Archive for January, 2010


Molly and I took a walk on the lake today!



So the semester has begun, and with that comes projects! First day of class for Apparel I we are told we have a week to make a new look out of two or more old garments. I used 1) this vintage hand-made dress, which I had bought years ago (for like twenty dollars?) at an antique mall and had not worn because I was not confident I could pull it off and 2) this $5.00 kimono from Ragstock (where do they get all those kimonos anyways? really cool fabrics) And then I got a dress at Goodwill for the notions (invisible zipper and hooks and eyes)

Here is the end result, modeled by my lovely and talented classmate Kelly (worn with my own necklace from a flea market and the heels I wore to  the dinner):

The design was really inspired the fabric – I wanted triangular shapes to be the focus of my design to reflect all the triangles in the dress fabric and the small zig zag pattern found on the kimono fabric. I also wanted to play with the idea of hiding and revealing the body with the sheer overlay in the front, the lace cutout on the side, and the straps that form a triangle on the bare back.


New Jersey. New York. New people. New opportunities. My winter break was full of news!

One of the many benefits of receiving a scholarship from the Fashion Scholarship Fund is to go to a fancy dinner in New York – for free! This also gave me an excuse to visit my relatives in New Jersey beforehand. 🙂

Part One:

My cozy room that my aunt made up for me in NJ


Lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe near Times Square, since I’ve never been to one. They make a mean burger!

Outside the Titanic exhibit at the Discovery Times Square Exposition. Very interesting and personal, go if you get a chance.

Me and my cousin Chrissy chillin’ with Oprah no big deal.  Okay, we were at Madame Tussaud’s wax museum

L: Looking up at the spiraling Guggenheim, where we saw Kandinsky’s work in reverse order (decided that starting from the top and working our way down seemed more logical… ) as well as the memorable sculpture “Memory” by Anish Kapoor (who I just realized also made the Bean in Chicago!) and work by other notables like Picasso, Renoir and Pissarro. R: Aunt Olga and Chrissy in the cool modern Wright Restaurant attached to the museum, where we enjoyed a delicious late lunch. I had the parsnip soup and lobster brioche.

Before heading to NY to stay at the Grand Hyatt for the fashion scholarship fund dinner, my Aunt Olga, my great uncle Said and I visited my Aunt Zarema (Auntie Z). Here is my Aunt Zarema, me and Aunt Olga outside of Auntie Z’s house (NJ). It was great to catch up with my relatives on my dad’s side, because we rarely see each other.

Part Two:

Blew a kiss goodbye to my Aunt Olga as the train to NY rolled out. Called my mom. Arrived at Penn Station and took a cab to E 42nd St and Grand Central, where I would be staying at the Grand Hyatt. Talk about an impressive lobby! I walked in to see a fountain and trees and flowers, a mirrored ceiling, a coffee kiosk, nice chairs and tables and couches… it was huge and very pretty. Needless to say I had a goofy smile on my face as I searched for the check-in desk.

The lobby (it was hard to get a good picture… better in person)

our room

I shared a room with my friend Mandy who also goes to Madison and received a scholarship. When we were not wandering around the city together, we enjoyed flipping through the channels of our TV from the comfort of our beds, since we rarely have time to watch TV during school. In the time we had to spare before the event, Mandy and I ventured to Brooklyn to meet up with some her friends, and to the Lower East side to check out the gallery where her cute children caplets are sold. Unfortunately, the gallery was closed, but we had a chance to browse some cool boutiques in the area before barely getting back in time to get ready for the dinner. (There was a police investigation at our subway stop, so we ended up splitting a cab ride back- once we managed to find one!)

The dinner was at Cipriani, conveniently located across the street. It was beautiful, and the food was great. After our rehearsal was cocktail hour, where we enjoyed mingling and meeting with fellow students, professors, and people of the fashion/business world. I  managed to… shake off my nerves by talking to friendly students from other schools, trade business cards with a few people, smile for a few photos, get noticed for my height, admire dresses, sip champagne, and nibble on delicious hors d’oeuvres… all before dinner.

During the dinner there were announcements (the 4 winners of $25,000 out of 8 finalists… I might be there next year, on verra) heart-felt speeches, and awesome live performances from Ernest Felton Baker II (hip hop dancer) and Grace
Weber (singer songwriter).

The menu included:

  • grilled jumbo shrimp & haricot verts (green beans)
  • winter roasted veal chop with brown butter & sage
  • ratatouille alla cirpriani & patate Anna
  • vanilla creme infused meringue cake with fresh strawberies
  • chocolate strawberries, cookies & biscotti, fruit tarts

And copious amounts of red and white wine.

It was delicious.

After it was over, Mandy and I hobbled back to our hotel (our feet hurt from our heels) and took pictures in the lobby, where we ran into fellow students and the “Master of Ceremonies”, Mary Alice Stephenson.

Enfin: Everyone at the dinner was so friendly and encouraging, offering help and advice to all of  us students. It was great to get to know Mandy and Diane (the head of our department) better, catch up with Meg (who won last year and is now at the Fashion Institute of Technology), and meet Dean (our liaison between New York and Madison). And I loved wearing Lara Miller’s dress.

