Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Couple of Days in Rome

I recently caught up with a good friend in Rome this last weekend, and I just wanted to share a few pics of my latest travel around Italy. This country is amazingly beautiful. The history, the architecture, the art, the shopping, the people are really something to see. Here are a few pics from my weekend.

Fontana dei Trevi

Me on a stairwell near the City Center

One of two huge fountains in Piazza di San Pietro - where the Pope speaks.

The dark window in the middle is where the Pope comes out to address the crowd.

The Coliseum

Drinking from the Fountain near Fontana dei Trevi. The water all over Rome is wonderful! In the parks at the fountains. You must have some when you come!

I'm sure I'll see you soon! Ciao a Tutti!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The First Three Weeks: Phew!

So, design school is no joke. I am in class everyday from 9am to 6pm with very short breaks and lots of work to complete at home. Now, as I enter the third week of school, I think my body and my mind are adjusting to the rigors of the program. I can tell that my sketches are improving with speed and accuracy, and I'm learning to sew with industrial machines.

I'm not going to lie: this has been a little intimidating. Some of the students in my very small program (13 in my class from Korea, China, and United States) have had much more training than I have - up to six years of art and some have studied design already. I've had no formal training. All the same, I am so focused on learning these new skills, that I don't care what everyone else does. I'm here for me and my dream. My professors can see my determination, and I get a lot of great attention. In just three weeks, I've grown exponentially. I can't wait to see what my semester projects look like. Don't worry, I'll be sure you see them too.

I'm also taking an International Buying and Marketing Class in the Fashion Marketing department. This class is 50% in the class room and 50% in boutiques, factories, and artisan workshops. This week we went to La Scuola del Cuoio -- The Leather School.

This place is really special. It's housed on the campus of a Franciscan Monastery of the Santa Croce Church in Florence. Inside, they handcraft handbags and other leather goods from the finest of materials. As a customer, you can select your own materials, colors, and even have your name engraved in gold.

My instructor, Inger, is well connected in the industry. She sets up amazing opportunities for us to be able to talk to the people who run these various establishments. For our final project, I essentially have to put my entire business plan together to include my logo, target market profile, product samples etc. It blends seamlessly with another final project I have for art and design which requires me to create my collection.

It is really late, but I wanted to be sure to share all that has happened in the last few weeks. It is really busy, but I am really happy.

Ciao a tutti!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First Week of Design School in Florence

Here are a few pictures of my design school here in Florence. I am an International Fashion Design student at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT based in NYC), but the Italian campus is housed at Polimoda, an International Fashion Design and Marketing school in Florence. Every time I tell people in Florence where I go to school, they are always like "oh wow, that school". I knew it was a good school, but I didn't realize how well respected it was among the locals. It's a good feeling to be at one of the best schools in the country.

This week is orientation week. I just received my class schedule, and my course of study is quite rigorous. I'll be in class from 9 - 5pm, sometimes 9 - 6pm with about an hour break only on 4 days of the week. The fifth day goes straight through with a student association meeting at the lunch hour. This is no joke! I'm glad. I didn't want to come here to waste my time - not that you could do that here. Everything around you is so enriching.

The campus of Polimoda is housed in Villa Strozzi. It's a beautiful park, the well maintained grounds of and old Italian palace. There's a bar (cafeteria), an outdoor stage where they hold graduation, and the actual home which is now administrative offices and the library.

This is the ceiling of library. The floor to ceiling windows have a beautiful panoramic view of Florence.

This is where I go to school. You can picture me here!


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Photo Shoot by Artistic Expressions

My incredibly talented cousin, Elisabeth Harrell, is a brilliant photographer with a fabulous eye for detail, light, color, and mood. She recently launched Artistic Expressions by Elisabeth and writes a blog on her latest work and experiences. Support her as she supports me. She is FABULOUS!

Enjoy some photos of my first gown ever created for my sister's wedding earlier this summer. This gown was for Lea's reception. Elisabeth's work does not disappoint!

