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Fashion

Featured Alumni

garment sketch fashion design
garment sketch by Gabriela Hernandez
fashion design student

Alaya Linton
Associate Designer
Reference Point
Associate of Science in Fashion Design, 1996

Alaya Linton graduated in Fashion Design from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 1996. Alaya is currently working at Reference Point in NY. She handles all the domestic line in junior's and misses clothing. She enjoys her career and has stayed with the same company since 1996. She plans to continue in the fashion industry in the future.

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Aneta Genova
Owner
Aneta Genova, Inc.
Bachelor of Science in Fashion Design, 2000

Aneta Genova is an interesting blend between a fashion designer, a creative individual, and a computer obsessed "geek." She was born in Bulgaria and raised in a creative environment by her architect father and landscape designer mother. Her tailor grandparents taught her at a very early age the beauty of fashion and the technical skills that went along with it. Fascinated by technology, at 19, she dove into computer science at The Technical University of Varna, Bulgaria. She was awarded a full tuition scholarship to study Fashion Design at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in the summer of 2000.

Aneta went to New York and took on internships at high profile houses such as Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui, and worked as a Women's Knitwear Designer for Polo Jeans Co., Ralph Lauren. In 2003 she returned to Parsons School of Design to teach an Accessories Design class to seniors while freelancing for a variety of companies such as DZ Trading, Barneys of New York, GAP, Lady Footlocker, and Express.

In the summer of 2003, Aneta started her own company and began with a collection of iPod cases. Then she followed with cell phone cases, and now laptop bags are in development. The multicolored, luxurious leather cases have been featured in a variety of magazines and TV shows and have been a huge success in the fashion and music industries.

Aneta has matured with design experience, product development, and her love for technology. Her innate curiosity and her talent for fusion bring an original brand that connects our contemporary obsessions.

"I am not interested in designing bags! I dress technology. I create collections of cutting edge fashion for the latest technology! When androids start walking next to humans I will be there creating fashion for them. Fashion and technology walking hand in hand. Why not? They are both important parts of our lives."

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Carlos Toro
General Manager, Head Designer
Your Choice, Inc.
Associate of Science in Fashion Design, 1996

"This job is very challenging, but I love it!," says 1996 Fashion Design graduate Carlos Toro who is the General Manager and Head Designer for Your Choice Inc., located in Palm Beach, Florida. He is in charge of designing and production that includes marking, cutting, sewing and final touches of all the garments the company markets. "In this job I really have been able to apply all the skills I learned at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale." On October 21, 2001, Carlos debuted his own collection of swimwear, activewear, clubwear, sportswear, betterwear, and eveningwear.at the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce's annual fashion show.

Born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Carlos has always been fascinated with colors, forms and the models on TV. "I always wanted to create, learn, and open my eyes and heart to new ideas." Carlos followed his dream and enrolled in the Fashion Design program at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. "There I discovered the fascinating world of fashion." With the help and dedication of his instructors Mrs. Collusy, Mrs. Lopez, Mrs. Johnny, Mrs. Tatakis and Fashion Design Department Chair Robert Massengill, Carlos learned all the necessary tools "not to be good, but be the best." He also learned to believe in himself and to give back to the community.

At graduation, Carlos was awarded the "Highest Achievement Award." He took a position with a small company in Boca Raton as a CAD supervisor. With some experience under his belt, he then went on to become the tailor for the St. John Boutique on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.

"I am grateful for all the support and encouragement that Mr. Massengill gave me. He is more than a professor, he is friend. I hope that someday I can become someone like him." Carlos remembers his times as a student and advises current students, "Please be honest, work hard, and learn all you can in your classes, you are going to need it out there. Something very important, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!"

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Carrie Cochran
Founder
Karma Kultura
Bachelor of Science in Fashion Design, 2003

There's something about Latin superstars Ricky Martin, Chayanne, and Soraya that's a lot more noticeable than their music. They have been outfitted, accessorized, and costumed by a rising star in fashion design and costume stylist – Carrie Cochran, founder of Karma Kultura www.Karmakultura.com, and 2003 Fashion Design graduate of The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.

"My education at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale," says Carrie, "is that I learned about industry knowledge and getting the support and guidance from all the staff."

