7 FIDM Grads Who Are Award-Winning Costumes Designers

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What do Marlene Stewart, Jill M. Ohanneson, Ha Nguyen, Greg LaVoi, Mikael Sharafyan, Trish Summerville, and Mona May have in common? All are at the top of their fields as Costume Designers—and all are involved FIDM Grads who hire and mentor other FIDM Grads and Students.

Marlene Stewart (Tropic Thunder, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters)

Jill M. Ohanneson (Six Feet Under, Revenge)

Ha Nguyen (The Mask, Super 8)

Greg LaVoi (Land of the Lost)

Trish Summerville (The Hunger Games, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Mona May (Clueless, Enchanted, Stuart Little)

Mikael Sharafyan (Disasteroid)

FIDM offers specialized Advanced Study degrees in Film & TV Costume Design and Theatre Costume Design.

There is still time to see Trish Summerville's amazing costumes from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at the "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition at FIDM Museum & Galleries



10 Recent FIDM VisComm Grads with Great Careers in Fashion & Entertainment

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A Visual Communications degree from FIDM can go many places in the fashion and entertainment industries. Here are just a few examples of the opportunities open to recent FIDM Grads.

Abigail Valentine Gallen (pictured above) is a Costume Assistant on Grey's Anatomy.

Tiffany Royston is a Junior Buyer at Shasa boutique.

Lotta Luolamo is an in-demand entertainment industry Stylist.

Jordan Fox has launched e-commerce site Novus Pulchra.

Sivan Vardi and her partner have launched Styled by Noir, a unique online styling and e-commerce site.

Janinna Figueroa has her own line of bridal designs, featured on The Knot.

Alicia Romo started her own fashion boutique.

Brittany Bush is a Visual Manager for Free People.

Chanelle Kerr has launched e-commerce site SaVous.

Kaitlyn Wood's work as a Hollywood Set Decorator has appeared in feature films The Artist and Hitchcock.



Denim Study Tour Meets with FIDM Alumna Joie Rucker

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About a dozen FIDM Merchandise Product Development Students spent three days this spring learning Los Angeles's premium denim industry on an insider's tour of companies ranging from a small wash house to global brands 7 for All Mankind and Guess. Thanks to Instructor Estel Hahn and Chairperson Eva Gilbert for curating a fascinating, instructive tour!

Our last stop on Day One was like a jolt of pure energy. At their small headquarters in Vernon, industry veterans, FIDM Alumnae Joie Rucker and Caroline Calvin took us inside their 2-year-old company Calvin Rucker and explained the thought process behind their premium brand.

The partners, who met at Levi's about 20 years ago, shared their vision for casual couture—a Los Angeles look that mixes high/low, male/female, and couture fabrics with boyfriend jeans and perfect T-shirts and tops. The line is being carried by about 180 top shops including Fred Segal.

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After a walk through their small factory (everything is made in L.A.), they took questions from the next generation of FIDM entrepreneurs. Joie, who started the eponymous Joie and Rich & Skinny told students: "Save time, money, and heartache by getting experience before starting your own company." She was VP Design at GUESS and Caroline was SVP Global Design for Levi's before they took the plunge. As for premium denim, the two founders agreed: "Fit is the most important factor in designing denim."



Alumna Chloe Asseo Joins Family Business at L'Aventure Winery


Visual Communications Alumna Chloe Asseo has recently joined her family's L'Aventure Winery as the new sales, marketing, and communications director. She previously worked in Paris and Bordeaux with boutique and luxury brands. "I am excited to work with my father to bring to life his passion, motivation, and hard work of making great wines," she says. 

Read more about Chloe and L'Aventure in the Paso Robles Daily News



Beauty Alumna Is Associate Marketing Manager at Hourglass Cosmetics


As the new Associate Marketing Manager for Hourglass Cosmetics, Beauty Industry Merchandising & Marketing Alumna Grace Lim works closely with the VP of Marketing to ensure that all collateral has their stamp of approval and is on brand. "We're constantly creating/refining presentations, writing and updating our marketing copy, designing print ads, and unit carton packaging," she explains.

"I also oversee the workload of our design team and handle all collateral requests that come through, from sales and education, to product development, operations, and regulatory." Grace, who was previously the Marketing Coordinator at Hourglass and held the same job at Boscia Skincare prior to that, also works closely with their retailers to set-up new product launches and support them with any marketing needs they may have. 

"I always tell people that without FIDM, I never would have gotten my foot into the beauty industry. It's a tough one to enter without any strong connections, so FIDM was such a crucial and key player in my success," she says. "Through the instructors and classmates, internship opportunities, and netowrking events FIDM provided me, I have always managed to be employed." 



Congratulations to Oscar Garcia-Lopez and Nick Verreos, Winners of Project Runway: Under The Gunn

UTG Winners

Congratulations to designer Oscar Garcia-Lopez and his mentor, Nick Verreos, as the winners of Project Runway: Under The Gunn!

Oscar Garcia-Lopez won the $100,000 grand prize, plus a 2014 Lexus, magazine fashion spread, and a trip to Paris. (See Oscar's winning designs below, images courtesy of Lifetime.)

In the Lifetime television show, Tim Gunn, one of FIDM's Advisory Board members, oversaw the work of three Project Runway standouts: Mondo Guerra, Anya Ayoung-Chee, and FIDM Instructor and Grad Nick Verreos (a Fashion Designer and Red Carpet Commentator) as they mentored 15 designers. 

The series, which premiered in January, was filmed at FIDM in November and December in Los Angeles.

