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Sartorial Superstars

Meet some of SCAD’s shining stars of fashion before the annual SCAD Fashion Show.

On May 18, select fashion students from SCAD will introduce their senior collections at the SCAD Fashion Show—and we’ll get a glimpse of the style horizon.  As a lead up to this annually anticipated, ever-inspiring event, Danielle Austin introduces us to a few of the sartorial superstars hoping to make their entrance.  » Photography by Ryan Howard

 

Phillip Herrold, Senior 

Hometown: Columbus,OH

SM: When and why did you decide to pursue a career in fashion?

I was probably 16 years old.  Growing up I’d always loved clothes and the idea of luxury.  I was a little toddler in Polo Ralph Lauren shirts.  And when it started to come to high school and we needed to decide where we wanted go to school and what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives, it just seemed like the best option for me—kind of the only option.  I don’t like anything this much.

SM: What’s your favorite style decade?

I would say the ‘90s.  I think there was a lot of optimism toward the future and with the early invention of the internet.  People got really excited with what the future holds and the infinite possibilities.  I think that translated into fashion in kind of a crazy way, but it’s kind of coming back now that we’ve realized what we can do with technology.

SM: Is that kind of style reflected in your own designs?

Yeah, I would say for my collection I kind of pulled early ‘90s inspiration.  So, I have a lot of urban references, but that is mixed with the upscale fabrications and fabric manipulations that I’m doing.

SM: Where do you see fashion going in the next five to ten years?

I think there’s going to be a major shift toward athletic wear.  People are starting to get more active and realizing that’s really important.  I think that athletic wear will almost be a mainstay in everyday wardrobe.  I also think that the kind of the mass market—Forever 21 and H&M—will hopefully go out and it will be more about the quality of the clothes. You might not have as much clothes, but you’ll have better clothes.

 

SM: Who would be your dream designer to work with?

Probably Raf Simons.  He is the creative director of Christian Dior, but he has his own menswear line too, which is actually how he started in the fashion industry.  I love him.  His cuts are extremely futuristic and he has that really great urban sensibility, but he’s upscaling it into a luxurious market.

SM: What was it like working with the mentors?

It was great.  My mentor was Thomas Finney, who is a designer at Thom Browne menswear.  His luxurious sensibility helped me with all my finishings, because it’s not just about the fabric, it’s about what thread you use, what zippers you use, what buttons … I mean it comes down to the whole package.  And he taught me that.

SM: Tell us a little bit about your collection and the inspiration behind it.

It was inspired by Russian Constructivist Art, and that I kind of mixed with my personal style of, like I said before, the upscale athletic-wear concept.  It’s pretty heavy with the fabric manipulation, which is the leather woven into mesh.  I kind of like to take a classic garment and repurpose it with the fabrications and upscale finishings.

SM: Is there a certain theme you had in mind when you were building the collection?

When I actually started, the whole collection was color blocking.  So, there were tons of seams and all the different panels were different colors.  But I kind of realized that’s not where I really thought fashion was going.  That’s what Thomas, my mentor, helped me with—restraining it and bringing it back to clothes that people will actually wear and really want to wear.

SM: What do you think makes your collection stand out?

I would say the exaggerated proportion that I’m using, a lot of it is oversized, which goes back to the urban athletic-wear.  That mixed with the fabric manipulations and the overall fabric of everything.  I’m using some full leather pieces and cow skin with hair.

 

SM: These materials seem expensive, who would be the target audience?

My target audience is definitely someone who is sophisticated, pretty wealthy and well off, just because the fabrics that I’m using do take it to a different price point.  He’s athletic, but doesn’t want to wear his gym clothes everywhere and wants to kind of show that he can still translate how he lives his life in everyday clothes.

SM: Who has been the most influential person in developing your collection?

My Senior I professor and Senior II professor.  They were great in how they worked together and with us through the whole senior collection process, starting with designing in the first quarter and constructing in the last two quarters.  My Senior I professor really helped me with getting all my ideas out there.  And then my Senior II professor, Sachi Honda, is an amazing help with the construction of clothes and the sewing aspect.  We have to sew everything.  We can’t really outsource anything like other schools have the opportunity to do, so she’s always here to help.

SM: What’s been your biggest challenge while creating this collection?

We have so many critiques throughout the year and get a lot of different opinions and ideas from different professors and guests.  It’s great to get other concepts and ideas from people, but sometimes it’s a lot to handle.  People want you to change things and you have to really think how you want to present your collection to the world and have faith in yourself.  I always say if someone gives you feedback you should at least try what they say—maybe do a sketch of a different jacket—but if you don’t like it, don’t do it.  In the end, it’s your decision.

