Jeannene Thompson Booher ’56 at the $1 million gift announcement.
Jeannene Thompson Booher ’56 knows firsthand achieving success in the fashion industry requires more than raw talent. Up-and-comers need advice, encouragement and connections.
That’s why Booher, who has worked with some of the best designers in the country, decided to donate $1 million to establish The Jeannene Booher Fashion Lecture Series to benefit the Stephens School of Design. (Booher visited Stephens for the gift announcement, which was made during a campus-wide event on Nov. 15.) The series will finance visits by industry leaders to campus to share their experiences with students who are preparing for or interested in a career in fashion and design.
“I had a wonderful experience at Stephens,” said Booher, who has served in the past as a Stephens College Trustee and member of the Executive Committee. “I am very happy to be able to do this.”
After graduating from Stephens, Booher went on to study at the Parsons School of Design in New York City and worked with a number of design greats, including Pauline Trigère, Adele Simpson and Arnold Scaasi. She became a partner and designer for the Maggy London dress company for 10 years. Eventually, she started Jeannene Booher Ltd., where she created her own line of dresses and two-piece outfits that were sold at Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.
Dr. Monica Phillippe McMurry ’82, dean of the School of Design, said it is support from alumnae such as Booher that continues to elevate the caliber of the fashion program, which is ranked among the best in the world.
“The establishment of this lecture series will be added recognition and prestige of an already impressive program,” she said.
McMurry said Booher is one of the most successful designers to come out of the Stephens fashion program. She not only created stunning clothing but owned companies at a time when women in the fashion world rarely wielded such power.
“Jeannene Booher is a talented and ambitious woman,” McMurry said.
The first guest lecturer sponsored by the new series is an old friend of Booher’s, Marylou Luther, editor of the International Fashion Syndicate and writer of the award-winning Clothesline column, a question-and-answer fashion advice feature that is read weekly by more than 5 million people. Her coverage of the European collections appears in newspapers throughout the U.S.
Luther presented “Straight from the Runways” on Nov. 15; she also spoke in fashion classes during her visit.
Booher says industry leaders such as Luther can change the trajectory of a student’s career when they make a campus visit. That’s what happened to her when New York fashion icons Mary Brooks Picken and Madam Eta Hentz spoke to her fashion class at Stephens.
Picken authored 96 books on needlework, sewing and textile arts, including “A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion.” Hentz, a designer from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, is best known for her Grecian-themed collection of 1943.
“They both took an interest in me and gave me their numbers,” Booher said.
Later, when Booher was a student at Parsons, she reached out to Picken, who took the young designer under her wing and introduced her to influential people in New York. She once took Booher to a cocktail party at the home of Edward R. Morrow.
Hentz would later put Booher in touch with Trigère, an unconventional designer who did not sketch her designs but rather cut and draped from bolts of fabric. Many famous women, including Beverly Sills, Evelyn Lauder, Lena Horne, Angela Lansbury, Bette Davis and Wallis Simpson, wore her fashions.
Booher remembers her first visit with Trigère. The designer glanced at Booher’s sketches and tossed them aside.
“Then she asked me, ‘Where did you get that coat you are wearing?’” Booher recalled. “I said, ‘I made it.’”
Impressed with her work, Trigère hired her on the spot.
Today, Booher is retired from fashion and enjoys traveling and painting at her home in the Berkshires.
Ace Marrero and Erin Stegeman, husband and wife and both Stephens graduates.
Stephens alumna Erin Stegeman was a Theatre student at the College when she dreamed of creating a show that she could bring home and make her alma mater proud.
On Oct. 29, Stegeman returned to Columbia to screen “Once Upon a Time: The Rock Opera,” a feature-length musical she wrote and directed. She co-produced the film with Stephens alumnus Ace Marrero, her husband, and Stephens alumna Andrea Rutherford, who was Stegeman’s roommate her freshman year. Before the film's showing, Stegeman, Marrero and Rutherford led a master class to the Senior Acting Seminar (Nuts and Bolts).
Stegeman said returning to Stephens made her all the more appreciative of the teachers she had and the support she received while a student.
