My junior spring semester of 2012 I spent studying abroad in Florence, Italy. It was the first time as a UNH student that I was able to study fashion. Florence, as all my Italian fashion teachers told me, was the foundation of fashion far before the fashion capitals of New York, France, Milan or Los Angeles emerged. As a self-created fashionista I had to admit there was a limit that magazines, TV shows, fashion blogs, and movies could teach me about this industry, so I decided to take fashion classes while abroad as a focus within my communication major.
At first I was terrified! Showing up to my first fashion class with a mixture of students whom for the most part were all majoring in fashion from their home universities. Seeing these girls gave me instant flashbacks to when Anne Hathaway as Andrea in The Devil Wears Prada is describing her co-workers as the ‘clackers.’ These girls wore far beyond the daily fashion that is seen around UNH campus. In Europe, fashion is moving art. As it should be, clothing originally is not by fashion standards a mass produced product but rather, a masterpiece that has been created by a designer. Although a bit uncomfortable, I was in heaven; so happy to be in a room full of people who appreciated this art as much as I did.
The four fashion courses I took while in Florence were some of my favorite courses that I took as a UNH student. Some had a history aspect discussing the evolution of fashion, while others discussed more of a business perspective regarding marketing or buying for a fashion company. All my classes went on field trips around leather markets, fashion galleries, haute couture stores, or fashion museums. At times I felt as though I was truly in a surreal paradise of pretty fabrics and fabulous clothing. I was ecstatic each day to attend class and have another opportunity to talk amongst others who shared the same passions as I did.
On field trips around Italy my professors encouraged us to bring sketch pads and challenge ourselves to draw as often as possible. Personally I had not taken an art class requiring me to draw since high school. There was a reason I did not take art classes at UNH while many believe that art is subjective, it is a well known consensus that I have no artistic abilities. I began little by little to draw a pattern here or a handbag there and was thrilled when my professor complemented a sketch I had done of a Gucci dress. I found it relaxing to sit in fashion museums and take the time to draw my favorite pieces of fashion collections. Sketching provided me with a whole new perspective of visiting museums.
Italian fashion museums are beautiful works of art. My personal favorite to visit in Florence was the Gucci museum which was a special featured exhibit during my stay. Along with the museum was a gucci cafe as well as a fashion library that had every book imaginable about fashion. I would sit and sketch for hours in my favorite room which featured custom Gucci dresses that had been made for Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Swank, and Salma Hayek to just name a few.
It was all these experiences while I was in Florence that contributed to my passion for the fashion industry. My time in Florence showed me the forms of art that lie within everyday fashion. These lessons will last me through my life as I hopefully will someday work to assist in the creation of these works of art.