BCBG Founder Max Azria Celebrates 25 Years in L.A.

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"Los Angeles has become the No. 4  city in the world for fashion, behind New York, Paris, and London,"  BCBG founder Max Azria told the LA Times in this weekend's Image section. Azria and his wife, FIDM Grad and BCBGMAXAZRIA and Herve Leger Chief Creative Officer Lubov Azria, are celebrating the company's 25th anniversary in Los Angeles. An exhibition of Azria's work is open at company headquarters in Vernon through May 18.



Alumni Spotlight: Charlee Escobar


Name: Charlee Escobar

Major: Merchandise Marketing A.A. Degree 

Job: Production Assistant / Sample Coordinator at Rocket Dog Brands, Inc.

1. What made you want to study Merchandise Marketing at FIDM?

I wanted to study Merchandise Marketing because I had a love for working with numbers, but I also wanted to be in a creative environment. I thought that being a buyer would be a great marriage between the two and I still believe so, but I started to find myself drifting towards being a planner or working in allocations. Planners work a lot more in Excel with pricing and various spreadsheets. I find my peace in Excel; it’s just relaxing to me.

2. What was the most valuable piece of information you learned during your education at FIDM?

There are two valuable pieces of information I learned at FIDM. One: this is a small industry. Everyone knows everyone! If you can break into this small circle and prove yourself, the places you can go are infinite.

Two: INTERN! All of my teachers preached about internships. I wish I listened when they gave me this advice, it definitely would have made the hunt a lot easier to find a job after graduating because companies look for that entry level experience. It really helps you get started, it gets your foot in the door.

3. What were some of the challenges you faced as a student?

While I was a student I also worked full-time while planning my wedding, so one of the largest challenges was finding time to enjoy my personal life while being successful both at work and school. Learning to prioritize definitely helped me with this challenge. I also completed two years of schooling at my Community College back home, which was in semesters so switching to quarters was a challenge also. You definitely need to stay on top of all of your work or you could end up being extremely behind because quarters fly by much faster. There are also a lot of projects that last throughout the whole quarter, so if I fell behind one week it would sometimes cause a ripple effect.

4.What are some of your proudest FIDM accomplishments?

During my first quarter one of my teachers asked for my essay to use as an example for the following quarter. For me it was a proud moment because I’ve always excelled in Math and Science but never in English. Another accomplishment was putting together my portfolio. It was rewarding to see all of my hard work over the course of this program in one place. It brought back a lot of great memories, and definitely made all of the hard work worth it.

5. Now that you have graduated and earned your degree, where do you work/what do you do?

After graduating from FIDM, I was hired at Rocket Dog Brands, Inc. AKA the most amazing company to work for. I am now their new production assistant / sample coordinator. I focus mainly on sales samples that come in from our factories and stay in communication with the factories to ensure that our samples are going to arrive on time.

When I was hired, I expressed my interest in being a planner, so I have also had the opportunity to run a couple of our spreadsheets each week. Just a little more about my job duties – I enter factory orders, generate GTIN and UPCs, follow up with the designers regarding production spec, manage special make up requests from customers, and I also maintain our showroom display. We are a smaller corporate office so I have had the opportunity to do a lot of various projects around the office.

6. Has your education at FIDM helped prepare you for the work you are doing?

I do believe that my education at FIDM has helped me prepare for the work I am doing. Since I did not intern, FIDM is really the reason why I was hired. FIDM is fast paced, which is also similar to this industry.

Photo Courtesy of Mariya Dondonyan




Graphic Design Grad Gives Back to Organizations He's Passionate About


Graphic Design Graduate Michael Nguyen has volunteered countless hours for organizations such as the Orange County German Shepherd Rescue, YouTube artist Tiffany Alvord, and the Asian Pacific Festival. "I feel so lucky to have been given an amazing education at FIDM and want to share my talents with those in need, he says.

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Visit Michael's Facebook Page to learn more about his work. 

