. Published April 18, the listing called President Brown “an institution” and praised her work raising the college’s profile in her two decades of leadership. In addition to her role as president of the college and of the FIT Foundation, she is a director of Advanced Functional Fabrics of America and the Park Avenue Armory and a trustee of the Culinary Institute of America and the Economic Club of New York. She has also served on numerous statewide task forces focusing on the Black family, childcare, and domestic violence.
MUSEUM HOSTS “RAVISHING” SYMPOSIUM
The Museum at FIT hosted the virtual symposium, Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion, to preview the exhibition and book of the same title before their release later in the year. The April 30 colloquium explored the many dimensions of the rose—flower, color, scent, fairy-tale trope, and ubiquitous design motif—and its history in fashion. Presenters included Amy de la Haye, professor at London College of Fashion; Jonathan Faiers, professor of Fashion Thinking at Winchester School of Art; Colleen Hill, curator at The Museum at FIT; Nick Knight, founder of SHOWStudio; Mairi MacKenzie, research fellow at Glasgow School of Art; and Elizabeth Way, assistant curator at the Museum at FIT.
ELENA ROMERO’S VIDEO REPORTING WINS RECOGNITION
LATiNAS, a magazine show on CUNY TV that features Advertising and Marketing Communications Assistant Professor Elena Romero as a correspondent, won a silver Telly Award in May for its first season. The award—the highest ever achieved by CUNY TV—honors the best video and television work created for all screens. Romero has been a correspondent on the show since 2019; her segment on Latina Muslims was part of the award-winning episode.
SUSTAINABILITY INSTRUCTOR JOINS NEW SUSTAINABILITY JOURNAL
Kelly Burton, adjunct instructor of International Trade and Marketing and the Center for Continuing and Professional Studies, was named an associate editor of the International Journal of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles in May. The new peer-reviewed journal, a venture of Intellect Books, is the first ongoing subscription journal dedicated to sustainability and ethics in the fashion and textile industry. Earlier in the year, Burton was named to the industry advisory board of the college’s Textile Development and Marketing Department.
A WEEK’S WORTH OF COMMENCEMENT CELEBRATIONS
To celebrate the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 and their resilience during a year and a half of global upheaval, the college held a series of virtual and in-person events in May and June. The celebrations launched with virtual commencement ceremonies for the School of Graduate Studies (May 19) and undergraduates from the class of ’21 (May 20), and ’20 (May 21). Alumna Kory Marchisotto, chief marketing officer for e.l.f. Beauty, delivered a virtual address May 19, telling the Graduate Studies students to “fearlessly embrace the unknown.” Eight in-person events were held on June 2 and 3 in New York’s Central Park, allowing graduates and their families to maintain appropriate distance, with a video keynote address by Emmy-award-winning actor Debra Messing, whose character on the TV show Will and Grace graduates from FIT. “We need you more than ever to create beauty and originality to wake us up again,” Messing said. SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras delivered his remarks in person, commending the graduates’ resilience and determination.
FIT AT SUNY KOREA GRADUATES THIRD CLASS
Forty-one students graduated from FIT at SUNY Korea in a June 18 ceremony, receiving an AAS in Fashion Design or Fashion Business Management. SUNY Korea President Wonki Min and Honorary President Dr. Myung Oh addressed the graduates from the stage, while FIT President Joyce F. Brown congratulated the students remotely. Roughly half of the graduating class attended the ceremonies in person, with the rest participating virtually. Since the first graduating class of 2019, 100 recipients of an FIT AAS at SUNY Korea have gone on to enroll in bachelor’s programs at FIT in New York.
BLACK STUDENT UNION CELEBRATES JUNETEENTH WITH MURAL
During the first year in which Juneteenth was recognized as a federal holiday, FIT’s Black Student Union marked the occasion with group members painting of a series of murals, titled Love and Resilience: A Depiction of the Black Experience and Growth. The June 19 gathering included BSU members as well as visiting artists Sophisticated Cookie and Lisette Soto.
COSMETICS AND FRAGRANCE CAPSTONE MARKS 20TH ANNIVERSARY
Graduates of the Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management MPS program, which is often described as the beauty industry’s “think tank,” presented their research in a capstone presentation to an audience of industry leaders June 23. The project, dubbed “The Future of Consumerism,” was a two-part, 16-country study that examined how the COVID-19 pandemic changed consumers’ mindsets and continues to affect brands and industries. The graduates’ recommendations for brands included focusing on the circular economy and closely tracking consumers’ shifting preferences based on their circumstances.