September 23, 2014
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Local girl dresses up fashion week
100% WOOL: Fashion students learn to work in a variety of natural and synthetic fabrics and colors, like Sarah Maloof’s woolen coat.

Next to wanting to be an actor, wanting to be a fashion designer is one of those ambitions most parents try to discourage their kids to pursue. But when Sarah Maloff told her mother she wanted to be a fashion designer, the Toll Gate High School graduate got nothing but support.

“I have always loved art and I wanted to do it in some form and I knew this was a hard field to get ahead in,” said Maloof, “but my mother said, ‘Just do it.’”

So Maloff just did it, and her work will be featured in an exhibit put together by Maloof’s school, the Massachusetts College of Art, at Copley Place in Boston as part of Boston Fashion Night Out this week and during Boston Fashion Week on Oct. 3. The Wearable Art 2012 exhibit will feature 36 ensembles created by students in their Fashion Design Department from Sept. 7 to 27 at Copley Place in Boston. Fashion Design Department student work will illustrate ingenuity in recyclable materials, including tree bark, water bottles, newspapers, paper clips, sponges, and more. It is an exhibit that Maloof can really relate to. One of her fashion heroes is Paco Rabanne, who is now more well known for his men’s cologne than the pioneering use of recycled materials that Rabanne rocked the fashion world with back in 1966. In 1966, he showed his first collection, a whimsical affair called “12 Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials,” with dresses composed of sequins and plaques and other stuff not usually used for haute couture. Clothes became more like artistic expression.

“I like his stuff because it is really fun,” said Maloof.

For Wearable Art 2012, the message is about details in theatrical costumes, bridal gowns and expertly tailored jackets.

“I looked for designs that would show the intricacy of construction, fit, shaping, and form – designs that would capture the viewer as they got closer to the exhibit,” said Professor Jayne Avery of the MassArt Fashion Design department, in a press release about the exhibit. “Such an up close view of these spectacular pieces – what a perfect way to experience fashion.”

While making dresses and putting on shows is a lot of fun, Jane Avery’s approach to teaching fashion design also addresses the business end of fashion and the school offers hands-on experience in the world of fashion. Avery, a veteran of her own Avery Kid Company, prepares students for every aspect of the business.

“We have art history classes and get background knowledge of the business,” said Maloof. “We make our own designs, make our own patterns. We even experiment with various dyes and fabrics, to see how they work … She is a really amazing teacher.”

Maloof enjoys the more original aspects of the business, and is an admirer of Vera Wang, one of the most successful ready-to-wear designers in the business who is known for her marketing skills as much as the “sophisticated drama, feminine detailing and a modern approach to bridal design,” according to Wang’s website.

The Vera Wang brand aspires to more than ready-to-wear and ventures into publishing, fragrances and accessories at the high end of the market. Paco Rabanne has come to represent so much more than clothes, but even the most revolutionary pioneers get overtaken by subsequent generations.

Can we anticipate a Sarah Maloof fashion universe?

“First I have to get a job,” said Maloof, who has already served two internships with two Boston companies as she enters her senior year at MassArt.

“I have a list of places I would love to work. I will start applying in April or so and hope for the best.”

According to Statistic Brain (statisticbrain.com), there are 20,000 fashion designer jobs out there with a median salary of about $63,000 a year. There are 4 million people in the industry and Americans spend $250 billion on fashion each year with the fashion industry taking $20 billion of it home.

Vera Wang has an estimated $115 million net worth. Actual numbers for Paco Rabanne are harder to come by, but the fact that one of his men’s fragrances is called 1 Million and another is called Lady Million suggests that he’s doing quite well for a 1960s iconoclast. But Vera and Paco were once in the same predicament as Maloof and had to start by working for someone else. Overnight success can sometimes take decades to arrive, but Maloof is not discouraged.

“The first thing I have to do is get a job,” said Maloof, “with a good brand or a good company. That’s the start.”

For more information on the exhibit and fashion shows, visit www.massart.edu.


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