Special Occasion

Kenneth Anderson
San Diego, California
 

Since my childhood Ive drawn women in fabulous gowns and other luxury attire. I illustrated
women running through castles and strutting through executive offices. As I got older,
it became apparent that I was actually drawing my target customer. I love to design
because it allows me to express my inner creativity and passion for women’s apparel.
Another thing that informs my design is my background in acting. I did theater and
took acting classes when I was younger and learned to write back stories for my characters.
Ive applied this tool when approaching my design concepts. I write back stories for
my target customer. I place her into a scene because it gives my designs a meaning,
a life, and a history. It explains why my muse is wearing the garments Ive designed.

Toni Banta
East Hanover, New Jersey
 

The first time I watched Tara Lipinski, the 1998 Olympic figure skating champion,
I knew I wanted to design. I was mesmerized by the athleticism and intricacy of her
dresses. I grew up in a world in which criticism is a daily encounter, hard work is
mandatory, and there is an incredible appreciation for detail. I want to turn those
qualities into something boundless. I design for the bold and tenacious qualities
I possess.

Eva Carelus
Freeport, New York
 

Ever since I was a little girl, I liked to draw clothing. Since my grandfather is
an artist, its in my blood. My fashion art teacher in high school, Mrs. Rhode, introduced
me to the Fashion Institute of Technology. Shortly afterward, I started taking Saturday
live courses. Mrs. Rhode encouraged me to think outside of the box when it came to
my designs. For example, one of my class assignments was to design an outfit based
off of a candy wrapper. This assignment initiated my interest in surreal fashion.
I love creating unique clothing for women who are not afraid to stand out. Being unique
is my design aesthetic.

Melissa Felix
Brooklyn, New York
 

I am the child of two Haitian immigrants. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York,
the last of three sisters. Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to be in the
fashion industry. I drew my first fashion sketch, a wedding dress with a cathedral
veil, in the third grade. I showed that sketch to my mother and she said, Very nice,
Melissa. When my family noticed my interest in fashion, they encouraged me to pursue
it. My first step was attending the High School of Fashion Industries. Though I have
seamstresses and tailors in my family, I never tried doing things myself. I learned
the basics, sewing, draping, fashion art, and patternmaking in high school. Then,
I enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology, where I continued my fashion design
studies. New York City and my Caribbean roots are my biggest inspirations. I feel
that in such a diverse city, inspiration comes from everywhere. As a designer, I find
beauty in mistakes. Albert Einstein once said Anyone who has never made a mistake
has never tried anything new. As a designer, I see that as inspiration. You should
always try to challenge yourself, have faith in what you do, and convince someone
that flaws can be translated into something beautiful.

Jane Jang
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
 

I come from the middle of nowhere: Edmonton, Alberta. I left home and came to New
York City for one reason alone: to make my lifelong dream of becoming a designer into
my reality. I traded the simple LRT for the monster of the MTA, the superfluous sky
for the skyscrapers, the canola fields for a concrete jungle. As long as I can remember,
I found magic in the potential of a sewing needle and thread and I spent my whole
childhood exploring this craft. After I graduated from high school, it only took me
a semester of studying another subject before I realized that this was my craft. With
it I could not only perform, but also push boundaries, make a difference, and achieve
the unexpected. No matter where this journey takes me, I can never forget my roots.
My designs will always carry that curious, innovative, and simple aesthetic, like
the small-city girl who left home four years ago!

Vitasta Kaul
Kenya, Africa
 

Growing up as an Indian girl in east Africa was a rather interesting experience. During
Indian festivities we had to get Indian clothes made by order at the local tailor
in the mall. One year at Diwali (one of the biggest Hindu festivals), I remember being
so excited to see my new clothes, but I was so surprised to see that the tailor had
not made them the way I had explained. I was probably no more than eight years old
at the time. That was the first time I wished I knew how to sew so I could have made
exactly what I wanted. I was quite young when I realized that what you wear is who
you are. If you wear something that makes you feel great, it inevitably leads to a
great day. That’s what made me want to become a designer, to be able to make people
feel great and look great. My life wouldn’t have direction if I weren’t able to conceptualize
my ideas from sketches to actual garments. As a person and a designer, my exposure
to different cultures makes me unique and all these different cultures and aspects
of my childhood are reflected in my designs, making them diverse fusions of varied
concepts.

