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.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Gratitude and Acknowledgement

When I wake up in the morning and I’m thinking about beginning my day – I have to stop and meditate on the goodness of my God. He has brought me through so much and is forming me into the woman I only dreamed of becoming. He’s placing me in places I feel like I don’t deserve and giving me opportunities to speak with people of influence, sharing my talents and my faith with them.

There’s nothing that quells my anxiety about the future more than remembering all that God has done already. My fears all of sudden become irrational and my lack of faith, insulting to a God who has not only demonstrated His ability but His willingness to attend to every detail of my life, perfectly orchestrated for His purpose and His will.

Pretty amazing, hunh?

Good Morning everyone!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sold My First in 2010

So, 2010 has been an amazing year! This year, in preparation for a mission trip to South Africa, I coordinated my first benefit dinner and silent auction at B.Smith's Restaurant in Washington DC to raise money for Baby and Child Haven an organization that provides safe homes for HIV/AIDS orphans in Johannesburg.

I had a lot of great things to auction at the fundraiser. My mom is a fabulous potter, and she generously donated several pieces from her studio, Enthusiasm Pottery. She discovered her love and passion for pottery as she was recovering from breast cancer in 2008. Since then, she's sold thousands of dollars worth of pottery. She is my inspiration! If you're wondering where I get it from - look no further!

I also had a good friend, Bill Sanders, who owns Crush and Press, donate a private wine tasting and an olive oil tasting. I think the wine tasting was one of the most popular items at the auction!

At the encouragement of a few close friends (you know who you are), I prepared a piece to auction as well. This is the first dress I have ever sold! It's so hard to see them go - but I'm getting used to it ;)

This was my first dress I sold - a cocktail length sheath with an asymmetrical ruffle detail. It was a pleasure to sell it for a good cause.

For my seamstress friends, go easy on me. I am self-taught, so it's definitely trial and error, but I can't wait to see what I can do with a formal fashion education. It's going to be dynamite! Here are a few more pics of the creation of the dress:

Constructing the bodice...

Pressing the seams...

A perfect invisible zipper! This is the inside of the dress...

My ruffle detail - I learned it by watching an episode of Project Runway. I thought... "I think I can do that" and then there it was! I did it! It's my new favorite embellishment - thank goodness it's in season! They are going to be on everything!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ciao a tutti! That means: Hey Everybody!

My Italian is getting better. My fluency in Spanish is making it much easier to learn, but it’s not that easy. I’m so glad I understand most of what’s spoken to me, but learning to respond correctly is another thing all together!

I’ve been using Berlitz, which is very similar to Rosetta Stone (but not nearly as expensive - and this girl's on a budget!). I’m also planning to go to the Italian Meet Up group here in Washington DC to practice what I’ve learned so far. I’m a little nervous about that part, but I really want to be sure I’ve got some of this down before I show up in Florence in August.

I saw this in the window of Paper Source in Georgetown. It felt like a sign - so I snapped a pic!

Pray for my ability to speak the language and to be diligent with my self guided lessons. I just started my 3rd audio CD – which means I’ve completed 11 lessons already in about 5 weeks. I do them while I’m in the car, and I think they’re really working!

Anyone have any great ideas for helping the language lessons stick? Any native Italians who want to help me practice in Washington DC?

Ciao! (Ciao is for hello and goodbye ;) )

Monday, June 14, 2010

Some things I've made...

When I applied to design school, I had to send a portfolio of my fashion artwork and constructed garments. Just thought I'd share a few pieces I made...

I actually wear both of these a lot. This beige one is my go-to work dress for meetings and special work events. I wore it just last week at the Banca Civica event where the Princess of Spain was in attendance. I'll have to tell you more about it on another post.

This black and tan dress I made from some fabric I purchased on a trip to Hawaii. I wore this to a friend's wedding last year. I also let a friend wear it for an event. She's on the board of directors for a South African dance company. She said the dress was well received at the opening of their dance season.

... this one is to be completed (TBC).

I made this one without the assistance of a pattern, and I was very pleased with the outcome. After making a few sheath dresses (think Michelle Obama's style), I think I got a better handle on the fit through the waist and hips while experimenting with the details around the neckline.

I'll finish this and wear it to a going away party, so you can see the final product. I'll post more pics of the things I've made soon.

I often get the question: what kind of clothes do you make?

I'd love to hear from you. What do you think? How would you describe the clothes?