Setting a trend

The phrases on the T-shirts – ‘Dumb Blonde,’ ‘Old Hag,’ ‘Future MILF’ – are sure to raise eyebrows at on Friday.

But that’s the point.

The female students wearing the shirts are part of the new fashion and beauty communications milestone. The shirts will be part of a performance piece intended to show the negative stereotypes that are incurred when someone thinks of a fashion design major.

The performance piece will serve a larger goal of bringing attention to the newly created milestone by being one of many compositions on display during the fashion expose, Bringing Fashion Forward, that will be held Friday at in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

The breakthrough milestone is in its first semester at Syracuse University – with 40 students already participating. A milestone is a different kind of program, not a major or a minor, but an interdisciplinary specialty program that acts more as a resume builder in exploring fashion on a mass scale.

‘It is so unique,’ said Irene Azarkh, a junior advertising major. ‘It combines two schools. We aren’t limited to hearing only voices and perspectives like our own, and it’s a noticeable difference.’

The program is run through the Newhouse School and the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

To showcase student work, Azarkh and her ‘Beauty and Diversity in the Fashion Media’ class will have two tables in Schine Student Center on Monday and Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Kicking off the first year of the program, the students taking part in the milestone are making strides to help educate their peers and the faculty on what exactly FABC represents to them. The expose aims to achieve that purpose.

In addition to the exhibition, a magazine and pamphlets featuring student work and

testimonials about the program will be available this week.

Professors from both schools combined to develop the program – Carla Lloyd, associate dean for creative and scholarly activity at Newhouse and advertising department chair, and Karen Bakke, a professor and program coordinator in VPA.

Jennifer Hawk, a junior communications major, said she was excited to take classes outside of her requirements, which had been unavailable to her before the milestone.

‘I have learned more in FAS 335: History of Fashion Design I, than in any other history class,’ Hawk said. ‘I love it because I am so interested in what we are learning.’

Participating students from Newhouse and VPA completed an application for the milestone during spring 2007.

There were more than 70 applicants after only one week of advertising. Lloyd said she was shocked by the number of applicants.

The milestone was initially designed for 15 students, but Lloyd and Bakke did not want to start out rejecting more than half the applicants, and chose 40 students to begin the program.

Newhouse Dean David Rubin was supportive of the program throughout its conception.

‘It is rare for such a strong fashion design program and a communications school like Newhouse to be found at one university,’ Rubin said.

Students involved with the milestone already seem to be receiving positive feedback from prospective employers.

During an interview at Seventeen magazine this past summer, Shilpa Prabhakar, a junior magazine journalism major with a marketing minor, said her interviewer was surprised to see the milestone on her resume and wanted to know more about it.

Erica Bruno, a junior advertising major, has worked on the magazine, Fashion Forward, which can be picked up at Schine throughout this week.

The magazine will exhibit work from those in the milestone, and it will feature testaments from students talking about the value of the program.

‘(Fashion Forward will be) good exposure for the program,’ Bruno said. ‘It will make the rest of the community aware of how important the milestone is.’

New courses will be available to students for the upcoming spring and fall semesters such as Fashion Journalism and Producing the Fashion Video, Lloyd said.

For milestone students in the program, New York offers endless opportunity. It is home to leading fashion designers, textile designers, hundreds of boutiques and retail giants. Plus, magazines like Vogue and Cosmopolitan could use well-versed students in both aspects of the milestone.

Dean Rubin said he hopes to see a pairing with Vogue, a Conde Nast fashion magazine owned by the Newhouse family, in the future.

‘(The milestone is a) good combination of fashion and advertising, an alternative way to approach the fashion industry and achieve my goals,’ said Lori LaVenture, a sophomore fashion design major.


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