By Mrs Kirstie Naish
The Fashion and Textiles department were delighted to take 10 Lower and Upper Sixth Form students to New York City during the October Half Term. We met with influential people working in New York's fashion industry, as well as visiting fashion exhibitions and museums, and, of course, some sightseeing.
After travelling for eight hours, we landed at JFK and were transported straight to our hotel. Each student had their own double bed and immediately unpacked in preparation for the days ahead. Our first visit was to the iconic Empire State Building. We dined at the Heartland Brewery at the very bottom of the building before getting on an animated lift to the top floor. The view from the observatory was stunning, once students stepped outside they experienced huge gusts of wind that made everyone’s hair stand on end! After our long journey, we headed back to the comfort of our hotel for some well-earned rest.
On the second day, we started to navigate the city. We walked right up to Times Square, taking pictures of famous landmarks as we went. We then had a tour of Macy’s; this was really useful as we were shown the stunning Christmas shop. There were snowflakes and baubles hanging from every available surface and a different Santa at every turn. After getting our fill of festive fun we headed down a few floors on the 1920’s wooden elevators to the Big Piano (made famous in the film Big starring Tom Hanks), which was great fun. Later that afternoon went to John’s Pizzeria, which had a superb Art Deco inspired glass ceiling.
After lunch, we went to the Rockefeller Centre where some of the students tried ice skating and others went shopping along Fifth Avenue. Later that evening we watched Aladdin on Broadway. This was the highlight for many on this trip: the colours, dancers, and costumes were breathtaking.
On day three we got up early to catch a train to visit Ellis and Liberty Islands. We had the best view in the house at the very front of the boat as we approached the Statue of Liberty, with the city skyline in the distance. After our ferry trip, we walked to Ground Zero. This was a sobering moment where we all took the time to think of those whose lives were lost in such tragic circumstances. The memorial was breathtaking and fresh flowers were placed on the names of those that are no longer with us.
We then walked to an office block where we met Caroline Vazzana, a writer, editor, stylist, and founder and creative director of MakingManhattan.com. Caroline formerly worked for Teen Vogue and InStyle as a fashion writer. She took us through her career path and explained how she became her own boss and started her own company. Her presentation was very inspiring and all the students were given her email and Instagram account so that they could ask for her advice throughout their careers. After her presentation students were given the opportunity to ask questions, with many excellent queries asked about the fashion industry huge amounts of new information to digest, we all left with a spring in our step.
That evening we dined at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. before admiring the magnificent lights and shops in Times Square by night. On our final day, we took the train to Central Park for breakfast. After finding many landmarks along the way where we have seen some of our favourite TV stars get married, argue or fall in love, we dined overlooking the beautiful lake at The Boat House. After a delicious breakfast of pancakes and bagels, we walked along Fifth Avenue to the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum. We saw an exhibition titled Uniformity, which explored the dynamic history behind a variety of uniforms, considering both their social role and their influence on high fashion.
The exhibition is organised thematically to focus on four categories of uniforms: military, work, school, and sports. We also saw Proust's Muse, The Countess Greffulhe
exhibition which featured 40 extraordinary fashions and accessories from the fabulous wardrobe of Élisabeth de Caraman-Chimay, the Countess Greffulhe (1860-1952). A famous beauty celebrated for her "aristocratic and artistic elegance", the countess fascinated her contemporaries, including Marcel Proust who told her cousin, Robert de Montesquiou, "I have never seen a woman so beautiful." When Proust wrote his great novel In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu)
, the Countess Greffulhe was one of the primary inspirations for his immortal fictional character, Oriane, the Duchess de Guermantes, of whom he wrote, "Each of her dresses seemed like the projection of a particular aspect of her soul."
This last visit took us to the very end of our trip. We want to say a huge thank you to all the students that attended, they were an absolute pleasure and we hope they had a wonderful experience.
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