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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI makes a fashionable Spring Splash; Event honors donors, alumni, & student designs

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design department raises more than $15,000 with inaugural event

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 6, 2004 -- The University of Rhode Island's Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design (TMD) department and its Textile Advisory Board welcomed more than 150 guests to its first "Spring Splash" last month to celebrate styles in fashion.

The formal affair was held to recognize the accomplishments of many of its alumni and industry partners and showcase select fashions created by the URI, many who members of the Fashion Merchandising Society. The event raised more than $15,000 with proceeds to be used to help support and improve TMD student education, and for such things as guest speakers, field trips, and scholarship support.

The evening began with an elegant reception at the University Club where faculty, staff, board members and guests met before walking to the Memorial Union Ballroom for dinner, a formal judged runway show of the year's select student designs, and presentation of awards to students, alumni, and industry leaders.

URI alumnus Glenn Palmer, president and CEO of Amerex in N.Y., and president of the TMD Textile Advisory Board, chaired the Splash event and presented the first "Splash of the Year" award to recognize Aeropostale, a fast-growing mall-based specialty retailer of casual apparel for youth. Aeropostale Chief Merchandising Officer Chris Finazzo accepted the award on behalf of the company and announced that Aeropostale would contribute additional funds for the student fashion awards. Palmer also announced that Amerex would contribute an additional $5,000 toward the department's programs.

Aeropostale designs and sources all of its own merchandise and its products can only be purchased in company stores. The first Aeropostale store was opened in 1987 and today there are more than 400 stores nationwide.

The first three members of the TMD Alumni "Wall of Fame" were named. These are Evelyn Siefert (Kennedy) Commentucci, president of Sewtique, a sewing service center in Groton Conn., and founder of the P.R.I.D.E. Foundation, Inc. to "Promote Real Independence for Disabled and Elderly"; Claudia P. Iannuccilli of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; and Lauren Keach, of Victoria Secret Stores Design Studio in New York. (See more information on these members attached.)

Industry donors recognized at the event were the Cranston Print Works Company, the oldest textile printing company in the country; Darlington Fabrics, part of the Moore Company Textile Group and manufacturer of elastic fabrics for apparel and medical industries; and Concordia Manufacturing, a company that was founded in 1920, made a name for itself in manufacturing yarn from synthetic fibers and has since branched out into the biomedical arena.

The fashion show, called "Hot, Hip, Haute," featured the best of the student designs that had been shown the week before to the student body plus others. For the first time ever, these designs were judged by experts in the field and awards were presented. Judges for the Splash event show were: Betty Kirke, a retired senior conservator of the Costume and Textile Collection and instructor at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology; Chris Laudon, founder of American Advantage, an apparel product development and marketing company that offered custom design work plus production, and later merged with Griffin Manufacturing in Fall River, Mass.; and Sirvart A. Mellian who began her career as a clothing designer for the US Army in Natick, Mass., where she developed and patented a bullet protective vest for female law enforcement officers and currently works on various standard-setting committees in the protective-clothing arena.

The evening's end provided for more fun surprise for students as suddenly the fashion design award amounts, intended to be $500, $300, and $200, were increased by the advisory board and generosity of industry donors present, including Aeropostale's contributions. In addition, two honorable mention awards were added. Prizes were awarded to: May Zee Kue, first place; Samnang Yen, second; and Jenna Casey, third. Students Adenike Omisore and Kirsten Obermiller were awarded honorable mentions. Kue and Yen are shown (l-r) in photograph at right with Dr. Martin Bide and Casey is shown in her award-winning lavender dress design above.

Awards of the Spring Splash event

TMD "Splash of the Year" Award

Aeropostale, the fast-growing mall-based specialty retailer of casual apparel for youth was named TMD's first "Splash" recipient in recognition of the company's unique approach and achievements in design, merchandising and marketing of it's proprietary brand. The company's high-energy, entertaining store environments have shown a clear understanding of the fast-changing marketplace and reflects its namesake, a pioneer airmail company in the 1920s, Compagnie Generale Aeropostale, that was the first ever to fly between South America and France.

Industry Donors Recognition

Cranston Print Works Company, the oldest textile printing company in the United States, traces its roots to 1824. Today it is a diversified, employee-owned company that includes the finest-equipped textile printing and finishing plant in the country, producing high quality printed fabrics. Donations of fabric, and field trips to its plants, together with financial support from the Cranston Foundation, have been invaluable in support of the TMD Program.

Darlington Fabrics has a history of more than a century. Today it is part of the Moore Company Textile Group. Darlington Fabrics manufactures warp-knit elastic fabrics for apparel and medical industries. The Moore foundation has provided significant donations that have funded the purchase of major items of lab equipment in the department.

Concordia Manufacturing was founded in 1920 by Paul O. Boghossian. The company made a name for itself manufacturing yarn from synthetic fibers, particularly industrial sewing thread. The company has recently branched out into the biomedical area. The TMD department has enjoyed funding for scholarships from the Paul and Mary Boghossian Memorial Fund over many years.

TMD Alumnae Wall Of Fame

Evelyn Siefert (Kennedy) Commentucci, of Gales Ferry, Conn., has her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from URI. Her master's thesis research focused on teaching self-help skills to physically disabled children. Commentucci emerged as a leader in solving the apparel needs for people in wheelchairs, on crutches, or with limited motion. In 1978 she founded P.R.I.D.E. Foundation, Inc. to "Promote Real Independence for the Disabled and Elderly"; She has written teaching manuals and designed clothing to meet the particular needs of the elderly and handicapped including the book Dressing with Pride: Clothing Changes for Special Needs. In 1970 she opened Evelyn of Sewtique in Groton, Conn., a sewing service center that provides services ranging from sewing machine repair to custom alterations to restoration of heirloom apparel and textiles. Commentucci has shared her expertise worldwide - teaching seminars in Japan and Australia among other locations. Since 1985 Commentucci has served on the Board of Trustees of the URI Foundation and she is a new member of the URI Textile Advisory Board.

Claudia P. Iannuccilli, received a bachelor’s degree from URI in textiles and clothing with a minor in theatrical costume design. In 1994 she earned her Master of Science from the TMD department. Since then, she has been in the Conservation and Collection Management Department at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) where she now holds the position of Associate Textile and Costume Conservator. A member of the MFA’s Disaster Preparedness Team she wrote the Emergency Action Plan for the Department and Collection of Textiles and Fashion Art. Iannuccilli provides her expertise to the many facets of the conservation field through membership and service to professional organizations. She is an active member of the American Institute for Conservation and the American Society for Testing and Materials. Currently she is on the Board of Directors of the Costume Society of America and the North American Textile Conservation Conference. Her publications on mounts for children's fashions contributed to apparel exhibition solutions. The Community College of Rhode Island benefited from her talents for seven years, she was the Costume Supervisor and Designer in the Theatre Dept. She has been on the URI Textile Advisory Board for two years. Iannuccilli and her husband live in East Greenwich, R.I., and have three children - one of whom is a student at URI.

Lauren Keach graduated with her Bachelor of Science from URI in 1998 with an emphasis in textile science. Now she lives in New York where she has been with Victoria Secret Stores Design Studio for three years. In her position as pre-production fabrics technician she works with designers in fabric development, writes specifications, assures that selected fabrics fit the company's regulatory standards, and approves fabrics for markets in the Western Hemisphere and Europe. Prior to working for Victoria Secret Stores, Keach was Product Manager for Jockey Active Wear for Women at Jacques Moret in New York and with Warnaco, Inc. in Westerly, R.I.