fashion school students from around the world are preparing to enter an industry that is rapidly changing. There are classes to pass, design instructions to pass, runways to prepare for, and professional relationships to build. In our series,fashion school journalsthese students give us a first-hand look at their daily lives. Here we meet Francesca Bornancini, a 2022 Fashion Institute of Technology graduate.
Ask most fashion students and they’ll tell you their biggest dream is to see others wearing their work. Usually it takes a while for this to happen – but this dream has come true lately fashion institute of technology Francesca Bornancini graduated much faster than expected.
Her senior spring semester, Bornancini submitted her designs to a competition at FIT sponsored by macy‘s, which would offer one winner the chance to collaborate with the retailer on a capsule collection to sell in-store. She ranked first in the top 15, then in the top five and was finally declared the winner of the FIT Future of Fashion 2022 show last May.
Fast forward to October, and Bornancini got to see his vision on the rack of Macy’s famous flagship in Herald Square in New York, as well as at the Aventura Mall outside. Miami, his hometown, with the personalized FIT x Macy’s label. Oh, and she got a full-time job at the retailer.
Bornancini, whose family is originally from Argentina, always dreamed of becoming a designer – so when it came time to apply to college, she knew FIT would be a good choice.
“He has a good reputation for fashion,” she says. “It also offered a rigorous curriculum that would push me to find my own design aesthetic.”
Despite Miami’s distance, Bornancini leaned into a Florida-inspired visual language — which she describes as “commercial,” “Miami-style” and “resort” — at school. She always wanted to create “something that was out of season, that you could swap out with other pieces in your wardrobe, and that also had market appeal,” she says, which resulted in lightweight fabrics. like linen and cotton, as well as more minimal silhouettes.
According to Bornancini, one of the most valuable aspects of his time at FIT was the encouragement to get involved in the industry. “They provide volunteer opportunities to New York Fashion Week, so I did a few,” she says. “In senior year, they make you do an internship, so I did an internship at LoveShackFantasy.”
She also cites her thesis professor, Nicole Benefield, as a great inspiration: “She has her own brand and knows exactly how the fashion industry is constantly changing… She also helped me find the aesthetics of my design in a more concise way. In fact, it was Benefield herself who pushed her thesis students to enter the Macy’s competition.
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Preparing for the competition that landed her in retail out of college, Bornancini knew the pieces should be appropriate for everyday wear.
“I made timeless pieces that you can trade. I also chose a very neutral color palette, which allows you to mix and match the pieces of your dressing room”. This is consistent with previous work by Bornancini, which emphasized portability and durability.
The collaboration process with Macy’s began with a presentation of the Bornancini collection at the Future of Fashion 2022 show, where she was able to parade with her model and her book. Then she began working with Macy’s to prepare her collection for production.
“That’s when I started talking to Macy’s production and technology teams. I showed them a technical pack of measurements and data sheets. After that, there were the examples of fittings, where I went to the office and saw the first prototype,” recalls Bornacini.
What was unique about the process was the creative freedom Macy’s gave Bornancini and the way the company treated her like a seasoned designer. “Macy’s gave us a variety of neat fabrics to choose from. We were invited to visit local vendors in Long Island City… It was just crazy how fast everyone was working,” she says. “I was also able to visit design offices, meet the design team and see the process. But putting together the final looks wasn’t easy, especially for a student who had never created large-scale looks.
“One of the fabrics I chose was too expensive to put into production,” she explains. “It was different from the classroom: in school, you choose the fabric you want and do what you want – you create a look – but it was difficult to determine the costs of the fabric.” However, thanks to Bornacini’s solid design basis, she was able to find a solution quickly. “We had to change the top fabric and found a cheaper option that still matched my mood.”
Following the collaboration, the young grad’s next big goal was to make a lasting impact at Macy’s. “After winning, I stayed in touch with my Macy’s mentor, Talia Blyer. She said, ‘Would you like to work for Macy’s?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I would love to!’ I’m really glad I got the job. Bornancini currently serves as associate designer for Macy’s private collection, Bar III. The new job is a looping moment for Bornancini, who said it was “an easy transition; knowing the people on the team makes you feel so welcome.
See the looks of by Francesca Bornancini capsule collection for Macy’s in the gallery below.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.