Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You Are Here

Today, I ran into my sewing instructor, Professor Graulich, on campus. She just returned from Africa, where she spends her summers, and sometimes winters, apparently, helping run a branch of Malawi Children's Village. She informed me that she wants to start an internship program with the School of Study Abroad at Marymount this summer, so that students can come with her to Africa for a few months and help the cause. In April of 2008, I helped Professor Graulich make purses and totes from African import fabric to help her with an MCV fundraiser, but I never imagined that would lead to an invitation to Africa! "I think you would be just right for the program," she told me today.

Why would a fashion design student be interested in joining the MCV cause? I predict that if the launch of this program is successful, many students interested in sociology or political science will be petitioning Professor Graulich to take them on as interns. However, the reason she approached me and Huyen, my fellow design student, with the idea is that she runs a portion of MCV that employs children of poor or parentless families in textiles and garment assembly so these little ones can provide for themselves and their siblings. A huge part of the program would be engaging with the children; fashion knowledge will be secular to the job to be done. I cannot imagine the wonders this kind of opportunity would do for my resume, but what is even more drawing about the Malawi program is the feeling I know I'll get while I'm there and when it's done. I don't know exactly what it will be like, but that's what I want to find out!!!

The Obama Chronicles

I am finally able to post some images of my designs for the First Ladies! They are just rough scans, and I'm hopeful that the digital images taken by the USA Today photographer will be released to me soon. MSNBC ended up interviewing two of the ladies involved in the design competition on the daytime news- I may post a link when I find the video feed. But it seems that my 15 minutes aren't up yet! Reporters from the Indianapolis Star as Well as the Grand Haven Tribune have contacted me for interviews, thanks to hints dropped by Mom and Grandma ( I can't thank you guys enough for your support)! Hopefully this time my designs will actually get some press. And who knows, the word is still out on who will actually design these garments the inauguration on January 20th!

I Resolve...

I usually don't make New Year's Resoultions. I don't recall ever feeling like I needed to resolve to change anything about myself. But this year I realized maybe these infamous resolutions (akin to Joseph's failed attempts year after year to quit smoking, and countless females who vow to lose weight whether they really need to or not-) don't have to be about changing yourself by denying yourself something. It's the New Year, not Lent, after all. Change for the better is what it's all supposed to be about, so why are people constantly picking resolutions that make them crabby? This is why nobody keeps them!

This year, my resolution is to be more mindful. Yes, that's all. I'm in the middle of reading a book called "The Year of Living Biblically," in which the author attempts to identify and follow all the laws and principles set forth by the Bible, even, he notes, if certain religions don't follow theses laws anymore. What results is not only the intended humor of certain misunderstandings of seemingly strange rules, but the surprise of a new understanding of spirituality. Maybe, he realizes, it isn't necessary to delve into every law and simultaneously follow each to the the T. Maybe it isn't even possible. But taking time out to try to follow as many good rules as you can remind yourself of at once can only result positively!

Let's Have Som!

It's finally been decided that this year, Marymount University will be hosting Peter Som as a guest designer to speak at our fashion show! It's a great privelege to be able to host guest designers who know and understand both the art and the business of fashion. Not only do the guest designers grace our Friday Luncheon fashion show (on April 24 this year, tickets for which sell for about $100!), they take the time to meet with the senior designers individually for a portfolio review! It's so exciting, but at the same time it's terrifying! Marymount has hosted designers in the past that have lcked enthusiasm for the level of designs students have created at a senior level. Since MU is a private institution, and a small one, seniors have to pack extra punch into their designs to make a good impression, and this year, part of that privelege/burden falls on me!

Finding out who the designer is and eventually meeting him or her at the fashion show has been exciting for me, as well as my fellow design students as well I'm sure, over the past few years. My time at Marymount has seen designers Michael Kors and Cynthia Rowley. But everything changes when you know this big name, and hopefully even bigger presence, is going to be handling your work and discussing it with you! My portfolio review with Peter Som is going to take place on the same day as the Fashion Luncheon; Friday, April 24. Later that evening, there will be a second fashion show, and the semester will conclude with a final show on the evening of Saturaday, April 25. The evening show tickets go for about $14 a piece.

Friday, January 2, 2009

I Guess I Have to Start Life Sometime...

I think that it's appropriate to begin discussing my graduation from college, being that it's only 17 weeks away. Not too much, just enough to get the wheels of plan-making turning. I don't want to talk about it too much, really. I don't want to think about it. Yes, it's a happy time, it's a wonderful accomplishment, it's a well-deserved rite of passage. But it's also a figurative gateway, and once I pass through it, I will be standing out there- in the real world. I must find a job, and apparently I should have already begun looking. I can't stand job-hunting for entry level positions in retail, so imagine how I'm going to feel when the birth of my career is on the line! I have a faint vision of Michael Squints Palledorous saying "Forever... Forever... ForevER!"

