Christine Blaine is vice president of design at Ralph Lauren and is currently creative lead for CHAPS women’s design. She was educated at RISD, Parsons Paris, and Parsons School of Design, where she studied fashion design.
Thom Browne is widely recognized for challenging and modernizing today’s uniform: the suit. By questioning traditional proportions, Browne’s designs consistently convey a true American sensibility rooted in quality craftsmanship and precise tailoring.
In 2001, Browne began his business with five suits in a small “by appointment” shop in New York City’s West Village and, in the years following, expanded his business to include complete ready-to-wear and accessories collections for both men (2003) and women (2011). Browne has also become known for his highly conceptual runway presentations, which have gained global attention for their thought provoking and dramatic themes and settings.
Browne has been honored with the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award (2006, 2013, 2016), the GQ Designer of the Year (2008), and the FIT Couture Council Award (2017) as well as the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award (2012). His designs are recognized by museums around the world including the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Costume Museum at Bath, and the ModeMuseum Antwerpen.
The brand is currently offered in over 300 leading department store and specialty boutique doors across 40 countries and through 31 directly operated flagship stores in New York, London, Milan, Tokyo, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and South Korea.
Jaci Carley is the head designer at Inhabit NY, a luxury knitwear brand that emphasizes modern and effortless sophistication. Her relationship with FIT began during her high school years when she started her design training with the Saturday Live program. Her first sewing project (an impractical ruffle-edged bikini top done with her mother) was the catalyst for pursuing fashion at such an early age.
Travelling to Milan for FIT’s study-abroad program set her on her current knitwear trajectory. She relished the experience in Italy, where such a strong knitwear heritage helped shape her focus. Her love of yarns and their endless possibilities is a constant source of inspiration. Always looking for new and innovative ways to complete her designs has been a driving force throughout her career.
Jaci graduated from FIT with a BFA in Fashion Design with a knitwear specialization, and went on to head up sweaters for the Catherine by Catherine Malandrino collection launch. Now at Inhabit NY, she furthers the brand as a style and fit pioneer in the sweater industry.
Working with FIT students as a critic has been an exceptionally rewarding experience for her. Their love of the design process has impressed and inspired her tremendously.
Dao-Yi Chow is an American fashion designer raised and educated in New York City. In the late ’90s, he helped his friend and mentor Robert “Bobbito” Garcia open the legendary East Village boutique Footwork and went on to work at venerable streetwear brands Mecca and Ecko.
In 2001, he was tapped by Sean “Diddy” Combs to head up marketing for his newly launched clothing label Sean John and was shortly promoted to creative director. After more than nine years there, Chow left to open his seminal fashion boutique Arrive in Miami Beach, a luxury concept shop that combined streetwear, sneakers, and high fashion in one location.
His current endeavor, Public School, began as a private label and turned into an award-winning brand founded and designed by Chow and Maxwell Osborne. They created a new genre of tailored streetwear that focused on a minimalist and sophisticated ease for men and women. It captured the CFDA Swarovski Menswear Award in 2013, the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Award in 2013, and the CFDA Menswear Award in 2014. In 2015, the duo became the first American designers to win the International Woolmark Prize.
Chow and Osborne helped pave the way for a streetwear revolution in fashion, culminating in their appointment as the creative directors for Donna Karan’s DKNY label in 2015.
The evolution of Public School continues today as Chow and Osborne design and manufacture most of the full range of their collections in New York City. Their commitment to social consciousness and sustainability has set them on a path to developing a circular model for the brand. Whether it’s sourcing dead stocked fabrics or developing their own circular recycled cotton, Chow is leading the way toward focusing attention on the fashion industry’s harmful effects on our environment.
Dao-Yi Chow is a board member of APEX, a mentoring organization that helps prepare young children living below the poverty line for college, and CFDA.
Born in New York City, Morgan Curtis is the third generation in a family of fashion. Inspired in large part by her mother, renowned designer Jill Stuart, Curtis earned a degree in fashion design from Cornell University and attended Central Saint Martins, in London. She began designing for the Jill Stuart brand, where she has collaborated since 2009. Through that experience and her recent series of doll paintings, Curtis realized her desire to combine her two passions: illustration and lingerie. She wanted to tell a story using both mediums, and launched Morgan Lane with lingerie and sleepwear for Resort 2014.
For Curtis, lingerie is the most essential piece of fashion and the closest to her heart. The brand is represented by an image from her personal illustrations—a doll named Lanie. Lanie is a muse of sorts, who defines the playfulness, enchantment, seduction, and mischief of the Morgan Lane girl.
Lanie identifies the brand, with packaging, embroideries, and even a custom lace using the signature Lanie image. Curtis’s attention to detail, modern fabrics and hardware, and love for classic elegance have allowed her to deliver a one-of- a-kind collection. She was a CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund 2016 finalist and was included in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017.
Lisa Di Napoli
Lisa Di Napoli has designed children’s clothing for over 15 years. She is currently vice president of children’s wear at Tommy Hilfiger, and previously led design teams for Best & Co. and Baby Gap. In the 1990s, Di Napoli created a line called H.M. Woggle Bug with the intent to bring sophistication to the American children’s wear market. The use of luxury fabrics in wistful designs became her signature. The line was carried by Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom, as well as specialty boutiques across the country. In 1998, her designs won her an Earnie Award in children’s wear. She is a graduate of Parsons School of Design.
