by JENNIFER LAPKA PFEIFER | photos by SAMANTHA LEVI
Did you know that Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, has the 14th best fashion program in the world, according to the “Business of Fashion,” London? It is the second time Stephens has received highly sought after ranking recognition from this global industry resource. “We have taken great care to craft our curriculum based on industry feedback and incorporate design thinking to help students learn to create innovative products. We offer classes on fitting, pattern making, and technical design, which are important skills every fashion designer should have a strong grasp of,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, professor and dean of the School of Design. “Our design graduates have to know what certain fabrics are
KATHRYN LEE BRIDAL, DESIGNER
capable of, what a properly fitted garment should look like, and how to communicate the smallest of production details to a factory that could be halfway across the nation or even on another continent.”
Upon a recent visit to the campus, I was thrilled to see that they offer their student body the latest and greatest in industrial sewing machines and a robust speaker series. In fact, they recently flew in — be still thy heart! — Dame Zandra Rhodes, the 76-year-old British fashion industry icon who designs textiles for renowned fashion houses, like Valentino, and founded the Fashion and Textile Museum in London.
Ami Beck of Dolyn Bags, my Today Spring 2017 fashion editorial feature subject, is a Stephens College alum. Luckily, our Kansas City fashion community benefits from several strong fashion design programs in the metropolitan area and region, which poise us well for another golden era of garment design and manufacturing. Established Kansas City based women’s wear designers Sarah Nelsen graduated from the University of Kansas, Heidi Herrman and Kate Nickols from Kansas State University, and Whitney Manney from Kansas City Art Institute. Each designer exhibits special skillsets that can be traced back to her respective school and teachers; for instance, Sarah, a keen understanding of color and shape; Heidi and Kate, impeccable technical abilities; and Whitney, an intrepid approach to designing her own textiles.
Coming from a family of educators on my maternal side, I have the deepest respect for the teachers and administrators at the aforementioned colleges. I tip my hat to them for their tireless pursuit in creating programs, curricula, and lesson plans that guide people to the jobs of their dreams.
Ami, Sarah, Heidi, Kate, and Whitney, the crème de la crème of Kansas City fashion designers, will be featured at the Rightfully Sewn Golden Gala, on Saturday December 2. Tickets are available at rightfullysewn.org.
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