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Faculty Focus: Lisa Hayes

August 24, 2010

Lisa Hayes and a sketch of her workWhen Lisa Hayes isn’t traveling the world in search of sustainable fashions or spending time with her family, you’ll find her teaching fashion design in Nesbitt Hall. Hayes has been teaching at Drexel for six years and she also advises Fashion Design seniors on their collections for our annual fashion show.  She believes “assessing each student to find out what their unique individual talents are, and building on those strengths,” is the key to a successful education.

A huge fan of what she calls “slow fashion,” Hayes knows that designers play an important role in advocating and implementing the use of sustainable methods and materials in fashion design. With these ideas in mind she is creating a line of coats and dresses called “The Little Green Dress Project” to explore dress design using sustainable materials that work for each season. She uses organic wool, organic cotton, leather tanned with an eco-friendly process and hand stitching. “Sustainable textiles are the wave of the future for the industry,” said Hayes, “It is important that our young designers have an interest in seeking out these sustainable textiles.” Hayes presented her first look in the line at The Korea & China Association of Fashion Industry- Academy, International Fashion Exhibition at the Chengdu Art Museum in Chine in June of 2009.

fashion sketchHayes was most recently chosen to represent ITAA and the United States at the ASEAN International Conference, “Silk in the Green World,” in Bangkok, Thailand this month after being named the first place winner for design in The Queen Sirikit Institute of Sericulture Peacock Standard of Thai Silk Design Competition. For the conference, Hayes will work with three other U.S. designers to create a design using Peacock Standard Thai Silk.

Hayes, who just found out she was named a Fulbright Specialist Candidate, has designed clothes and home goods for popular lines such as Anthropologie, Motherswork Inc., Liz Claiborne Inc. and Albert Nipon. Hayes said it can be rewarding and exciting seeing her designs in stores or even on her students. A fashion design student came in wearing one of her Liz Claiborne designs from the late eighties. “I recognized the dress immediately and asked her where she found it. Turned out that she said she bought it at a thrift shop,” said Hayes laughing.

She once made the premature announcement that a hostess at a party she was attending was pregnant after noticing she was wearing one of her Motherswork designs. “I asked her when she was due,” said Hayes, “apparently she hadn’t told anyone the news and wondered how I’d guessed because she wasn’t really showing.”

Hayes ranks Miuccia Prada as her favorite designer and as far as dream clients; she would have loved to design for classic beauties like Audrey Hepburn or Jackie O. Speaking of classics, Hayes thinks they are back in a big way. This fall stock your closet with classic pieces like black coats with clean silhouettes. Once more emphasizing the importance of “slow fashion,” Hayes advises buying fewer pieces of clothing so you can spend more on the more meaningful pieces that you will want to wear for years.