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Fashion Studies Students Interact with Fashion Industry Heavyweights During Commencement Week ‘14

Posted May 22, 2014 in Classes & Presentations

The awarding of the Honorary Doctor of Arts degree is a very special part of KCAD’s annual commencement ceremony. Each year, we have the tremendous privilege to be able to welcome a distinguished artist or designer into our community, and to have them join us in celebrating the achievements of our graduates.

This year’s recipient was Steven Kolb, CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). The CFDA is the country’s premier designer trade association, and as CEO, Kolb is responsible for the organization’s member services, charitable outreach, and related activities. He works directly with some of America’s foremost designers – Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren – to create tremendous impact in and beyond the fashion industry.

books artworkPresident Oliver Evans (left) and Pamella Roland DeVos (right) hood Steven Kolb as recipient of the 2014 KCAD Honorary Doctor of Arts degree

“I am truly thrilled to receive this honorary doctorate from Kendall College of Art and Design,” said Kolb. “In my work at the CFDA, I am surrounded and inspired by creative people, so to be recognized as one of them is truly special.”

In addition to being one of the featured speakers at commencement, Kolb also took the time to visit students from the Fashion Studies program while he was in town. Accompanied by Pamella Roland DeVos – prominent fashion designer, philanthropist, and namesake of KCAD’s School of Fashion – Kolb talked with the students about the importance of believing in their unique talent and individual creativity and helped them get a better idea of how to break into the fashion industry when they graduate

books artworkPamella Roland DeVos (left) and Steven Kolb (right) visit the KCAD Fashion Studies classroom spaces

“What’s so unique about American fashion is that we reach out a hand to new designers to help them move forward,” Kolb said. “It’s about giving and supporting that family.”

books artworkFashion Studies students listen eagerly to Steve Kolb and Pamella Roland DeVos

As someone who never intended to work in the fashion industry, Kolb nonetheless merged his non-profit experience with his passion for social issues to forge a successful and impactful career in fashion. When he took the stage to speak during the commencement ceremony, he implored students to never sacrifice their passions for the sake of their careers.

“There’s no such thing as black and white. Our lives have color to them,” Kolb told the graduates. "At the end of your life, you’re going to want that color as proof that you were here, and that you lived.”

Working with the CFDA, Kolb has headed initiatives like Fashion Targets Breast Cancer and Fashion’s Night Out that have raised millions of dollars worldwide. He’s also helped cultivate the next generation of American fashion design talent through programs such as the CDFA/Vogue Fashion Fund, which has secured more than $10 million in funding to provide financial assistance and mentoring to emerging designers, and CFDA Fashion Incubator, which provides mentorship opportunities and low-cost studio space in the heart of New York City’s garment district.

Fashion Studies Program Chair Lori Faulkner is working to develop a similar incubator locally, as well as getting her students involved in a number of community outreach projects that are helping to plant the seeds of a fashion industry right here in West Michigan.

But wherever KCAD Fashion Studies students take their talents upon graduation, they won’t soon forget Kolb’s advice to take risks, embrace the unexpected, and to always follow their hearts.
 

For more info on the CFDA, visit cfda.com.

For more info on the KCAD Fashion Studies program, click here.

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