SM: Do you have any advice for future seniors and designers?

Stay true to yourself and don’t let anyone compromise what you want to do with your collection.  As I said before, it’s your collection.

SM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

It wasn’t really in the form of words—it was more of the experience from my internship.  I interned with Alexander Wang men’s ready-to-wear, so it was more just being in that atmosphere of the upscale luxury brand and being around people who make real clothes and know how to put these clothes into production, and source all these different fabrics, and how to make them perfect and still satisfy the needs of the market.

SM: What are your plans after graduating?

I hope to move to New York… I will move to New York, find a job and design.

 

Danielle Elsener, Senior

Hometown: Northport, NY

SM: When and why did you decide to pursue a career in fashion?

It actually started a long time ago.  I went to a quilting retreat with my aunt and my dad—I was 11—and ever since that first stitch I just kept going from there.

SM: What’s your favorite style decade?

I keep going back and forth on that.  I really love classically tailored menswear from the ‘50s.  I don’t necessarily reflect that in my work, but I think that’s one of my favorites because everything is so pristine and perfect.  I also enjoy more ‘90s grunge stuff, which is kind of silly sometimes.

SM: Where do you see fashion going in the next five to ten years?

Just to preface my answer a little bit, the designs I do are zero-wastage patterns, which means that every inch of the fabric is used in the design.  So, I’d say that sustainability in a different way, other than organic fabric and things like that, is really what’s going to be up-and-coming.

SM: Who would be your dream designer to work with?

I have a few, but I’ll limit it to two.  Boris Bidjan Saberi is my favorite designer.  His stuff is amazing and he does menswear as well.  The other one would be Issey Miyake just because he’s such an architect of fashion and the clothes he makes are amazing.

SM: Tell us a little bit about your collection and the inspiration behind it.

This is a zero-wastage collection, like I said, where every inch of the fabric is used in one piece.  And the inspiration for the patterns themselves came from the golden ratio and the Fibonacci spiral.  So out of that came a lot of jackets with lots of volume and really large pieces in the back with lots of extra movement.  I ended up going with the dark colors and a lot of waxed cottons and textures and things like that just because I think that black is the purest color form in fashion.  And I chose to use waxed cottons because it adds a layer of protection to the wearer.

SM: What makes your collection stand out?

I really think the fact that these are all done in a zero-waste manner is what really sets everything apart.  The patterns take so long—it’s like solving a puzzle that there is no actual answer to and you just have to figure it out yourself.  The amount of time that goes into working that out and actually creating a product that someone would wear is really special.  I think that’s probably one of the nicest features of my collection.

SM: Who is your target audience?

Obviously men (laughs). Someone who isn’t afraid to be a little bit more active, dangerous and out there, but feel really comfortable in their clothes.

SM: Who has been the most influential person in developing your collection?

I think there are two parts to that.  Influential wise there are designers like Timo Rissanen and Julian Roberts who I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from with their zero-waste techniques.  But as far as people that I work around, the other students in the building are always an inspiration because they just keep going and going and pushing each other forward.  The professors as well—they really put everything forward to help us and make sure that our collections are as pristine as they can be.

SM: What’s been your biggest challenge while creating this collection?

Definitely the pattern making at the beginning was the hardest part for me.  Normally the process is you draw a sketch, then you make a pattern and then the final garment—but I have to do everything backwards.  I make the pattern first, but I don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like at first so I have to do a bunch of muslin-ings, then do a sketch, then change the pattern, then make the final garment.  It’s a whole lot of trial and error and there are a lot of extra steps added to the beginning.

SM: What are your plans after graduating?

I have a job lined up in Boston with Reebok.  It’s a yearlong apprenticeship, so I’ll be doing that for at least a year.  After that I can decide if I want to stay with them in that area or move on and do something else.  I do plan on having my own start-up company in a couple years, when I have more experience and more funding to be able to start.  I think what I make is very marketable and I think it will have a really good customer base.

SM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Just to not take everything you do too seriously because sometimes it gets really easy to forget what you’re doing and get worked up about really small things.  You should have fun with what you’re doing, not be panicking all the time. 

 

Sarah Humphries, Senior

Hometown: Tampa,FL

SM: When and why did you decide to pursue a career in fashion?

I’ve always had an interest in art and design as well as fashion history.  In high school I was always rummaging around collecting vintage clothes.  I was really intrigued by different eras and styles.  I did pre-college programs at both Pratt and RISD before even considering going to art school.  So once I thought about it as an actual thing that I can make money off of and do everyday, I kind of knew that’s what I wanted.  The best use of a life career is to do what you love, so I decided to do fashion.