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Merchandise Product Development Grad Annie Hsu Lands at Jolt

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When the Denim Study Tour, led by Department Chair Eva Gilbert (left), visited Kellwood headquarters this spring, we ran into 2012 FIDM Grad Annie Hsu. She updated us on her career.

What is your job?

I am Sales Operations Assistant at Jolt. I assist the Head of Sales on all private label jobs for Jolt,  following projects from beginning to end. This allows me to work with various departments: Design, Technical Design, Sales, Customer Service, Shipping, etc. Every day there are problems to solve and I work with numbers a lot.

Did you use the Career Center?

Yes, Kevin in the Career Center connected me with Jolt for an internship in Production which led to my current position.

What was your major?

I got a Professional Designation in Merchandise Product Development.

Where did you go to school before FIDM?

I earned a B.S. in Managerial Economics from U.C. Davis.

Any tips for current FIDM Students?

Utilize all the resources around you, especially the Career Center. You never know who you will meet and where your next opportunity might be.



Beauty Grad Is Product and Package Development Associate at Jouer Cosmetics


Name: Kia Ragland

Degree: Beauty Industry Merchandising & Marketing and Business Management

Job Title/Company: Product and Package Development Associate at Jouer Cosmetics

Responsibilities: Some of my responsibilities include assisting the PD Director with R&D of new product and package development, project managing products from concept to market, assisting quality control, initiating necessary product testing, requesting all documents in order to reach regulatory standards, and managing archives. 

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? FIDM truly helped me become the driven, independent, and great multitasker that I am today. The group projects really taught me how to be a team player, but also have the ability to take the leadership role. Having such a short turnaround on so many projects gave me the experience needed to handle almost anything that comes my way. FIDM definitely taught me how to be a problem solver that can take action and proceed with multiple solutions until the task is complete.

What are you most excited about in your new position and why? I am excited to take on more responsibilities and really assist in the growth of Jouer Cosmetics being that it’s still such a young brand. I really admire the vision of the brand and the level of quality that goes into every product.



Recent VisComm Grad Is Public Relations Coordinator at BCBGMAXAZRIA


Recent graduate Lindsey Spink, who received her degree in Visual Communications in March, is currently the Public Relations Coordinator and Executive Assistant to the VP of Global Public Relations at BCBGMAXAZRIA. "My day-to-day responsibilities include preparing studio loans and pulls, creating press clippings, reviewing BCBG editorials, assisting the VP of Global Public Relations, meeting with press, preparing for and assisting with special events, communicating with editors, and being in charge of public relations department budgeting," she explains.

"FIDM helped prepare me for my career by teaching me the following skills: writing press releases, creating media kits, connecting with industry professionals, the entire process of coordinating special events, budgeting, and how to communicate with press." 



BCBGMaxAzriaGroup Hosts Retrospective Celebrating 25-Year History


BCBGMaxAzriaGroup turned part of its Vernon, California warehouse into an exhibit space on April 29, for a retrospective of the company's 25 year history designing a mix of "Paris chic with L.A. cool." On display were Max Azria Atelier red carpet dresses, Herve Leger bandage dresses, youthful styles from BCBGeneration, and pieces from BCBGMaxAzria Runway. 

Lubov Azria, the fashion house's creative director, is a graduate of FIDM. 

Read more coverage of the exhibit in Apparel News



Merch Marketing Alumna Accepted Into JCPenney's Business Analyst Program (Interview)


Name: Laura Clayton

Major: Merchandise Marketing

Grad Year: 2009

What does it mean to you being accepted in the Business Analyst Training Program at JCPenney? I am truly honored and so excited to become a part of such a well-known and respectable company that has stood the test of time while continuing to evolve. I feel that the Training Program will give me the opportunity to develop my knowledge and skills in a learning environment and will enable me to achieve success once I am assigned to my specific merchandise team.