Catherine Kim
Seoul, Korea/Fairfax, Virginia
 

I lie within the foggy, gray area between realism and fantasy. Starting at a young
age, I felt that the expression of my creativity was a form of translation—translating my fantasy world into reality. Fashion has a mysterious power over people,
perhaps in an overwhelming sense. A beautiful garment will never cease to take my
breath away or make my heart skip a beat. An innovative piece picks me up by my feet
and drops me into the future. Fashion gives me a reason to feel at home in this fog,
where I have become a medium communicating with dreams and bringing them alive. Woven
between the fiber pieces are my dreams, and on the runway, they will come alive.

Soo Jin Kim
South Korea
 

Designing a dress is my way of interacting with people without language. I want my
dress to ask, What makes you so special? If she hears this voice, I will be as happy
as a child discovering his secret friend. Fashion is one way to express yourself;
however, there are so many different approaches because everyone has an individual
style. A line, a color, a fabric, a silhouette, even a little bead pronounces its
mood. I try to understand how these components transform into the customers life seamlessly.
I think one of my strengths is that my design is very communicable.

Joannie Lee

I wanted to be a fashion designer since I was 12 years old. My father used to own
a clothing factory. So, besides the playground, the factory’s steel bars were my monkey
bars. My mom taught me how put together outfits. I grew up loving fashion. If I didn’t
do fashion I probably would’ve gone into law or medicine. My mom has a law firm so
she always wanted me to go into something Chinese people consider professional careers.
However, after working at her firm part-time I realized I hated it. I knew the life
I wanted was to go to work without hating it every day. I wanted to do something I
had passion for. My favorite designer is Elie Saab. I love how he uses sheer and crystals
without being gaudy and cheap, but elegant and glamorous.

Solih Lim
Suwon/ South Korea
 

All my life I have had a passion for the fashion industry. As I studied product design
in Australia, I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a fashion designer and come
to study in New York. This city is filled with inspirations and I love translating
and expressing my ideas and experiences into my designs. As I grew more confident
and informed, I became very interested in the business and management aspect of the
fashion industry. I would like to incorporate my design skills as a skillful designer
and merchandiser.

Elle (Eleonore) Loow
Gothenburg, Sweden
 

I design because it is in my blood. It is the one thing that keeps me going. It is
a lovely, hard, wonderful, and sometimes ”drives-me-crazy” part of me that I know
will stay with me for the rest of my life. A life without designing and creating is
not a real life. My designs are unique because my style and vision are very organic.
I love the mixture of harsh and soft and things that do not really go together. I
do not buy regular fabrics. Instead, I use a lot of embroidery and embellishment techniques
to build my own fabrics.

Carlne Maat
Curaao
 

I have always been in love with art and fashion. I decided to pursue a degree in Fine
Arts so that I could explore various forms of art, such as painting, illustration
and photography. As I waited to start my fashion major at FIT, I started exploring
more ways of making art wearable, which led to making jewelry with individually handmade
beads. When I started at FIT, I didn’t know which specialization I would choose, but
it soon became very obvious to me that I wanted to work with gorgeous fabrics, long
dresses, beading, and everything that would make a garment special and beautiful.

Angela Matarazzo
Brooklyn, NY
 

I am a curious person. I love everything about fashion and it made me wonder how to
make a garment from scratch. I had originally studied culinary arts;however, my interest
in fashion made me merge my creative and artistic culinary skills into fashion design.
I love traditional aspects of design, but my curiosity also makes me daring.