Watch the season finale on






Denim Study Tour Pays In-Depth Visit to Kellwood

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About a dozen FIDM Merchandise Product Development students spent three days this spring learning Los Angeles's premium denim industry on an insider's tour of companies ranging from a small wash house to global brands 7 for All Mankind and Guess. Thanks to Instructor Estel Hahn and Chairperson Eva Gilbert for curating a fascinating, instructive tour!

FIDM's small group was treated to a VIP tour on its early afternoon stop at Kellwood, the company that owns fashion brands Jolt, Rebecca Taylor, My Michelle, XOXO, David Meister, and until recently, Vince. Operating at their City of Industry campus, Kellwood designs, manufactures, and markets in Los Angeles.

Thanks to HR recruiter Natalie Getz, we got to see it all: a tech designer and designer conducting a fitting session with a live model; a photo shoot for Vince's website; the textile design library where a FIDM Grad oversees the design of about 1,000 new prints a month, patternmaking and grading departments. Best of all, many of the talented people who are busy making all those clothes took time from their work days to talk with us and offer advice. Many—from designers to stylists to tech designers are FIDM Grads—so they know the jump from school to career can seem daunting.

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Everyone we spoke to emphasized the speed of the industry, with new seasons occurring every 30 days, and the fact that you have to love it. Johanna, head designer for XOXO, got more specific about what she looks for in a new designer: "Get lots of experience at school. Let your passion show on the job with a can-do attitude. Say yes to everything."

Best of all, the FIDM Grad and DEBUT designer who is My Michelle's head designer, advised: "Kellwood is good at turning internships into jobs." And (HR Recruiter) Natalie mentioned that 28 current interns are from FIDM.

Next stop: Calvin Rucker 



Beauty Grad Launches Elle Michelle Cosmetics Lipstick Line


"I started a lipstick cosmetic line, full of bold and vibrant lipsticks for bold and fearless women," explains Beauty Industry Merchandising & Marketing Alumna Lauren McCoin of Elle Michelle Cosmetics. "I wanted to start a cosmetic company that stood for something positive, and was relatable. So for one, my lipsticks are cruelty free, and two, on my Instagram page, we represent strong women and empowerment, as well as a 'no bullies allowed' statement seeing as this is a huge problem." 


Lauren says that anything from music videos to sites like Pinterest can drive her creativity, which is on high speed as she thinks up new themes for photo shoots and marketing. My lipsticks are also sold on my friend Ashley Molina's website called Shop Last Resort, which is awesome considering we went to high school together, and both graduated from FIDM.


Lauren credits FIDM with being able to help her start a beauty brand. "Not only everything I learned, whether it be from the marketing aspect, or the quality of products, but absolutely from my teachers," she explains. "I had one teacher, Sharlene Haybermeyer, who always saw the best in me and encouraged me, and Julianne Pfister, who was there for me throughout school, and well after I graduated, helped build my confidence." 



VisComm Alumna Is Costume Assistant on Grey's Anatomy (Interview)


Name: Abigail Valentine Gallen

FIDM Degree: Visual Communications

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

Tell us about your job. I currently am working as a Costume Assistant on Grey’s Anatomy. I have been with them since the start of their 10th season. What I love most about my job, besides the incredibly talented people I get to work with, is that every day is different. Since I am an assistant to the entire department my duties change depending on where I am needed most. I get to work with the Supervisor, the Designer, the Key Costumer, and the Set Costumers on any given day.

What other jobs have you had since graduating from FIDM in 2012? I did a lot of independent films and commercials. I worked a few days on shows such as Big Brother, Biggest Loser, and Nashville as an assistant. At the end of 2012, I worked as a Costumer on Burning Love, a web series directed my Ken Marino and designed by Alicia Rydings (fellow FIDM Alumni). From there I began working full time in television starting at 90210 for the second half of their fifth season. After the show concluded I moved on to CSI:NY and finally landed my job at Grey’s Anatomy in June 2013.

How do you feel that FIDM helped prepare you for your career? I cannot stress enough how important the internships I did through FIDM were in the start of my career. I got the opportunity to intern on the second season of The Glee Project as well as in the research library at Western Costume Company. Both internships taught me so much and led to many jobs once I graduated.

One skill I am so thankful FIDM taught me is how to network and sell myself as a brand. The fashion industry and especially the entertainment industry are all about networking and who you know. FIDM gave me the skills to create an impressive resume, cover letter, and portfolio as well as how to nail any interview or professional conversation to benefit my career.

What are your future goals? I am lucky to be on the path to my dreams at such a young age. For now I am enjoying working my way up and learning all the aspects of this industry. One day I plan to be a Costume Designer and have the opportunities to work with many talented directors, writers, actors, and fellow costumers. I look forward to my future within the industry and I cannot wait for what comes next.



FIDM Alumni Association Hosts 'State of Social Media' Workshop


On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the FIDM Alumni Association is hosting a helpful workshop, "The State of Social Media: Everything you shoud be doing today and what you'll need to know for tomorrow." Taught by Victoria N. Koch of A Gifted Society, the workshop will cover the do's and dont's for platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Hear about companies and people who are doing it right and how you can use social media to grow your business or brand. 

FIDM Alumni: $20; Students, Staff, and Guests: $30

FIDM Annex A332, 605 W. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles (parking available in surrounding lots).

Spots are limited. Please email Victoria for registration and payment at [email protected]



Aroche Designer Profiled in Washingtonian Magazine


FIDM Alumna Elsa Arcila of the just-launched fashion brand Aroche is profiled in a Designer Q&A with Washingtonian magazine, along with co-designer Alvaro Roche (who previously worked for Gianfranco Ferre). Their new D.C.-based collection features affordable minimalist flats, patterned clutches, and customizable totes. 