What will your role/responsibilities be? Allocating merchandise at the SKU level based on Buyer intent to ensure stores are at optimal inventory levels; developing product knowledge to be store level expert in regard to product needs and opportunities; collaborating with planning and merchandising teams to review assortment flow plan and ensure sufficient quantities are purchased to support the assortment plan; performing pre-season, in-season, and post-season analysis to uncover opportunities and risks; monitoring JCPenney warehouse inventory and flow and recommending appropriate actions to -maximize business objectives.

Do you have to relocate for this job? I currently reside in Nashville, TN where I am a Merchandise Distribution Analyst for Kirkland's Corporate Office. I will be relocating to Dallas, TX for my job at the JCPenney Corporate Office.

How did FIDM and the Career Center help prepare you? FIDM did an excellent job of preparing me for this job. Through my buying, planning, and allocation classes I was able to gain hands-on experience creating reports/analysis that are used daily in the retail business industry. FIDM gave me endless opportunities to gain knowledge and firsthand experience in the fashion industry through internships, events, and class projects.

I was first introduced to the JCPenney Training Program in Kevin's Professional Practices class. I feel that Kevin did an outstanding job making sure that his students were prepared to start their career path. The guidance and recommendations he gave me for my resume, cover letter, and portfolio truly helped me to stand out among other candidates during my interview process at JCPenney.



Nick Verreos Participates in Discover Los Angeles' "What's Your L.A. Story?" Instagram Campaign


Over the weekend, alumnus Nick Verreos participated in a photo shoot with photographer Michelle Yam (who also attended FIDM) for a Discover Los Angeles' campaign entitled "What's Your L.A. Story?" for Instagram. Nick posed with red carpet gowns and some budding fashion designers who were visiting FIDM with their parents. 


Read more on Nick's Blog



Fashion Design Grad's Annie + Jade Eco Line Featured in California Apparel News


California Apparel News has a story about Fashion Design Alumna Annie Le's new clothing line, Annie + Jade, which uses eco-friendly fabrics and ethical manufacturing practices. Her women's collection features natural, organic, recycled, or blended fabrics such as wool, silk, Modal, and Viscose. "I don't believe that being eco-friendly is a one-way road," she told Apparel News. "There are multiple ways to be eco-friendly."



Hank Pola Scholarship Presented to Textile Production & Development Student


On April 17, California Fashion Association President Ilse Metcheck presented a $5,000 scholarship to FIDM Fashion Design Graduate Shayna Goldberg in honor of her late husband Hank Pola, who was a longtime member of the textile and apparel community. Shayna will begin pursuing FIDM's Associate of Arts Advanced Study Program in Textile Production & Development this summer.

California Apparel News has the full story. 



FIDM Graphic Design Grads’ Stormtrooper Art Featured in “Legion” Star Wars Exhibition this Weekend


Celebrate “Star Wars” Day in  Los Angeles this weekend at the “Legion”  exhibition featuring artists’ unique interpretation of Stormtrooper helmets, including works by FIDM Graphic Design Alumni Eric Acasio and Danny Osterman.

Lucasfilm invited artists at Disney Consumer Products, where Acasio is currently a graphic designer, along with designers from snowboarder/skater headgear manufacturer NEFF, where Osterman is a graphic designer, and other guest artists to participate.

“Artists have sliced, melted, warped, ossified, pickled and otherwise completely re-imagined the classic trooper bucket,” describers Mashable writer Chris Taylor about the exhibition, which runs from Friday, May 2, to Sunday, May 4, at the Robert Vargas gallery in Los Angeles.

Osterman tells FIDM that his participation in Legion– the launch of which coincides with J.J. Abrams’ seventh “Star Wars” film cast announcement – has been like fulfilling a childhood dream for him.

“It feels amazing,” says Osterman who mentioned that the “Star Wars” films were part of his childhood. “Having your artwork seen is so hard now with social media platforms being so saturated. Being able to get that extra push from NEFF is exactly what I needed to be on a main stage and I couldn’t be happier. I’m hoping it will open the doors to new opportunities in the art world.”