Carrie's ideas emerge from her imagination, then she takes them to production, and ultimately to the stars. The result enhances their performances and concerts with vibrant visuals that showcase an abundance of inventiveness, creativity, and originality. In addition to outfitting the Latin stars, Carrie has also designed costumes for Cirque de Soleil at Sea on Royal Caribbean cruises, and her work was also showcased on Sharon Osborne's television show when she created a punk rock jacket for Sharon's Pomeranian dog, Minnie, complete with chains and pins.

Resourcefulness is also a trademark of Carrie's designs. Her artistic expression mirrors a zest for life and search for inner peace. True to the word "karma" in her company's name, Carrie's designs are more than just accessories. The items she uses such as leather, feathers, shells, horns, and vintage finds seem to have a life of their own, or at least had a life once before. Each piece has a history and energy all its own.

There's a saying, "What goes around, comes around," and Carrie's Karma Kultura embodies that philosophy on a variety of levels from couture to costumes, accessories to art, and friends to famous stars. The artistic passion of Carrie Cochran is something not to be missed!

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Eduardo de las Casas
Fashion Designer
Dickies in Miami
Associate of Science in Fashion Design, 2005

Eduardo de las Casas graduated in 2005 with an Associate of Science degree in Fashion Design from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. He is currently employed as a fashion designer for Dickies in Miami and was named Best Emerging Designer at Miami Fashion Week 2008. In addition, Eduardo de las casas is a brand created in 2006 by Eduardo de las Casas and Paul Neipert.

Eduardo de las Casas has been recognized for its unique style of combining diverse textures with contemporary vision and creating sophisticated, sexy and elegant women's evening wear and featured in many publications and runway shows. The brand's blend of craftsmanship, attention to detail and perfect tailoring make for one-of-a-kind creations.

Eduardo was born in Lima, Peru, and from a very young age had a strong desire to pursue a career in fashion design. Instead, encouraged by his parents, he decided to follow in his father's footsteps and graduated with a B.A. in Industrial Engineering in 1994 from the University of Lima. In 1996, he moved to the United States and began a part-time career in modeling. It was in his modeling work that he rediscovered his strong desire and passion for fashion design. In 2003, he decided to pursue that dream and passion and he enrolled at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and graduated Summa Cum Laude with awards for Best Couture, Best Club Wear, Highest Achievement. Eduardo was also awarded the Best Future Designer Award at the graduation ceremony.

In 2006, Eduardo and Paul Neipert launched the first collection of Eduardo de las Casas. Neipert has a strong background in business management, merchandising, fashion consulting and fashion show production. He owned a boutique for many years before moving to South Florida. They have formed a very successful team. The first collection attracted the attention of many industry insiders and in July 2007, Steam on Sunset (owned by Julian Chang) in Miami began carrying their latest collection.

Their collections have been shown in several fashion shows including FTL Moda Fashion Week, 5th Annual Hispanic Women of Distinction luncheon honoring Columba Bush, and Full Moon Fashion Festival in Fort Myers. They have been featured in media including America TV, TV Azteca from Mexico, CTV 24, South Florida Today, and Deco Drive. The publications include The Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Riverwalk Magazine, Miami Living, Night Weekly, Coral Living Magazine, Hairdressers US Magazine, Urban Latino Magazine, Show Time Pasofino, Nikki Style, 944 Magazine ,and Posh Magazine, among others.

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Janet Aiossa
Senior Art Director
Adam Hill Advertising
Associate of Science in Fashion Illustration, 1981

Janet Aiossa graduated from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 1981 with an Associate of Science degree in Fashion Illustration. She is the Senior Art Director with Adam Hill Advertising responsible for development of all creative for print media (ads, newsletters, brochures, catalogs, collateral, etc.) for diverse business to business clientele. Janet spent her childhood partially overseas and in the western United States including Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Cambodia, Thailand, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia. Janet studied International Business in college before deciding on an art career, which she chose because she always had an interest in art, specifically fashion.

Janet was living in El Salvador teaching English to executives when she decided to come to Fort Lauderdale to pursue a degree in Fashion Illustration. She liked the fact that the teachers were seasoned professionals with practical experience in the advertising and art fields. Janet says, "I attended The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale way back when it was located on the bottom 2 floors of the Holiday Inn on AIA and Las Olas Blvd. I enjoyed the field trips we took for watercolor classes (parks/beaches) and the life drawing classes." She says that one valuable lesson she learned was how to present a professional, clean portfolio – "something very important for that first impression." Because of her outstanding portfolio, Janet landed her first job at an agency that had a large fashion account. "Since then I've broadened my experience to cover all aspects of the advertising field (copywriting, production, media, etc.) but my main love and strengths have been in art direction and graphic design."

