October 6, 2015
By Sarah Tinoco
This fall semester, Dominican University’s Department of Apparel Merchandising and Design welcomed Professor José Blanco, the newest addition to the department in five years.
Blanco joins the apparel department faculty as an associate professor, succeeding Professor Susan Strawn who retired from her position last year to pursue traveling and independent studies of textiles.
Born in Costa Rica, Blanco grew up spending much of his time in the atelier of his aunt, a well-known seamstress in his community, and enjoyed organizing fabrics and textiles his aunt worked with on a daily basis. He went on to receive his Bachelors in theater from the Universidad de Costa Rica in San José with a focus on costume design and then to receive his Masters degree in theater at California State University in Los Angeles.
Upon completion of his Masters, Blanco returned to Costa Rica for a short time but returned to the United States to earn his PhD in theater arts at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. While pursuing his degree, Blanco began teaching theater and fashion history at Florida State.
After seven years at Florida State, Blanco moved on to teach fashion history and fashion show production at the University of Georgia. While there he also worked on historical fashion exhibits in the on-campus museum.
After nine years of teaching at the University of Georgia, Blanco’s partner took a teaching opportunity in Chicago, allowing Blanco and his partner to make their dream of living in Chicago a reality.
“It’s like the whole world is here. You really see all these different areas. You get these great museums, this great city life, and people seem to be much calmer and relaxed than people in, say, New York City,” Blanco exclaimed.
Since beginning teaching at Dominican, Blanco has enjoyed the opportunity to get to know his students individually, the diverse population at Dominican and the feeling of community. Blanco hopes to incorporate his interest in menswear into his teachings for Dominican’s apparel department. He has continuously worked on several fashion reference works and also wants to bring more attention to the historical costume collections the apparel department has. Additionally, Blanco wants to teach students about Latin American fashion and culture, which he believes will interest students of the large Hispanic/Latino population at Dominican.
Blanco’s eclectic, colorful, and fun style is influenced by Latin American culture, happy people, and fashion that is created from a happy point of view.
“I really like designers that design things and you know they are having fun. Jeremy Scott, for example, some of the things he does is absolutely crazy, but you see him and you know he’s having fun,” Blanco said regarding the eclectic designer of Italian fashion house, Moschino.
Although Blanco has a rich taste in fashion, Blanco lives a simple life in order to pursue his passion for travel. Blanco has traveled extensively to Western Europe, Scandinavia and Eastern Asia, and led several fashion-focused study abroad trips while teaching at Florida State and the University of Georgia.
Currently, Blanco is teaching at Dominican the History of Dress and Social Psychology of Dress and will take on Cultural Perspectives in dress next semester, as well as the newly restructured course “Contemporary Dress & Trend Forecasting”.