He adds, “I learned so much and owe so much to FIDM and the faculty. It helped mold me to be what I am today.”

Osterman’s classmate Acasio, who was serendipitously invited for the same design opportunity, was equally thrilled.

“I’ve been a big fan of Star Wars ever since I was a kid. Every wrapping paper tube was a ‘light saber’ and I used to recreate the Death Star trench scenes when I kid,” says Acasio, adding:

“I’ve never had work on display at this type of scale before. There are so many talented creatives in this show so it’s a little intimidating, I’m just glad to be a part of it,” says Acasio. “I never have really worked on toys/sculptures before and it really is an awesome feeling taking on another medium, but I did get to incorporate some graphic design into it, too. Also knowing that one of my FIDM classmates in this show too… how awesome is that?”

See a sample of Legion’s Stormtrooper art on the FIDM Digital Arts Blog, our site dedicated to graphic design and digital media. Image above: "Star Wars" Stormtrooper interpretive art by FIDM Graphic Design Alumnus, Danny Osterman, currently a graphic designer at NEFF.



5 Recent Beauty Program Grads and Their Glam Industry Jobs

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FIDM's Beauty Industry Merchandising and Marketing program prepares students to enter and move up in the industry that helps us all look our best each day. Here are a few recent success stories.

Alyssa Johnson is Product Development Coordinator at GLAMGLOW.

Grace Lim is Associate Marketing Manager at Hourglass Cosmetics.

Sasha Lee is Marketing Coordinator at Commodity.

Louie Lopez is Product Marketing Coordinator at GLAMGLOW.

Rachelle Pons is Social Media/PR Assistant at Josie Maran Cosmetics.



Alumna Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor Author 'The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture For $200 and Turned It Into a Global Brand'


In The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture For $200 and Turned It Into A Global Brand (Gotham, May 2014) Juicy co-founders Pamela Skaist-Levy, a graduate of FIDM and Gela Nash-Taylor, along with L.A. Times fashion critic Booth Moore, reveal how they created a fashion empire of "California cool" clothing. Part memoir and part how-to, they share valuable industry lessons with humor and glamour. 

The duo are now partners in a new women's line, Pam & Gela, which launched last month. 



Beauty Grad Is Int'l Regulatory & Product Development Coordinator at GLAMGLOW


Name: Alyssa Johnson

Position/Company: International Regulatory & Product Development Coordinator at GLAMGLOW

Responsibilities: My responsibilities include preparing both domestic and international regulatory and registration documentation for products that are launched all of the world. I also work with the PD manager assisting in the concept, safety and regulatory compliance, and evaluation of all new products.

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? FIDM not only gave me a solid educational foundation in the beauty industry, but the college also put me in contact with amazing instructors who were working in the industry! I've been blessed enough to get this position and a previous position through connections with my FIDM Instructors.

It's so important to maintain a level of professionalism in your classes with your peers and especially your teachers. You will leave a great impression -- so great that they just might contact you years later for a job opportunity, which is what happened with me!

What are you most excited about in your new position and why? I'm most excited to be involved in the process of developing new products! Touching the ingredients, and smelling the fragrances. Watching all the stages from conception to the final product. This process, is so crucial in the success of a brand, products need to be innovative efficacious, and fun. I'm so happy to be part of it! It's what made me fall in love with the beauty industry.



FIDM Alumnus Promoted to Creative Director at Mood Designer Fabrics


Ben Pinpin, a graduate of FIDM's Fashion Design Program, was recently promoted to Creative Director at Mood Designer Fabrics. We recently caught up with the 2012 alumnus to chat about his career. 

What are your new responsibilities? My responsibilities for the company include developing creative endeavors for the Los Angeles and New York locations, such as the strong majority of the educational programs, e-marketing campaigns, maintaining relations with third party venues, reaching out to new customers, developing in-store visuals, producing educational videos, and most of all providing Mood students and customers with great customer service and some cheeky wit.