Luke Hall graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2000, with a BA in men’s fashion design. Upon seeing his graduate collection, Joe Casely-Hayford hired him to design both his men’s and women’s lines.
He launched his own line in 2003, selling his collection in Paris, Tokyo, and London. He also lived briefly in Bologna, co-designing a women’s collection. He moved to New York at 27 with an O1 visa sponsorship from the agency 24seven. In his first few years in New York, his work included private label design for Saks Fifth Avenue, on the lines Sinclaire 10 and Twist, a line exclusively for the South African market.
He moved to Ann Inc. nine years ago as senior designer of woven tops at Loft, and later took on dresses, knit tops, sweaters, and then sportswear, eventually becoming senior director. He was appointed VP of design for Ann Taylor last June . His first season there will be summer 2019, launching in May.
Monika Kowalska, the designer behind the label A Détacher, was born in Warsaw, Poland, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1973. After completing a degree in political science at the University of Chicago in 1986, Kowalska studied design and patternmaking at Tecnica Moda in Florence, Italy.
In 1987, Kowalska landed a design assistant position with Splisgar, then further broadened her experience by assisting Kyle Bradford with window displays and installations for clients such as Luisa Via Roma, Biba, Calugi Giannelli, and Pitti Fillati. With her sights on Paris, Kowalska served as a design assistant to Myrene de Premonville from 1989 to 1992. A brief stint in New York in 1992 led to the creation of her housewares line.
Her women’s wear collection A Détacher originally started in Italy in 1994 as a joint venture with Giorgio Carta, but the collaboration dissolved. Kowalska was named design director for Sonia Rykiel, a position she held for one year.
Upon returning to New York in 1998, Kowalska realized that she wanted to be involved in the fashion industry in a different way and on different terms. She resumed designing the A Détacher collection on her own and opened the A Détacher space on Mott Street. In 2015, A Détacher relocated to a new store and studio on Mulberry Street in Little Italy.
The New York boutique and label have allowed Kowalska to fuse her interests in art, design, and fashion, while remaining particularly passionate about the construction of clothing. This focus on construction is reflected in her avant-garde collection of dresses, jackets and jewelry that also has the unique trait of instantly giving clients their own spiritual pose and individuality.
Rubin Singer is a third-generation couturier. His father Alik created costumes for the Bolshoi Ballet and the Stanislavski Theater. His grandfather, after whom he is named, was one of the most celebrated designers in the Soviet Union, dressing Russian aristocracy, Soviet political figures, and the social elite. His family heritage in fashion strongly influenced who he is.
In 1999, Rubin created his first collection and opened a boutique in New York City on trendsetting Orchard Street. He was promptly discovered by Patricia Field and went on to design Kim Cattrall’s wardrobe for the groundbreaking show Sex and the City. Rubin’s professional career truly began with his tenure as associate designer at Oscar de la Renta. He began to understand the integrity and unique character required to be the head of an iconic fashion brand. Rubin later advanced to head designer of three divisions at Bill Blass.
In 2007, Rubin launched his eponymous fashion brand. Fusing traditional craftsmanship with contemporary aesthetics, Rubin creates bold, attention-grabbing designs for confident and empowered women. His designs have been worn by celebrities such as Gigi Hadid, Zendaya, Beyoncé, Sharon Stone, Taylor Swift, Sofia Vergara, and Kerry Washington.
As the brand grows, Rubin’s focus is to maintain the refinement, glamour, and attention to detail that has led to his success thus far.
With a career spanning over 18 years, Stacey Tester is highly regarded as a knitwear designer and creative consultant and counts luxury brands such as Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, tse Cashmere, Richard Chai, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Tom Scott, and Cloak among her collaborators. In July 2014, Stacey was appointed as knitwear designer at Marc Jacobs and has spent the past five years working alongside Marc and his creative team designing and developing the commercial collection.
Previously, Stacey spent seven years as senior design director of knitwear at Ralph Lauren, designing both the women’s and men’s runway collections.
A graduate in fashion knitwear design from the Nottingham Trent School of Art and Design, the British designer began her career in 1999 working at the Knit Resource Center in Manhattan, which exposed her to New York and reinforced her love for the city. Stacey is incredibly passionate about knitwear and gains a lot of satisfaction in mentoring each new generation of designers.
In 2012, Jennifer Zuccarini founded the luxury lingerie and ready-to-wear brand Fleur du Mal. Feminine, chic, and slightly subversive, the brand embodies a woman’s strength, confidence, and sexuality, inspiring dressing up and undressing. The collection is sold online through the brand’s engaging e-commerce site, as well as through top retailers such as Barneys, Net-a-Porter, Saks, Frwd.com, and Harrods. Fleur du Mal also has a retail store in New York City and a longterm pop-up location in LA.
Zuccarini was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She is a fine arts graduate of Montreal’s Concordia University and later studied Fashion Design at FIT.
In 2005, she co-founded and was the creative director of the luxury lifestyle brand Kiki de Montparnasse. In 2008, she left Kiki to become the design director of intimates at Victoria’s Secret.