26 October 2011

Teen Vogue Fashion University

Hey kittycats! I've had an amazing and crazy week! This past weekend (before Halloweekend) I attended an event called Teen Vogue Fashion University in NYC. The University was basically a series of seminars with extraordinary designers. I heard lectures from Michael Kors, Alexander Wang, the designers of Proenza Schouler, Betsey Johnson, and Jason Wu. It was incredible to hear the stories of designers who inspire me so much, not to mention how much I loved the infectious energy of New York City. I hope in the future to live there and experience fashion in the fashion capital itself. I could not believe all that Teen Vogue did for the students at Fashion University. They held a swanky shopping event at H&M complete with mini cheeseburgers, cute waiters, and a British band.

Michael Kors was the keynote speaker and he began by telling the story of his amazing career. He started his business career at 21 by getting retail experience in a trendy boutique. He eventually began to produce clothing for the store when the owners noticed his talent for knowing what women want. His creation of elegant and focused sportswear (everyday wear pieces) got him the attention of the buyer at Barneys and the rest is history! These are some of my favorite quotes from his lecture:

"I'm new balance sneakers, jeans, and a coke not a ball gown, a suit, and a mustache."

"You're never done...if you think you've arrived, you're over because you're only as good as your last collection"

"I love imperfect. I love a contradiction. That's perfect for me."

They showed this in the a slideshow. Can you believe this is vintage MK? Neither can I!

Then there was Alexander Wang. He is such an inspirational and rare story. To have a successful and beloved fashion empire at the tender age of 27 is the kind of success every designer (or human being, for that matter) dreams of. That is not to say that it came easy for him. He left Parsons prior to achieving a degree but knew he was ready to take on the industry. His "cool-girl" collections seem to speak to fashionistas around the world wanting to pull over effortless city-chic. He was such a sweet person and I loved hearing how he gains inspiration from the small intricacies of the world around him. Here are some of my favorite bits of wisdom from Mr. Wang himself:

"You're learning 'til the day you die. It's a process of building something you believe in."

"Don't let anyone say you can't do it or you are not ready... you have to believe in yourself."

"I really don't believe in trends."

The last is my favorite quote. I snapped this photo before his seminar and I love it:

NEXT were the design duo behind the futuristic and gorgeous Proenza Schouler label. These guys were so laid-back and nonchalant, it was almost startling how unfazed they were by the fanfare of Fashion U. It was nice because it felt really intimate- as if you were just having a drink with these boys, except they're famous. It was cool to hear about how they made the decision to collaborate on their senior thesis collection at Parsons and the partnership has stuck ever since. They seemed to have fun with designing womenswear and when asked if they would consider designing menswear they said, eyeing their casual jeans, and sneakers, "it would probably be really boring." Their designs for women are far from boring and they had this to say about working in the industry, social media, and monayyyyy:

"Every season you get to respond to what feels great at the moment, what feels relevant."

"We care less about what the critics say and more about what the kids say... people on the street."

"For us it's not about making money. If you're wanting to make money, go into banking- not fashion."

After a crazy and very short break (where I went to Mood Fabrics and cried over all of the beautiful fabric I will never sew) I saw the one and only Betsey Johnson! She was so much fun from the very start. I met her in the hallway and found myself so starstruck. She has a fun and creative energy about her. She makes you want to be her friend which is perfectly in keeping with her perspective as a designer because she said later "I knew I wanted my customer to be my girlfriend." She makes you want to hear all her crazy stories and she shared some of those with us. I couldn't help but be obsessed with her. I wrote down some of her genius quotes and quips and I think they speak for themselves:

"Like Andy [Warhol] said, you're only as good as 15 minutes."

"I never wanted to make anything more expensive than a roundtrip ticket to Puerto Rico... I'm trying to get back to that."

"Just look at feet one day." - on finding inspiration everywhere

" To me, clothing is about communication and it's good to find people who talk to you, and you don't even know them."

"Being a nice person is the best advice I can give."

"You always have cake decorating and flower arranging to fall back on." -on a plan B for if fashion doesn't work out

"Nicki would buy my clothes and wear my fucking clothes!" - on why she loves Nicki Minaj

The final designer I had the pleasure of hearing was Jason Wu. This designer is known for his elegance and modern takes on retro inspirations. I found I associated a lot with him because he spoke greatly about his love for creating things. Wu also spoke about having a global perspective. He spoke of the importance of world issues and travel. My favorite quote of his was when he talked about his adorable little owl that is the symbol of his brand saying "Owls are like fashion people. They never sleep." Owls also go "Woo Woo" Get it?

"Being a good designer... is to know what's going on in the world because fashion is a reflection of that.. whether its politics or music."

"Being creative and learning how to balance a checkbook are two different things."

"Everyone's sort of weird [in fashion]."

And I think I'll end with that.

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