"At FIDM, I was exposed to new technologies and multichannel marketing. It helped me envision the strategy that Aroche would take as a brand. I also learned that e-commerce was the future of marketing and retail," Elsa told the magazine. 



FIDM Thanks TOMS and All Sponsors of Fashion Club Gift Bag at DEBUT

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Each year, Fashion Club members look forward to attending the DEBUT Runway Show at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. The Fashion Club Pre-Party in the tent is legendary and the party-goers love the offerings: faux lash applications, photos with Fashion Designer, Alumnus, and Instructor Nick Verreos, the chocolate bar, the DJ, photo booth, and the step and repeat photo ops. They also love the Fashion Club gift bag they are presented with just before they take their seats for the DEBUT Runway Show.

FIDM would like to recognize the incredibly generous donations from our wonderful sponsors who made the gift bag possible this year, donating more than 600 units of their product at the Fashion Club DEBUT Pre-Party:

TOMS Eyewear
FIDM Grad and TOMS Eyewear Product Developer, Erik Soto attended the event, met and greeted party-goers at a booth in the Fashion Club tent, and personally arranged the incredibly generous donation of over 600 pairs of beautiful TOMS sunglasses.

Caché modeled their latest prom styles at their booth, and donated over 600 pairs of earrings for the gift bags, plus raffle prizes and special discounts to party-goers. This year, they're also sponsoring FC's Fairy Godmother Contest, and a special prom contest to win one of two $4,500 scholarships to attend FIDM. See for contest details.

James Wolfe, who attended FIDM in the recent past, donated 600 hoodie cell phone holders from Hoodiebuddie, where he came up with the idea to manufacture high-end hoodies with built-in earbuds in the drawstrings.

Stila donated 600 Smudge Stick waterproof eye liners for the Fashion Club gift bags.

The owner of Puretergent personally delivered to FIDM, 600 packets each containing three different samples of Puretergent, an all natural laundry detergent.

Sexy Hair
Sexy Hair donated 600 units of their Get Layered Hairspray.

OPI donated a manicure set that included a zip pouch, nail polish, nail filing tools, and lotion.



Apparel Grad Worked With Justin Timberlake at William Rast Prior to Launching Shade55 Denim (Interview)


Paul Hagopian is the designer and founder of the new premium denim line Shade55, which is sold at Nordstrom and Robert Redford's Sundance Catalog. We recently caught up with the Apparel Industry Management Graduate to learn more. 

Tell us a bit about your family history in fashion. My family history is deep rooted in fashion -- it runs in the blood. My grandfather was a custom tailor. My father created his own brand called Cotton USA Inc. It was a missy womens resort wear brand, all made in the USA. His operations were completely vertical, which gave me tons of hands-on experience in all aspects of the business, from order entry, to pattern making and grading, to cutting, garment dyeing and even shipping. My earliest childhood memories are of me tinkering with machines 10 times my size in his factory. I loved it then and I love it now.  

What jobs did you hold prior to founding Shade55? During my time at FIDM, I continued to work in the family business, from design, the pattern making, to production, cutting, and even mixing dyes together to run huge 120 pound machines. It was a great experience. After FIDM and combined with my experience, I was able to get an assistant production manager position at the parent company of such brands like Joe's Jeans, Antik Denim, Henry Duarte, Fetish, and Shago.

There I worked closely with the designers and the production manager in coordinating samples and production. It was a fast-paced and cut throat, but I loved every minute of it. During my time there, I was recruited to head production and operations for William Rast and People's Liberation. This was an excellent opportunity for me as I got to showcase all of my talents, both in denim and knits. It was tons of fun working with Justin Timberlake on creating the line and watching it go from a simple concept to a world wide brand.  

After my time there, I was once again recruited to be the brand manager for a very popular knit brand called Primp. Primp was very celebrity driven and stood for being and feeling young in quality driven comfortable knits. My last stop before creating Shade55 was the brand manager for Dylan George.

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What led you to start your own brand? My one dream in life was to one day have a successful brand of my own; I always knew I wanted to do it. I wanted to create a brand that truly reflects my experiences and my story, a brand that sets a new standard for quality and integrity in men's fashion.  After working for the various different brands, I noticed that none of them, nor anyone else, had a true focus on a classic, American made men's brand; their primary focus is women's. I want to change that as men needed their own go-to brand that they can rely on for a great fit and unmatched American quality.  

Shade55 encompasses and reflects everything I stand for, which is quality, integrity, and attention to the smallest detail. Shade55 is all American made. The fabrics that I select for each collection use American grown cotton from Texas and the Mississippi Delta. The name Shade55 comes from the actual shade or color of indigo I use for my denim. From my experience throughout the years working with different roll/shades of denim, I have always believed that the rolls marked shade #55 had the truest, deepest shade of indigo and best base of color for a true vintage wash, in my opinion. 

Many of the men and woman who built this wonderful country did so in a pair of rugged denim  jeans and we want to homage to that era with a modern twist on the perfect pair of jeans. 



FIDM Style Project: Glenda Harrison of So What to Twenty


Above Left: Glenda Harrison, Fashion Blogger for So What to Twenty

In this month's FIDM Style Project series, we reached out to some of our favorite bloggers to ask about the historical design or fashion era that influences their work or personal style. This is what Glenda Harrison of So What to Twenty had to say...

"The 1950s greatly define my fashion style. I'm always attracted to silhouettes that compliment or enhance the woman's physique, rather than playing against the natural curves of the woman's body. I also appreciate how designs were constructed with such careful attention to detail, and how accessories played such an important role in the making of a complete look. It was a time when femininity was embraced and celebrated. There are two really good posts that show my love for the 1950's era: Styled by Freddy and Mellow Yellow."

