Newbury Street landmark School of Fashion Design celebrates 85 years

"From the Vault" event. Newbury Street Landmark School of Fashion Design, Boston, Mass., Sept. 25. Photo by Puja Patel/BU News Service

By Puja Patel
BU News Service

Velvet ropes and a red carpet opened onto the Newbury Street sidewalk Wednesday night, beckoning fashion fans to enter “From the Vault,” a Boston Fashion Week event celebrating the 85th anniversary of the School of Fashion Design.

“Tonight, we’re looking back to the past 85 years in celebration,” said Judy Ross, the School of Fashion Design’s executive director, “and looking forward to the next 85 years of our school.”

Faculty, alumni, current and prospective students and Boston Fashion Week goers mingled as old Hollywood jazz played. Backstage, volunteering students and models prepared to show the donated vintage pieces.

Guests marveled at black and white photos of past students lining the walls. In the photos, students model their designs outside the school. The fashion may change over the years, but Newbury Street looks the same.

Models posed and twirled down the makeshift runway in a range of intricate vintage pieces, in keeping with the night’s “Vintage Fashion” theme. 

Mannequins on display were dressed in the late Francesco “Ches” DiRusso’s designs. DiRusso was a School of Fashion Design alum and award-winning Boston Fashion Week designer.

Designs by the late Francesco “Ches” DiRusso, Newbury Street Landmark School of Fashion Design, Boston, Mass., Sept. 25. Photo by Puja Patel/BU News Service

While guests admired the exhibit, student Stephanie Couchell was hard at work backstage, dressing models and preparing the garments for the vintage fashion show. 

“I really love the community here at this school and I’d take any opportunity to do what I can to support,” Couchell said.

The theme of the event was inspired by the school’s 85-year tenure, though vintage fashion still plays a significant role in their current curriculum, Ross said. Student Stephen Pasqual recently presented a collection at StyleWeek based on the 1920s, which Ross showered with praise in her opening speech.

All of the vintage garments in the fashion show would be up for auction in December to raise money for the school, Ross said.

After the fashion show, fashion history expert Karen Antonowicz gave a short presentation on fashion from the 1930s, 40s and 50s while wearing a suit from the 40s herself. She flipped through slides of iconic old Hollywood looks while exclaiming, “they just don’t make ‘em like this anymore!”

A fan of the vintage clothing, Antonowicz believes history is an important part of fashion education. 

“I always used to tell my students, even if you don’t like historic dress, you have to know something about the history to design modern clothing,” she said after her speech. “Nothing is new. Everything is borrowed.”

Raquel Tiffany Spinazola, former student and current teacher at the School of Fashion Design, volunteered as a model.

“We’ve had all these amazing pieces just laying in closets, so being able to showcase them in this fashion show was a perfect way to finally utilize them,” she said. “These garments are gorgeous. They’ve got to be seen.”

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