I found that it pays to dream big.

For You.

I made my sister, Elena, this embellished collar/necklace for Christmas. I bought this cardigan from Gap (in a tall, of course 🙂  ) and made an embellished band that snaps on and off so that the sweater can be washed; and the band also has hidden hooks and eyes so it can be worn as a big necklace separate from the sweater. I cut out circles in various sizes of cotton from an old shirt, tulle, some hand-dyed silk samples, a swatch I did not use, and other mystery fabrics picked up at the fabric give away at the end of the semester. (See what you can make out of scraps?) I sewed the circles onto the black cotton band with french knots and beads. Elena wrote about it here (I stole her pictures that her photographer boyfriend, Adam, took)

Me and Elena on Christmas

As a necklace

Some details

Inspired by:

and these

featured on Elena’s blog.

Living the Dream Again!

So, I am wondering and so is everyone else: what am I  going to wear to this fancy dinner?

Tried on about every single dress at the BCBG Max Azria factory store in Pleasant Prairie. Nothing was right. I liked so many of the dresses, but being six foot two inches made it difficult for the clingy cocktail dresses to fit me in the right areas and remain a decent length.

I felt I should make a dress, but I was pretty exhausted from the semester, not confident enough in my very newly acquired pattern-making/draping skills, and did not lug home my books and rulers for that anyways.

My mom suggests, Why don’t you e-mail a Chicago designer and ask them to borrow a dress? I shy away from this idea, thinking that it would not work,  feeling this is too bold of a move to make. But mom knows best. And really, why not? Another what-have-I-got-to-lose situation. I go home and research chicago fashion designers. I come across Lara Miller, who instantly becomes my role model. I admire her clothes and design philosophy. She ensures her clothing is produced sustainably and ethically, and her tag line is “wear it your way”. So, I e-mail her and explain my situation and she e-mails me back! She says that if I intern for her for a day, then I can borrow a dress! I wanted to intern for her anyways, so this was a really good deal. I went to her studio in Chicago on Monday, and helped organize her collections with Amanda, Michelle, and Rebekah. Everyone was so nice and welcoming, and it was so cool to see a designer’s studio! The racks of clothing, the inspiration boards, the paper patterns, the bolts of fabric … *sigh*. Another dream come true.

And I got the dress.

Lara Miller Vegan Hemp Silk Hudson Dress from her Holiday 2009 collection

This is how I am going to wear it to the dinner (above pictures), but just look at all the possibilities. Two thick long bands on each side can be tied in numerous ways. Here are a few ideas:

Strapless, with bands crossed in the front and tied in the back

Crossed in the back and the tied around the neck in the front






















































































And you can always wear it strapless tied in the front…

… or tied in the back















I paired it with these heels (pretty much my first real pair, as I do not need the extra height!), a bauble bracelet handmade by yours truly (black and amber beads on ostrich leather band with snap closure), black heart-shaped Betsey Johnson studs, and a deep green faux python Simply Vera Wang wrist let.



























































Living the Dream.

I will be here in five days. And I still cannot believe it.

I was turning in my embroidery book at the beginning of the semester to my professor, Mary. She was talking to Diane, the head of the Textile/Apparel Design department. The next thing I know I am in Diane’s office and she is telling me that I have been nominated by the faculty to apply for this big design scholarship. Only five people get to apply for this scholarship from each school, and for our school, that means two from retailing and three from textile/apparel design. I am the only sophomore, they usually do not ask sophomores to apply. I am so excited, so surprised. I say of course I will apply, even though it will be a lot of work. I rush out of Diane’s office, beaming, and call my mom and my sister to tell them the news. Elated. People believe in me!

Later: slightly less enthused. It begins to dawn on me that I do not know what I am doing. Or, that is what I think. I have never done anything like this before:

FSF 1937 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund

2010 Fashion Scholarship Fund Case Study

Scenario: Tommy Hilfiger, a 1995 Fashion Scholarship Honoree, is an iconic American designer with strong ties to music and celebrities.

His brand is built on the American Dream. His look has always been about youthful, clean-cut sportswear, with a preppy twist. His fabrics of choice are classics- khaki, madras, pique and seersucker- and you can always count on him for a beautiful rugby knit or sweater.

In 2008, Tommy Hilfiger entered into an exclusive U.S. distribution relationship with Macy’s. Ever since, Tommy Hilfiger has outperformed its competitors; business has grown and profits have risen. Next year (2010) is Tommy Hilfiger’s 25th anniversary. To celebrate, Tommy wants to develop a special 25th anniversary line of sportswear for both men and women, as well as reinvent his advertising, marketing and in-store shop concept.


Each applicant must write a short research paper covering winning strategies that will make your ideas successful. Construct a clear and convincing argument in favor of your strategies. This should not exceed 3 (one-sided) pages and double space type. Be sure to check spelling and grammar and format the page in MLA style.