Glenda Harrison is a full time lover of fashion and style, mother of two, wife to her husband of 21 years, lover of life and all things artsy. She graduated from FIDM in 1986 with a degree in Marketing/Merchandising, and has worked in the fashion industry for many years, in retail management, visual merchandising, as a stylist, as a fashion and style newspaper columnist, and now as a fashion and style blogger for So What to Twenty.

So What to Twenty is a fashion and style blog for the style curators flavored with time. Its mission is to show a fashion and style viewpoint from a 40+ perspective. Glenda Harrison invites you to visit So What to Twenty and enjoy the world of fashion and lifestyle through the eyes of a forty-something.

About FIDM Style Project

FIDM Style Project is an online editorial collaboration series between the online design community and FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Are you interested in participating in the next FIDM Style Project series? Get in touch with us here.



Fashion Incubator San Francisco Invites Alumna to Create Spring/Fall Collections in 1-Year Residency


Stephanie Bodnar, a 2008 graduate of FIDM's San Francisco campus, has designed costumes for theater and dance and was named one of GenArt's Fresh Faces in the past. Several years ago, she founded the luxury lingerie line Honey Cooler Handmade. 

On March 3, Stephanie (along with four other emerging fashion designers) was accepted into a year-long residency at the Fashion Incubator San Francisco (FiSF). During the next year, they will create spring and fall collections and develop their brands with the help of industry mentors. 

The incubator program, modeled after similar ones in Chicago, Toronto, and New York, is in its third year and is sponsored by Macy's and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's office. 

SF Gate has the full report. 



FIDM Textile Design Alumna Kellie Huie Creates Designs for Target


As an Assistant Designer at Target, Kellie Huie helps design bath towels, rugs, shower curtains, beach mats, and bath time puppets. With the skills she gained in FIDM's Textile Design program, she draws and paints by hand, puts designs into repeat patterns, and creates colorways.

Kellie credits FIDM for giving her an understanding of weave types, the loom, and textile science as well as a working knowledge of Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. "A lot of people at work ask me for help on Photoshop and cleaning up files or indexing painterly designs," says Kellie.



FIDM Alumna Kristen Barnes Joins Stoll America

Kristen Barnes

Fashion Knitwear Design grad Kristen Barnes loves her job at Stoll, the company that manufactures knitting machines for the industry. "I've been pattern making, specifying, setting up yarn displays, steaming for production, learning how to run the program, and observing stitch programming for the software," says Kristen, who was introduced to the Stoll at FIDM.

"Learning at FIDM about fiber property traits and how each will affect the overall behavior of the yarn/garment has served me well at Stoll and on my own as a designer," says Kristen. The busy grad also works occasionally with designer Timo Weiland. 



FIDM Grad Thuvan Dao Is Assistant Designer at Vera Bradley

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Textile Design major Thuvan Dao is applying the skills she learned at FIDM to her job as Assistant Designer at Vera Bradley every day. Among her duties are creating precise tech packs for the Senior Designer, analyzing fabric and silhouette trends, managing samples on the PLM system, and assisting with CAD artwork.

FIDM classes in Photoshop and Illustrator gave her the hard skills to do the job; and Speech and Portfolio classes prepared her for presenting her work in meetings and interviews. "The Portfolio class gave me an extra step up during an interview, knowing that I had a high level online portfolio," says Thuvan.



FIDM Alumna Calli Cautela Is CAD Artist at White House Black Market

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Textile Design grad Calli Cautela has a busy schedule as as Assistant CAD Artist at White House Black Market. "My role is unique," explains Calli. She splits her day in half: the morning is spent with the creative team designing prints, making colorways, selecting Pantone chips, and researching trends. In the afternoon, she is in charge of quality approvals on samples.

"I love my job, even if it's hectic being torn between creative and technical. I'm what they call their secret weapon, because I can do it all," she explains.

She has a hard time choosing favorites from her time at FIDM, but the notebook rendering skills she learned at school often come in handy. "Someone at work hands you a few magazine tears of a concept or a feeling that they're going for, and you are the person who has to translate those images into a brand appropriate print," says Calli. "I still do notebook renderings for practice when I have time."



FIDM Alumna Designs Custom Knits for the Film Industry and the Designer Market

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Fashion Knitwear Design grad Chelsea Dowell is a Designer for Sule Kaya, owner of  Zoe Zeynap Knit Studio on Fairfax Avenue, in L.A. Chelsea works on one-of-a-kind garments for the film industry and private clients as well as private label knits for the designer market and the knit studio store.

In her position as Knitwear Designer, Chelsea knits "first" samples, develops stitch designs, and oversees production of handknit sweaters, dresses, and skirts.

"I learned everything at FIDM," says Chelsea. "I still hear my teacher's voices in my head: how to not take things personally and practical little things like finishing techniques and how to knot knitting yarns."



FIDM Grad Laura Jenkins from Paige Denim is Guest Speaker for Premiere Product Development Group

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FIDM Grad and Costing/Production Assistant at Paige Denim, Laura Jenkins (third from left) visited the Los Angeles campus today as a guest speaker for the Premiere Product Development Group, an elite group of FIDM Students with access to special guest speakers. She shared with the students her experience finding her career in the fashion industry.

Laura Jenkins started at FIDM when she was 30 years old. She had been living in Oregon and realized that something was missing in her life. She applied and was accepted into the one-year Merchandise Product Development Associate of Arts (A.A.) Professional Designation Program. She said, "I loved FIDM and I can't say enough about the Merchandise Product Development department."

She shared with the students that when she graduated from FIDM, she applied for at least 40 different jobs, and she signed up with recruiting agencies such as 24/seven and fourthFloor that specialize in the fashion industry. At first she took a temporary job technical design at ModCloth, then she received a call from Paige Denim, her dream come true.

