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Focused on Fashion

Isolda Marie Meade, B.A. ’07

Intrigued with the world of fashion since her youth, Isolda Marie Meade (who goes by “Marie”) is on the way to realizing her goal of becoming a professional designer. Though only two years removed from completing her undergraduate studies, Marie has already made great strides in the fashion world, thanks to her focus and determination. And she credits her Marymount education with giving her the solid foundation necessary for success in this highly competitive field.

Marie first heard about MU’s Fashion Design program when she was a high school student working in a fabric store in Fairfax, Virginia. She was intrigued by the idea of a local university with a fashion program, and it wasn’t long before she was on campus, checking things out. Marie’s private high school did not offer fashion as part of its art curriculum, so she filled gaps in her senior schedule with fashion courses at Marymount. Her grades allowed her to participate in the Portfolio in Motion production class in the spring semester of 2003, and she had her first garment featured in that year’s show. Marie says, “Being at Marymount as a high school senior took me another step toward confirming that a career in fashion design was what I really wanted.”

After working with her high school art teacher to build her portfolio – which included some of her work from Marymount – Marie received the chance of a lifetime following graduation: an internship with Betsey Johnson in New York City. She says, “I was already accepted to Marymount, but I deferred my acceptance to take the internship. I felt that I needed further confirmation that fashion was what I wanted to study. I knew that Marymount was a great place that I could come back to for my whole design education.”

Her yearlong internship confirmed Marie’s enthusiasm for the fashion industry. While in New York, she enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology as a non-credit student. At the completion of her internship, she returned to Virginia and Marymount, eager to begin her coursework.

Then Marie encountered an unexpected challenge: She was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes at age 19. She says, “I had to learn how to keep to a schedule and make sure that I was taking care of my body.” Maintaining a positive outlook, Marie accelerated her undergraduate studies and graduated in just three years.

Having learned to sew from her mother at age four, Marie particularly enjoyed the sewing courses at MU. She also says that she is thankful for her courses in draping, because the skills she learned there have helped her tremendously since graduation. Marie was active in the University’s Portfolio in Motion fashion show during all three years of her studies, twice showing her designs and also serving as a dresser and backstage manager. She says, “Having been out in the fashion world for two years now, I can say that it’s really astonishing how the professionalism of Portfolio in Motion stands out.”

Her most vivid memory of MU’s fashion show is from her senior year. As Marie approached designer Michael Kors with her portfolio in hand, he immediately remembered which dress in the show had been hers! Mr. Kors encouraged Marie to pursue her niche, lingerie and lingerie-style garments, and praised her inspiration pages.

Marie wrapped up her Marymount education with another fashion internship, this time in London. Since graduation, she has used the solid foundation that MU provided her to become a freelance designer and independent fashion consultant. Multiple requests for custom garments inspired her to create a wholesale line to give more people access to her designs. Marie’s 2009 line was featured in her first runway show as part of Northern Virginia Fashion Week this past March. The six garments in the show reflected her design sensibility; they were bohemian, vintage, and lingerie-style garments that fit the niche Michael Kors encouraged her to pursue. Zui Suicide, of Paris Hilton’s My New BFF, was a model in Marie’s show.

Though still living in northern Virginia, Marie is planning to move back to New York City, become involved with New York’s Fashion Week, and look for an opportunity to join an established firm. She continues to learn all she can about design techniques, which she hopes will give her an edge to obtain her dream job –“working for Victoria’s Secret!” She also hopes that Marymount’s Fashion programs will continue to thrive and expand, so that even more students will be able to take advantage of the outstanding education that helped her grow toward her goals.