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VOL. 132 | NO. 166 | Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Memphis College of Art Offers New Program for Fashion Studies

By Andy Meek

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Memphis College of Art and the Memphis Fashion Design Network have teamed up to launch a Fashion Design Certificate Program that starts this fall.

The program will consist of seven classes – from Draping Textiles to the Business of Fashion – held at MCA that will span nine months. As a non-degree program, the idea is to give participants who may not want to go back for another degree to instead get a Fashion Design Certificate, which can be used as an industry credential.

They’ll also get introduced to the technical and conceptual skills needed to continue a studio practice, submit a mini-collection for consideration in Memphis Fashion Week, or work as a tailor or seamstress in a retail or alterations business.

Abby Phillips, founder of the Memphis Fashion Design Network, said her organization saw a big need for designers in Memphis to have a shot at a formal education that helps them tie together their creativity and other foundational elements for a career in fashion.

“We had a consultant come in from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and she came in and worked with us on what our program should look like,” Phillips said. “This is a curriculum that will actually give you the tools you need to complete a collection as a designer.

“We really feel like this is going to take designers here to the next level,” she added. “For our designers, this is really a great opportunity, because many of our designers have already completed an undergraduate program and aren’t interested in getting a second degree. But this certificate is giving them what they need to refine their skills.”

The mission of the network she leads is to cultivate and educate members working in the fashion industry in Memphis. That includes fashion designers as well as almost anyone else in the space, from photographers to models.

The new program at MCA will run from September through May. Tuition is $2,650, and the program is open to all adults age 16 and up.

MCA is hosting an open house for anyone interested in finding out more about the program. The open house is set for Thursday, Aug. 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Rust Hall on the MCA campus in Overton Park.

The event will have a demo studio set up with equipment, a sample “Stitch and Style” book, and fashions made by students from the fashion design network’s Emerging Memphis Designers Project on display. Phillips and the instructors who will teach the certificate classes also will be on hand to meet potential students. Also on hand will be Cece Palazola, director of community education at MCA.

Jeannine LaBate, who works in MCA’s Community Education Department and who will be teaching fashion illustration in the fall, said the college had sensed community demand for this program. The program represents opportunity for students on several fronts.

“Students will be able to make connections with other local fashion enthusiasts and to study alongside them and gain expertise from industry experts and instructors,” LaBate said. “And also to really use MCA as the cutting board for everything from fabric selling to manipulating pattern to the conceptual understanding of how fashion serves society.

“I think there’s a strong movement of working with your hands again, getting back to the basics of individuality and steering away from commercialized fashion,” LaBate said. “Our goal is to provide an opportunity for students to experiment with their points of view as designers, as people who may make their way through and have their designs presented to Memphis Fashion Week, or they may find themselves gearing more toward the business end of fashion. Whether that means being a buyer or running their own boutique one day.”

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