Fashion design class leads to offbeat paths


Ryan Soohoo

By Anna Pevey, Staff Writer

When Chiara Vincenzi began working at the University almost three years ago, her life changed drastically. Originally from Italy, Vincenzi had worked as a fashion designer for both big and small companies before returning to academia. 

She has had experiences such as working as a fashion designer for the United Colors of Benetton and as a product designer at Moncler Group. 

Now, as she approaches her third year of teaching at the University, she teaches a class called ARTS 299: Special Topics in Studio Art within the School of Art and Design.  

The class is 16 weeks and focuses on different aspects of fashion design and illustration. Vincenzi said they both draw by hand and digitally create garments in the class. It’s important to Vincenzi that her students learn how to think of pieces cohesively. 

“I guide the students through the idea of developing a collection,” she said. “We focus on things like how to create a mood board, how to start and develop the sketches into real ideas, things like that.” 

The class doesn’t specifically cater to artists, but students of all majors and levels.

“Usually in my class, I have different students that are often in art and design or graphic design,” she said. “But I also have students from totally different majors, like computer science or advertising.”  

Colleen Lappe, senior in FAA, is currently in Vincenzi’s class. 

“Before this, I was a metals major, so I had only done things with hand crafting, and I wanted to learn the skills that 299 offers but never knew what class to take,” Lappe said. “I didn’t realize how much I would learn overall from this class, but it has been really awesome to learn skills like Photoshop and Illustrator and enjoy learning to create with them.” 

Vincenzi’s class is Lappe’s favorite class and has opened her eyes to the different types of ways and materials that can be used to create a good design. 

Within the class, students use the techniques, both hands on and technical, that Vincenzi teaches to produce garments, different wearable pieces and online sketches of different pieces. 

“Something that is really important in my class is the technical illustration to produce a garment, which we use, called flats. She said these are proportional figures that students that should be understandable when looking through them about what the garments would look like on the body.”

Earlier this year, students created wearable pieces, using the embroidery machines, laser cutting machines and some even hand sewed their pieces. 

Vincenzi said watching her students apply to different fashion institutes and schools after completing their undergraduate degrees has been a fulfilling experience.

“For me, the progress of the students from the beginning to the end of the class is so rewarding, seeing how their skills improve,” she said. “Some of my students even decide to do a master’s in fashion, applying to different fashion institutes and schools.”

One of these students is Amy Janson, a senior in FAA. Before taking Vincenzi’s class, Janson didn’t have much illustration experience. Now, after taking the class, she has decided to apply to get her master’s in a fashion-related field. 

And Janson said the skills she’s learned in Vincenzi’s class are applicable to a variety of fields, even helping her friends make logos.

“But now, through this class, I can make logos with different types of design materials, and it is something that, through practice, I have become comfortable with,” she said. “It’s the best feeling.”

Vincenzi is proud of her students and the growth they experience in her class and after.

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