This dress is the beginning of many more to come. I really enjoyed this gown.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Long Awaited, Much Anticipated, Sorry it’s Belated! Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Miami...

From July 15 - 19, I was in Miami for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week as a volunteer. Because I signed an agreement, I am not at liberty to discuss the details of my involvement with Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, but I what I can tell you is that it was amazing, and that I look forward to doing it again.

As this was my first step into the fashion industry, I entered with a little trepidation. I wondered mostly how I would be received. I was not prepared to be received with open arms... I fell in love. It felt like “Nina, where have you been? We’ve been waiting for you. So glad you decided to come!”

I learned a ton working the event and I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. I worked on shows for True Religion, Trina Turk, Crystal Jin, Marysia, and others.

I also worked at the trade show Salon Allure, hosted at The W Hotel South Beach. I randomly bumped into Nene Leakes of Housewives of Atlanta in the elevator! The Salon Allure trade show hosted the top names in swimwear and concluded each day in the style suite overlooking Miami Beach. Hating myself right now for not getting a great photo in this room. I was too tired to think!

While out in Miami one night I bumped into this guy. Jim Jones!

I also had my first opportunity to model - runway for swimwear! Funny and awesome all at the same time. I had the best time, but unfortunately I do not have the photographers photos. Here are a few of me goofing off in Miami with some of the volunteers at this great Cuban restaurant in South Beach. I hope you enjoy!

I sure hope Italy feels like this... overwhelmingly fabulous!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Found my place in Florence!

Many thanks to Melanie Guardino, an International Fashion Merchandising Management student at FIT, who looked high and low throughout Florence to locate my new apartment for me. She's a student ambassador with the Office of International Programs at FIT who moved to Florence and currently helps new students get settled into life there. My apartment is on Via Lacopo da Diacceto - my new street. My landlord, Carlo Seghi and his family live on the top level of this beautiful building - my apartment is on the first level.

My apartment is a one bedroom place - pretty small, but the location is magnificent! I'm just a few minutes walk to the Duomo (the cathedral in the center), Santa Croce - a hip neighborhood, the train station and to school.

I'm still practicing my Italian, filing for my visa, trying to rent my condo, selling my car, selling my belongings (except for two suitcases), preparing to work fashion week in Miami, trying to finish strong at my current job, and focusing on keeping God first in all of this. I'm feeling the weight of it all, but I am so excited. I'm on my way to living out my dreams! The journey is a dream in and of itself...

... so, if you're wondering if I have enough time for you, my heart is to make time. Staying connected to my family and friends is of the utmost importance to me. None of this is worth anything if there aren't people you love to share it with. Thank you for sharing this time with me. It means the world!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sorry to make you wait...

So last night, I attended Washington Women and Wine, "Celebrate the Tastes of Southern Italy", courtesy of my friend Bill Sanders, CEO of Crush + Press - online retail distributor of fine olive oils and wines.

I have to say, I was unsure about what to expect from last night's event at Potenza, but it was really something special. I loved it! Natalia Ravida and Principessa Marina Colonna presented their fine olive oils for tasting with wonderful meats and cheeses from Southern Italy. I was in heaven! (oh, and she's a real princess, btw)

They were both amazing entrepreneurs and very self-possessed women. I look forward to joining the ranks very soon. After sampling a series of Colonna citrus olive oils, I informed Marina (as she prefers to be called) of my move to Italy in just a few short months (wait it's more like a few short weeks! eek!). With no hesitation she handed me her number and told me to call her when I travel to Rome! She explained to me that Italy is linked through so many long-standing relationships, and she offered her guidance through what appears to be a very delicate weave of important contacts. Well... when in Rome!

I have to work tomorrow (yeah, Saturday, I know!) and although I'm loving sharing with you what's going on these days, I'm really going to have to turn in.

But before I go... some pics from my entrance portfolio for design school. These are from my fashion art sketches - not your typical renderings, but I think they're clear and you can get the idea.