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Moving fashion forward at ASU

Phoenix Art Museum curator Dennita Sewell to help develop new fashion degree program in School of Art

Woman standing in front of a gradient.

February 22, 2016

Dennita Sewell, curator of fashion design at Phoenix Art Museum, currently oversees one of the premier collections of fashion in the country with more than 7,000 pieces dating from the 18th century to the present.

Soon, she will be sharing her expertise in fashion with Arizona State University students as well.

Sewell (pictured above), who earned an MFA in costume design from Yale University and worked in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before taking on her current role at Phoenix Art Museum in 2000, is taking on an additional title as the head of the brand-new bachelor's in fashion program in the ASU School of ArtThe School of Art is part of ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts..

Beginning in fall 2017, ASU students will be able to major in fashion through the School of Art by taking classes across the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts on topics ranging from fibers to wearable technology to interior design.

“We are thrilled to have Dennita Sewell as the head of our Bachelor of Arts in fashion program,” said Adriene Jenik, director of the School of Art. “Her commitment to excellence, innovation and education have been evident throughout her career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Phoenix Art Museum. I can't imagine a better person to lead our program and help our students imagine, design and create the future of fashion as they engage across the Herberger Institute and other research units at ASU.”

The degree program is still in development, but the future looks bright with Sewell on board. During her career, she has taught fashion classes at Pratt Institute, presented lectures around the world and put together exhibitions that have garnered international attention.

As head of the bachelor's in fashion, Sewell will bring an art historical context and global framework to help forge connections to fashion industry professionals and experts in the field.

“The appreciation of fashion has been a lifelong passion for me,” said Sewell. “I am excited to be a part of engaging Arizona State University’s new fashion program with the extraordinary resources of Phoenix Art Museum’s Fashion Design collection and its active program of lectures by fashion industry professionals. My goal is to expose students to the broadest range of ideas and career paths while fostering a discerning understanding of fashion.”

“We are building a truly unique fashion degree program that will tap into the resources and knowledge of a global research university and a national museum with strong leadership in this area,” said Steven Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “Our students will be exposed to the leading edge of fashion — from the science of materials, to fabrication, history, business, industry and design. We are lucky to have Dennita Sewell’s expertise as we grow this popular degree. Fashion is a $1.2 billion global industry, and the number of fashion professionals has grown more than 50 percent in the past 10 years. We are eager to prepare students for this growing part of our economy.”    

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