I’ve been going to art museums all my life and have considered myself an artist for about the same amount of time. My parents are both artists, so I guess paint and charcoal run through my veins. One Saturday morning, at age ten, I was flipping through channels when I clicked to a fashion show, Betsey Johnson’s 2006 Fall/Winter Collection. I’ve been designing ever since. I’d carry around sketchbooks everywhere I went, math class and sleepovers included. Now, as a senior about to graduate, I’m so glad I accidentally landed on that runway show. In the future I look forward to helping move the industry forward by focusing on sustainability, body image, textile innovation, and fair-trade practices.
From a young age, fashion has played a big role in my life. At age 15, I won the Fruit of the Loom pajama design contest, which made me realize I should pursue a career in fashion design. This moment led to my attending the Fashion Institute of Technology and finishing the last year of my bachelor’s in fashion design at the Politecnico di Milano. I have always been influenced by nature, by contemporary art, and by my surroundings when designing. I love to experiment and push the boundaries of silhouettes and play with various textures and textiles. I design for a woman who is eccentric, conscious of her body, and willing to stand out from the crowd.
Buffalo, New York
Growing up near Buffalo, I was wrapped in the security of a close-knit family and community, yet was aware of a vast world beyond. Visiting family in North Dakota, Hawaii, Italy, and Norway exposed me to other ways of life. I earned degrees in communication and Spanish from the University of Buffalo and worked in public relations, office administration, and teaching English as a second language. However, fashion design was the career I’d always dreamed of, and eventually I decided to pursue my true passion. After earning my bachelor’s degree from FIT, I will be working in knitwear design and machine programming. I am most inspired by nature and anthropology. I believe fashion design uses the body as a canvas to create art. Knitwear provides tools to fashion this art into a 3D habitat to live in and involves creating not only the garment but also the textile.
Francesca Nicole Cardillo
Bedford, New York
I discovered that I had a passion and talent for drawing and sketching at a young age. After years of watching Project Runway, I was inspired to merge my love of sketching with my love of fashion and pursue my dream of becoming a fashion designer. After working with the denim design team during an internship, I discovered my passion for jeanswear and realized I wanted denim to be the focus of my career.
My collection, “Concrete Rose,” delves into the very depths of the soul to discover how our relationships and connections affect our lives, our core—the very essence of our being. Denim serves as the second skin that covers our weary bones and broken hearts. Through denim fabric manipulations, I aim to explore emotional connection and reveal the effects that relationships have on our hearts—a true depiction of internal destruction and subsequent defiance reflected outwardly.
Noah Delos Reyes
Queens, New York
A senior at FIT studying sportswear design, I am currently attending the Politecnico di Milano School of Design in Italy. I was born in Saipan (a U.S. commonwealth) and was raised in the Philippines, where I began to learn how to sew and draw. My work takes inspiration from historical periods, particularly the golden age of couture, a period after the Second World War that pushed the limits of creation through cut and fabrication. I was fortunate to have my work presented in the Fashion Design AAS Exhibition Graduating Student Collection for sculptural fashion, and I interned for the fashion house of Oscar de la Renta. I am very passionate about learning techniques used by the different artisanal guilds that once ruled the fashion industry, and I believe in the protection of this heritage for many generations to come.
Hannah Jane Duncan
Troy, New York
I grew up in a big family on a third-generation farm in upstate New York. I’ve been surrounded by manual labor and housework my whole life. I was the oldest of six, which meant I helped Mom fold the mountains of laundry, wash dishes, et cetera. You could say I became an expert at home economics. To complete this degree in “home ec,” I was later introduced to sewing. I became really interested in the possibility of making something practical, yet creative. I made graduation gowns for my sister and me, mended my brother’s pants when he grew from five foot nine to six foot three in one summer, and changed the hand-me-downs into something new. Over time, my curiosity about clothing design grew, and I wanted to become an expert in this trade, which allows me to use my hands and to continue, in my own way, a family legacy.
Through fashion design I aspire to practice sustainability and innovation. I’m intrigued by the social and environmental progress that can be achieved through implementing new methods of garment construction and fabrication. Born and raised in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, I was fortunate to see people from an array of cultures and ethnicities from around the world on a daily basis. I’ve always enjoyed observing the nuances in their various clothing and styles. As a result, I’ve come to realize that inherent in fabrication is the capacity to evoke moods, thoughts, and emotions. I believe fashion should be meaningful and interactive. For my senior project, entitled “Know Hope,” a prêt-à-porter sportswear collection, I have developed minimal-to-zero-waste patterns that use natural materials to convey the importance of environmentally mindful creation and my “hope-full” vision.
Blue Point, New York
At a young age I became interested in my great-grandmother’s knitting. I learned the basics from her and then took professional lessons. Knitting made me feel unique because I was a young person interested in what seemed to be an expertise of older women. I wanted to turn this timeless craft into a career, so I chose to study fashion design with a specialization in knitwear. When I design I place a heavy emphasis on hand-done pieces that are simple with interesting and innovative textures and stitches. I want to create designs that feel as thoughtful as something your great-grandmother could have made for you, but with a modern look.
Putnam Valley, New York
We all experience key events that define who we are and help us realize what is truly important in our lives. For me these moments have inspired my life choices. In my early teens I suddenly lost my mother—my role model and my friend. She was the one who introduced me to art and eventually taught me to sew. As my love and fascination for fashion grows, my mother’s words come back to me: “Follow your dreams; you can’t let fear stand in the way of what you truly believe and desire.” Understanding that life is short and unpredictable has instilled in me a commitment to working diligently to make my goals come true—to crystallize and, if necessary, fight for what I believe in while not settling for any less. As I leave school and start working, my mother’s words hold as much meaning now as ever before.
