“Historic Stitch” with Liv Spathakis

Alongside thirteen senior design students, Liv Spathakis ‘19 devotes her mornings, evenings, lunches and weekends to the Steel Plant Studio Lab. Tie dye swatches spread, scissors slice, machines click, pencils pulse and needles nudge as the group composes their final collection for the upcoming Silver Needle Runway Show. Some purchase wool from local vendors in Rhinebeck, while others train to Manhattan for the perfect silk.

With either approach, the work is always strenuous, but the final product — electric.  

Spathakis sought fashion and beauty magazines as an outlet for the stubborn and unfortunately well-known teenage years.

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“It was kind of that insecure time around 14 years old when I thought ‘I’m so ugly.’” Between pages of Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Vanity Fair, she was uplifted and quickly pursued pre-college courses at Fashion Institute of Technology. Spathakis was active in high school, but challenged to uncover her exact realm. She worked for the newspaper, but enjoyed the visual layout more than the reporting. However, with focus on fabric and shape, she infused a newborn drive. Instead of math or field hockey, she devoted her energy to drawing clothes. Spathakis declared Fashion Design as her major at Marist College and after freshman year she said she “did well for the first time.”

Through Spathakis’s college career, her lasting muse has been history. She mixes features of former pop culture, literature and activism within her work. She based previous portfolios on lady suffragette uniforms and the suspenseful tones of Alfred Hitchcock films. This year the vision stems from Truman Capote’s “la Côte Basque 1965,” a short story which discusses the socialites of New York City where the author, said Spathakis, “pretty much airs out their dirty laundry.”

In addition, Spathakis acmes power dressing, a phenomenon which, according to Business of Fashion, first included “tailored jackets, shoulder pads, dresses whipped in at the waist and a skirt that stopped on the knee.” She implements these trends and adds a futuristic taste.

“Now that women are assuming larger roles in business, they can break the conforms of strict apparel. Their individual and flowy wear expresses a sense of freedom.” said Spathakis. To magnify her creations, she incorporates red, black and white. Instinctively, Spathakis is a designer who knows the professional world is now very much a woman’s space and hopes to make it a fun, creative nine-to-five dimension.

During the fall semester of her junior year, Spathakis studied at Mod’spe in Paris. Here, she focused on product development and conducted hands-on manufacturing research to view quality of clothing up close. For class, she visited the colorful town of Asilah, located on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, south of Tangier. Spathakis said, “The style was amazing.”

When it comes to her personal attire, Spathakis cherishes comfort. Since her team oversees every drawing, fit and stitch, most prefer a similar leisure. Yet, when free time sheens through, her favorite accessories are chunky heels and a leather jacket. Spathakis said, “I feel like a boss in that.” As a method to unwind from the prowess lifestyle of the design student, Spathakis sits in bed, puts on a Netflix show and completes, without peering at the tempting answers, a free Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle.

Spathakis credits her enthusiasm to her supportive classmates and mentors.

“They really encourage us to think out of the box,” she said.

Fellow lines include cool-girl street wear, organically-conscious garden prints, inventive gothic cathedral gowns and kimono-inspired jacket and pant sets. Peers Joanna Musacchia and Leander Trotter also commented on their four-year experience.

“I think the most rewarding part of the process is seeing my work from 2-D ideas to 3-D garments. Fashion design is such a big part of my life. This love for my work drives me to make pieces the best they could be,” Musacchia said.  

Likewise, Trotter said “the most exciting part is when ideas begin to flow fluidly from pen to paper. The most rewarding part is when you truly get a design right, when color, line, and texture come together to make a knockout look.”

“It’s like having work friends,” Spathakis said. “Since we have a great relationship, the process is much easier.”

On May 10 at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. in the afternoon, this liveliness will be highlighted and, for the first time, Spathakis and other seniors will watch their achievements down the stage. Until now, the role as underclassman has been dressing, mending and adjusting models, but this spring, they have the privilege to enjoy.

Although Spathakis did not pursue a “traditional” academic route, much of her work is critical thinking. Sure, she opted not to spend four years crunching numbers in the Finance Center or silently typing keys on the bottom floor of the James A. Cannavino Library, but her visuals verve the attention of audiences.  

“Every look pretty much has a problem, and your job is to independently solve it,” Spathakis said. If you look back at Liv Spathakis’s path, it seems precise—the young woman at the doctor’s office who used her mother’s hair clips to transform her medical robe into a halter top is soon to graduate with a degree and three respected internships in a dress she made by hand.