By Elly Spencer
Baylor students left behind the classroom and explored the European fashion circuit on a study abroad trip this June. Plaids, outrageous colors, unusual haircuts and ever-changing trends spattered the streets of Europe as students traveled through London, Edinburg and Paris, exploring the world of modern trends and the latest additions to couture design.
“They’re so much more edgy over there, especially in London,” said Shreveport, La. fashion student Courtney Cook.
The trip is biennial, lasting an average of 15-21 days. There were 12 women traveling in the fashion group, accompanied by two professors, Lorynn Divita and Mary Simpson.
“This study abroad trip really emphasizes the artistry in fashion,” Divita said. “It gives students a very historic, global, and high-end look at the industry.”
Baylor’s Apparel Design and Fashion Development has traveled to Europe for study abroad programs since the 1980s, and has seen several coordinators, with Divita being the latest.
The appointments, clients and events change with every trip. The variety is created by the Baylor fashion department’s many connections throughout the world, giving the students advantages and access to opportunities other universities have never had.
“It really does give them an advantage,” Simpson said. “They are able to see Old World techniques, and understand the value of how long the couture garment takes.”
Students on the trip toured couture handbag designer Louis Vuitton’s house and museum, a contact made through a Baylor alumni connection.
They also met with high-end designer Zandra Rhodes, a British designer known for her unusual textiles and wild pattern designs. This was an appointment the study abroad program hasn’t seen before, and proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students, said Cook.
“She is a really quirky and fun designer and it was cool being able to meet her,” Cook said. “She is inspiring because she has been designing for so many years, and it was just a reminder to never give up on your passion.”
Students had the opportunity to meet with the former president of the French Federation of Couture, Didier Grumbach as well, While he might not be an American household name, he was the president of the epicenter of French and European couture fashion.
“I don’t know of any other college that gets to meet with him,” Divita said.
Simpson said receiving such exclusive appointments had everything to do with connections and the fact that Baylor has a prestigious fashion program.
“We are a university and they are catering to us because we are an academic institution,” Simpson said. “They help us with the academic side of it, by giving us the opportunity to go into places that people usually would not be able to get into.”
Baylor has won countless awards for apparel design, and has been highly ranked in many fashion university lists, including Top 20 in the nation on Fashionista.com. Baylor fashion students regularly receive internships in other states, and jobs immediately after graduation.
Trips such as the Europe study abroad program allow Baylor students to have an advantage through their experiences in different designs.
“You can’t get these experiences through just a vacation to Europe,” Divita said.
Cook said the trip proved to be the experience of a lifetime for students.
“It’s amazing how much I learned traveling to these different cities and meeting people who are already working in the industry,” Cook said. “The advice and insight I got from going on these trips are priceless.”