New York, New York
A native of New York City, I always looked to fashion as my preferred creative outlet. As a high school student, I was unsure of what career path to pursue. My curiosity was piqued about the fashion industry, so I enrolled in precollege courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I went on to earn my associate’s degree from FIT in 2015. I am currently in the last year of my bachelor’s degree program and studying abroad in Italy at Politecnico di Milano, specializing in sportswear. My interests include not only fashion design but also textile technology and sustainability practices. I have a background in fashion styling and photography, which has helped me develop a careful eye for detail and trend spotting. My time studying abroad in Europe has been artistically awakening, and I am grateful for the opportunity to expand upon my many talents.
New York, New York
When I was a child, you could always catch a glimpse of me doodling designs or folding origami with random scraps of paper. The process of developing a fashion collection is more intimidating than my childhood pastimes, but more exciting. In the middle of the process, you start to realize that you will end up creating even more than what you thought was possible. My interest in fashion has always been linked to subcultures and countercultures that diverge from the constructs of mainstream society. I’m into sustainability and techniques that help reduce the impact we have on our environment. A major passion of mine has been traveling, and part of what makes traveling so important to me is that it enables me to learn about my true self.
Colts Neck, New Jersey
I am a fourth-year fashion design student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, spending my final year earning my bachelor’s degree in Milan, Italy, at the Politecnico di Milano. I am originally from Colts Neck, a small town in New Jersey, where I spent my childhood on a horse farm with my mother and sister. From an early age I showed an interest in art and design, and as a child I began designing and making clothes—for dolls, for animals, and of course, for myself. I drew inspiration from nature and used what was at hand to create my designs. I continue to be inspired by the wonders of nature, as well as by the fine arts and the more urban settings of New York City and Milan.
New York, New York
I am a fashion design student specializing in women’s sportswear. I started my studies at the University of Colorado, focusing on studio arts, but quickly expanded my passion for art into a passion for design. Making clothes for myself, I realized that I was able to see clothes as more than just an everyday necessity and rather as another form of art. With this realization, I moved back to the East Coast to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology where my love for design grew immensely over the years. Studying in New York, Hong Kong, and Milan, I was able to immerse myself in many unique cultures, expanding my expertise while honing my individual style.
Brooklyn, New York
Being born to immigrant parents who, with the rest of my family, owned a garment factory, I would run around and watch my family make clothes on the weekends. After growing up and watching the factory and other businesses my family owned close, I acted out a lot, with art as my solace. Then in high school my dad taught me how to sew, and combining that with my love for art, I decided to become a fashion designer. Throughout my life I have loved and practiced street art, especially socially and politically themed works that today fuel most of my inspiration. I choose projects that are generally environmentally and socially relevant to myself, with themes and issues that I want to explore through the lens of my designs.
Traverse City, Michigan
I was born into an art-saturated environment. Unbeknownst to many, the small pocket of Northern Michigan where I am from holds a loyal and fairly large arts community. The role of innovation through creativity has always been present in my life, mostly through the world of dance and performance arts. My choice to study garment design extends from my interest in drawing and painting portraits, my early exposure to costume design, and my curiosity. To me, design is a puzzle, both technically and aesthetically. What people decide to wear reflects the times that they are living in, and reading into their mindset while putting your own style into a piece of clothing requires not only innovation but also careful observation. It is the challenge of design that I enjoy, and creating beauty is a plus.
Anthony James Stratis
Brooklyn, New York
I have had an affection for fashion since I was a toddler. This has pushed me into art and design studies throughout my life. Due to my early dedication to artistic studies, I was able to obtain my first internship at the age of 17 at Nanette Lepore. Some years later, I went on to intern for Carolina Herrera, Sachin & Babi, and Pamella Roland. During my years as an intern, I learned the importance of fine craftsmanship. When I design a garment, I love being meticulous when it comes to attributes such as tailoring, embroidery, fabric manipulation, and so on. I often draw on my art history studies and European roots for inspiration. History has always played a role in my life; therefore, it should have a place in my collections. Currently, I am eager and excited to finally enter the fashion industry.
After moving from Jamaica at five years old, I was raised in Tampa, Florida. With the influence of my painter father, who instilled in me the importance of art, I began exploring my creativity at a young age and quickly grew to love the arts, including the art of fashion. That love for fashion led me to FIT, where I began my studies in fashion design with a sportswear concentration. In my designs I enjoy exploring the use of clean lines and structural shapes, combined with a sexy femininity in order to create a cool and sophisticated feel. The use of color has always played a major role in jumpstarting my creative process—whether it be bright and bold or soft and subdued, how I use color is what drives my creativity and adds a unique element to my designs.
Giulia Pessano Zulberti
I grew up in the Bay Area of California and was raised by immigrant parents. My parents are both very “hands-on” people. My dad is always doodling on loose papers, working in the garden, and drawing landscape plans. My mom uses our house as an outlet for her knowledge of architecture and photography, and she makes clothes for us. Seeing my parents constantly creating influenced me to find an outlet to express myself. Making a three-dimensional garment out of fabric, which is completely two-dimensional, was a great phenomenon to me, and I asked my mom to teach me how to sew. At first it was frustrating, but I was never discouraged—I just wanted to learn more. Later, at FIT, I discovered knitwear and have become infinitely more curious about this medium through which I can create garments that speak for me.