And even the commencement ceremonies seem so very far away. I still need to pay my tuition and buy my books for the upcoming semester, I will have papers to write, illustrations to create, dresses to make, and a fashion show to plan before it is all over. I have weekend trips to Florida, Ocean City, and Brooklyn to plan. I'll have awful all-nighters, crazy parties, and TV marathons of Lost and Project Runway to watch between now and then. And what should be the least of my concerns, tentative mini-vacation to Montego Bay for a vicarious friend's wedding (I'd be going more for Jamaica than for the vicarious friend, although it is so romantic!) conflicts with commencement rehearsal and would have me back home the day before the ceremonies! Of course, Montego Bay is as exciting as a cap and gown to me. No worries, my family, no matter what, I will walk on Sunday, May 10. I have included the link to my wonderful University's commencement information site. Notice it hasn't been updated since last year, so the dates are wrong, but the basic information is still the same: the location, the maps, hotel and parking accommodations. I will alert you all when the Pro-DIY Marymount Officials get it together. I can't wait to see you all, and I want you to know how much I appreciate your support throughout my college career. Love you!

The Simultaneous Inauguration of My Pride and Humility: A Rant and A Revelation

On December 31, I already knew the 'inauguration gown competition' story would be posted by USA Today online as well as in the paper. I had informed everyone I work with, all my family, everyone in my phone, and all those who keep up with me via facebook that I would be in the news! My fellow students and I had been told that there would be a reader vote option in the online version of the article, but I was barraged with texts and phone calls that morning, asking "WHERE DO I VOTE??" Of course, now we all know, there was no democratic vote in this competition.

When I logged on to USAToday.com, I was so excited that I didn't even read most of the article, I just skimmed through the images (found at: http://www.usatoday.com/life/gallery/2008/l081231_obama_inaugural_fashion/flash.htm?gid=833). I looked for a close-up of one or more of my sketches, with a sidebar reading something like "Tim Gunn's Take: ..." But they must have left out that part of the article. I flipped through again, thinking, "They didn't even include images of any of my designs?" They did, actually, at http://www.usatoday.com/life/gallery/2008/l081231_obama_inaugural_fashion/flash.htm?gid=833&aid=3950. But I was devastated: not only would I not win the non-existent reader pole (thanks to my fan base of friends and family), but the 9 dresses that had published comments from Tim Gunn did not include any of my designs. I have to be honest, I told my boyfriend I needed some time alone, and tears did come to my eyes for a few moments. "Screw Tim Gunn, who is he, what does he know?" asked a supportive Joseph. But I was wrecked for a few hours.

Rewind to the day of the photo shoot, Monday December 15: I arrive right on time, luckily before some of my classmates so as not to look bad (there's only so far the "fashionably late" joke can carry a design student). 5 girls arrive before me, and when I see their work laid out on the table, I am relieved. I have a creative process, specifically with fashion illustration: I labor over the tiniest details for hours, I always spend the entire night before the deadline awake preparing, and I am always nervous that my artistic interpretations will not be received well. I have spent a long time (like all my life) self-punishing, coveting, practicing, and tweaking to reach a point, as an artist, that I can draw what I see, and what I draw looks just how I imagined. And the only area in my life I feel absolute pride for is that when I walk into the room in which my work is to be presented, and I look around at everyone else's work, I feel that mine is the best there.

On the morning of December 15, I had the same worry I always have that others would turn their noses up at my designs, and that there would be other students whose work I would WISH was mine. And just as it always does, the fear washed away when I saw my competition. I did admire the work of certain peers- I always do. I love Silvia's clean and cute style, and I share some facial and shading inspirations with Jessica. But I have developed a style that is really my own, no matter how reliant my fashion figures are on Japanese animation. My favorite aspect of my personal style is that I design for real women, not "ten head" stick figures. No matter how cute a drawing is, the purpose of a fashion illustration is to communicate a guide, at least, for a future garment that someone is actually going to wear.

I took a day to meditate on my confidence in myself, then re-visited the article. I realized three things. 1, if Tim Gunn didn't like my work, he isn't the only person on earth. There is plenty of room to spread my fashion sense around without stepping on his toes, and I am proud to do so (this was the more important realization of all, because it's self-empowering)! 2, If the second and third place designs were deserving of such Gunnian criticism, and mine were not even mentioned, maybe I need to step it up a little. And 3, When I actually took the time to read the article, I noticed something I hadn't before: "Once the 26 entries were winnowed down, Tim Gunn... picked his favorite in each category," it said. Wait, once the suddenly fashion-conscious staff of USA Today eliminated some drawings, a small handful was then delivered to the busy and oblivious Tim Gunn? What criteria was said winnowing based on? Did Tim Gunn even see ANY of my work? What a total bummer. I should harass Olivia Barker for the details, I have her e-mail AND her New York office phone number, after all! What do you guys think? As Mr. Gunn would say, "It's make-it-work time!"