Jazz Cole recently visited her alma mater, Lafayette High School (LHS) in Lexington, Kentucky, as a guest speaker for FIDM Fashion Club. As last year's club president, she came back to answer questions about the fashion industry and give tips on how to run the club. She got accepted to FIDM as her junior year was wrapping up last year, and will be studying Fashion Design at the Los Angeles campus starting this fall.
Tell us about your visit to LHS: I was amazed that there were so many people there, and nice to see my former Fashion Club sponsor who was my housing and fashion teacher during my junior year, and my former VP who is the current president for the 2015-16 school year. It felt almost like a reunion because some students I knew from having been an LHS student. I was a bit nervous as always when having to get up and speak openly to others, but I was talking about myself and my life experiences with fashion and future endeavors, especially with FIDM being the start of my next chapter, so it wasn’t hard to come up with things to talk about. Plus, I was talking to a room full of young girls interested in fashion ABOUT fashion so there wasn’t much to worry about. Having founded the club last year, I talked about FIDM Fashion Club, the experiences, the process of being a president, as well as about being able to attend my dream school (FIDM), what I’ve been doing with fashion at home, and on social media. I kind of felt like a mentor, and I did have one girl who I spoke with who sounded really interested in fashion design and asked a lot of questions when I started talking about FIDM. It was awesome to hear what my new president was going to do with the club (since it was the first meeting of the year). I couldn’t have picked a better president, she was a phenomenal VP who kept me grounded and I have no doubt she’ll do great things with Fashion Club this year.
How did you get involved? When I got officially accepted to FIDM my junior year, the person who interviewed me told me about Fashion Club and the scholarship benefits, but I hesitated because I wanted to make sure it was set in stone that I was going to FIDM first. Toward the end of junior year, I tried to become friends with my principal because I did need an administrator to sign off on it for FIDM, plus he helped guide me through the process of getting the approval from the school’s SBDM (Site Based Decision-Making) Council, and I had to make a separate proposal for them, and speak at their meeting about why it should become a school sponsored club. So I did the hard part getting it all started, so all I could do after that was to hope that the club would last. My sponsor was on board from day one. I thought she was fun, sweet, and I must say that she’s an expert seamstress, plus she taught fashion as well so we had plenty of sewing machines and tools for our use. Being the president was one of the biggest responsibilities I ever had in my life, so my leadership skills were tested. I advertised at freshman orientation, had our meetings added to school announcements, asked teachers to put my flyers in their classrooms, and in return I had a great amount of people show up. The hardest part was trying to manage Fashion Club with school, and my heavy involvement in theatre. So I was challenged with time management, but it was a good challenge, plus I’m sure life it going to be just as hard when I get pulled into the real world when October arrives for fall quarter.
What was the best thing about doing Fashion Club? It was fun to be around others who were interested in fashion. Socially, I was always exclusively hanging around other theatre lovers, and I didn’t really know anyone else who was interested in fashion as a career path. Besides just liking fashion as a way of just shopping for cute outfits, I didn't keep up with current events or bloggers as far as the industry goes. So I enjoyed meeting other people who really liked fashion—who had some interest in fashion as an industry, whether it be styling, graphic design, blogging, jewelry making, you name it.
Tell us a little more about yourself: I’m 18 years old and have been designing clothes for five years. In fourth grade, I was accepted into a gifted and talented program in the creative and performing arts majoring in theatre. I started getting interested in design in my freshman year of high school, so I got involved in the costume department for school productions. For senior year, I was given the opportunity to be a student costume designer for two productions, and I got to intern with the best costume designer in town, a high-end retail boutique, and Images Modeling and Talent Agency through an internship program at my high school to get hands on experience in different aspects of the fashion industry. Throughout high school, I’ve managed a YouTube channel, a blog, and I’m active on social media as Jazz Cole Designs which is a brand that I’m determined to promote and launch in the future. Also, I’ve always been a HUGE history nerd. I love learning about the past through art, architecture, literature, etc. I believe that history can inspire us to be better and more efficient people; if designing wasn’t the main thing that got me up in the morning then, I’d probably be a historian because it’s so fascinating to see what happened (or what we missed) long before this generation was even thought of. I love everything about life and the anticipation of what’s out there waiting to be discovered really inspires and motivates me as a fashion designer. I truly believe that God put me on this earth with a purpose and I’m determined to make sure my life has been lived to the fullest.
What went into your decision to apply to FIDM? I actually stumbled upon FIDM in a book called 200 Projects to get Yourself into Fashion Design from the public library as a freshman where there were references at the end listing schools and other universities that contributed to the publication, and FIDM happened to be one of them. I felt that high school would give me four years to decide what I wanted to do with my life, what kinds of electives I should take. With being in the performing arts, I knew I liked fashion design and thought it would be something I could go with, I researched most of the schools and FIDM stood out the most. I didn’t want to just go to a university and hope I get a job afterwards. From attending college fairs, FIDM seemed like a school 100% dedicated to creating highly productive and successful members in the industry. I liked that they nurtured creativity, and individuality in such a way that I didn’t get in high school. The work and the connections FIDM had seemed priceless, and I had never been past the Mississippi River in my life, so California seemed like a fun, new, and strategic location to learn my craft.
When did you get accepted? May 14, 2014 during my junior. One of the best days of my life!!!
What are you most looking forward to about becoming a student at FIDM? To meeting new people and personalities, exploring new cultures, getting inspired in a whole new way, learning from the best, discovering new opportunities, try new things, just really being able to do or study what I want to do. It’s my dream to be a fashion designer and I think FIDM will embrace my passion and will have the tools I need to mold me into someone that my family will be proud of.
What are your career goals? I really want to start my own brand, Jazz Cole Designs which I mentioned earlier. If I can, I’d like to become the next DVF, I’ve admired Diane Von Furstenburg for a long time. I was so excited when House of DVF came on and when I found out it was coming back. My dad has been a big influence since he’s been an entrepreneur who’s owned three successful businesses in his lifetime, so I do want to make a business out of it. My secondary career path is being a theatrical costume designer, I’ve been in musical theatre for so long, and it would be awesome to some day design for a Broadway production.
Anything else you’d like to share? I consider myself to be a feminist, and I want to use fashion as a way of encouraging young girls to become the beautiful and confident women they were meant to be. My mantra is “stay beautiful,” because being beautiful is more that the appearance. I think that fashion is about how you feel when you wear whatever you choose to wear and commanding presence and being able to have some power when you walk into a room. I think there’s nothing wrong with getting attention, I find it to be much better than blending in with the crowd.
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