NYU Alums Dominate Fashion Scene

NYU has had its fair share of famous alumni who have made their mark on the world. However, what separates these NYU alums from others is their extraordinary impact on the fields of fashion and beauty, from editors, designers, authors and presidents, to name a few.

Emily Weiss, Tisch ‘07

This former studio art major has traded in her paint brushes for makeup brushes. Weiss is the founder of Glossier, a new beauty company that focuses on skincare first and makeup second. During her time at NYU, Weiss didn’t waste any time diving into the industry, providing that she embodies the independence associated with NYU. Though she originally planned on becoming a stylist, this driven businesswoman was hired as a fashion assistant for W Magazine and eventually took on the role of assistant to Vogue’s style director, Elissa Santisi, for several years. The diverse and creative group of women she met at this job inspired her to create her hugely successful beauty blog, Into The Gloss, which introduced readers to these women’s beauty routines. The blog launched Weiss into the public spotlight, and it was not long until she was able to collect more than $10 million in venture capital to make Glossier a reality.

Amy Odell, CAS ‘06

The current editor of Cosmopolitan.com — the so-called “women’s bible” — calls herself an ex- fashion journalist. Nevertheless, her short stint in the world of fashion journalism was a significant one. As told in her best-selling book, Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider’s View From Inside the Fashion Industry, the Austin, Texas native moved to the Big Apple to study journalism at NYU. After graduating, New York Magazine made room for Odell as a red carpet celebrity correspondent. They gave her the freedom to create and contribute to its now well-known fashion blog, The Cut, for four years. Eventually, she transferred to Buzzfeed to help bring its fashion division to life, adding to her love for creating both digital content and easily accessible information. It was not long before Odell made a name for herself as the digital editor of Cosmopolitan, an opportunity which opened many doors for her. Because of Odell, Cosmopolitan.com has reaches over 34 million monthly unique visitors and was named the “hottest magazine in digital” on the 2014 Adweek Hot List.

Dr. Joyce F. Brown, MA Steinhardt ‘71, M.S. Stenhardt ‘80

As the sixth president of the Fashion Institute of Technology, it’s safe to assume that Brown knows about all things fashion. It’s also fair to refer to her as a game changer, as she is also FIT’s first woman and first African-American president. Since 1998, Brown has been educating, preparing and encouraging the talents of the next generation of fashion designers, editors, photographers and numerous others with a rigorous curriculum that has helped many succeed in the growing field. She received a doctorate and master’s degree in counseling psychology from NYU, which she often fuses with her interest in fashion education. She is also heavily involved in community associations and juggles civic responsibilities such as holding the title of president of the FIT Foundation, which raises funds for scholarships, program supports, and capital projects.

Hillary Kerr, CAS ‘02

Earning a master’s degree in journalism from NYU was just the first step in Hillary Kerr’s career.

The editorial director and co-founder of Who What Wear relocated to Los Angeles after college to make ends meet as a freelance writer for recognizable magazines like Nylon and Teen Vogue. She eventually landed the title of Associate Lifestyle Editor at ELLE, writing about design, food, travel and style. It was when she was assigned to work on the set of Project Runway for ELLE that she met her future collaborator Katherine Power. Both Kerr and Power departed from ELLE in 2006 and decided to take a major risk by focusing on their newsletter Who What Wear, which eventually developed into a full-fledged website. Presently, Kerr is a key player in running Clique Media Group, a company that represents brands such as teen-centric Obsessee, lifestyle- and home-oriented myDomaine, beauty content generator Byrdie and CollegeFashionista. With Who What Wear’s additional accessory and clothing collaboration with Target, Kerr never runs out of work to do.

Monica Botkier, Tisch

Monika Botkier has an eye for aesthetics — a BFA in photography from Tisch means that she must. The founder and creative director of Botkier New York School started out as what she intended to be — a fashion photographer. She was able to travel internationally, living the dream while she worked on elaborate shoots. However, her career path saw an unexpected yet spectacular turn in 2003 when she decided to open her own contemporary handbag label in SoHo. She established herself as an artist to take seriously with the introduction of her first collection. It was during its launch that she brought the recognizable Trigger bag to the public, which quickly became her brand’s most popular piece. What differentiates this often sought-after design from other handbags is its ability to merge classic elements with edginess, something that characterizes Botkier’s brand as a whole. In recognition of her innovative accessories, the Council of Fashion Designers of America granted Botkier membership in 2007.

NYU alumni have proven that they can make a noteworthy impression in the field of fashion, and we have our fingers crossed in hopes that this trend won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 10 print edition. 

Sherah Ndjongo is a staff writer. Email her at violetvision@nyunews.com.


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