Another personal and career accomplishment is that Janet published her first children's book in 2005 together with fellow classmate Deborah Boudreau. She says, "I wrote… she illustrated. Deborah has been a friend since those first days over 20 years ago!"

Janet's advice to students, "You'll only get OUT what you put IN to your studies. Several of my fellow students at the time were there for ‘a fun time in Fort Lauderdale' and did the bare minimum to get by. I realized early on that this was a very competitive field and I'd have to really apply myself in order to stand out from the rest."

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Jonelle Milton
Owner
J Graphics
Associate of Science in Fashion Illustration, 1972

Career: Her design company focuses on logos, event planning and print collateral.

What's Jonelle doing today?
Jonelle is passionate about the South Florida community.  "I find great satisfaction in volunteering my design work for many local charities including: W.I.D.S., H.A.N.D.Y., March of Dimes, and most notably, the Humane Society of Broward County, where I currently serve on the Executive founding board of PAWS.

Creative inspiration
Education gave Jonelle the opportunity to live out her dreams of traveling and working in creative careers. While in Europe, Jonelle honed her artistic skills and back in the States, she worked as an illustrator for Bill Blass and Anne Klein and served on numerous boards including the Contemporaries for the Museum of Art and on the founding board of SPARK for the Museum of Discovery.

Getting out there
"To be one of the very first students of The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and a full scholarship winner was a true gift. I attribute many of the artistic opportunities I've personally had to the invaluable experiences I gained while a student of this school. The Youth of the 1960s and 70s spearheaded a cultural revolution that would change American society forever, and spread that influence around the world. Today's students are on the edge of great change due to wondrous advances in technology. It is you, our younger citizens, who easily embrace change and launch new ideas. You have new concepts, new ways, and you don't settle for business as usual. Your generation has been charged with exacting more sociological change in the U.S., than any generation since the 1970s. Now it's YOUR time to merge the technical skills you have learned with your creative energy, develop a personal vision and continue this school¹s tradition of excellence."

"You need to be the change that you want to see. Change is based on the awareness that all of us are inter-related. What each of us does effects everyone. You must have the spirit of giving to the team, because as the team grows, your opportunities also grow." - Jonelle Milton

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Karen Ortiz
Assistant Designer
Perry Ellis
Bachelor of Science in Fashion Design, 2006

Karen Ortiz graduated from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in Fashion Design and is currently an Assistant Designer for Perry Ellis in Miami, designing for one of the private men's label lines.

"What I learned in school has helped set a foundation to begin my career path within the industry," says Karen. "Going to school allowed me to develop skills which assisted me in landing my job. I am learning now how to implement these skills with my everyday responsibilities."

Eventually, Karen wants to open her own ladies boutique apparel company with her own couture line. "It's my ultimate dream."

One of the highlights from Karen's college experience was learning from her instructors. "They are truly dedicated individuals who guide, motivate, and prepare us towards our future career path. I thank them all for their leadership while I was attending The Art Institute of fort Lauderdale."

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Lila Nikole Rivera
Owner, Head Designer
Amaya Swimwear
Associate of Science in Fashion Design, 2004

Lila Nikole Rivera, a 2004 graduate with an associate degree in Fashion Design, is owner and head designer of Amaya Swimwear. Amaya Swimwear is a "very high end, couture swimwear line and we carry all types of swimsuits" and her impressive client list includes Ja Rule, Ashanti, and Benzino. Her work has been featured in places such as in City Link and the Eastsider.

Lila is originally from Queens, NY, but lived in Florida for 10 years prior to enrolling in The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. She was always influenced by fashion so she decided to visit The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. She registered after enjoying her visit and learning the esteemed alumni. "Working hand and hand with the instructors on the fashion shows and special events are most memorable to me. They have been a great influence on my career and I still keep in touch with them on events that the school participates in."

She attributes The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale with much of her success and says, "I use skills that I attained at The Art Institute in every aspect of my company. In fact, I wish I had paid more attention! I use all of the designing and marketing knowledge that I learned in my business, each day."

Lila's list of achievements includes the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale Leadership Award, graduating Magna Cum Laude, Best Swimwear and Urban Wear Portfolio, and Outstanding Recognition from PFPMA (Professional Football Players Mothers Association).

