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Kenneth Anderson
San Diego, California

Since my childhood I’ve drawn women in fabulous gowns and other luxury attire. I illustrated women running through castles and strutting through executive offices. As I got older, it became apparent that I was actually drawing my target customer. I love to design because it allows me to express my inner creativity and passion for women’s apparel. Another thing that informs my design is my background in acting. I did theater and took acting classes when I was younger and learned to write back stories for my characters. I’ve applied this tool when approaching my design concepts. I write back stories for my target customer. I place her into a scene because it gives my designs a meaning, a life, and a history. It explains why my muse is wearing the garments I’ve designed.

Toni Banta
East Hanover, New Jersey

The first time I watched Tara Lipinski, the 1998 Olympic figure skating champion, I knew I wanted to design. I was mesmerized by the athleticism and intricacy of her dresses. I grew up in a world in which criticism is a daily encounter, hard work is mandatory, and there is an incredible appreciation for detail. I want to turn those qualities into something boundless. I design for the bold and tenacious—qualities I possess.

Eva Carelus
Freeport, New York

Ever since I was a little girl, I liked to draw clothing. Since my grandfather is an artist, it’s in my blood. My fashion art teacher in high school, Mrs. Rhode, introduced me to the Fashion Institute of Technology. Shortly afterward, I started taking Saturday live courses. Mrs. Rhode encouraged me to think outside of the box when it came to my designs. For example, one of my class assignments was to design an outfit based off of a candy wrapper. This assignment initiated my interest in surreal fashion. I love creating unique clothing for women who are not afraid to stand out. Being unique is my design aesthetic.

Melissa Felix
Brooklyn, New York

I am the child of two Haitian immigrants. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, the last of three sisters. Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to be in the fashion industry. I drew my first fashion sketch, a wedding dress with a cathedral veil, in the third grade. I showed that sketch to my mother and she said, “Very nice, Melissa.” When my family noticed my interest in fashion, they encouraged me to pursue it. My first step was attending the High School of Fashion Industries. Though I have seamstresses and tailors in my family, I never tried doing things myself. I learned the basics, sewing, draping, fashion art, and patternmaking in high school. Then, I enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology, where I continued my fashion design studies. New York City and my Caribbean roots are my biggest inspirations. I feel that in such a diverse city, inspiration comes from everywhere. As a designer, I find beauty in mistakes. Albert Einstein once said “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” As a designer, I see that as inspiration. You should always try to challenge yourself, have faith in what you do, and convince someone that flaws can be translated into something beautiful.

Jane Jang
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

I come from the middle of nowhere—Edmonton, Alberta. I left home and came to New York City for one reason alone: to make my lifelong dream of becoming a designer into my reality. I traded the simple LRT for the monster of the MTA, the superfluous sky for the skyscrapers, the canola fields for a concrete jungle. As long as I can remember, I found magic in the potential of a sewing needle and thread and I spent my whole childhood exploring this craft. After I graduated from high school, it only took me a semester of studying another subject before I realized that this was my craft. With it I could not only perform, but also push boundaries, make a difference, and achieve the unexpected. No matter where this journey takes me, I can never forget my roots. My designs will always carry that curious, innovative, and simple aesthetic—like the small-city girl who left home four years ago!

Vitasta Kaul
Kenya, Africa

Growing up as an Indian girl in east Africa was a rather interesting experience. During Indian festivities we had to get Indian clothes made by order at the local tailor in the mall. One year at Diwali (one of the biggest Hindu festivals), I remember being so excited to see my new clothes, but I was so surprised to see that the tailor had not made them the way I had explained. I was probably no more than eight years old at the time. That was the first time I wished I knew how to sew so I could have made exactly what I wanted. I was quite young when I realized that “what you wear is who you are.” If you wear something that makes you feel great, it inevitably leads to a great day. That’s what made me want to become a designer—to be able to make people feel great and look great. My life wouldn’t have direction if I weren’t able to conceptualize my ideas from sketches to actual garments. As a person and a designer, my exposure to different cultures makes me unique and all these different cultures and aspects of my childhood are reflected in my designs, making them diverse fusions of varied concepts.

Catherine Kim
Seoul, Korea/Fairfax, Virginia

I lie within the foggy, gray area between realism and fantasy. Starting at a young age, I felt that the expression of my creativity was a form of translation—translating my fantasy world into reality. Fashion has a mysterious power over people—perhaps in an overwhelming sense. A beautiful garment will never cease to take my breath away or make my heart skip a beat. An innovative piece picks me up by my feet and drops me into the future. Fashion gives me a reason to feel at home in this fog, where I have become a medium—communicating with dreams and bringing them alive. Woven between the fiber pieces are my dreams, and on the runway, they will come alive.

Soo Jin Kim
South Korea

Designing a dress is my way of interacting with people without language. I want my dress to ask, “What makes you so special?” If she hears this voice, I will be as happy as a child discovering his secret friend. Fashion is one way to express yourself; however, there are so many different approaches because everyone has an individual style. A line, a color, a fabric, a silhouette, even a little bead pronounces its mood. I try to understand how these components transform into the customer’s life seamlessly. I think one of my strengths is that my design is very communicable.

