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Passion for Fashion? Learn About The University of Fashion Website & Its Founder!

Posted by: yetheart, June 22, 2015 4:40 pm
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The University of Fashion

Queens Library offers our customers many free ways to learn new skills that will enrich their lives.

Our newest learning partner is a very unique one. The University of Fashion website is a high-definition, professionally produced online fashion design video library featuring design tutorials, lectures and lessons, taught by college professors and industry pros. Queens Library customers can access it for free, using their library cards!

We recently spoke with Francesca Sterlacci, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Fashion, to learn more about this great resource, her long and celebrated career, and what motivated her to create the University of Fashion.

The UoF website will teach critical skills to home sewers, as well as those who are interested in a professional career in dressmaking, tailoring or fashion design.

Lessons are categorized according to discipline and sub-divided according to skill level (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced): Draping, Pattern Making, Sewing, Fashion Drawing, Product Development, Fashion Business, Fashion Lectures and Fashion Interviews. 

Our “Hands-On” lessons (Draping, Pattern Making, Sewing, Fashion Drawing, Product Development) appeal to aspiring fashion students and teachers, home sewers, industry professionals looking to upgrade their skills and the fashion-curious.

Our Fashion Business lessons target aspiring fashion buyers, marketers, merchandisers and product developers.

Our Fashion Lectures cover topics such as Trend Forecasting, Color Textiles, Costume History, Portfolio Development and other industry-related topics.

And our Fashion Interviews feature famous designers and other industry icons talking about their experience in the fashion industry. 

What first inspired your love of fashion and design? When did you decide to make them your career?
Growing up in the old embroidery capital of the U.S.—Union City, New Jersey—I had the opportunity to play with lingerie scraps left over from my mother’s take-home work as a “cutter.” When I was 10, I created a wardrobe for my Barbie and soon had a business selling and trading Barbie clothes to my friends. My older sister’s friend went to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and when she graduated she went into business for herself making mini and maxi dresses in the mid-‘60s. She recruited me to work with her company while I was in high school and, following in her footsteps, I went to FIT.

Barbie fashions—what a unique start! In the ‘80s, you started your own business using your savings, without financial backers. That must have been a little scary! What did you learn from that experience?
Where to begin? I was lucky in a sense that only six years after graduating from college, I went to work for a company designing junior sportswear that was manufactured in Asia. As a result of my travels, I met a factory owner in Singapore who offered a manufacturing opportunity with 120-day payment terms. I designed a collection of printed silk separates, found a NY-based rep (while holding down a full-time job) and the next thing I knew, I got the windows at Henri Bendel. What I didn’t know was business. I had to learn fast. All of the profits went back into the business each year because the company was growing at a fast pace. Most designers who try to make it on their own never think about this side of the business—managing employees, dealing with contractors, quality control and retailer issues. It’s almost like designing your collection is an afterthought! I highly recommend that aspiring designers intern at small companies to get a sense of what it’s really like to own your own business.

Francesca SterlacciWhat led you to develop the University of Fashion?
Three events inspired the founding of UoF.

When I was teaching at FIT, I was fortunate to have Geoffrey Beene as a student critic. While he marveled at how FIT students were so “hands-on,” he warned me that the “art & craft” of fashion design was in jeopardy due to the industry’s exporting of jobs to Asia. Later, as chair of FIT’s Fashion Design department, I saw it become reality. I couldn’t find teachers who had good enough technical skills to replace the ones that were retiring.

Also, while at FIT, I was involved in the admissions process. On Portfolio Day, aspiring designers presented their portfolio to a team of instructors for review. Since high school art programs were few and far between, many students were rejected simply because they didn’t have the right training in how to put a portfolio together. Many prospective talents missed an opportunity, though you could tell they oozed talent based on how they dressed and how they expressed their passion for fashion. I vowed to find a way to change that.

In 2004, I relocated to Silicon Valley and began teaching graduate level fashion design at the Academy of Art San Francisco, first onsite and then online. While I was skeptical at first about the idea of teaching fashion design online, I soon became a convert. I saw the online world as the perfect solution. So I rallied the best college instructors and fashion industry professionals and founded the UoF to keep the art & craft alive, to provide everyone the opportunity to access fashion instruction and—most of all—to make it affordable. 

You’ve been an author and a teacher in addition to being a designer. Was one of those jobs harder than the others?
They have all been challenging, to be honest, but I am thoroughly enjoying the UoF since this will be my legacy. I love the role that the Internet is playing in the educational process and that UoF was an early adopter of technology in education.

What advice do you have for people who want to make fashion design their career?
Explore the UoF, try out a few lessons to see if you love fashion design. Fashion designers today don’t just design. They must know the business of fashion, as well as things like color theory, trend forecasting, fashion drawing and all of the technical disciplines. UoF is a great and affordable way to pick up basic skills as well as “test the water” of a fashion career.


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how do I get free access to the lessons by my library card?


how do I get free access to the lessons by my library card?