Lila's advice to students is, "Your vision only becomes clear when you look inside. One who looks outside dreams but one who looks inside awakens. Follow your dreams… believe in yourself and you can be as successful as you want to be."

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Lori Ann Robinson
Professional Image and Fashion Consultant
Associate of Science in Fashion Illustration, 1980

Lori Ann Robinson, a 1980 graduate with an Associate of Science degree in Fashion Illustration, is a Professional Image and Fashion Consultant who has worked with some Hollywood's most beautiful people for over 20 years. Most recently she has built a private practice working with professionals to help them look and feel their best. Her Pearls of Wisdom presentations are entertaining while helping people update their image and avoid the top dressing for success mistakes. She is a four-time Emmy nominated costume designer for television's "The Bold and The Beautiful." Lori's numerous years of costuming on "General Hospital" also brought her great acclaim.

As a fashion commentator, Lori has appeared on radio and national television, most prominently on "The View", "E!" and "Pure Oxygen," and for the Academy Awards on KABC radio in 2002. Lori was the Image Expert, heard regularly on the KRLA radio show "Heads Up" in Los Angeles in 2005. Lori authored "Pearls of Wisdom: the Art of Successful Dressing" which is a specialty booklet designed to help people avoid serious dressing and fashion mistakes. Pearls of Wisdom presentations are a key part of how Lori educates the public about their image. Her topics range from Look like a Hollywood Star: How to be Masterfully Beautiful, What you Don't know About Body Language is Killing You, The Top 10 Dress and Fashion Mistakes Professionals Make, How to Look Like a Million Dollars without Breaking the Bank, The Power of a Positive Visual Image, What Happens When you Violate your Company Dress Code: the Keys to Fitting in While Standing Out, and, Class Up Your Act: Combining Wardrobe Personality and Life Style.

Lori wanted to be a fashion designer in the late 70s but thought of going to school and living in NYC was a bit too intimidating for her. "I decided to learn how to draw well first then pursue a design college for fashion. I would not be where I am without my Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale training. It opened my eyes to art and color which are vital parts of my life.
My plan was a good one in theory and later I switched gears and ended up in costuming."

Lori's words of advice to students is, "Focus and follow your dreams and take risks. Don't give up even though you may have negativity surrounding you. Do what you love, you never want to dread going to a job you hate and that does not fulfill you. It takes a lot of hard work to really make it in this world. There are no free lunches!! You must work hard and not look for the easy way out. There will be payoff in the end if you really apply yourself and open your mind to learning!"

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Lynda DeChane
Artistic Director, Founder
The South Broward Ballet Company
Associate of Science in Fashion Design, 2000

Lynda DeChane, 2000 Fashion Design graduate specializing in costume design, is the Artistic Director and Founder of The South Broward Ballet Company (SBBC) in Hollywood, Florida, training dancers from the community in ballet and designing lavishly costumed performances.

A member of the President's Ambassador's Council in 1999, Lynda says, "I can't say enough about my experiences at AiFL.  Each instructor shared their knowledge and inspiration with every student willing to seek it, and all under the amazing mentorship of Robert Massengill, truly the most inspiring of all." 

Since the opening of the South Broward Ballet Company in 2001, Lynda's performances have featured "The Nutcracker," "Don Quixote," and "Cinderella," among others. Lynda's background in the ballet world includes the After School Performing Arts Program and the Atlanta Ballet in Georgia, and The Sandhills Ballet Repertory Company in North Carolina. She was also a talent scout for Ed McMahon's "Star Search."

Lynda's advice to students is, "Watch, listen, and work towards your inspiration and you will find it. When I close my eyes I see my inspiration… when I open my eyes I then can create it."

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Nella Liuzzi
Fashion Designer
Barbara Katz
Associate of Science in Fashion Design, 1999

Nella Liuzzi graduated in Fashion Design from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 1999. Nella was hired at Barbara Katz in Boca Raton, FL as a Fashion Designer. Nella is responsible for the swatch requests, tracking orders, and making sure the orders are received by companies on time.

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Paula Bauz
Bianca Wear With Love
Associate of Science in Fashion Design, 1999

Paula Bauz graduated in Fashion Design from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 1999. Paula is working at Bianca Wear With Love in South Miami Beach, FL. The owner, Bianca Diaz, stated, "Paula is an enthusiastic young girl and we are pleased to have her."

