Senior Fashion Student Profile: Melissa Armistead

Senior Fashion major Melissa Armistead answers questions on why she started fashion designing, her design aesthetic, hopes for the future, and everything in between.

What made you want to get into fashion and why did you start designing?
Honestly, I’ve always loved to create things and to make things with my hands. So I was between fashion design, architecture, and interior design, and senior year I decided to take a fashion design course and that was it! I realized that fashion was for me.

From what, or who, do you find inspiration?
I take a lot of my inspiration either from architecture or the environment. So this year I focused on going back to the natural side and the environment in my three portfolios. The tree of life is my current inspiration, so I incorporate a lot of cultural themes that you can find out in nature.

What’s your design aesthetic?

I’m very minimal, but not in a bad way. It’s more sophisticated and a have a bit older of a target customer - she’s very chic, very classy, and a little simpler.

What’s been some of the highlights of your design career here at Marist?
I prefer the sewing side of fashion a lot more to the portfolio side (I think everyone has a preference of either drawing or sewing). But I would say my favorite class was either textile design or knitwear design, which I’m in now. These additional outlets, electives for design majors and anyone who want to take them, really supplement our design work. In textile design we did a lot of manipulating fabrics and learning different techniques. We don’t get to do it during our portfolio classes because we don’t have time, so it was really fun - it was like playtime.

What do you want to do in the future? The next five years? 10 years?
I would actually like to get a master’s in business. I think I want to design for a few years and then maybe try to get my master’s abroad. I studied abroad in Paris and I fell in love with the city so it’d be great to be able to go there for few years and then come back. I think at some point my end goal would be to start my own company and have my own line, and I think that getting the business degree and knowing the entrepreneurial side of running business would really help me with that.

What advice do you have for younger students, or prospective students, hoping to pursue fashion design?
It’s difficult, and it’s definitely not for everyone. Don’t be discouraged and always keep working. If you work hard and manage your time, you’ll really find yourself. It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it in the end. 

Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve designed?
I do a lot of jumpsuits, and I think this year my jumpsuit is probably one of my favorite pieces. I did a jumpsuit sophomore year, one junior year, and now again for my senior collection I have another one, and they’ve definitely evolved over the years.

If you could work for any designer, brand, or fashion house, who would it be and why?
If I could go luxury I would definitely pick Céline. I think we have a very similar aesthetic and I love what they’re doing. I am little upset that Phoebe Philo left, and I don’t know where that’s going to leave them. But prior to that, my choice would definitely be Céline hands-down. But I would also love to work for a more casual brand, like Rag & Bone or Theory.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the fashion industry, who would it be and why?
Phoebe Philo. I love her, and she’s done amazing things in the industry. I would love to pick her brain and find out everything that goes into her design process and what she’s done. 

Cover image credit: Marist Fashion.

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