SM: What’s your favorite style decade?

It changes so much.  When I started SCAD I was really into the ‘40s, but I think now with my moods and inspirations it’s constantly changing.  One day I’ll wake up and I’ll be a ‘30s glamour girl and the next day I’ll want to be really androgynous sporty ‘90s. I’m really inspired by ‘90s minimalism right now, like the fusion of sportswear and daywear—I think that’s a really cool concept.

SM: Where do you see fashion going in the next five to ten years?

Right now, I’m seeing fashion becoming sort of androgynous and I like that it’s a fusion with identity in a sense.  I want to see more of that. 

SM: Who would be your dream designer to work alongside?

Jean Paul Gaultier has been one of my favorite designers my entire life.  His collections have so much innovation, but they are very sincere and playful as well.  I think he has an interesting foreign perspective on fashion. 

SM: What was is like working with the mentors?

My mentor at SCAD is Bibhu Mohapatra, he’s an up-and-coming designer in New York City, so it’s like I’ve almost lived my dream this quarter being able to work with him.  He’s been one of the designers I’ve admired and I’ve really gained so much perspective from him.

SM: Tell us about your collection and the inspiration behind it.

My collection is very dark and mysterious.  I was inspired by the goddess Diana.  She’s a strong feminine figure and I sort of got inspired by her and what she represents because she’s a symbol of femininity.  So I took beautiful mythology and fused it with a modern woman.

SM: Who is your target audience for this collection?

I would say a very dramatic girl. I don’t really want to design for a certain class. I really just want my designs to be for anyone who is adventurous enough to wear them.

SM: What materials did you use?

I chose to use so much texture, like with the alligator embossed and Mongolian lamb. Every thing is black so it’s so much about texture with me.  I’m also using neoprene which is an interesting fabric to use.  It’s really unexpected.

SM: Is that what you think will make your collection stand out?

For sure.  I’m also using a lot of laser cutting.  I decided to laser cut acrylic plastic into these sort of beads and then embroidered entire dresses with that.  So it’s a very arduous process, but I think that some of the material choices I used will stand out.

SM: Aside from working with the materials, what was the most challenging aspect of the senior collection process?

I think the time frame in working is really condensed so it’s really difficult to get everything done in the time allotted.  We basically have to finish a look in a week and a half every week this quarter.  So if we don’t finish, the work really piles up. 

SM: Who has been the most influential person in developing your collection?

My mom.  I think that she’s been the biggest influence on my life, and it’s funny that she’s the most influential person in my collection, per se, because she’s the least likely person to wear it.  She’s so classically styled and my stuff is so dramatic, but without her this wouldn’t be possible.  She’s the strongest person I know and I make clothes for strong women probably for that reason.

SM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I’d say fail.  Don’t be afraid to fail and make mistakes.  The president of Alexander Wang, Rodrigo Bazan, talked to us while I was interning there and he made it very clear that he never found his path until later in life and that as long as you work hard, it’s OK to not quite know what you’re meant to do or where you’re meant to be.  I loved that.  

I like the idea of trying new things but working hard at the same time.  And my senior collection professor, Sachi, always tells us just to get it done.  I think that’s great career advice.

SM: What are your plans after graduating?

I’m moving to New York.  I want to intern one more time before sort of starting the colossal job search and all that.  I’m all about serendipity.  It will be a struggle at first, but I think that things will fall into place. Hopefully.

 

Taylor Ullman, Senior

Hometown: Cleveland,OH

SM: When and why did you decide to pursue a career in fashion?

I always had a background in the fine arts, whether it was painting or anything.  Then one summer, going into my sophomore year in high school, I went to a program at Parsons in New York and I really enjoyed it.  So I think I found a good harmony between the two and I think that’s when I really knew.

SM: What’s your favorite style decade?

My favorite style decade would have to be the ‘80s.  I really like the oversized silhouettes.

SM: Where do you see fashion going in the next five to ten years?

I see the active sportswear market getting really big.  And a lot of attention, especially because of the economy, on the mass market fashion industries.  There will be lot of collaboration, I think, between designers and major companies.

SM: Who would be your dream designer to work with?

Definitely Haider Ackerman.  I just think that his use of fabric and color and the way he puts everything together is beautiful.

SM: Tell us about your collection and the inspiration behind it.