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Sara Santiago
Model Scout
Studio 58
Associate of Science in Fashion Design, 1996

Sara Santiago graduated in Fashion Design from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 1996. Sara is employed at Studio 58 in Orlando, FL., as a Model Scout. She is responsible for recruiting models for the company as well as screening applicants to make sure the candidates have the necessary qualifications. Sara stated, "she really enjoys the employment opportunity, and hopes to be able to meet additional contacts in the field."

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Sonia Djahanshahi
Director of Public Relations
Tysons Corner and white Flint
Associate of Science in Fashion Marketing, 1999

With the utmost style, 1999 Fashion Marketing alumna Sonia Djahanshahi has designed quite a career for herself. She is the Director of Public Relations for Bloomindale's Tysons Corner and White Flint stores in Washington DC. Her responsibilities include in-store events, sponsorships, vendor promotions, media relations, and community outreach programs.

Sonia has appeared on NBC and FOX television affiliates offering her insight and expertise in the retail industry and on fashion trends. Sonia has also been listed as one of Washington's up and coming executives in The Washington Post, The Washington Business Journal and The Washington Times. Most recently, she executed a successful high-profile fashion show and personal appearance made by designer Dana Buchman, in which the designer deemed Sonia's work "Flawless."

Sonia graduated cum laude from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale receiving "The Highest Achievement Award." She is grateful to Fashion Design Chair Robert Layton Massengill for helping her acquire an internship with Bloomindale's Florida Public Relations office. During her one-year internship she gained experience in event planning and execution, charity and community partnerships, and media relations. Following her internship, she was hired as the Public Relations Coordinator and a year later, became Public Relations Manager.

Sonia says, "I believe my education and experience at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale has catapulted me to achieve the successes I have today."

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Venus Williams
Fashion Designer
Steve & Barry's
Associate of Science in Fashion Design, 2007

International tennis superstar Venus Williams added another accomplishment to her long list when she received her associate's degree in Fashion Design from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale on December 13, 2007. She graduated with the distinction of Cum Laude, a 3.5 cumulative grade point average, and the honor of "Best Sportswear Collection." It only took eight years of study, but winning world championships throughout the years was a good reason for the delay!

Williams, who attended The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale since the fall of 1999, was dedicated to finishing her studies in the midst of Grand Slam, U.S. Open™, and Wimbledon® wins to receive this long sought after degree. "I love fashion and the idea that I am using my design education to actually create clothing and footwear that reflects my personality and energy both on and off the court," said Williams.

Andre West, chair of the Fashion programs at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale said, "Venus has been a blessing to the department in so many ways, her drive and focus as we know is somewhere in the stratosphere.  She has taken that same drive that she shows on the court all the way to the cutting table, sewing machine and computer. We will miss seeing her smiling face in the hallways, the faculty, staff and students have enjoyed having such a mellow unassuming superstar in our presence. We have all given her as much effort as we could to follow her other dream – fashion - and she has given everything and more back to us by her dedication and flair."

"Tennis doesn't define me," Williams' states defiantly.  "My parents taught me to be really well-rounded and to be more than just an athlete."  So, while winning countless matches across the globe and becoming an icon for youth and women everywhere, she took note of changing styles in fashion.

"In my late teens, I realized that I love design and it was something that I wanted to pursue," says Venus.  True to her bold spirit, she simply enrolled in The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Venus devotes her considerable energy to hands-on involvement in the design process, creating clothing that is youthful, but decidedly non-trendy.  "I make sure that I stay on top of things so they're real sassy, with lots of color and more daring cuts.  My personality is going into the design," notes Williams, "so it's also pushing the envelope."  Laughing delightfully at this proud admission of self-expression, she adds, "I don't like mainstream.  I want to be ahead of the curve.  I don't like to be the same as everybody."

Recently, Williams launched her own her clothing, footwear and accessories line called EleVen at Steve & Barrys. She serves as a global ambassador for UNESCO - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – and a portion of proceeds from a specially designed t-shirt that will be part of the EleVen collection will benefit the United Nations agency. UNESCO promotes international cooperation among its 193 Member States and six Associate Members in the fields of education, science, culture and communication.

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If you have a success story of your own that you would like to share, please submit it to our Alumni Coordinator at aiflalumni@aii.edu or call 1-800-275-7603, ext. 2611.

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