February 27, 2013

HumEc Students Win Fashion Scholarship

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Eight students from Cornell’s department of fiber science and apparel design were selected as scholars in the annual YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund competition at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City on Jan. 9.

Prof. Anita Racine, fiber science and apparel design, and Prof. Van Dyk Lewis, fiber science and apparel design, selected 10 students in the department to apply to the scholarship competition. Eight were selected by the Scholarship Fund to receive a $5,000 award.

This year, the topic of the case study was to create a fashion line for pre-teens, incorporating flash sale websites — which offer high-end products for a reduced price for a brief time window — such as Gilt or Rue La La. The applicants researched pre-teen purchasing habits and trends as well as sales techniques of the individual flash sale sites.

Brandon Wen ’15 said he used HauteLook — a fashion apparel website — as his medium to sell “The Looker,” a vest he designed to be directed toward “trendy” pre-teens, which he then marketed through product placement on television, Twitter and Instagram.

Fellow scholarship recipient Katelyn Ridgeway ’13 received an additional $5,000 for ranking in the top six overall participants in the competition. Ridgeway’s case study marketed her line of seasonal color-matching basics to pre-teen clients with flash sales through the Gilt Groupe.

Wen, who said he and the other students often spend more than 12 hours per day in the studio, sometimes sleeping among their designs, expressed gratitude for the scholarship money, especially after his personal expenses with the Cornell Fashion Collective, the annual runway show that showcases student designs.

“I plan on saving a large chunk of [the scholarship] and using the rest to fund future projects. We have to make all these things and no one pays for them except us — all our fabrics, all our materials,” Wen said. “It’s a godsend.”

The students submitted their case studies in November and were informed that they had received the award by mid-December. Scholarship winners were honored with a banquet at The Waldorf-Astoria, which Ridgeway described as “unreal.”

“It was this really happening moment,” Ridgeway said. “There were so many people from the industry there, they had us in the ballroom which was huge, and there were a thousand people.”

For Matilda Ceesay ’13, whose case study marketed magnetized accessories for pre-teens’ bags, a speech by Alber Elbaz — the artisitic director for Lanvin, a Parisian fashion house — was a highlight of the reception.

“It was such a wonderful surprise and a great opportunity to meet someone that I look up to and that I aspire to be like,” Ceesay said. “I was in bliss.”

Ceesay said she intends to use her scholarship money toward her line for the CFC, which will incorporate a re-vision of African crafts and textiles. She said she also plans to use the scholarship for start-up money when she moves to New York City to design after graduating from Cornell.

Ridgeway — whose CFC line will feature lifestyle hiking apparel inspired by her trip abroad to Australia — echoed Ceesay, saying that the expenses for the CFC show accumulate quickly.

“When we make our lines for the runway show, and you have between eight and 12 models, that’s 17 to 20 pieces,” Ridgeway said.

For senior year collections, expenses on fabrics and other materials can reach upwards of a thousand dollars, according to Ridgeway.  The scholarship money can reduce the financial burden associated with the CFC show, she said.

The other winners from Cornell were Caroline Delson ’13, Rebecca Dugal ’14, Emily Fipphen ’14, Susan Freeman ’13 and Justine Lee ’14.

Original Author: Rachel Weber