Maureen Lowary, assistant professor in fashion at Stephens College, has heard the same question for years from young fashion design student.
“Why do I have to learn to sew and make patterns when I probably won’t do either on the job?”
Lowary’s answer is simple: “You can’t direct a team of people to make something that you can’t tell them how to make. You have to have that knowledge behind you.”
Lowary shared her insights and how to tackle design problems during a daylong professional development seminar Oct. 14 at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center in Kansas City. The event was sponsored by Rightfully Sewn, a program in Kansas City that provides seamstress training for at-risk women as well as professional development opportunities for young designers and individuals considering a career in fashion design.
Stephens’ admissions personnel were on hand to provide information and answer questions about the School of Design. The event took place during Kansas City Fashion Week and drew a number of attendees from the annual runway show, which historically provides emerging designers with a solid platform from which to launch their lines of clothing or accessories.
During her presentation, Lowary said designing a garment is not unlike designing a bridge.
“If you don’t understand engineering, changes are the bridge with withstand” use, she said. “It could lead to a major disaster. In our industry, there can be major disasters, too.”
Lowary said there is often a misconception that design is just drawing pretty pictures.
“There is a whole lot more to it than that,” she said, adding a quote from Steve Jobs: “Design is no just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.”
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