“This is where I directed my first play, where I met my best friends and where I fell in love with my husband,” she said. “I was never the lead in any play (while a student at Stephens), but I still received so much value and self-esteem from the program. For me to return with my own project and continue to share that message of entrepreneurship, well, there just aren’t any words to express what that feels like.”
Stegeman and Marrero, as well as Stephens alumna Katie Merritt Cofield also star in the film, which aired at the Macklanburg Playhouse. All total, 10 Stephens graduates were involved with the production. Other Stephens graduates involved were Toni Anita Hull, Annie Genteman, Kelsi Simpson, Andrew Nunemacher, Colin Kramer and Erika Hardy.
“It sort of feels like my film because I wrote and directed it,” Stegeman said. “But it also feels like a Stephens film because so many Stephens alumni are involved.”
Marrero said he enjoyed meeting with students and reconnecting with past professors and directors.
“Their influence continues on with us in everything,” he said, “and their continued support in everything we are doing is always so meaningful.”
The film is a parody of the hit ABC series “Once Upon a Time,” which is set in a world of fairytale characters. Stegeman’s version brings a little “Rocky Horror Picture Show” to the experience by encouraging audience members to participate in the showing.
Stegeman, a St. Louis native, said she enjoys working with Stephens graduates because they have a strong work ethic and always bring a “good attitude” to the set.
“Talent will only get you so far,” she said. “You have to keep working and have a good attitude. That’s what will get you everywhere.”
While talking with students, Stegeman, Marrero and Rutherford warned the young actors not to expect overnight success.
Rutherford said that she once went on 300 auditions and only got one call back, while Stegeman said, “Life after college is about finding yourself as an artist, and that takes time.”
Finally, the trio encouraged the students to reach out to Stephens alumni after graduation.
“Not a week goes by that I don’t have contact with someone from Stephens,” Rutherford said.
Stegeman said what’s special about Stephens alumni is they continue to work together long after leaving school.
“You come to realize you can’t do it alone,” she said. “There are no harder workers than Stephens alumni.”
The 9th annual Citizen Jane Film Festival, a celebration of female filmmakers, took place Nov. 3-6 in Columbia.
This year’s event was a first for Barbie Banks, Citizen Jane’s new director since May.
“I care about women,” Banks said recently in an interview. “I care about college students, especially college women, and giving them opportunities. Citizen Jane seemed like the perfect fit for what I cared about. Being the director is my dream job, and I’m lucky enough to have it.”
Banks said this year’s event included a wide variety of films that anyone could find interesting.
The Citizen Jane Film Festival “is a place for everyone to come and see the best movies made,” she said. “They just happen to be directed by females.”
In addition to a Citizen Jane Summit and panel discussion, this year’s event featured screenings of 15 feature films and seven short programs. There were even short films made by girls under 18.
The festival was started in 2008 by several Stephens College professors to give students in the Digital Filmmaking program experience running a festival. Student volunteers continue to do the bulk of the work. That first year, the festival attracted such films as Academy Award-nominee “Trouble the Water” and hosted musical talent such as punk songstress Exene Cervenka. A year later, attendance grew by more than 50 percent, solidifying the community’s support of the festival, which was named among the “Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World 2015” by MovieMaker Magazine.
Watch a recap of the festival.
Stephens Life, a student-run magazine, took top honors at the College Media Awards this fall. The “I Like Fashion and Naps” spread from the Spring 2016 issue, won the first place Pinnacle Award for Best Magazine Entertainment Page/Spread in the design category. The cover story “Disruption: A Year of Fractured Fashion,” from the same issue, received an honorable mention in the Best Magazine News Page/Spread in the design category.
The newly redesigned magazine also recently received national recognition from the Associated College Press (ACP), which honored Stephens Life for its “Superfoods” story from the same issue. The story was nominated in the Yearbook/Magazine Page/Spread category and received fifth place for Design of the Year.
