white clouds
by John Russel Jones

As a high school junior when I went to my guidance counselor to talk about colleges, I told him I wanted to work in the fashion industry. His response was “come back tomorrow!” In the small town where I grew up, halfway between Western Pennsylvania’s coal mines and steel mills, I may well have been the first fashionista he’d encountered. By the next day, he only had two options to present: the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City or Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania. While Mercyhurst won the first round due to its proximity to home, I eventually transferred to F.I.T., where I could begin my career in the very heart of the American industry. 

Of course, at the time there were a lot more than two colleges where I could have studied, but now there are more than ever. My fellow F.I.T. alumnus John Bartlett (Harvard grad, designer, CFDA member and award winner, etc.), is now the director of Marist College’s fashion program, which includes concentrations and majors in fashion business, design, promotion, merchandising, and promotion. 

Bartlett invited me to an event on Monday evening staged by Marist’s Silver Needle Runway Team, a cross-disciplinary group of students in the Fashion Show Production course, hosted at Ralph Lauren’s West Chelsea New York headquarters. Besides producing the graduating design students’ on-campus runway show (held Friday, May 6th), the class created a complete promotional package, including communications, public relations, social media, a virtual fashion show, a promotional documentary, and much more. The theme of Monday evening’s 36th Annual Silver Needle Runway Virtual Show & Documentary was “Dream,” and this team of student’s fulfilled big dreams. The impressive presentation was as good (or better) as many professional videos I’ve seen in my career, and the passion of the students involved in the production came right through the screen. Faculty advisor Juan-Manuel Olivera-Silvera has done a masterful job of shaping these young professionals and preparing them to step from the Poughkeepsie, New York, campus right onto Seventh Avenue. Take a few minutes to enjoy the documentary video, “Inside the Dreamworld,” as well as the “Dream,” the virtual fashion show, and keep your eyes out for these budding fashion pros. 

Congratulations to the Class of 2022.