"The biggest thing for me is doing what I'm passionate about," she said.

After an hour and a half interview, they offered her the job at Paige. "I am loving every second of it. I get so inspired going there. I feel lucky every day."

There are many perks from working there, one of which is the employees have the opportunity to participate in the denim testing process. Employees do "wear" tests to report on stretch and how the fabric feels. Laura also said that Paige Denim is a very family oriented company. They even allow their employees to take their dogs to work. 

Toward the end of her talk, Laura exchanged business cards with the students and fielded a variety of questions about the industry.



Bradon McDonald and Kevan Hall Featured in Palm Springs Life


Palm Springs Life has a story about Project Runway's Bradon McDonald, a graduate of FIDM, who will be showing his designs at Sunnylands Chic, a fashion show and luncheon in Rancho Mirage, on March 11, and during Fashion Week El Paseo, from March 16-23, alongside DEBUT designers. 


In the same issue of Palm Springs Life is a story about designer Kevan Hall, also a graduate of FIDM, who will be appearing at the Sunnylands Chic luncheon fashion show as well. The designers were challenged with creating pieces derived from the famed art and architecture of Sunnylands, also known as the Annenberg Estate and West Coast Presidential retreat. 



Join Us for a Project Runway: Under The Gunn Screening Party March 27


Meet star Nick Verreos in person! FIDM is hosting a screening party of the latest episode of Project Runway: Under The Gunn the evening of March 27 with star of the show, FIDM Grad/Instructor Nick Verreos, as our special guest. There will be a Q&A session with Nick immediately following the screening. Get the details and RSVP



Beauty Alumna Sasha Lee of Commodity Returns to FIDM to Speak to Students


Beauty Industry Merchandising & Marketing Alumna and Commodity Marketing Coordinator Sasha Lee (pictured with CMO/Co-Founder Kylo Turner) recently returned to campus to speak to Julianne Pfister's Social Media Marketing class. The unique premium fragrance company, which features a charming Eau De Bear mascot, allows customers to sample their fragrance collection at home for 30 days before purchasing a full size.  


"FIDM's Beauty Program is unlike any other I've ever heard about at other colleges. The ability to learn the ins and outs of the beauty industry directly from those who are shaping it was incredibly rewarding," Sasha says. "Being able to soak up knowledge from my teachers and their first-hand experiences in the industry -- how to be innovative, how to push boundaries, how to bring your skills and passion to the table -- is probably what helped me the most once I graduated and was thrown into the real world."



Red Carpet Trends and Fashion Show With Nick Verreos at FIDM


Fashion Designer, Alumnus, and Instructor Nick Verreos, most recently seen on Lifetime's Project Runway: Under the Gunn, and business partner David Paul hosted a Red Carpet Trends and Fashion Show event at FIDM's Los Angeles campus. The intimate presentation, held at the Museum & Galleries, premiered the designers' latest collection of red carpet gowns for their couture label Nikolaki and guests enjoyed a Champagne reception. 


Read Apparel News' coverage of the event. 


The Bachelorette star and Alumna Desiree Hartsock with FIDM's Barbara Bundy

Photos by Alex J. Berliner / ABImages




Business Management eLearning Student Owns Bridal Boutique in Grand Rapids, MI (Interview)


Name: Katia Agius

FIDM Major: Business Management

When and why did you open your bridal salon? BIANKA Bridal started as a dream and goal. Everything that I did while in high school or at FIDM was centered around the concept of being an entrepreneur in the bridal industry. After graduating with my AA in Merchandise Marketing, I was presented with the opportunity and didn't think about it twice. Grand Rapids, MI needed a bridal makeover and we were ready to introduce exclusive designers at different price points. Our opening day was January 13, 2014, and four brides said "yes" to their dress. That day I knew everything had fallen into place; I had reached my goal and was living my dream.


How do you balance going to school while running a business? Time management is key! I literally have a schedule that I live by, otherwise I would be all over the place. Being a web-only student is definitely a plus, even though it can be hectic. I organize my study hours based on the flow of the week and mainly do the "heavy loads" on Sundays. The skill of time management is definitely something that I progressed into during my AA studies in FIDM San Diego. An additional factor that also helps me balance is my passion for fashion and business. I have been blessed with the opportunity to blend both aspects everyday!

What led you to choose FIDM? The combination of both fashion and business. I had always been interested in high European fashions and accounting/economics, but I also had strong interest in being my own boss. Merchandise Marketing was definitely the introduction of both industries, and so is the Business Management Program. I highly reccommend FIDM to build a network, gain self-knowledge, and have awesome experiences!


How are you enjoying the Business Management program? I love it! It's definitely different than my previous degree; there is more in depth analysis of economics, marketing concepts, and history. If everything goes as planned, I will graduate in June of 2015. 



Career Center Hosts Recruiting Sessions

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Online retailer visited the LA campus for two days of recruiting this week. Ron Hilton, Director of Merchandising for the 14-year-old company discussed its business model with a Merchandise Marketing Allocation class on Monday before conducting interviews with FIDM Students and Alumni in the Career Center.

What are recruiters looking for to fill the Assistant and Associate Buyers positions at this top digital retailer? A college degree plus retail experience is the winning combination. Being entrepreneurial, innovative, energetic, and flexible is a plus. Overstock, located in Salt Lake City, has been voted a top 10 place to work by Forbes.



FIDM Style Project: Blogger and FIDM Grad Emily Kolberg


Above: Blogger Emily Kolberg of Storytelling by Emmy J. (left) and Claudia Schiffer, 1989 Guess? campaign.