How long have you been at this company? I've been with Mood Designer Fabrics since January of 2013 starting off as a regular Sales Rep and Cutter. I always used my witty charm with a little educational twist as my selling pitch because I always believe in consumer knowledge. That led to being one of their sewing teachers in April 2013, then Educational Director around August 2013, and finally becoming Creative Director December of 2013.

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? FIDM helped me prepare for this career by offering great professors including BJ Sims, John Swaitek, and Sandy Katana for pattern drafting, Martin Podway for business of fashion, Nancy Riegelman for illustration -- it's a very long list. Most importantly, working with Kevin Jones and the FIDM Museum & Galleries, along with being accepted into the Advanced Fashion Design Program drastically improved my work ethic and skill set. FIDM has amazing resources that I utilized very well.



Merchandising Strategies Students Visit Alumna's Pale Violet Boutique (Interview)


Students from Susan Spencer's Merchandising Strategies class recently visited Merchandise Marketing Alumna Julia Blake's Downtown L.A. boutique Pale Violet. We chatted with the 2010 Graduate to learn more. 

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? FIDM was the ultimate networking experience! I met so many amazing mentors and classmates who have helped me get to where I am today. There are so many talented individuals who attend FIDM so it was great to collaborate with some of them to help open Pale Violet.
How was it having the Merchandising Strategies class visit your shop? 
It was such an amazing experience to get to share my post-FIDM path with people who are working really hard in their program now. I can only hope that I was able to inspire some of the students.

The team of FIDM Graduates who helped open Pale Violet: Chris Toledo, Matthew Mathiasen, owner Julia Blake, and Marina Tia

When did you open your shop? Pale Violet opened in Downtown Los Angeles late November 2013, a month after we launched our online store.  

We hear you may be expanding to NYC? That’s in the plan! I’ve always had a special place for NYC in my heart so it’s in our three-year plan to have an East Coast flagship store in Manhattan.



How to Create a Shoe Portfolio - Part 2


In part 1 of creating a shoe portfolio, I reviewed three steps in getting your shoe portfolio started. Now, it’s time to organize your work, and put the book together.

Here are some key items to include:

  1. Show your inspiration: Consider mood boards, trend boards, color boards, or at the very least, an image that shows what inspired you.
  2. Sketches: I love seeing thumbnail sketches that are not so perfect. When sketching not every little drawing is perfect, and that is what makes the sketching process so charming.  Show how your ideas evolve.
  3. Marker render a few sketches: These don’t have to be perfect, but take a few and color in some part of the sketch. This part is not necessary but it shows skills and a point of view in color and materials.
  4. Include computer drawings, and specifications: Here is an opportunity to show your skills. When sending sketches to the factory, they are usually sent in vector artwork form, or a flat line drawing. Include specifications, measurements, material call outs, Pantones, and any information that shows you can or have an idea on how to build a shoe.
  5. Photos of your final product: If you don’t have a final product that is ok. If you do, it’s best to include so you can show a sample was made, and perhaps it sold in the market place and you definitely want that to be known.

Select three to four projects to show in your portfolio.  You can choose more, but do that after you’ve selected your key projects. Consider showing diversity. You may want to be an athletic shoe designer, but show that you can do other shoes as well.

Other items you can include: Illustrations, art work, Photoshop renderings, school projects that won contests, and other non shoe related projects that show skills and creativity.

This is just a guide, and of course it’s not an exact formula. Not every project or process is the same. I can tell you that companies appreciate a well-organized portfolio that shows your ideas clearly, and creatively.

Best of Luck!

FIDM Alumna Nalini Arora is an international footwear and accessory design consultant. Her specialty lies in women's fashion footwear, accessories, and kids shoes.  



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

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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



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.

Shade55_LookBook Cover Image

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

Thuvan Dao

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

Cali Cautela

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

Chelsea Dowell

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.

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