1. Research the Tommy Hilfiger brand. Write a competitive analysis of Tommy Hilfiger’s current sportswear collection and advertising/ marketing strategy in either men’s or women’s versus the competition. Include key strengths, weaknesses and competitive advantages of the Tommy Hilfiger classic iconic items vs. two competitors (See list below). Do they cater to the same target customer or a different customer? Explain in detail.

a) You will need to visit a Macy’s store within your area. You will research the following classic items: the polo shirt, the rugby knit, the button down woven shirt, the khaki pant and the 5 pocket jean in either Tommy Hilfiger men’s or women’s. If the store does not have a particular item, chose a similar item.

b) You will need to shop two competitors to compare the same or similar classic item’s style, design, fit, price points and how they market and display these product categories vs. Tommy Hilfiger’s. (In Men’s choose from: J Crew, Gap, Polo, Nautica, and Calvin Klein. In women’s chose from: J Crew, Gap, Lauren, DKNY Jeans, and Calvin Klein Jeans)

2. What recommendations would you make to reinvent the Tommy Hilfiger brand regarding product, pricing, in-store merchandising and visuals?

PART TWO- Choose either the design or business question.

Designer. You are to “reinvent” Tommy’s 5 Iconic Classic Items for men’s or women’s. Design a Fall 2010 collection consisting of 5 items from the following list:

  • The Polo Shirt
  • The Rugby Shirt
  • The Button Down Woven Shirt
  • The Khaki Pant
  • The 5 Pocket Jean

a) Include the following: vision, silhouette, fabrication, color, pattern, and details for each item listed above. Highlight the trends and details that will make your product new and fresh.

b) Come up with a “new” iconic item that personifies the Tommy lifestyle, has mass appeal and differentiates Tommy from its competition.

c) Show a combination of free hand illustrations, cads, and fabrics in an 8 1/2″ by 11″ report format. This should not exceed 6 pages.

Note: You must design 5 items. You can design one category 5 ways or design one style of the 5 iconic items.

Overwhelmed. When I read this off to my parents, they kind of laugh and say, wow that is a lot of work. But I get through it. Lots of sketches. Lots of flipping through books, surfing the web in search of who Tommy Hilfiger is and what is his design philosophy. Trips to Macy’s. Phone calls for moral support. Meeting to learn Adobe Illustrator. Meeting to go over paper. Not a lot of sleep. Small panic attacks. No sleep.

And then I turn it in. Relief. Wish I could change some things, but must let it go. No worries, I learned a lot from the experience whether I win or not. I learned that research is important in design, that you need a lot of time to think and sketch and re-sketch before finally settling on a design. I learned how to use Adobe Illustrator, and I actually like it! (I am not a big computer person)I learned how to design for a company, and not just for myself.

I have a phone interview with Dean, who is very nice. I feel like it went pretty well, I did not freak out.

And then it is December. Among all the other things creeping up (projects, exams… really projects mostly) is receiving the news. Could I possibly get a scholarship? And I mean, it is not just a scholarship. It is also an awards dinner in New York with important fashion people and a possible internship and possibly a bigger competition next year…

I am walking up the stairs to greet my very far from finished jacket. I run into Diane and she says, “Congratulations”. What?! Realization sweeps over me as Diane informs me that I have received a scholarship. We hug, and I run downstairs to check my e-mail to confirm. Yes. There are three e-mails from the YMA scholars, one telling me I received a scholarship, another with travel and logistics information for the dinner in January, and another with the invitation to the dinner.

I call everyone I know. Of course, my mom’s phone is MIA so she is about the last person to know. But when she calls me she tells me how she is teary eyed with pride. When I come home from the studio, everyone cheers for me as I walk through the door and there are hugs all around. And I am so happy and thankful to have such loving family and friends who help me through my endeavors. (I know this is getting cheesy, but I really mean it.)

Elated. It was worth it.

(As soon as I get my portfolio back, I will post pictures of it. I could not figure out how to change my Adobe Illustrator files to pdf or something that could go on this blog without buying some software. Like I said, not a big computer person)

Pore me.

“Pore Me”. Self- portrait embroidered on ostrich skin.

This was my final project for Structural Enrichment I (Fall 2009). We basically got to do whatever we wanted (why I love this class). Our professor, Mary Hark, is really great at encouraging her students to work on what is personal and meaningful to them.

I fell in love with embroidery this semester, and wanted to embroider a portrait. But what kind of portrait?

Back in high school I would cover my face in pore strips and I looked pretty ridiculous. But I did not care, because I was willing to do anything to get rid of my blackheads. I have always been self-conscious about my acne and blackheads. This black bumpy ostrich leather reminded me of blemishes and blackheads. Plus it is skin. So I decided to do a portrait revolving around pore strips. This piece is difficult for me to explain. Maybe because it is so personal, maybe because I feel that it is unresolved. Why is it unresolved? First, not everyone knows what a pore strip is… I should think of a more universal way to represent insecurities revolving around acne/pores. Second, it has dangerously close connotations with race, what with using black and white and embroidering on a skin, but this is not at all what it is about. I am not sure where to go with this, but I want to explore a series that tackles acne/pore insecurities. Any ideas?