Monday, May 24, 2010

Finals Week @ FIT

So I'm half finished with the Menswear program at FIT!  I can't believe how much Professor Blackman & Co. have whipped us all into shape over the past year from not knowing how to thread a sewing machine to now being able to make a hand-tailored jacket.  As all high-caliber design schools are notorious for, finals week means it's about to get hardcore up in this bitch...

... and of course slap-happy moments in the studio.

Sunday was spent doing an extra credit paper for History of Menswear, working on a little bit of Patternmaking and a little bit of Tailoring.  Now when I say "a little bit," I mean like three hours to each.  The paper was actually a lot of fun to write.  I picked out this Parisian Hippy from 1970 to analyze.  He's the dancer Lester Wilson, taken at the Parisian café, Café de Flore.  Among other things I talked about, I showed that by his grooming, he didn't fall into the category of "dirty Hippy" hahaha...

Here's an nice except:

The man here is an example of someone in step with the fashion of the day, or rather as the Hippie movement was, anti-fashion.  At this time, men’s fashion, along with everything else in the world, was becoming more and more liberated.  With the women’s movement, the sexual revolution and Rock music, whose central theme is “Do what you want,” the type of dress people wear is becoming very uninhibited.  As well, with new colors and cuts being injected back into menswear, it was something not seen since before rich people were killed in France during the French Revolution for displaying their wealth.  This guy is definitely living up to this more uninhibited ideal as we see him enjoying time with a friend, in everyday attire, in a fur coat, a silk scarf around his head and necklaces that look like they go down to his waist.  He is the antitheis of the restrainted style of menswear in the “Leave It to Beaver” decades of yore.  
As I have come to understand the term “dandy,” it means a man who is very concerned and aware of his image and walks through the world with ease and confidence.  A typical hippie would not meet this criteria.  In describing a hippie’s clothing, the author cited a quote referencing the “badly stitched leather dividing the two colors (of his pants.)”  Someone with a dandy’s mindset wouldn’t be running around with badly stitched anything, at least not visible to others.  While this man is clearly heavily influenced by hippie style, he is much more of a dandy than a hippie.  Ignoring his clothing, with a bright, charming smile on his face, he is engaged with a friend and looks totally confident and at ease.  The way he holds his cigarette reminds me of the lazy confidence of 
Achille Devéria’s drawing of Alexandre Dumas, who even like the man in the picture, is in Paris.   

It was a good paper, but I did get docked a point because I compared a Hippie, which is an anti-fashion movement, to a very fashionable man, when someone like Oscar Wilde, who galavanted around town in knee breeches and velvet jackets with a sunflower, would have been more appropriate.  Well, whatever, anti-fashion inevitably becomes fashion.

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." - Oscar Wilde

Our drawing class never had homework so the last week so just the last week and that was it.  We showed some of our best sketches to the teacher as we were working and that was it.  Fine by me.  I feel like my figure drawing skills have gotten a lot better, and I'm beginning to have the proportions and patterns of curves in the body click.

Monday, I wrapped up the black denim jacket for Patternmaking.  I'd resolved a lot of the challenging parts earlier last week so there wasn't any problem-solving or thought left, just doing the work.  And after drafting a shawl and notch lapel, suit body and back suit vent from memory (or try my best :p) last week, felling in sleeve lining wudn't no thang.

It turned out nice, except Professor Blackman made me modify it a good amount, to include a collar we learned this semester, from my original sketch.

Meh.  There's a better pic floating around out there but here's a sneak peek at some details:

Tuesday night was mostly all working on my Tailoring jacket.  On the train ride home and in the morning, I went over my notes for History of Menswear class.  The exam went just dandily.

Wednesday night, I had a nice little surprise assignment.  A customer at Arbitrage had been requesting four of the shirts he bought have darts added.  I volunteered, having never learned about it.  I screwed it up at first pretty bad.  Screwing up a $150 shirt isn't good.  The way I did it first was put it on a form, pin it where I wanted to take volume away and transfer the measurements and such.  Where's what happened when I sewed it up:

The answer is no.

After being told by two very competent people what I wanted to do couldn't be done, I was more determined ever to do it.  Finally, I talked to my friend Pasha, who said something like, "Oh yeah, it's simple.  Here's what you do.  Draw a line from arm hole to armhole.  Find the mid point.  Mark 6" to both sides, drop a line to 3" above the hem and mark about 7 1/2" down from the armhole line, which is approximately the waist line.  Pin it with silk pins since the fabric's so fine and sew it."

Glorious.  I replicated it on the other three shirts and, as you can see, memorized how to do it.

Now when I took the stitches out from the first screwy dart I did, the fabric was a very tight weave and it left a diamond of little perforations from the needle.  After thinking about the situation a little, I thought I could get them out, despite not being able to steam them out with an iron...

