The Clothing, Design, and Construction course is off to an incredible start as a new Exeter Summer class. This course was a prize addition to the 2017 program.
This class, listed under Art in the course catalog, is taught by Mrs. Lauren Josef, who designs the costumes for Phillips Exeter Academy throughout the regular year. Mrs. Josef only has eight students for this course, as it is a new class, only available for A format, and still does not have the resources to be bigger. For instance, the students must share two sewing machines.
The classroom is in a corner of Fisher Theater, deep inside the center for individual expression here at Exeter. Its walls are filled with tall shelves that hold all kinds of fabrics. There are two wooden tables in the middle, high enough for people to use them standing, filled with implements used throughout this course.
Based upon the Harkness method, these eight students gather around a wooden table to start the day by discussing their previous homework and showing the class their work. Each of them has a “wall” where they post their designs and drawings as a vertical portfolio of the lessons seen. The students — seven girls and one boy — come from all over the world, from places such as France, Venezuela, and the United States, among others.
Mrs. Josef is very content with how the course is going. She mentioned how the students have more experience than expected. They’ve been exploring their creativity non-stop, and people are rising to the occasion.
“The pace is fast,” said Mrs. Josef.
Focusing on drawing, designing, and techniques, this class has served as a basis for many of the students enrolled. Though challenging, the course will be enough to teach the basics of fashion and design, Mrs. Josef said.
Students seem to enjoy this challenging and ‘fast paced’ class. “I love fashion,” Charlotte Arias, a 16-year-old student from Venezuela, said. “I love that in each class we get to be ourselves and express yourself however we want to.”
Some of the assignments the students have received involve designing original pieces, researching their favorite designers, the basic elements of design, and drawing several pieces to help them improve their sketching skills. Nevertheless, this class is not limited to their Fisher Theater classroom. One of the classes took place at the library, where they had an assignment to find fashion books and find things they liked and that inspired them to create.
Inside the classroom, there are small scale mannequins with their original designs, which students sketched down on pieces of paper as an assignment.
Most of the students expect to be able to improve their abilities in sewing, drawing, and basic designing tools. Hallie Sampson, 16, from North Carolina, said that these abilities are very interesting to learn, and that she has improved her drawing abilities during this two weeks.
This new class seems to be considered a success by its students. It is a perfect example of the environment the Phillips Exeter Academy is creating for its students — an environment to challenge themselves and find their passion, through hard work and active learning. The classroom inside Fisher Theater is a center of innovation, and is an epitome of the Exeter philosophy, motivating students to know what they love.
“After taking this class I decided I want to study fashion,” Anna Morales, 17, from Venezuela, said.