This Fashion Vet Is Teaching Aspiring Designers In RI, And We're All About It

We asked Rhody native and RISD alum Elana of Elana Carello Sweaters (who has no less than 25 years of experience in the fashion industry) to share some details about the program she's created for aspiring young designers in the Ocean State. This is Part 1 of  a 3 part series taking you behind the scenes, and introducing you to several future fashion stars. 

About Project FashionWorks

I started Project FashionWorks in 2007, the year I moved back to RI from NYC. Having spent the last 20 years working as a fashion designer, I realized that what I enjoyed the most was teaching my young assistants. And I wanted to teach what you really need to know to succeed in the fashion industry.

In my tween classes, students 8-12 have fun with fashion, while developing skills in sketching and design. In my teen classes, students ages 12-18 learn professional standards for fashion design. The workshop covers the essentials of fashion, including design vocabulary, sketching fashion figures, using markers, and understanding how to use colors and fabric to develop an illustrated men’s or women’s fashion collection. I keep the classes small, so that I can work individually with the up and coming designers to clearly develop their skills and showcase their personal style. Students can and do take the class over and over, and since I know each student well, I make sure they continue to grow and learn.  

Student Spotlight: Gianna Amore

Gianna has taken my classes in fashion design for three years. She just graduated from high school and is starting at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in NYC in the Fall. She designed one of my favorite projects for her FIT application. Gianna is open, thoughtful and deliberate in her choices, and I admire that. She’s going to a great school and her dedication and talent will make her a top student.  

Q & A With Gianna

1. Who or what are the major style/design influences in your life?

I am influenced by my surroundings. Seeing different styles whether it be a celebrity, a place or just people in public, that is what comes through in my designs. I also feel as though I have a knack for what looks good together, including accessories, which helps. 

2. If you could design for or dress one high profile person in the world right now, who would it be and why?

I would design for or dress Rihanna. She has such a carefree and confident attitude that comes out in her style that I admire. I think her confidence would compliment my designs well. She also has a way about her that makes any outfit look good. 

3. For others aspiring to a career in design, what's been the biggest challenge in pursuing your dream? 

The biggest challenge to pursuing this is that a lot of people will tell you it isn't a “real” career or job. A career in design is one that requires a lot of hard work and drive, most people don't recognize that. It's important to remember that despite these comments, if it's what you love, go for it.

4. How do you stay motivated?

To stay motivated and inspired, I am always looking at the current trends and noticing what people are wearing. This sparks my curiosity and creativity. Social media also makes it easy to keep up.