Fashion Focus: Dominican senior tailors design experience around the world

By Sarah Tinoco

November 13, 2013

Studying where some of the fashion legends have is every design major’s dream; for senior Megan Knape, that dream was a reality.

For the fashion design major, the last two years have allowed Knape, to experience two opportunities in-between her studies at Dominican University. Knape’s first study abroad trip was at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London during the summer of 2012.

Knape, whose favorite designers include Central Saint Martins alumni Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou, says her admiration for these designers also sparked her interest in seeking an opportunity to study fashion abroad.

“I am really into the avant-garde, innovative, cutting-edge kind of designing,” Knape explained. “I really like the European, specifically British style. It’s always different and very cutting-edge and spunky and elegant.”

Knape was accepted to study at the college for a three-week advanced fashion design course that was held over the summer. During her time in London, Knape spent time both touring and learning design.

“The first week, we went around the city. We went to the Victoria and Albert Museum [and] spent time in the library researching a specific topic that inspired us,” Knape said. “The second week was a lot of just draping and documenting and thinking of what we were going to make. The third week, we made a toile. I made a coat and a skirt.”

On her study abroad trip in London, Knape also met many inspiring people whom she still keeps in contact.

“I met a lot of people from around the world who I went to school with there and I still talk to some of them and so I made some good friends,” Knape said. “I had this teacher, Elisa Palomino [who] went to school with Alexander McQueen and she’s worked at Dior with John Galliano. She has her own line now and she’s a teacher; she was sweet and having her as a teacher, encouraged me and helped me with my work,” Knape added.

Knape emailed her portfolio and resumé out to a variety of open positions for internships during the spring semester last year. After interviewing Knape, the brand Not Equal, was interested in hiring Knape as an intern at their Brooklyn studio for the summer.

Not Equal is a brand by Project Runway Season 10 finalist Fabio Costa and designer Rebecca Diele. Not Equal started a Kickstarter campaign and was able to raise $20,000 to get the brand up and running.

“We were producing a lot of the rewards for [the Kickstarter pledges]; we did braiding and dyeing and sewing and cutting, a variety of putting together the products,” Knape said of her duties for her internship.

Although based in New York, Not Equal went on to show their Spring/Summer 2014 collection at Portland Fashion Week in Oregon this past October.

In addition to her part-time internship for two and a half months in New York, Knape also had a part-time retail job at Volcom in SoHo. Knape was also able to explore New York’s culture during her time there. “I did a lot of traveling around the city so I feel like I definitely understand the whole city of New York because I lived in Manhattan and then I worked in SoHo and Brooklyn,” Knape said. “I loved going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the fashion exhibit; this year they had a punk exhibit and I saw [it] and it was great,” Knape exclaimed.

After she graduates from Dominican, Knape hopes to return to Central Saint Martins to pursue her masters in fashion design.

“But if I don’t go straight to grad school, I want to get a job. I’m really interested in getting an internship in Australia this summer,” Knape said.

As for advice to fellow apparel majors, “I would say while you’re in school, intern as much as you can and be really dedicated and stay in contact with your friends and also people who you work for and it’s been helpful for me to have mentors,” Knape said.

“If there is an experience that you want to do, if you want to intern in New York or go to some other country or study abroad in London, there’s not really anything stopping you, just because [something] is not within Dominican, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it.”