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For centuries, fashion has been an outlet for creative vanity. Today, connoisseurs seek out high-end fashions by designers like Donatella Versace, Christian Lacroix and Miuccia Prada. Housewives of Beverly Hills or the like search for designer clothes to wear to advertise not only their “taste” but most importantly their bottomless pockets and limitless credit cards. It is easy for fashion to be seen as a frivolous way to show monetary and societal status, instead of as a way to be creative and unique.
Parsons The New School For Design in New York City has produced some of the world’s most notable designers, including Anna Sui, Donna Karen and Marc Jacobs. This May, one of Parsons’ current students will be graduating with a BFA in Fashion Design and a lot of promise, heart and talent. Kansas-bred Jovana Mirabile always knew she would attend Parsons for fashion. When she was 13 years old she read an article about the school in Seventeen Magazine that convinced her Parsons was the only school for her. Her confidence and determination were so high, in fact, that she did not apply to any other school. If she didn’t get accepted into Parsons, she would not go to school for fashion at all. No other school could compare.
Jovana did in fact get accepted into Parsons and has been thriving there ever since she first step foot on site. Her life has always revolved around fashion, so she was ecstatic to get in to such a prestigious fashion college.
“When I was two years old my mom tells me I used to pick out all of my own outfits and dress myself,” said Jovana. “I would change at least four times a day.” It wasn’t just the changing of clothes that tipped her off that fashion would be her future. Teachers would notice how Jovana paid attention to what she and other classmates would wear. “When I was in first grade, my teacher told my mom and I that she knew one day she would be buying my designs at Bloomingdales,” Jovana explained. “As a six year old, I had no idea what that meant, so my mom explained to me that she thought I would be a fashion designer someday. From that day on my heart was set on becoming a designer.”
Her favorite class overall at Parsons has been her methods class. Methods is a class where she really gets to channel her creativity, because its curriculum focuses on draping and sewing personal designs. Jovana sees herself as a 3D thinker and therefore enjoys the opportunity to explore her designs in an approach other than sketching. “I have found as a designer that I prefer to drape rather than sketch in the beginning of my design process,” Jovana said.
Like all fashion enthusiasts, Jovana has a favorite designer, one that she looks up to and admires: Matthew Williamson. “Everyone that knows me knows my love for his work,” Jovana explained. She finds herself inspired by his embroidery, print and use of color. Jovana had the chance to intern with Williamson in London this past summer. She was able to see firsthand how his design process works. It was a dream come true for this starry-eyed future designer. “There are many designers I admire, but Matthew Williamson has really stole my heart,” she exclaimed.
Jovana also likes to make it known that although she has her favorites, she does not dislike any designer. She believes she finds inspiration in Williamson and others because of her own personal aesthetic. She does, however, respects every designer’s work despite whether it matches her own style. “I think that there is something to appreciate about every designer,” Jovana said. “Different styles and aesthetics are what make fashion so exciting. It would be so boring if everyone designed the same way.”
Jovana doesn’t like to follow trends because she feels they can “take away from your creative freedom as a designer.” She understands that trends may equate to sales, but she feels no inclination to follow any. If she had to, it would be one of bright colors and prints, which lucky for her, are in style this season. Many designers, like Dolce e Gabbana’s D&G line, are using neon colors, which are a personal favorite for Jovana. She is also relieved that drop crotch pants are no longer in style. “It’s just not flattering!”
While Jovana does not follow fashion trends, she does start her own. Jovana has a very big heart. When she was 13 years old her school required her to complete 50 service hours to graduate. She took this requirement as an opportunity to share her talents with others. Inspired by her mother, who worked with behaviorally disordered and at-risk teenagers, she decided to share her talents with less fortunate students. She started an organization that she named Fashionista Girls. “The organization began with just myself, my mom, my sister and a few friends going to different local special-need schools and talking with young girls about having self confidence and believing in themselves, while introducing them to skincare, doing their hair, make-up and nails,” said Jovana. “We created little gift bags with skincare products and make-up for the girls to keep.”
Jovana quickly realized that her organization wouldn’t be able to continue if she didn’t find a way to get some income. It was, and still is, important to her to keep her company alive, because many of the girls she works with don’t have a mother or older sister figure to talk to, so she feels it is important to be there for them. Jovana holds fashion shows with her designs, asking for donations at the door, to raise money for Fashionista Girls. Over the last five years, she raised over $20,000 from her shows, making it possible to keep, and expand, her program.
Although the last four years of her life has been devoted to her studies, Fashionista Girls has continued with the help of her sister, cousins and friends back in Kansas. Last year, Jovana held a fashion show in NYC with other fashion students. This was another dream come true for her.
“I hope to continue the program and eventually grow it nationwide,” Jovana said. “My dream is to one day have my own line and have Fashionista Girls be a huge part within my company. I would love to have different chapters in each state, possibly have it organized within design schools, and start a scholarship fund to help aspiring designers who cannot afford design school to follow their dreams. That is what Fashionista Girls is all about — following your dreams and believing in yourself.”
Jovana certainly lives her life believing in herself, and with the aid of her supportive family, she is making all of her own dreams come true.
For more information on Fashionista Girls, or to make a donation to the program, please visit www.fashionistagirls.org.