Special Occasion

Juliana BaikJuliana Baik

Houston, Texas

When I was in middle school, I studied fine art at an art studio and would draw for more than four hours every day. I won many scholarships and awards at art competitions during high school. I do not remember when I decided that I wanted to become a fashion design major, but I remember that I always enjoyed drawing croquis with clothing.

I believe fine art has much in common with fashion design. Fashion is unique, however, in its ability to express one’s personality and character. As for my aesthetic, I love evening dresses with both contemporary and classic characteristics. I love classic and modern silhouettes that demonstrate features of femininity and masculinity: structured and deconstructed, minimal silhouettes, combined with tailoring designs. Overall, I enjoy incorporating contrasts into my designs: modern versus classic, structure versus fluidity. I also love using vintage embroideries and beads to boost my design aesthetic.

Laurin CabralissaLaurin Cabralissa

Westport, Massachusetts

After a long, successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, I made the difficult decision to pursue my true passion of being a fashion designer in New York City, something I have dreamed about since childhood. Thankfully, it wasn’t all a waste, as the experience of working for some of the best companies in the world gave me invaluable knowledge, not only in business and relationships, but in life in general. Fashion is ingrained in my soul. I like to design beautiful clothes for special occasions, and my design aesthetic is elegant but youthful. I am interested in interesting details, embellishments, creative manipulations of textiles, and unique materials. I am creative, determined, and am now living the future I dreamed about.

Elizabeth GellingElizabeth Gelling

Fanwood, New Jersey

I have always been passionate about drawing. I have been sketching ever since I could hold a pencil. I always loved drawing my dolls and popular celebrities. I found myself designing clothes they might wear, and I started to take an interest in fashion illustration. After working at a special occasion boutique in high school, I knew I wanted to work in the evening-wear industry.

As a designer, I am fascinated by romance and fantasy, combined with dark, mysterious elements. My aesthetic is very feminine, opulent, and sophisticated. I love to design using strong silhouettes and embellishing with ultra-femme, ornate details. My color palette is usually minimalistic, as I favor designing in black and white with subtle pops of trendy hues. My thesis collection is very feminine and modern, using a restricted color palette and luxurious fabrication.

Vanessa HernandezVanessa Hernandez

Bronx, New York

I’ve always enjoyed being creative and making things. It started with arts and crafts in elementary school, then making wire jewelry in middle school. Eventually, I was accepted into the High School of Fashion Industries, not far from FIT. This is where I got my first real look into the fashion industry and learned how to put garments together from concept to creation. This experience solidified my newfound dream of becoming a designer. Putting an idea down on paper then seeing it come to life by my own hands gives me an unexplainable sense of accomplishment. I chose to specialize in special occasion wear because it encompasses so much more than beautiful dresses. It’s working with beautiful fabrics and embellishments to turn an outfit from day wear to evening wear. My aesthetic is edgy with a feminine flare. I like combining feminine silhouettes with edgy details, such as strappy cutouts.

Chaya HoffmanChaya Hoffman

Bergenfield, New Jersey

I was that kid that sketched during naptime and drew on every surface possible. Since then, my love for art and design has evolved into a passion for fashion design. Transforming an idea into a real-life, wearable garment is something I find incredibly rewarding. I gravitate toward anything sparkly, soft, and textured, and I am obsessed with feathers and fur. I fall head over heels for beaded laces and three-dimensional flowers, and I absolutely love bows. With an eye for detail and precision, specializing in special occasion was a given for me. I love challenging myself to design innovative and fresh ideas using various textured materials, unique self-made embellishments, and pleasing, yet engaging, style lines. My playful, feminine aesthetic gives the wearer of my designs a strong, confident presence, displaying nothing short of sensational grace and whimsical elegance. The sky is the limit when it comes to my designs.

Stephanie HsuStephanie Hsu

New Hyde Park, New York

Fashion always played a part in my life, from hand-sewing clothes for stuffed animals and Barbie dolls to hand-sewing dresses for myself. I always found fashion interesting because I was impressed by how designers could take a design from their head and transform it into something that someone could wear. It’s because of this that I started to teach myself how to use a sewing machine. After experimenting with home sewing and drawing sketches, I found that designing was really fun and exciting. Fast-forward five years, and now I am a special occasion design major at FIT. I chose to focus on special occasion because I love dresses and how intricate they are. When I design, I like to focus on the shape of the garment and how I can play with seams to create something modern and refreshing. Clean and sophisticated looks are my design aesthetic.

Fallon KingFallon King

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

From the age of seven, I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer. It began with the influence of my mother’s impeccable sense of style. She taught me that it’s always better to be a little overdressed, which is why I chose special occasion. My designs always embrace feminine yet refined silhouettes while embodying an elegant and modern sensibility. Being able to create beautiful clothes that not only function for a special occasion but also make a woman feel special is what thrills me as a designer.

My internships during my four years here have also had a significant influence on me. They are responsible for confirming that I am definitely in the right industry, and that this is something I absolutely want to pursue. Ever since this realization, I’ve never been more excited with where my future in fashion could take me.

Brianna KlaczynskiBrianna Klaczynski

Spotsylvania, Virginia

As a child, I loved playing with dolls, and my favorite thing to do was to make outfits for them. At first I used napkins, tin foil, and the rubber from balloons, but eventually I learned how to work with fabric and began sewing for real people when I was 12. Currently, I love to produce gowns and dressy sportswear, and I am often inspired by both technical intrigue and conceptual ideas. Due to my family’s background in tech, I also love to work with new technologies to figure out how to create useful and consumer-friendly design applications. So far I have worked with bullet-resistant materials and 3D printing, but soon plan to expand into Arduino, an open-source prototyping platform that enables users to create interactive electronic objects.

