I spent 3 years at the Fashion Institute of Technology. In my first semester... somewhere in the first few weeks of taking fashion art 1, I started to hear the name Steven Stipelman. Mary Bridgman was my first semester fashion art teacher, and was profoundly influential in my time at F.I.T.. She urged those of us in her fist semester to class to try to get a space in Steven Stipelman's 2nd semester Fashion art class. At this point, I had no idea who was who, or what was what.... but I did as I was told, and I got a spot in his class. As it turns out, Professor Stipelman is a rather celebrated fashion illustrator who worked on staff at Woman's Wear Daily for many years and illustrated for many of the great designers of the 20th century. He is on faculty at F.I.T. now, and continues to illustrate collections for those designers who don't want the initial viewing of their clothes photographed.
Second semester was about to begin and I realized that I would be on tour dancing during the first meeting of his class, so I sent him an e-mail asking him to let me know what I would be missing. His reply to me was that I should consider dropping the class, and that missing information from his lessons set me irreparably behind. ......uh oh.... I then replied to him that I had no intention of dropping the class and I would be sure to make up any missed work.
I did manage to make up missed work, but his scare tactics were founded in the reality that his lectures were saturated with an unbelievable wealth of information. It was in his classes where I really started to understand the psychology of designing a collection. It was also the first time that I felt incredible emotional connection to a drawing. Having the opportunity to watch him draw was really magical. To watch him render chiffon or wool or Taffeta, was like watching someone actually feeling the fabric with their hand. The way he placed pencil to paper was always extraordinary, and to watch his chalk demonstrations on the board was at times shocking. In mere seconds and in a couple strokes he could capture the slung pelvis of a three quarter view model in an evening gown, or the profile of a woman in full pants and a trench coat walking at full tilt down the street.
We all grew tremendously in that semester, and I was lucky enough to have him again in my last semester. I want to share some of his drawings with you. I wish I could show you a film of him making a drawing... but you will have to imagine it for now.