In this month's FIDM Style Project series, we reached out to some of our favorite bloggers to ask about the historical design or fashion era that influences their work or personal style. Emily Kolberg of Storytelling by Emmy J said...

"I am a super mishmosh of lots of eras, which makes this question a little challenging for me, but if I had to chose one that most fit my style, I would choose '80s."

Emily Kolberg is a graduate of FIDM who has found herself indulging daily in a world of fashion and technology. She currently works with a digital media company handling the online communities of MAGIC Market Week as well as constantly playing with other business ideas and projects. She started her blog, Storytelling by Emmy J, a few years ago as something completely different than it is today.  A Tumblr style blog turned event coverage and now a personal style blog, Storytelling by Emmy J has become an essential component to Emily’s life and career path. Take a look into her life and don’t forget to say hello.

Twitter and Instagram: @emilykolberg

About FIDM Style Project
FIDM Style Project is an online editorial collaboration series between the online design community and FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Are you interested in participating in the next FIDM Style Project series? Get in touch with us here.



Alumna Trish Summerville Wins Costume Design Award for Hunger Games


FIDM Alumna Trish Summerville won the Distinguished Costume Designers Guild Award for Fantasy Film at the Costume Designers Guild Awards over the weekend.

Her incredible costumes from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are currently on display in the FIDM Museum & Galleries' "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition. 



Fashion Design Alumna of Fashion Label AGAIN Interviewed on Racked LA


Fashion Design Alumna Amber Kekich-Purling is featured on Racked LA, talking about her Downtown L.A. studio and women's wear label AGAIN, her time at FIDM, and inspiration when designing. 

"I went to FIDM—they teach you everything there. They taught me that, to create a line, you don't really have to do everything by yourself, but you need to be good at construction. I was going to run track in school, but really wanted to be in fashion. In Colorado, I found a teeny-tiny flyer for FIDM and announced to my mom, 'I'm going there and moving to California.' I'm very instinctual like that. My mom was like, 'No, you're going to go to a four-year university and run track on a scholarship.' I was like, 'No, I'm moving to Cali and going to fashion school and getting a two-year associates degree.' So, that's what I did. My mom dropped me off out here, stayed for two days, and I've been living here ever since."



FIDM Grad and Instructor Launches Creative Agency PurCraft (Interview)


Since graduating from FIDM, Instructor David Dea has found plenty of success in the industry, serving as the Director of Global Sourcing for ENK International, the Vice President of Business Development at Nouvolution, the Director of Global Footwear Souring at WSA Global Holdings, and as a Senior Account Executive at MAGIC. We recently caught up with David, who has been teaching at FIDM since 2009, to learn more about his new business, recent wedding, and how FIDM helped get him here. 

What is new with you professionally these days? I am teaching at FIDM and find that being an Alumnus and giving back to the future leaders within the fashion industry is something very rewarding for me. Also, I am launching PurCraft, A Creative Agency, with the initial focus on building beautiful websites. The goal of this company is to assist students, smaller designers, graphic designers, and small to mid-size businesses that just want a simple, clean, and professional website without the astronomical costs.

How did FIDM help contribute to your success? FIDM groomed me for the fashion industry. While attending the college, I quickly realized that my most valuable assets came in the form of my professors and fellow classmates. FIDM provided current, industry instructors with relevant knowledge. 



FIDM Bachelor's in Business Management Grad Now in MBA Program

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FIDM Grad Chris Phillpott is continuing his education in the MBA program at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. He also has launched Chis P. Communications & Consulting, an integrated marketing consultancy in San Diego. He took time from his busy schedule to explain his thinking.

What was your first major at FIDM?

My original major was Merchandise Marketing which is what sparked my interest in marketing and led me to the bachelor's program.

Why the FIDM Business Management program?

The bachelor's program brought my education full circle with its broader scope. With a focus on creativity, entrepreneurship, and contemporary management, the B.S. program continually kept me intrigued and motivated, cultivating my desire to continue my education and pursue my goal of owning my own business.

How did FIDM prepare you for the MBA?

The cohort-style program at FIDM with small class size, individualized attention, and educational focus on real world applications made my transition to grad school seamless and prepared me well for my future academic goals. Thanks to this preparation and educational foundation my master's program has been going extremely well and I plan on graduating next year.

Why did you choose marketing as a career path?

With the constant innovations in tech and communications, the marketing and advertising industry keeps me on my toes. It's a great field for me to balance my skills in business and management with my passion for creativity, design, and communication.

What do your future plans look like?

I plan on growing and expanding my consulting operations. Eventually I hope to acquire a niche client base consisting of locally-owned small businesses that operate in industries that I'm passionate about: dining, the arts, and entertainment; and whose business models reflect my personal values and dedication to corporate social responsibility and sustainability.



FIDM Instructor's L.A. Fashion Magazine Launches Spring Issue

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The latest issue of Los Angeles Fashion Magazine features an interview with FIDM Grad and up-and-coming designer Alejandro Ortega. FIDM Graphic Design Instructor Randy Dunbar, editor-in-chief and creative director of the print and online magazine, is keeping the FIDM network busy. He also collaborated with former student Sara Berkes on editorial and current instructor Nino Via on photography. Randy, who teaches publication design, has been Art Director at Aspen Magazine, and a designer at Health, Self, and Muscle & Fitness among others.

photo of FIDM Grad Alejandro Ortega by Nino Via



FIDM Style Project: Fashion Blogger and FIDM Alumna Rachael Dickhute

Rachael Dickhute FIDM Style Project

In this month's FIDM Style Project series, we reached out to some of our favorite bloggers to ask about the historical design or fashion era that influences their work or personal style. Rachael Dickhute of EverythingHauler said...