Kerianne MeehanKerianne Meehan

Kings Park, New York

Design is a part of my identity and how I express myself. I have been creating since I was three. I still use the first sewing kit gifted to me by my grandparents.

Creating intricate pieces with fine attention to detail is part of my unique skill set. With hand beading and embroidery being two of my specialties, the decision was clear that I would concentrate on special occasion/bridal wear at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

As a designer, I am a visionary. I see the body as a sculpture to dress by bringing classical styles into the modern era in innovative ways. My passion is creating unique textures and structure through fabric manipulations.

The fashion industry is uniquely challenging, but I am resilient. As the iconic Coco Chanel once said, “Let my legend make its way in life. I wish it a long one.”

Jenny ParkJenny Park

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Growing up, I always drooled over my mother’s closet; my mother is my inspiration. I chose fashion design because I am passionate about contributing to today’s fashion world. I enjoy creating unique garments. My goal is to capture people’s attention. Once eyes are looking, I feel I have accomplished my goal. I am very social, outgoing, and goal-oriented. I work fast and get things done. I believe these attributes will help me succeed in the fast-paced fashion industry.

I had my first fashion show at the Oculus, Westfield World Trade Center during NYFW. I directed the show and found models, makeup artists, photographers, handle permits, and so on. Best of all, I created five beautiful pieces inspired by the Oculus’s architecture. This experience made me stronger and more determined than ever. I know that I can conquer any challenge or task and the outcome will be breathtaking.

Michelle PorrazzoMichelle Porrazzo

Tuckahoe, New York

Helping cut threads and pushing the machine pedal, I fell in love with sewing by the side of my grandma at her vintage Singer sewing machine. Seeing fabrics come to life under her nimble fingers gave me lifelong purpose and motivation to pursue fashion design.

Browsing through my collection of vintage sewing and fashion magazines inspires me to create intricate designs with the flavors of bygone days, with the intention of creating modern fashion and style. My passion for the history of fashion and sewing propels me to create designs with flawless construction and intricate, unique design details. My deep appreciation for construction has led me to pursue bridal and special occasion design. I want to create individualized garments that enhance each woman’s identity, complementing, not covering, her unique personality. To sew, to create, to design is my life, and I aspire to leave a legacy of form in function.

Amanda PothosAmanda Pothos

East Northport, New York

When I was a kid, I had notebooks full of drawings of clothes. When I realized that drawing clothes was a real job that I could actually do, I knew I wanted to attend FIT and start on my path to that dream. Everyone needs a creative outlet, and I love taking abstract concepts and my personal feelings and interpreting them into interesting and avant-garde designs. I felt that the special occasion specialization would give me the skills and creative freedom I yearned for to carry out these ideas, and I believe that it certainly has so far. I really enjoy designing custom pieces, working one-on-one with a client, and in my professional life, I hope to continue this very personal approach to design. I love to work with interesting shapes and lots of color, as well as incorporating interesting works of art into my designs.

Tatiana RondaTatiana Ronda

Ridgewood, New Jersey

I have wanted to be a fashion designer since I was eight and have been designing clothes since then. I was always very artsy. I loved to work on designs and was interested in anything art-related. My interest continued throughout my early education. My family found out about FIT from living in New York City, and it was my college goal ever since. It was the only school I wanted to go to, and I feel blessed to have made it through all four years of the grueling FIT fashion program. I am proud of the designer I have become, and I know that FIT has taught me things that will help me to keep evolving after I graduate. I hope to continue in evening wear design, as well as working in bridal and fur. I would classify my design aesthetic as contemporary and semi-risqué.

Kimberly SchwanofKimberly Schwanof

Port Jefferson Station, New York

I wanted to become a designer to follow the same path as my grandmother, who graduated from FIT in the ‘40s when it was a two-year trade school. Her degree was in bridal wear, a division of special occasion. She passed away the first day I went to college at FIT. Her absence became my motivation to carry on our generational presence in fashion.

I design to broaden the minds of people interested in learning new philosophies, such as understanding the importance of generational knowledge, learning to respect forces of nature, or subtly revealing political hypocrisies.

I consider my aesthetic to be avant-garde and chose special occasion because the techniques learned in this specialization can be interchangeable with construction. What is unique to me as a person and a designer is that I love complicated garments and sculptures with asymmetrical styles that incorporate fabric manipulation.

Ananda Van den SteenAnanda Van den Steen

Ramallo, Argentina

I fell in love with the fashion design profession when my grandparents took me to the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. It was such an incredible introduction to a world full of couture masterpieces, overflowing with intricate details and pure beauty. This amazing experience changed the trajectory of my life, because it was at that moment that I decided to be a part of this creative and evolving industry. Years later, I am pursuing this goal as a fashion design student at FIT with a focus on special occasion. I am frequently inspired by my multicultural background and synthesize my love for nature throughout the design of my collections. I look forward to evolving within my design aesthetic and will always rely upon the strong foundation in fashion design I received from the college of my dreams.

Angela YangAngela Yang

Brooklyn, New York

When I was younger, I was quiet, shy, and small—and Asian. Because of that I was bullied. Art became my escape. It took my mind off my problems and got me recognition. The feeling I got from that was amazing. I realized that I wanted to do fashion, and eventually I went to a fashion-based high school.

As a designer, my goal is to make someone feel beautiful. This might sound cheesy, but watching Disney movies growing up, I always loved the magical transformation of ordinary women into princesses. Despite the change, these women remained themselves. It was empowering, and I knew that as a special occasion/bridal designer, I could make people feel beautiful—and powerful.

Aesthetically, I gravitate toward the feminine flower-girl look. I love light colors, laces, and florals. My designs are whimsical and reflect who I am as a designer.

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