For my senior collection, I wanted to do something that I was really passionate about all year.  I’m half Japanese, so I am doing my senior collection as a tribute to my grandmother.  I love the traditional Japanese silhouettes and really admire designers like Issey Miyake.  And then I wanted to make it [the collection] contemporary modern and chic, so I searched for architects that I was drawn to for the linear look and found architect Kenzō Tange.  I was really drawn to his city plans for Tokyo, so I married the two.

SM: What materials do you use throughout the collection?

I have cashmeres, heavyweight taffetas and a lot of fabrics that hold structure.

SM: What was the most challenging aspect of the senior collection process?

The most challenging part of putting this collection together was finding a way to narrow down a concept into six cohesive looks.

SM: What makes your collection stand out?

I think what really makes my collection stand out is that it’s very minimal, but I have a lot of detail work.

SM: What are your plans after graduating?

I’ll probably move to New York and if I have to intern, I’ll intern, but I want to be in a creative environment on a creative team.

SM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

SM: What advice would you give to aspiring designers and future seniors?

Stay true to yourself no matter what anyone tells you.  And know who you are and what your aesthetic is and never second-guess that, because in the end it’s you.  And you are going to take whoever you are into where you go, the industry or whatever it may be, and you should always stand behind that because it’s awesome.

Baille Younkman, Senior

Hometown: Columbus,OH

SM: Where do you see fashion going in the next five to ten years?

I’m not really sure.  With fast fashion developing, I hope that there will still be a need for high-end designers.

SM: What’s your favorite style decade?

Probably the ’60s.  Minimalism was really booming and there were a lot of really cool foreign films that came then.  I also really like the vibes.

SM: Do you feel that comes across in your designs or is it just something that you’ve always loved?

I think when I’m designing more for consumer rather than conceptual, I think it is communicated. All the clothes from that decade are all pretty minimalistic with angular accents and that is communicated, although not in my senior collection.

SM: Tell us about your collection.

My entire collection started out being inspired by feminist artists and the motives behind their work.  From that I formed my own opinion and criticism on how our current culture has a really big control over women’s bodies and their sexuality and how there’s this unrealistic ideal for women to obtain.  So with my collection I kind of wanted to distort and disguise the natural figure by drawing inspiration from folds of the body.

SM: Have you always wanted to design with that aesthetic in mind?

A couple years ago in one of my art history classes, I was learning about feminist art and I was really interested.  And then over the summer I went to New York City and I saw this piece in the MoMA, it was “R.S.V.P.,” which is these pantyhose filled with sand and I thought it was really cool how the sand distorted the pantyhose.  The artist statement was talking about how all this pulling would never retain its original form.  So that was what originally sparked the idea.  I knew the direction I wanted to go in regards to working with the female figure.  I think, though, within the last four or five months that I really decided that I wanted my collection to be a promotion for change in hopes that people will recognize that it’s problematic what our culture is doing.

SM: What are some of the most commonly used materials in your pieces?

I actually never repeat a fabric in my entire collection.  The collection is various hues of peaches and blush and I thought that, as well as the technique that I’m using of crumpling and distorting the fabric, was enough to keep it really cohesive.  But they are all pretty much natural fibers like mohair and felted alpaca—really textual but soft tactile fabrics.

SM: Who has been the most influential person in developing your collection?

There have been two.  My construction professor Carol Harris has really pushed me to explore different methods of pattern making and be really experimental.  She’s been so encouraging in a different creative approach and I’m really thankful that I’ve had her to walk along with me.  And then one of my old art history professors, Lisa Young, she really helped me hone in on the point of view and voice that I was trying to convey.

SM: What was the most challenging aspect of the senior collection process?

In the beginning it was hard to convince people of the direction I wanted to go.  From that I think the challenges were with myself because it is so different from anything that anyone else is doing that I get a little insecure when I see other people and I’m like, ‘Whoa this is so different.’  I know that’s a good thing, but it was kind of challenging until I really got comfortable with what I was trying to say.

SM: Are you looking forward to seeing any of your peers’ collections?

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s.  I have no idea what the other three classes are doing, but I’m really excited to see the point of view that everyone is bringing.  From what I’ve heard from past critiques, everyone is bringing their A game.

SM: What are your plans after graduating?

This summer I’m going to be working with a performance artist [Andrew Ondrejcak] creating sculptures and costumes for him in Brooklyn.  After that I’m hoping to find something that will allow me to explore both fashion and fine art because I’m so fine art rooted that I want to be involved in both and find the perfect in-between.

SM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I think the best advice I’ve ever received is just to go with my own instinct and not try to please others, because if I just stay tuned to myself then in the end I’m going to be happy rather than if I’m catering to please all these different people.

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