"I believe my personal style is heavily influenced by Dior's 'The New Look' in the late '40s, carried on to the mid '50s. It was the resurgence of haute couture, and celebrities like Audrey Hepburn and Joan Crawford were style influencers for the modern woman. Hollywood Glamour meets suburban housewife with short sleeve sweaters and pencil skirts was the common look."

Rachael Dickhute graduated from FIDM in '07 from the Merchandise Marketing Program. Her expertise in the marketing field was lent to top companies such as Seven Jeans, Antik Denim, Dogeared Jewelry, Jurlique Beauty, as well as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week as creative director. Rachael is now a full-time fashion and style blogger based here in Los Angeles. She regularly attends New York Fashion Week, and is a participating member of the CFDA and LA Fashion Council. Rachael's goal to become a style expert in the industry on multiple channels is well underway with her upcoming plans to travel with the blog and work collaboratively with the Vogue Blogger network and their brands. Her personal style is reverent to the classic designs of Dior and Chanel with a modern twist of bohemian chic. 

Visit Rachael's blog at

Rachael Dickhute

About FIDM Style Project
FIDM Style Project is an online editorial collaboration series between the online design community and FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Are you interested in participating in the next FIDM Style Project series? Get in touch with us here.



NAACP Women's Brunch and Fashion Show Features Designer Dena Burton


Alumna Dena Burton, a veteran of the fashion industry, has been tapped as the Featured Designer for the NAACP Image Awards' Women's Brunch. Offering one-of-a-kind luxury for the discerning woman, Dena's self-titled collection has been presented in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Jamaica, and Africa. 

The NAACP Women's Brunch and Fashion Show is a social celebratory event that precedes the NAACP Image Awards. It is well attended by nominees, executives, event sponsors, VIP guests, and media. The Dena Burton Collection will be presented at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, California on February 21, 2014. 



Dolce & Gabbana and Givenchy Among Brands Sold On Grad's New Online Consignment Boutique


Ashley Molina, a graduate of FIDM's Merchandise Marketing and Business Management programs, has launched, a personal online consignment boutique that takes your barely used goods and sells them on your behalf. "I sell men's and women's apparel, accessories, and footwear from streetwear brands to high-end luxury brands," she explains. "We currently have pieces from Jeffrey Campbell, Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin, All Saints, and Givenchy, among others." 



Alumna Tosha Clemens Launches PR and Brand Agency

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Name: Tosha Cole Clemens

FIDM Major: Merchandise Product Development

FIDM Grad Year: 2006

Company: Tosha Cole Clemens PR & Brand Agency

Title: Owner

Tell us a little about yourself: I grew up in the entertainment industry. I started modeling and participating in pageants at a young age. I was signed with FORD models and traveled during the summers to NYC for modeling jobs. I had the awesome opportunity to be Calvin Klein's fit model at the age of 10. That introduced me to the "behind of the scenes" of the fashion world. I was able to walk the runway at several fashion shows and was featured in numerous print magazines as well as commercials and music videos. I made the decision to move to Los Angeles to attend FIDM. After graduating, I was given the great privilege to work for top brands in the fashion industry: Bebe, Wet Seal, Frederick's of Hollywood, Sue Wong, and Fox. I worked in design, product development, production, marketing, merchandising, sourcing and styling. That experience gave me a well rounded view of how brands take a concept and bring it through to completion. 

Where are you working now?  I now focus my time writing as a fashion industry expert for different fashion magazines as well as represent brands as a public relations and brand agency. We take a unique approach when it comes to PR, covering our clients with in-depth articles on their brands. This provides excitement to the magazine readers.

How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? FIDM was and continues to be a great resource for me. While in school, I got a great understanding of what it was going to be like when I graduated. I love how the instructors are current in the industry; students know they are getting the most up to date information. That is key in this industry as fashion is always changing. Since graduating, I continue to stay connected with FIDM. The Alumni Association is always right there to help you in any venture you are pursuing.

Looking back, which classes at FIDM were most valuable to you? I would honestly have to say that I benefited from each class at FIDM. Each of the jobs I have had, I have referenced different classes that I took at FIDM. That said, my Line Development class has been the most helpful in my career. 

Any advice for current FIDM Students? Intern as much as possible. That way you can get a hands on feel for different jobs within the industry and see where you fit. It also builds your resume!

What is your biggest goal right now? My goal right now is building my PR and brand agency. We have had great success with magazine connections all over the world, we are now preparing for the next level.

Anything else you’d like to share? If you are starting your own line and need help with the step by step process or if your brand is already established and need more exposure then contact our agency for representation consideration. Visit



Tweetup with FIDM and Under The Gunn Mentor Nick Verreos on Feb. 20


Join @FIDM on Twitter on Thursday, February 20 from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. PST for a live Q&A with Project Runway: Under the Gunn star and FIDM Instructor, Nick Verreos.

The FIDM Advanced Fashion Design Alumnus is a red carpet fashion expert, television commentator, and the founder of his own label, NIKOLAKI, which has been worn on the red carpet by celebrities including Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, Heidi Klum, and Eva Longoria.

As a fan favorite of Lifetime’s second season of Project Runway, Verreos was the winning designer for the iconic “Barbie Challenge” after which his Barbie design was produced and sold exclusively at Toys “R” Us across the United States.  The “Nick Barbie” has since become a collector’s item.

Verreos has been a fashion correspondent for E! Entertainment, Style Network, TV Guide Network, and CNN International, among others and has also been a regular panelist on TV Guide Network’s Fashion Wrap for the Golden Globes, Grammy Awards, Academy Awards, and Primetime Emmy Awards. You can currently watch him on Lifetime’s new fashion competition show Project Runway: Under The Gunn every Thursday at 9/8c.

