the road to fashion school: a professor’s point of view


photo curtesy: professor noël palomo-loviski

During the infamous “syllabus week”, fashion students get to meet their professors and get a small glimpse into what their lives were like before Kent State. Many of Kent State’s professors come straight from the industry, working the jobs that current students dream of. Throughout my time in the fashion program, one story that really stood out to me was that of Professor Noël Palomo-Loviski. 


The most important part of a designer is their background, their story and how they got to where they are today. Palomo-Loviski was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, a city not particularly known for its fashion scene. She first became interested in fashion when she was 10 years old, giving credit to her grandmother who she would watch old movies with as her grandmother pointed out clothing construction details. 


With her background in design, Palomo-Loviski headed to Parsons School of Design in New York City. While at Parsons, she worked a part-time job while taking the required 20 credits per semester. Every college student can imagine that this was not an easy task, but Palomo-Loviski was dedicated to her craft and her education. 


“I was just preserverant. I wanted to do it,” Palomo-Loviski said.


Once she graduated from Parsons, Palomo-Loviski got her first job in the fashion industry at DKNY as a designer. Although this was a good job at the time, working for a designer company, she didn’t feel it was for her. While working there, her hours were extremely demanding. Palomo-Loviski confessed that in preparation for shows and Fashion Week, they were not permitted to leave, and had to sleep on cots overnight. 


I didn’t really like it that much because all I did was sit there and do flats and line sheets and it just wasn’t exciting,” Palomo-Loviski said. “It was very time intensive. I got no money. People who work for designer names like that are generally doing it for the name, which makes sense.” 


One thing about working in the fashion industry, however, is that there are endless opportunities to be creative, and Palomo-Loviski was determined to find where she belonged. After working for DKNY, she moved on to a small private company that specialized in cocktail and special occasion dresses. Here, Palomo-Loviski had better hours and a nice boss. Even though this job seemed ideal on paper, Palomo-Loviski wasn’t fully in love with what she was creating. 


Actually, it helped me to understand what it means to be a designer,” Palomo-Loviski said. “You’re designing for someone else, you’re not designing for yourself. That was something I had never really gotten in school.”


With this being said, Palomo-Loviski learned things about herself, which significantly influences how she interacts with and teaches her students today.


That helped to inform that when I got here I wanted to be much more nurturing and I wanted to have a lot more one-on-one time with students,” Palomo-Loviski said. “It really changed the way that I approach teaching.”


Palomo-Loviski worked a couple of more jobs between then and now, most notably her time at Episode, a stylish streetwear brand, in Hong Kong. She worked at Episode for a long time, doing knits and wovens. After some time, Palomo-Loviski knew it was time to move on, as she felt that she wasn’t exactly where she was supposed to be. For her, working in the industry was really about finding passion and excitement. It was important for her to discover where she truly wanted to be, doing what she truly wanted to do.


I kind of – for a lack of a better word – kind of got a little bored. I didn’t know where I wanted to go next. I wanted some new challenges. I wanted something that was different,” Palomo-Loviski said.


Palomo-Loviski ended up going back to school, New York University this time, for a master’s in visual culture. When obtaining her degree, she started working at Parsons, and this is where she really found her passion. Teaching helped her discover new ways to adapt her creativity, and she got to help students understand things that she had to learn the hard way.  


During this time, Palomo-Loviski served as a research assistant where she helped work on a book about Claire McCardell, her all-time favorite designer. She later published her book, “The World’s Most Influential Fashion Designers,” featuring McCardell. It was this professor who helped her find Bowling Green University, where she went for a Ph.D. in Popular Culture. Because of this, she was required to get a terminal degree, ending up here in Kent State University. Palomo-Loviski got her MFA in Textiles at Kent State and has been here ever since. 


The final question I asked Professor Palomo-Loviski was: “What keeps you inspired to work with young students who want to work in the fashion industry as you did?” 


She left me with this: “I really do enjoy it. I like getting to know students and getting to know what motivates them, what’s interesting to them, how they define themselves, and then helping them to do what they want to do and how they want to do it. I like getting people to think. There is no end of reward when someone goes, ‘Oh, I got it.’”

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Hi! I’m Catie Pusateri, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.