Styling the World of Fashion at Academy of Art University
Program Coordinator Flore Morton shares her insights on the school’s new Fashion Styling degree program, the only such program offered in the nation, as well as the challenges of helping students become working fashion professionals.
As Coordinator of the new Fashion Styling degree program at Academy of Art University, Flore Morton's passion for styling and professional approach to the core fundamental fashion principles is readily apparent. From her professional perspective to the underlying philosophy of the program, Morton emphasizes hard work, dedication and focus on practical skills. Helping students become creative professionals working in this specific area of the fashion industry is her main objective and the reason she has been a part of creating such a unique program.
We covered at length the new program, the focus of study and the pressure students face preparing for the tremendously competitive job market.
Jennifer Nelson, Academy Editor: Why start a Fashion Styling program? What exactly is Fashion Styling and what needs does it fulfill within the fashion industry?
Flore Morton: A fashion stylist is essentially someone who gathers clothes based on a concept and creates fashion imagery that delivers the message of the designer or brand.
The fashion industry has evolved so much in the past decade with the fashion magazines and stores going online that it has created a voracious need for inspiring fashion imagery. And behind each fashion photo is a fashion stylist.
Simon Ungless, the Director of the School of Fashion, and I created a Fashion Styling program that answers the need of the fashion industry and the strong interest we heard from students and aspiring students. Academy of Art University is the first school in the United States that offers a fully accredited BFA Fashion Styling program that trains students in all the disciplines working stylists face in the industry, with a very strong creative edge.
JN: How does Fashion Styling overlap with other areas within the fashion industry?
FM: Fashion styling is by essence collaborative.
On photo shoots, stylists collaborate with photographers, models, make-up artists, hair stylists and designers. Connecting with great teams is essential, so the styling program collaborates with the highly awarded Fashion Design and Photography programs at Academy of Art University and offers a strong network of local model agencies, prop houses, fashion magazines, artist agencies and storesto help students style and produce photo shoots of the highest standard on a dime.
Styling students take many styling classes of course, but also courses in photography, make-up artistry, hair styling, photo shoot production, fashion design and fashion journalism to name a few. It teaches them to communicate properly with their team, to build their taste level and the required skills a professional stylist needs.
What also makes the program so unique is that it is set in the Bay Area. You can shoot on the beach one day and in the snow the next day, all year round. The forests, farms, hills, deserts and a varied urban landscape create a backdrop for infinite possible photo shoots.
JN: What are some of the key aspects of Fashion Styling that your program teaches?
FM: Fashion styling encompasses many disciplines within and outside the fashion industry.
Students will be fully trained to style, produce and art direct for print or online fashion magazines, ad campaigns, commercials, catalogs, designers’ look books, fashion shows, fashion videos and personal clients.
JN: The job market can be tough these days. How do you advise students to best prepare for the rigors and realities of a career in the fashion industry?
FM: Styling graduates will enter the field with a strong online and printed styling portfolio filled with relevant and powerful fashion imagery and a vastnetwork of collaborators. All the classes in the program will prepare them for that.
Interning and assisting while still at school is another excellent way to get ahead of everybody else in the job market, along with being proficient at social media.
Sure, when entering a creative field like styling, work doesn't feel like work, even if it is for long hours. But the key to success is for you to make an absolute commitment from the start. Work as hard as you can to achieve your goal.