Thanks in part to shows like Project Runway and the accessibility of fresh fashion from the runway to your smartphone, fashion design schools are drawing talented crops of students who have their eye on a career in fashion. Houston Community College offers degrees in Fashion Merchandising, Fashion Design and Theatrical Costume Design, producing the future of fashion in Houston and beyond.
The HCC Design School is just a short walk from the main campus building in downtown Houston and the moment you step through the school's double doors, it feels less like a school and more like a creative hub. The hallways leading to classrooms are lined with examples of student work on forms and opportunities for students to gain experience with local designers and speaker series.
The beauty of the program is how inviting it is to students of all ages and life stages, because just like fashion, the program isn't one size fits all.
"There are no typical students here," says Suzette Brimmer, division chair of Lifestyle Arts and Design Careers at HCC. "We have college age to people in their 40s and 50s. We even have a 76-year-old student."
Regardless of age or past experience, the one tie that binds all the students together is artistic vision and the ability to think conceptually.
Regardless of age or past experience, the one tie that binds all the students together is artistic vision and the ability to think conceptually. Students don't have to know how to sew when they start, but by the end of the program, they not only are sewing, but are constructing a small collection of garments. Brimmer says you can see the quality by turning the clothing inside out and see how well each piece is constructed.
"The program is internationally known and has a great reputation. Students start here and transfer to F.I.T. and are able to get in because of what they have learned here," Brimmer says. She cites the great value and the high caliber of professors at the school for the student's success.
The fashion program was started by Kay King in 1978 and has grown to include talented design graduates such as Chloe Dao, the Houston designer who not only won season two of Project Runway, but has created a successful fashion brand and continues to expand her name and vision. Students from the Theatrical Costume Design are currently working for Houston Grand Opera and other graduates are exploring the fashion industry after cultivating the knowledge and experience gained at HCC.
"We have wonderful faculty who teach the basics, but so much more," Brimmer says.
Another element of the curriculum is the travel to New York every fall and to Paris every two years. Not only do the students see the birthplaces of fashion, but it gives them a fresh perspective on life in general, which spills into their creative process.
"Many of the students have never been out of Houston or Texas, so to go to New York and see the people on the street and how they dress and they can think of design differently,” Brimmer says.
Events such as the annual Passion for Fashion fundraiser luncheon are so important because it raises money for students to have travel and design experiences. The 2013 luncheon on Feb. 28 at the Wortham Theatre Center is fast approaching and tickets are still available. For more information, visit hccsfoundation.org/pff2013 or call (713) 718-8595.
"We are fortunate to have talented professors that provide you with the education to make your dreams come true," Brimmer says.