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Designing for Vera Wang is Always in Fashion for Radford Alumna

RADFORD -- Only a few short years after earning her bachelor’s degree from the Radford University Interior Design & Fashion Department, Janet Cushing ’05 is already making a name for herself in the industry, working with famed American fashion designer Vera Wang.

“To work with Vera Wang had been my one and only dream during school,” said Cushing. “It was a feeling of contentment and happiness, as if I had just accomplished my biggest goal. Vera Wang was the designer I most admired growing up and I felt like now I was where I always saw myself.”

Janet Cushing
Janet Cushing, '05

The chance to work with Wang was no accident, but more a mix of talent and perseverance for Cushing, who after graduating from RU immediately followed her fashion aspirations to the bright lights of New York City.

“I always knew it was where I needed to be to have a successful career in design,” she said. “I started off at an intimates company as an assistant designer, working with customers like Target and Kohl's. When it was time to move up, I found an opportunity as a designer at my current company, Komar, designing lingerie and sleepwear for Vera Wang.”

Designing for Wang and learning the industry firsthand has been Cushing’s opportunity of a lifetime.

“I was thrilled to work with her on her special occasion product, as well as her new mass market product ‘Simply Vera, Vera Wang at Kohl's,’” she said. “The business has been an amazing success.”

Soon thereafter, Cushing helped her company’s design director and design team pick up the license and launch new clothing lines for Kensie and DKNY sleepwear/loungewear, sold in high-end department stores, such as Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and Lord & Taylor, with the DKNY line also a big seller overseas in Europe at Harrods, House of Frazier and Selfridges.

“I love this company because it gives me an opportunity to work with three different and distinct brands,” she added. “I have been here (in New York City) for five years, and do not plan on leaving anytime soon.”

Raised in Rockville, Md., Cushing has always had a love and passion for fashion design.

A model wears clothing designed by RU alumna Janet Cushing at a recent Kensie Lingerie Launch Party.

“I started designing outfits for myself and for high school fashion shows,” she said. “I was always working in retail and at a fabric store (growing up), which gave me good insight into how to use fabrics and trims, as well as access to patterns.”

Cushing knew she always wanted to study fashion design in college, but where? A quick trip to the welcoming, friendly campus of Radford University made her decision an easy one.

“My experience at Radford was great,” she said. “I liked how I always got a lot of hands-on time with the professors in the Fashion Department.“

With Radford’s emphasis on close faculty-student collaborations and small class-size, Cushing believes working in a small group setting gave her much-needed recognition for her work, and helped her develop the confidence to jumpstart her career.

“The pattern-making/sewing skills I learned were priceless,” said the proud RU Tri Sig sorority member. “I spent a lot of time in the design lab having to work on multiple projects, and this industry is definitely a lot of overtime and multi-tasking.”

Courage in her ability to take a chance was one trait Cushing was never lacking, according to her former ID&F Professor Farrell Doss.

“She was a fearless designer, always willing to experiment with her designs,” said Doss. “She had an excellent understanding of scale and proportion, and could easily pick the right fabrics that enhanced a successful design solution.”

Cushing’s success is proof positive to Doss that a design graduate from a small school in Southwest Virginia can not only compete with graduates from larger schools, but can also win big.

“Janet's success bears witness to the quality of the fashion design program at RU,” said Doss. “As a successful design professional, she is living her dream, and living (the ID&F department's) dream for all our entry level design professionals.”

While at Radford, Cushing credits Doss for always pushing her to take her designs to the next level.

“He was honest in his opinions, and that helped me to take criticism well,” she explained. “All the professors helped me in many different ways. I appreciate them all for their help and dedication to the students.”

For the current crop of RU fashion design students hoping to someday make their own mark in the industry, Cushing offers some advice:

“Always stay true to yourself, and believe in your ideas and designs,” she said. “Being confident in your work is major in this industry. Don't let others mess with your confidence.”

November 4, 2010
Keith Hagarty; 540-831-7749

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