Q&A with a recent grad avante-garde fashion designer


Angelene Fenuta always thought she was going to be a lawyer. But, in high school, when she was preparing to apply to university, she stumbled upon the fashion design program at Ryerson University and decided to apply.

She soon realized an artistic career was the right path for her and, in 2009, 22-year-old Fenuta completed her degree. Here, she shares her design experiences and offers advice for a career in the world of fashion.

Q. How has your education helped you with your career goals so far?
A. The program was very demanding, but it gave me the chance to study different sections of the fashion industry and learn about communications, graphics, business and design. There was a lot of teamwork and collaboration with other students to design and produce end-of-the-year fashion shows.

In the final year of the program, we were given free reign to research, market, and produce our own collection. It helped me to understand how so many elements need to come together when producing a clothing collection.

Q. What have been some of your biggest accomplishments to date?

A. There were many competitions available for Ryerson students to apply for throughout the program. In my third year, I collaborated with other students to create a menswear line for the end-of-the-year show. My work won me a summer internship at Le Chateau’s head office in Montreal. There I was the assistant to the menswear designer.

Then, in fourth year, I collaborated my designs with students in the fashion communications program, and my garments were chosen for a spread in the August 2009 issue of Flare Magazine.

Both of these experiences were amazing and gave me great exposure, as well as a greater knowledge of the fashion industry.

Q. What obstacles have you encountered along the way?
A. It’s always hard to take criticism about your work when others don’t see it the way you envisioned it, but it’s important to remember everyone has their opinions. You need to consider your target market and what the industry wants while still staying true to your aesthetic. Believe in your vision.

It can be very daunting to break into the industry, but you never know when your chance will come. If it’s something you want to do, then persevere. I had no previous design experience before university and I didn’t even know how to sew, but I worked hard and I kept going.

Q. What are you focusing on for the near future?
A. Right now I’m focusing on getting as much international fashion experience as I can. I’d like to work abroad to learn more about the business side of fashion and to take in more about the industry. I feel working abroad will also give me a lot of new inspiration and creativity.

I want to more to New York City in the near future and ultimately design my own collection.

Q. What are some key pieces of advice for this industry?
A. Take any opportunities that interest you. I’ve interned at fashion shows, showrooms and companies. Hands-on experience will teach you the most because you will soak it all in and you can see what areas you enjoy doing the most.

It’s very beneficial to have an online presence for exposure that can lead to networking and jobs. Create a personal website where you can display your work, or a profile on an industry site like ModelMayhem.com where people can find you. Having a mentor is also very beneficial and, for me, that person is my sister. They can be anyone who you can talk honestly with about your ideas and who understands who you are and what your style is.

Photos courtesy of Angelene Fenuta