UAPB students visit Paris during weeklong fashion tour

Bobbie Crockett | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences        

Left to right: Jasmine Tucker met couture designer Claudine Ivari during a tour of Ivari’s showroom and boutique.

PARIS, France – Five students studying fashion merchandising, textiles and design at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) recently spent a week in Paris, France. The students went on fashion-oriented tours, spoke with designers and visited some of the city’s well-known landmarks.

Brittany Alexander, Elaina Buckner, Melina Lewis, Victoria Means and Jasmine Tucker completed a short-term study abroad tour with EF College Study Tours. The focus of the tour was “Fashion in Paris.”

The tour helped broaden the experience of students in the Merchandising, Textiles and Design program, said UAPB instructor Kalari Turner, who coordinated the tour and accompanied the students as group leader. The program prepares students for entry level and management positions in a variety of fashion and merchandising careers in such areas as retailing, design and textile marketing or development.

The goal of the Paris tour was to “enrich our students by exposing them to the pinnacle of fashion,” Turner said. “I hope that they use what they learned to further explore the creative process and successfully use their experience to advance in international careers.”

Buckner, a UAPB senior from Maywood, Ill., describes Paris as an extravagant city.

“Everything was beautiful; everything was art – from the buildings sculpted with intricate details inside and out to ordinary people walking down the street,” she said. “Each designer we met was determined and even the story of the great Louis Vuitton was one of ambition. Paris is and was everyone’s liberation, everyone’s freedom to explore and embrace fashion.”

A tour of the Louvre, one of the world’s largest museums, focused on how the French have influenced fashion throughout history. Students also visited Les Arts Decoratifs to view the Louis Vuitton-Marc Jacobs exhibit. The exhibit tells the story of Louis Vuitton, founder of the Maison in 1854 and Marc Jacobs, its artistic director, since 1997.

The Louis Vuitton label is known for its LV monogram, which is often featured on its products – ranging from trunks and leather goods to shoes, watches, jewelry and accessories.

“Students strolled from the Louvre down the Champs-Elysees and visited a variety of shops along the way,” Turner said, adding that they “visited Galeries Lafayette, a French department store, where they explored each level and compared prices, brands and quality.”

Students met a young designer named Sam Attye at his pop up store (a short term retail space) Simone Sauvage. “He shared his journey, answered questions and offered advice to future designers and merchandisers,” Turner said.

The aspiring designers from UAPB also visited Mod’Art International fashion school. While there, they visited a design studio where students were preparing their collections, spoke with one of the instructors and spoke with the director of the school’s MBA program which specializes in luxury goods and fashion industries.

Students visited Palais Royal gardens which are considered the temple of sharp fashion, Turner said, adding that they visited a designer vintage store, peaked into another high end vintage store specializing in the little black dress and visited a Stella McCartney shop.

They also visited Colette; which is a concept store.

“It was the first of its kind,” Turner said. “It’s a very fashion forward shop where everything is fresh, new, interesting and innovative.”

The group also met with a young couture designer named Claudine Ivari at her showroom. “She shared her journey and answered questions,” Turner said. “Students were able to tour her showroom and boutique.”

Overall, she said students experienced a city that is known as a haven of luxury and prime fashion. “This trip allowed them to experience many of the beauties of Paris including its wealth of culture, history, cuisine, monuments, gardens, shops and fashion,” Turner said.

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