Just like how if you have messy hair, if you wet it, it relaxes down, the same would probably be the same with the cotton fibers.  None were broken, they were just pushed out around a shape that went through it exactly like if you would put your finger through cheesecloth.  So I dunked it in water, rubbed the perforations and gave it a good press of the iron and it was as good as new!

I pressed all four of those bad boys, tag teamed with FedEx and got them en route in the morning.

I already had my Menswear Design project finished so I was done for the night and presented in the morning.  My collection was based on spiders and spider webs.  I like the brutal elegance of spiders.  It incorporated a few sheer fabrics like organza and other natural fabrics like cream worsted wool, white linen, purple satin and brown tweed.  There were generally sharp corners and cutouts in the collection and it was (would be) cut very slim.  (Click the images to see it larger)

Then came the monster night before our Tailoring class.  And with losing the previous night, even though I was diligent the whole semester, it was a guaranteed all-nighter.

The studios are supposed to close at 2 am...  2 am rolls around and a good 20 Menswear students are still there.  We just FULL-ON IGNORE their requests to leave and keep sewing lol.  Like, no one even looked up.  I started laughing like crazy because the whole situation was bananas...

There were schemes devised about how to get back in once they did kicked us out, none of which came through.  We got shooed away around 2:45 am and we left dragging six mannequins out the front door only to have security be like "What the fuck???!"  We gave it a valiant effort but didn't prevail and had to take them back upstairs.  I meandered around for about 10 minutes and decided it would be a waste to take the train back home to Harlem and back in the morning at this point so I went to the 24-hour computer lab.

I checked the news and Perez Hilton (just being honest lol) and stuff and got bored.  The girl next to me was spazzing out over issues with a final Packaging Design project computer file being corrupted and not working.  I ended up working with Katie and helping her sort through things and quickly getting back to the point she was at before.  She called me her savior.  Me no think so. 

At this point, it was 5 am and I was sick and tired of being tired so I went to bed.  Katie snapped this wooly mammoth of a picture of me... right before she acquiesced and joined me under the table for a snooze.

Long story short, Gresia's jacket got turned in finished and on time.  It's too big for me but here's me wearing it home:

Saturday was my Tailoring the Pant class.  We just set up our pants on forms and had our teacher check out the finished garment.  Mine came out pretty smoothly.  If anyone is a size 32 x 32, they're all yours, just let me know you want them.  Here's a close up of the side pocket:

I loved my teacher for this class, Benedito Alibradi.  He's like a dinosaur but has more of a youthful spirit than most people I know.  He still gets excited about showing people his tag in a suit he makes!  

Oh, and I was drinking iced tea before class and he comes up and says "No drinking."  I'm thinking "Kinda weird but okay, you've never said anything before..."  Then he goes, "You drinking beer?"  LOLOL.... He told me a story about how three years ago there was this alcoholic girl who actually would do that all the time.  Intoxication and sharp machinery... mmmk.  Not what I'm looking for.

After this, our Menswear Club had a last-minute picnic/Broadway show we planned a day before.  We ordered food, took a cab to pick it up from Manganaro Foods, a little Italian place at 9th and 37th.  Amazzzzing food we found out.  We made friends with the Italian woman owner, Ceila; she even gave me a kiss on the cheek as we were leaving as thanks for the big order (we had 20 people RSVP to our picnic).

The picnic was better than I could have imagined.  My classmates are the funnest group of people ever.


ALL of the shows on Broadway were sold out Saturday so we bought tickets for Sunday afternoon to see Promises, Promises.  

It was my first time on Broadway and the production was on a totally different level than any other theatre production I've ever seen.  We got pizza afterwards and headed back to FIT for the last project of the week: Computer Design.  

I realized I worked on this for almost 14 hours straight.  Now, granted, I did do two of them, one for a friend, but it was way more work than I thought it would have been.  We were supposed to design a small collection for the company Original Penguin with flats, croquis, patterns and the like.  I amazed myself at how rapidly I was able to do #2, having already done the first one.  I actually was having fun doing it and watching my fingers and mouse zip and dart around with effortless confidence.  Anyway, here's my Original Penguin collection:

It was a great semester and I can't wait to learn and grow more next year!  Now it's time to get my life back in balance and do things like drink pomegranate juice, sleep and run around Central Park!


  1. I totally want those pants! I'm considering applying for this so it was pretty awesome to read.

  2. awesome man, glad you liked it! let me know if you have any questions about FIT or NYC

  3. Hey Josh, great blog, glad someone has some insight for the public on the Menswear program at FIT. I'm strongly considering applying for the upcoming spring term (due in October) but unsure what to choose. My desire is to place a job at NIKE designing footwear/sports apparel. Would you suggest doing Menswear? Fashion Design? Accessories design? I already have a BA so would probably just do the AA route but any insight you have on this would be appreciated. Thanks!