Mark E. Menzie
Atlantic City, New Jersey
 

Fashion design is my calling. Creativity, solving problems, and making people look
good is a culmination of my strengths. I love to use color and bring out the beauty
in everyday things. When I was a child, my mother would scold me for stealing her
sewing kit—I was nine years old! Later, she reminded me to pray before sending me off to college.
Interning at design houses, working in retail, and taking classes at the Fashion Institute
of Technology has awarded me many opportunities to better understand who I am as a
fashion designer. Most importantly, it helped me define my vision. I hope to inspire
the next generation, just like those before me.

Molly Moorkamp
St. Louis
 

Fashion is the greatest form of art. It is the only sliver of the art world that directly
affects every human being every day when they get dressed in the morning. It provides
an opportunity to make people feel good about themselves. When you create a painting
or a sculpture, the amount of people the artwork can reach is limited. But the opportunity
to connect with people through beautiful design, impeccable construction, and that
je ne sais quoi is a rare and unique opportunity for designers. I design to make women
feel beautiful. To give them the confidence to get up in the morning, or go out in
the evening, and do whatever they are passionate about.

Elizabeth Napoli
Quakertown, PA
 

While I have been interested in fashion all my life, my real interest in design began
in high school, when I learned to sew and took fashion design classes. I knew I wanted
to learn how to create my own patterns, so I decided to major in design in college.
A professor at my local community college inspired me and prepared me well for my
transfer to the Fashion Institute of Technology. Evening wear and gowns have always
been my passion, and I love the work of costume designer Gilbert Adrian. I feel my
work is always classy, elegant, and feminine. I grew up in a traditional Catholic-Italian
family, and that also inspires my work.

Lindsey Navin
Bel Air, Maryland
 

I have always been consumed by my love to create. I dreamed of becoming an artist
until I discovered the fascinating world of design. I saw an architects workroom and
the thought of an object coming to life from sheer imagination was the most exciting
possibility to me. When I first saw the Victorias Secret Show, I saw fashion design
as a brilliant form of art, telling a story through the sculpture of divine fabrics
and embellishments on the human form. My designs are very unique in that I combine
components of intimates with eveningwear. I use many corsetry elements with flowing
gowns that are very sexy and very romantic. I love to practice couture embellishments
and experiment with fabric manipulations that I have never seen before. I dedicate
an incredible amount of time, thought, and focus because I thoroughly enjoy every
single minute of creating beautiful artwork.

Yakiel Peralta
Queens, NY
 

Ever since I was little I’ve been into drawing and art. I started sketching my own
designs when I was ten years old. When I took a fashion design class in high school,
I became more serious about pursuing fashion. I became more passionate about bridal
and dresses, so I took the special occasion route. I love the beautiful elegant fabrics,
embellishments, and glamour of special occasion attire. I love how a gown can make
a woman glamorous, elegant and sophisticated. The main reason I design is because
I love to be creative and think about a design, sketch it on paper, and create that
garment from scratch. Being able to design and bring it to life all on my own is such
a great accomplishment for me. Having someone wearing what I made is an even bigger
enjoyment for me. All of this made me want to become a designer.

Amelia N. Persaud
Bronx, NY
 

I became interested in sewing during junior high and it is through my love of sewing
that I fell in love with fashion. I started making small samples and learning different
construction techniques at the High School of Fashion Industries. I have a very large,
close family and there are frequent events, like weddings, that I would need an outfit
for. The hassle of alterations and finding something different and unique is what
led me to create my own garments. I like to create functional, flattering, and comfortable
clothing. I focus on these details because I think of the person wearing it. My family
is a big influence; I keep their encouragement and critiques in my mind as I design.