To participate in our virtual Q&A, be sure to follow @FIDM and @NickVerreos1, visit our Tweetcast page, and submit questions using the hashtag #NickAtFIDM. Then check back at 12 p.m. on February 20 to see if Nick answers your questions! 



Recent Alumna Hired as Design Assistant at Nicole Hollis Interior Design


Recent Interior Design Alumna Sophia Seiden interned with Nicole Hollis Interior Design during her last quarter at FIDM San Francisco. After interviewing with the principal designer at the end of November and receiving an offer in December, Sophia is thrilled to announce that she was hired as a Design Assistant.

"I'm so happy that FIDM offers students an extensive platform to find internships that result in actual jobs," says the December 2013 Grad. "I am in my second week of work and absolutely loving it. I'm excited that I'm getting the opportunity to work with both residential and hospitality design."



Downtown Masculine Bachelor Pad by Summer Jensen Featured in California Interiors


FIDM Graduate Summer Jensen of Hawk & Co. is featured in the Winter 2014 issue of California Interiors, published by Modern Luxury. The three-page spread features Summer, along with a masculine bachelor pad that she designed in Downtown Los Angeles for restaurant investor Apurva Patel. 

Read the article that begins on page 54 here



10 Transfer Students Who Followed Their Passions to FIDM

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"I had always wanted to attend FIDM straight out of high school, but the idea of moving over 3,000 miles from home was daunting at the time; it took me over three years and another college degree to make the jump," says Visual Communications major Julia Mickus who transferred from the University of Toronto, Canada.

Here are nine more successful transfers. Follow their stories on the FIDM blog.

Victoria Hayes from Penn State is studying Visual Communications.

Mariah McKenzie from Arizona State is studying Visual Communications.

Alumna Kelsey Farrer from NYU studied Merchandise Product Development and is working as a designer at Guess.

Courtney Hofstetler from George Fox University is taking Merchandise Marketing.

Cory Morinishi from UC Riverside is studying Graphic Design.

Kathryn Donaldson from Michigan State is majoring in Beauty Industry Merchandising and Marketing at "one of the only schools in the country who offers the major."

Esther Chung from NYU is studying Footwear Design.

Calise Chang from UC Irvine is studying Apparel Industry Management.

Kyndel Link from Oregon State University is studying Merchandise Marketing

Curious about what it takes to transfer to FIDM? Join us for an evening Transfer Information Session where you'll have the opportunity to discuss course transferability, obtain financial aid information, explore 22 creative and business majors, and hear about FIDM's Career Center resources. Campus tours will also be available. Learn more.



Alumna Is Creative Director For New Label that Embraces All Shapes & Sizes


With a mission to bring fresh and comfortable multifunctional pieces to every woman in America, Jewel Toned is a new and innovative intimates company led by Creative Director Rachael McCrary, who is a graduate of the Fashion Design Program. The new label embraces all sizes and shapes and features products that enhance a variety of figures. 



FIDM Alumna Collaborates with Aeropostale on Pretty Little Liars Line

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FIDM Alumna and Costume Designer Mandi Line is designing a line based on the hit show Pretty Little Liars for retailer Aeropostale. In a Fashionista interview, Line explained the process of convincing Warners to license the name and then selecting Aeropostale for the deal. "We wanted someone who would keep us for four different collections," says Line. "You don't want to be always trying to please the brand, the brand should want to work with you." Aeropostale is hoping the hot collaboration will add badly needed buzz to the brand.



FIDM Alumna Amber Day Launches Kimono Business

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FIDM Alumna Amber Day has launched an online kimono business called Phraseology. The multi-talented Amber, who also works as an illustrator and creative director, is offering one-of-a-kind fashion kimonos in gorgeous prints, in styles ranging from vintage to cutting edge. A percentage of proceeds from sales will be donated to organizations that preserve wildlife.



Helmut Lang and Theory Wash Development Manager Is Apparel Industry Grad

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Prior to earning a degree in Apparel Industry Management from FIDM in 2012, Steve McDonald had worked in the industry for many years, starting in the warehouse at Billabong USA and working his way up to developing denim washes. He later worked for HABITUAL as a wash developer and after that started his own business. "Eventually, I lived in Mexico where I set up a development team at a factory and at the same time was trying to make apparel packages for some premium denim companies in LA," he explains. "I would say it was this experience that influenced my choice of major at FIDM."  

Today, Steve is the Wash Development Manager at Helmut Lang and Theory, responsible for creating and developing washes and maintaining the integrity of the washes from development through production. "I have to be familiar with all the wash techniques, lots of chemicals, and processes that affect the look of garments," he says. "I have been working in laundries for years and I picked up most of things I know on-the-job; however, coming back to it after learning more has helped me get better and expand my skillset."

He adds, "I love that I am getting experience working with a company that is in New York. I get to travel to New York once or twice a month. The rest of the time it’s hands on, non-stop trying to make things happen the best I can each day. I love that I am out in the factories working with people to achieve our goals and that I am not tied to an office all day long. I love that I get to be creative and analytical at the same time as it uses my natural abilities for both sides of my brain."

Steve credits FIDM with part of his success. "It was a great place to absorb information and experience from so many truly great teachers," he says. "At some point I just started saying 'yes' to anything that would challenge me if I believed it would make me better. I moved to Mexico to learn Spanish and try and make apparel packages, I entered a StyleWeek Orange Country design contest in 2012, where I competed against Fashion Design majors and I had to do everything from concept sketch to pattern, sew and wash the garment. FIDM helped me look at an industry I knew from a different angle."

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