Joannie Lee

I wanted to be a fashion designer since I was 12 years old. My father used to own a clothing factory. So, besides the playground, the factory’s steel bars were my “monkey bars.” My mom taught me how put together outfits. I grew up loving fashion. If I didn’t do fashion I probably would’ve gone into law or medicine. My mom has a law firm so she always wanted me to go into something Chinese people consider “professional” careers. However, after working at her firm part-time I realized I hated it. I knew the life I wanted was to go to work without hating it every day. I wanted to do something I had passion for. My favorite designer is Elie Saab. I love how he uses sheer and crystals without being gaudy and cheap, but elegant and glamorous.

Solih Lim
Suwon/ South Korea

All my life I have had a passion for the fashion industry. As I studied product design in Australia, I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a fashion designer and come to study in New York. This city is filled with inspirations and I love translating and expressing my ideas and experiences into my designs. As I grew more confident and informed, I became very interested in the business and management aspect of the fashion industry. I would like to incorporate my design skills as a skillful designer and merchandiser.

Elle (Eleonore) Loow
Gothenburg, Sweden

I design because it is in my blood. It is the one thing that keeps me going. It is a lovely, hard, wonderful, and sometimes ''drives-me-crazy'' part of me that I know will stay with me for the rest of my life. A life without designing and creating is not a real life. My designs are unique because my style and vision are very organic. I love the mixture of harsh and soft and things that do not really go together. I do not buy regular fabrics. Instead, I use a lot of embroidery and embellishment techniques to build my own fabrics.

Carlène Maat

I have always been in love with art and fashion. I decided to pursue a degree in Fine Arts so that I could explore various forms of art, such as painting, illustration and photography. As I waited to start my fashion major at FIT, I started exploring more ways of making art wearable, which led to making jewelry with individually handmade beads. When I started at FIT, I didn’t know which specialization I would choose, but it soon became very obvious to me that I wanted to work with gorgeous fabrics, long dresses, beading, and everything that would make a garment special and beautiful.

Angela Matarazzo
Brooklyn, NY

I am a curious person. I love everything about fashion and it made me wonder how to make a garment from scratch. I had originally studied culinary arts; however, my interest in fashion made me merge my creative and artistic culinary skills into fashion design. I love traditional aspects of design, but my curiosity also makes me daring.

Mark E. Menzie
Atlantic City, New Jersey

Fashion design is my calling. Creativity, solving problems, and making people look good is a culmination of my strengths. I love to use color and bring out the beauty in everyday things. When I was a child, my mother would scold me for stealing her sewing kit—I was nine years old! Later, she reminded me to pray before sending me off to college. Interning at design houses, working in retail, and taking classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology has awarded me many opportunities to better understand who I am as a fashion designer. Most importantly, it helped me define my vision. I hope to inspire the next generation, just like those before me.

Molly Moorkamp
St. Louis

Fashion is the greatest form of art. It is the only sliver of the art world that directly affects every human being every day when they get dressed in the morning. It provides an opportunity to make people feel good about themselves. When you create a painting or a sculpture, the amount of people the artwork can reach is limited. But the opportunity to connect with people through beautiful design, impeccable construction, and that je ne sais quoi is a rare and unique opportunity for designers. I design to make women feel beautiful. To give them the confidence to get up in the morning, or go out in the evening, and do whatever they are passionate about.

Elizabeth Napoli
Quakertown, PA

While I have been interested in fashion all my life, my real interest in design began in high school, when I learned to sew and took fashion design classes. I knew I wanted to learn how to create my own patterns, so I decided to major in design in college. A professor at my local community college inspired me and prepared me well for my transfer to the Fashion Institute of Technology. Eveningwear and gowns have always been my passion, and I love the work of costume designer Gilbert Adrian. I feel my work is always classy, elegant, and feminine. I grew up in a traditional Catholic-Italian family, and that also inspires my work.

Lindsey Navin
Bel Air, Maryland

I have always been consumed by my love to create. I dreamed of becoming an artist until I discovered the fascinating world of design. I saw an architect’s workroom and the thought of an object coming to life from sheer imagination was the most exciting possibility to me. When I first saw the Victoria’s Secret Show, I saw fashion design as a brilliant form of art, telling a story through the sculpture of divine fabrics and embellishments on the human form. My designs are very unique in that I combine components of intimates with eveningwear. I use many corsetry elements with flowing gowns that are very sexy and very romantic. I love to practice couture embellishments and experiment with fabric manipulations that I have never seen before. I dedicate an incredible amount of time, thought, and focus because I thoroughly enjoy every single minute of creating beautiful artwork.

