By julieapple, 18-Jul-2012 20:53:00
One of the best experiences of being in my Design Studio is meeting students with a passion for art and design. I love that these kids are so hungry for it that they come in and show me their work. They have goals and dreams and vision. Painters, photographers, dancers, musicians, and fashion designers have inspired me. I love that they want to make the world a more beautiful and meaningful place. I always try to help with a little insight about the industry and getting started. I have been lucky to be able to introduce many of the visual artists’ work to our community during our First Friday events. It is magic to see them work a room for the first time.
There is a special place in my heart for the fashion designers. You have to be a little crazy and truly unconventional and very brave to tell your friends “I want to be a designer!” The fashion industry is a tough nut to crack. It is exclusive, expensive and the over the top glamour can be intimidating. Saying you want to be a designer, is like saying you think you can be part of that world.
Let’s take this down a notch. I went to design school (F.I.T. and the University of Delaware) to learn what people 100 years ago learned at home form their mothers. People have been tanning hides and weaving clothe since pre-historic times. It is hard to find a time or place where clothing was strictly functional. As far as I can tell we have be slaves to fashion since the first fig leaf. If a caveman can whip up a new look, we can do it too. Doing it with style is an art. Very few master the art and rule the runway.
Today, we live in a design rich environment. Someone designs every consumer product in it. If you are passionate about design and savvy about form, function and fashion, there is a job for you! Very few designers do runway and many do not design what they set out to design. Designing is not a job so much as a way of thinking about things, solving problems and transforming things from mundane to elegant. If you love it as much as I do, you will find a way to design something. Keep in mind design jobs day in and day out usually involve as much paper pushing as any other job. The difference is that some days it all comes together and you get to have and hold the fruits of your labor. It is the sweetest thing.
In honor of all the people who think they’ve got it, I will be blogging on the topic “So, You Think You Want To Be A Designer”. I am so excited! I became a designer because I was a frustrated seamstress. I wanted to have the skills to make exactly what I wanted. That was it. I started with nothing but frustration and a spark of creativity. When I was accepted to design school, I knew nothing. Design school was great, but it was only one facet of the story. I felt so green and uninformed. I wish there had been a way to learn more before diving in. For this blog column, I will post lessons, give assignments and talk about where your creativity can take you. We will look at the skills you really need and the skills that take your craft to another level. I hope you will speak up, ask questions and share accomplishments and struggles.
It has been a long time since I taught my design class at Parsons. I learned as much as the students. I look forward to putting my ideas and work on the line again. Do you know someone who is design crazed? I would love to see them here!
By julieapple, 20-Jun-2012 21:08:00
I woke up in a panic a while back. My brain felt like it would explode. Why hadn’t I designed any clothes for JulieApple? I had my own company, why had I refused to live my dreams? You see, I never meant to be a bag designer. That was something that happened while I was trying to design clothes. I needed to know what the point was in slashing and burning my career if not to pursue my passion? So I got up and started sketching.
You may wonder how I forgot what I was supposed to be doing? Well….
Some girls dream of growing up to be a fashion designer. It never occurred to me. I started college majoring in music with a minor in theater/communications. Trying out the wrong major convinced me I needed to do something completely different. I even managed to convince my parents that fashion design is a responsible major. Yup! Once they agreed to let me major in music, anything else seemed more lucrative. Right? Fashion school was chaos. I earned degrees in fashion design from F.I.T. and The University of Delaware. By the time I graduated, I had attended three colleges over four years. I attended summer and winter terms, skipping breaks to finish on time. I was in a one-woman marathon race to the finish line in six-inch platforms. (I wish I could find the pictures.) Once I finished, I was at a loss how to actually get a job in the business. I was lost in South Jersey – an epic distance from the real action in New York. I snagged interviews in New York and Boston and beyond with bridal houses. No one was hiring. I now know they interviewed me because they thought I would beg to be an unpaid intern. Free labor! Yeah! It makes the fashion industry buzz. For me, the only way back to the City and out of my parents’ house was a “real job.” Paid.
My first “real job” was full of opportunities. I was back in city, in design departments at all kinds of design companies, even the big Fortune 500 companies. I was invited to speak to the CEO of Liz Claiborne about technology and the future of design a year after I graduated. Within two years I was teaching a design class at Parsons! All of this was amazing, but I was not designing. I was working on cutting edge CAD software. I could make CAD do amazing things, but I was not making amazing things with my own ideas.
I had to get back to designing. I was not getting anywhere finding a new job without any hands-on design experience. I landed a job with LeSportsac, designing bags and prints. There was no shortage of hands-on experience there. Nine years later I was VP of Design, and still not pursing my passion. To those of you with designer ambitions, take note! This is how most fashion careers go. We end up designing what people pay us to design. I loved my job, but I was ready for a change, a big change. I started JulieApple. At the same time I consulted. My first “paid” apparel project was bullet-proof vests for ladies. Sometimes fashion is as important as life and death. More apparel companies hired me and I designed everything and anything for them.
Things were going swimmingly until I woke up wondering what happened to my design ambitions. Once you start talking to yourself, it is really hard to kick the habit.
FATE! One day a woman walked into my Design Studio and asked me to do an eco fashion show, Raleigh Redress. I decided to show JulieApple dresses too. Finally I had a reason to drop everything and pull a collection together of dresses for ladies, tweens and toddlers. I wasnted JulieApple to be a collection of wearable pieces that are elegant and comfortable, sexy and versatile. Every piece was made from Repreve®’s RPET fabrics. There are maxi dresses, mini tunics, wrap dresses, swing tops and more to come. I was so moved by everyone who volunteered their time and talents to pull together a gorgeous showing of innovative, passionate designers. My models were poised and lovely. My daughters pitched in to show the tween pieces. Words cannot express what it meant to follow my dream and to take a bow with my daughters and the Raleigh Redress community. Thanks for the opportunity to work with a community of talented designers who care deeply about design. Check out the photos in the image galleryto the right.
What can you buy from the JulieApple apparel collection? Standby for details. I am obsessing over finding the perfect materials, creating the perfect fit and the best construction methods. What about JulieApple bags? I have a slew of new ideas in the works. I love a good bag; with function and perfect print and I know you do too.
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