When senior Fashion Merchandising student Shannon Poserina walked into the Figue showroom in New York City in the Fall 2012 semester, she was stunned by the beauty of the room and never imagined she would be able to complete an internship with the new design house.
“With the bright colors, the Bohemian and Moroccan feel,” Shannon said, “I was truly amazed by how unique this studio was.”
Shannon visited the newly launched collection’s showroom and met with the designer, Stephanie von Watzdorf, during a networking visit to New York coordinated by the IUP Office of Alumni Relations and the IUP Career Development Center. Jan Shellenbarger of the Career Development Center arranged the visit to the showroom because Stephanie is married to Michael Lucas, Jan’s nephew.
Prior to launching Figue, Stephanie spent 20 years working with some of the most respected fashion luxury brands, including Giorgio Armani, Ann Taylor, and Ralph Lauren, before becoming vice president of design for Tory Burch. As the Figue website indicates, “Figue (pronounced ‘fig’) is a new luxury collection for women created by Stephanie von Watzdorf. Named for the ancient fruit Stephanie enjoyed as a child in Italy, Figue is defined by a global gypsy-meets-jet-set spirit—bringing together the urban energy of Paris and London with the natural beauty of the Mediterranean and Stephanie’s passion for travel.”
When Shannon and several IUP Fashion Merchandising and Journalism students, faculty, and staff visited the showroom, Stephanie explained how she creates her collection and what inspires her. Holding out one beautiful iridescent dress with an unusual pattern, Stephanie explained how she enlarged a photograph of an insect, “about a million times,” to see the detail of the insect’s leg, which was then silk-screened onto the fabric.
Stephanie also spoke about how important it is to get an internship, saying that when she was an intern, she tried to “absorb everything like a sponge.” She told one magazine writer doing an article about the collection, “When I was 15, I interned at Victor Edelstein’s couture house in London—he made dresses for Lady Diana,” Stephanie said. “It was also, ironically, the height of the punk era in London. I absolutely loved what was happening in fashion at that time. And, after that summer, I was determined to forge a career in fashion.”
After admiring the collection, Shannon approached Stephanie to tell her how inspired she felt and to ask if she would be hiring any interns, which resulted in Shannon working this summer with the Figue designer.
I learned even more than I can express during this internship," Shannon says. "I loved the collection more each day and felt right at home. Working with Stephanie and the rest of the Figue staff was such a pleasure. Every day I was able to learn all of the working aspects of the company, including design, wholesale, production, and sales."
“I am very thankful for the opportunity to intern with Figue and glad I decided to attend the networking event,” Shannon says. “Without Jan in Career Development scheduling an appointment with Figue that day, I would not have had this opportunity to work with Stephanie and learn about her collection.”
Shannon will return to New York and Figue during IUP’s winter break to help Stephanie during the holiday season, and eventually would like to begin a career in the city in the fashion industry.
“Interning for Stephanie has shown me that if you are willing to work hard and prove yourself, opportunities will arise,” Shannon says. “Stephanie is my inspiration, and I will take everything I have learned from her with me in the future.”