Jasmine Ruiz
San Fernando, La Union, Philippines
 

I took a liking to the arts in my childhood. I was classically trained in dance and
voice and I majored in fine arts in high school. I knew I wanted a career that would
allow me to be creative. I chose fashion design as this outlet because I thought it
was interesting to express myself to society through clothing, a very common object.
I gather inspiration mostly from nature. I feel it is most pure because it has not
yet been touched by man. I am drawn to textures, like moss and bark, and patterns,
like those in autumn leaves and on the sides of glaciers. Their color story is simple
to interpret, because nature created it. My clothing is sophisticated, and is for
the woman with a subtle glamour. My designs concentrate on showcasing a woman’s best
features to make her feel most important on any occasion.

Chanelle Smith
Antigua, West Indies
 

My journey started with my love of art and my education as an art student at the Antigua
Girls High School. Additionally, I am motivated by my parents who always encourage
me to follow my dreams and work hard even though Fashion Design isn’t a conventional
career choice. Most of all, my sister pushes me constantly to be better than I think
I am. She’s my partner, assistant, intern, and manager. My continued success is in
part due to her. Attending the Fashion Institute of Technology has long been a dream
of mine. Many of the schools alumni are inspirations to me, including greats like
Calvin Klein and Michael Kors. I applied to FIT in fall of 2004. However, despite
my hard work and eagerness, I was unfortunately rejected. I applied two more times
and was finally accepted. My ultimate goal is to be an acclaimed designer and have
my design grace the runways of the largest stages in the world. I want to be known
for creating great women’s wear pieces adored by celebrities and the average woman
alike. I would absolutely love to one day be a recipient of the Council of Fashion
Designers award, one of the highest accolades awarded to fashion industry professionals.

Candace Sutton
Queens, NY
 

Growing up as the only child in a single-parent household, I found myself always creating
things or drawing to occupy myself. I would make jewelry, draw clothes, play dress-up,
or sometimes make clothes for my dolls with the help of my mother. I didn’t know at
this young age that fashion was the common denominator. When I was in the fifth grade,
I realized what I really wanted to do with my life. That year, I participated in the
Daily News spelling bee, held at the High School of Fashion Industries. Seeing the
name of the school and discovering that it was possible to pursue a career in fashion,
I decided then and there that I wanted to become a fashion designer. I then made it
my business to get into that high school, and eventually found myself at the Fashion
Institute of Technology. Knowing that I have accomplished ALL that I have focused
on throughout my life thus far, I know that my goal of being a successful (and maybe
even famous or wealthy) designer is achievable. I design because its what I love to
do. I grab from whatever inspires me. I design because its fun! Once the fun is gone
I will not be a designer.

Trung Vu
Vietnam

There was not much fashion in my country, but I felt in love with all the dresses
I saw on television. I dreamed that one day I would become a fashion designer. My
decision to pursue fashion was not an easy one, since art and design are not considered
career paths in my country. However, I decided to follow my dream and it has put me
where I am now.
Jisun Yangn

I realized that it was my dream to become a famous fashion designer when I was very
young. This is why I decided to study fashion design and applied to my dream school,
the Fashion Institute of Technology. Before I came to New York City, I had my own
business related to fashion in Virginia and Maryland. I owned and managed three retail
accessory stores. I learned a lot while running the business. I researched and fantasized
about fashion all the time. I am very interested in couture design. I love things
that have exquisite details that take time and are unique. I truly respect the couture
designers challenge. I like styles that combine simplicity and complexity, like sophisticated
details on simple silhouettes. So, I am inspired by many couture designers, such as
Christian Dior, Elie Saab, Oscar de la Renta, etc.

Susan Yee
Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey
 

I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was ten years old. I grew up in a
very artistic environment and dabbled in drawing clothes as a child. I think everyone
needs an outlet to unleash their greatest potential and I found mine in design. There’s
nothing more rewarding than the feeling of creating something from nothing. For me,
fashion is not only an art, but a way to express yourself on a daily basis. The clothes
you choose to wear are who you want to be that day. I create looks that are feminine,
but still edgy, playing with opposing fabrics.

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