Yakiel Peralta
Queens, NY

Ever since I was little I've been into drawing and art. I started sketching my own designs when I was ten years old. When I took a fashion design class in high school, I became more serious about pursuing fashion. I became more passionate about bridal and dresses, so I took the special occasion route. I love the beautiful elegant fabrics, embellishments, and glamour of special occasion attire. I love how a gown can make a woman glamorous, elegant and sophisticated. The main reason I design is because I love to be creative and think about a design, sketch it on paper, and create that garment from scratch. Being able to design and bring it to life all on my own is such a great accomplishment for me. Having someone wearing what I made is an even bigger enjoyment for me. All of this made me want to become a designer.

Amelia N. Persaud
Bronx, NY

I became interested in sewing during junior high and it is through my love of sewing that I fell in love with fashion. I started making small samples and learning different construction techniques at the High School of Fashion Industries. I have a very large, close family and there are frequent events, like weddings, that I would need an outfit for. The hassle of alterations and finding something different and unique is what led me to create my own garments. I like to create functional, flattering, and comfortable clothing. I focus on these details because I think of the person wearing it. My family is a big influence; I keep their encouragement and critiques in my mind as I design.

Jasmine Ruiz
San Fernando, La Union, Philippines

I took a liking to the arts in my childhood. I was classically trained in dance and voice and I majored in fine arts in high school. I knew I wanted a career that would allow me to be creative. I chose fashion design as this outlet because I thought it was interesting to express myself to society through clothing, a very common object. I gather inspiration mostly from nature. I feel it is most pure because it has not yet been touched by man. I am drawn to textures, like moss and bark, and patterns, like those in autumn leaves and on the sides of glaciers. Their color story is simple to interpret, because nature created it. My clothing is sophisticated, and is for the woman with a subtle glamour. My designs concentrate on showcasing a woman’s best features to make her feel most important on any occasion.

Chanelle Smith
Antigua, West Indies

My journey started with my love of art and my education as an art student at the Antigua Girls’ High School. Additionally, I am motivated by my parents who always encourage me to follow my dreams and work hard even though Fashion Design isn’t a conventional career choice. Most of all, my sister pushes me constantly to be better than I think I am. She’s my partner, assistant, intern, and manager. My continued success is in part due to her. Attending the Fashion Institute of Technology has long been a dream of mine. Many of the school’s alumni are inspirations to me, including greats like Calvin Klein and Michael Kors. I applied to FIT in fall of 2004. However, despite my hard work and eagerness, I was unfortunately rejected. I applied two more times and was finally accepted. My ultimate goal is to be an acclaimed designer and have my design grace the runways of the largest stages in the world. I want to be known for creating great women’s wear pieces adored by celebrities and the average woman alike. I would absolutely love to one day be a recipient of the Council of Fashion Designer’s award, one of the highest accolades awarded to fashion industry professionals.

Candace Sutton
Queens, NY

Growing up as the only child in a single-parent household, I found myself always creating things or drawing to occupy myself. I would make jewelry, draw clothes, play dress-up, or sometimes make clothes for my dolls with the help of my mother. I didn’t know at this young age that “fashion” was the common denominator. When I was in the fifth grade, I realized what I really wanted to do with my life. That year, I participated in the Daily News spelling bee, held at the High School of Fashion Industries. Seeing the name of the school and discovering that it was possible to pursue a career in fashion, I decided then and there that I wanted to become a fashion designer. I then made it my business to get into that high school, and eventually found myself at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Knowing that I have accomplished ALL that I have focused on throughout my life thus far, I know that my goal of being a successful (and maybe even famous or wealthy) designer is achievable. I design because it’s what I love to do. I grab from whatever inspires me. I design because it’s fun! Once the fun is gone I will not be a designer.

Trung Vu

There was not much fashion in my country, but I felt in love with all the dresses I saw on television. I dreamed that one day I would become a fashion designer. My decision to pursue fashion was not an easy one, since art and design are not considered career paths in my country. However, I decided to follow my dream and it has put me where I am now.

Jisun Yangn

I realized that it was my dream to become a famous fashion designer when I was very young. This is why I decided to study fashion design and applied to my dream school, the Fashion Institute of Technology. Before I came to New York City, I had my own business related to fashion in Virginia and Maryland. I owned and managed three retail accessory stores. I learned a lot while running the business. I researched and fantasized about fashion all the time. I am very interested in couture design. I love things that have exquisite details that take time and are unique. I truly respect the couture designer’s challenge. I like styles that combine simplicity and complexity, like sophisticated details on simple silhouettes. So, I am inspired by many couture designers, such as Christian Dior, Elie Saab, Oscar de la Renta, etc.

Susan Yee
Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey

I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was ten years old. I grew up in a very artistic environment and dabbled in drawing clothes as a child. I think everyone needs an outlet to unleash their greatest potential and I found mine in design. There’s nothing more rewarding than the feeling of creating something from nothing. For me, fashion is not only an art, but a way to express yourself on a daily basis. The clothes you choose to wear are who you want to be that day. I create looks that are feminine, but still edgy, playing with opposing fabrics.

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