Monday, May 2, 2011

VU Fashion program needs to step it up

Over a week-long period, when I was at my most stressed-out this semester, I considered changing from the costume construction major to fashion merchandising at Vincennes University. I knew it would be less time-consuming.

Boy, am I glad I didn't.

In a final presentation in my history of costume class, I watched a fashion major exhibit an adequate level of knowledge. Um, that is, adequate if you want to work a minimum-wage retail gig in southern Indiana for the rest of your life.

She didn't know what a crinoline is. She couldn't pronounce the word. She did not know how to pronounce the names of Karl Lagerfeld or Vivienne Westwood. This presentation was over fashions FROM 1980 TO 2008. We were alive during this time! There is no excuse! I can understand, maybe, being a first year and mixing up your 15th-century farthingales. Because we don't really often use farthingales anymore. But come ON. Failing to know even the most basic basics of recent fashions? Being unable to pronounce the word "proliferate?"

Anywhere outside of Vincennes, you're gonna get laughed out of the room. I politely maintained my poker face in the classroom while resolving to work like hell on studying independently as much as possible, beefing up my portfolio, and researching quality apprenticeships and internships. I wish a better fashion school were within my budget; this is not the current reality. Thus, my resolve is strengthened to work even harder and make up for what my price-range lacks in useful education.

I don't want to sound ungrateful. There are some things I've learned this semester. But most of them have been from Professor Sevak in the costume department. I'm not saying any of this to be mean. I'm providing an honest assessment of what I've seen so far of my peers, which is honestly much more tactful than what they'd receive from "real" industry-types. I'm saying the truth: A fashion revolution is happening, right here in our state, just a few hours to the north. As it stands, we students can't rely on this institution to prepare us, because we will be far from ready. The Vincennes University fashion department needs to step up their game, in a big way, if they and their students want a slice of the action. We deserve better, and we ought to demand such.


  1. Leah, the costumers I have worked with over the years have also had much better construction skills than the fashion majors I have come across. I don't know why this would be...seriously strange.

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