Scholarship Spotlight: Where Are They Now

Lauren Sehner, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, was the 2011 Geoffrey Beene Design Scholar. Lauren has stayed in the CFDA family and is working as an assistant designer with CFDA Member Adam Lippes.

How did school prepare you for working in the fashion industry?

In so many ways, along with learning the trade, school really helped me find my design voice and showed me how to present both myself and my work.

Did you intern while in school– if so, how was that experience?

I interned many times!  I completed 8 internships by the time I graduated with my BFA. I interned for the smallest of companies to the largest of corporations. It was great to see first hand what really goes into a job in fashion. It helped me form my decision of what type of company that I wanted to work for and weed out the ones that I didn’t, even before going out into the industry.

What’s it like moving from a school environment where you have the freedom to focus on your own design to working for a brand under the direction of a designer’s vision?

You learn to work differently. You use the brand DNA as a starting point, and in that parameter you try and decide what’s the next step in the world your company has built. If you look at your work this way, it helps you become more objective and gives you a framework in which to design.

What was your decision process like in choosing your first job out of school?

I really needed to work for a designer that I admire, and be around clothing that I love. Whether you are working in fashion or not, your job is such a big part of your life and I firmly believe that unless you love what you are doing in your work you are not going to be happy in your daily life. If you don’t love the product you aren’t going to create a good one.

So what is the day in the life of Lauren like?

My day starts off with coffee and e-mails! Then the design team will meet to discuss the plan for the day and delegate tasks.  I try to see what the outstanding projects are and make sure to follow up on them. There is often a fitting and trips uptown to meet with our local factories and sample houses. Then more e-mails!

Do you have any mentors who have helped you throughout the transition from school to industry?

The first year out of school is a really tough transition. I have been lucky enough to stay in touch with really great professors, especially Professor Stipelman and Professor Rothman who mentored me in school and in life. I am also incredibly lucky to have the support of the CFDA to believe in me and to validate my work. Also, going through this with your classmates and friends adds a little humor to the situation.

Where are you from originally?

Chicago and proud!

Why did you move to New York?

To be honest, I think years of watching Sex and the City really molded my idea of what adulthood would be like. It just seemed inevitable that this is where I would be.

What is some advice you can give to design students?

INTERN, INTERN, INTERN. And do all of the contests! All of the extra opportunities you can be involved in will not only set you apart when you graduate, but also give you a level of polish that is key to making a good impression on an interview.

Who are some of your favorite designers?

I love the greats, people like Geoffrey Beene, Balenciaga and Halston. People who are able to find their own voice and create their own world while staying relevant to the times.

If you could work anywhere in the world, where would it be?

….. A girl always dreams of Paris!

If you could design an outfit for anyone in the world, who would it be?

I’m not sure I know who she is, but I know that she is strong, independent, and timeless– maybe she works in art. Louise Neri has a great sense of style.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

We all dream of having our name on the door.  At the very least, I hope to have good hair by then!