Current Stephens Life staff members Kalynn Coy ’17, who served as creative director of both design projects, and Madisson Alexander ’18, worked on the winning design spread. Former staff members who also contributed to the design of the “I Like Fashion and Naps” pages include Brianna Knopf ’18, Lluvia Garcia ’16 and Oletha Hope Crutcher ’16.
“With the recent rebrand of this decades-old Stephens College publication, it is proof that our students are true innovators who continue to pave the way for creative leaders from all over the country,” said Amy Parris, faculty adviser for the magazine.
The College Media Association (CMA) Pinnacle College Media Awards are a national contest to recognize excellence in student-produced college media.
“We are proud to have Stephens Life recognized for the tremendous effort of our students,” said Dr. Monica Phillippe McMurry ’82, dean of the School of Design. “These awards are further validation of the School of Design, which values the process of design thinking to create market-driven products. We create design leadership through out 'first job in college' practicums, external critique processes, and faculty versed in their professions as both teachers and industry/business leaders.”
Coy said the honor would bolster the magazine’s reputation and the students’ careers.
“These [ACP] awards are commonly referred to as the Pulitzer Prizes of college media,” she said. “The fact that we placed within the top five for design is an honor beyond words, especially considering this is only the sophomore issue following a drastic rebrand in December 2015.”
Coy has known since she first joined the Stephens Life staff that the magazine and the students involved were special.
“However, it is flattering and humbling to see industry professionals recognizing our talent,” Coy said. “Knowing just how talented everyone on our staff is I’m confident we can break into the top three next year.”
View the Spring 2016 Stephens Life issue.
Irina Tevzadze’s “Geometry of Color” collection; Photo credit: Eli Stack/elistack.com.
Irina Tevzadze had never shown at Kansas City Fashion Week, but that didn’t stop the Georgian designer and assistant professor of fashion in the Stephens School of Design from taking a risk during her first appearance at the event.
Using blocks of powder blue, lime green, black and gray, Tevzadze created a children’s wear collection that features a balance of pop colors and muted tones. Each outfit is marked with a signature pink print and the young people who modeled the clothes were accessorized with swimming goggles and white tennis shoes.
“Geometry of Color,” a 12-outfit ensemble with 20 separate pieces hit the runaway on Oct. 12 at the 10th annual Kansas City Fashion Week (KCFW). Tevzadze was among nine designers selected to show their collections to a sold-out crowd at Union Station in Kansas City. Lauren Hulen ’15 also participated in the event, showing her LV Swim swimsuit collection.
Tevzadze, who has participated in fashion shows since the 1990s in Moscow, Paris and Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, said her collection combines two palettes and stories.
“One is more subtle and relates to European markets, mentality and aesthetic while the other is more uplifting and young, which is more in line with the American aesthetic, mentality and market,” she said. “I tried to blend them and bring them into one whole. I don’t know if I fully achieved this, but I think, in the end, the collection came out fine, and it was a success.”
Tevzadze said she generally wouldn’t mix the colors she did in the collection, but for the show, the palette was intentional.
“It was quite risky, but I am glad I did it,” she said.
Participants in KCFW are selected based on a series of interviews and concepts for a collection. Once models are selected, designers are matched with makeup artists and sound directors who put together music for the show.
“The fact that KCFW features local, national and international designers makes it very interesting and puts it on the map of important fashion happenings,” Tevzadze said.
Since the show, Tevzadze has received numerous calls from individuals interested in purchasing outfits. But she’s not ready to sell. She also received an invitation to participate in the Atlantic City Fashion Week in February 2017.
This year, Stephens is participating in #GivingTuesday on Nov. 29. Help us reach our goal to engage 183 new donors. Spread the word and mark your calendars to participate in this global day of giving. For more information, please contact Kalei Holder, Annual Fund and Alumnae Engagement, at [email protected].
Save the date! Celebrate Stephens Reunion Weekend 2017 is April 27-29. We hope that you plan to join us to relive the magic of Stephens College.
We want to hear about what’s new in your life, whether it’s a career move, a new bundle of joy in your family, or amazing recognition of your work. We also invite you to tell us about your next local alumnae event! Click here to share news.
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