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Neiman Marcus' Fashion Director Ken Downing Talks Spring Trends, Critiques Student Designs at Drexel

March 19, 2014

Ken Downing is fashion director and senior vice president for American luxury department store Neiman Marcus

Fashion visionary Ken Downing, fashion director and senior vice president for American luxury department store Neiman Marcus, will join Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design on Friday, April 11, for a day of conversation about spring trends and the future of fashion. Downing received the second annual Westphal Award in 2013.

At 9:30 a.m., Downing will give a presentation on spring fashion trends in the Screening Room of the URBN Center Annex (3401 Filbert St.). This lecture is free and open to the public. He will then tour Drexel’s fashion design facilities and offer feedback on student designs. At 11 a.m., he will join curator Clare Sauro in the Drexel Historic Costume Collection to discuss some of the highlights of the collection. An invitation-only luncheon will take place in the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at noon.

“The great fit between Drexel and Ken is that they both appreciate the past, but through their belief in luxury fabrics and workmanship, they’re both always looking toward the future in fashion,” said Missy Dietz, vice president and general manager of Neiman Marcus King of Prussia, in a recent Women’s Wear Daily article.

In his role as fashion director, Downing interprets, articulates and sets the fashion direction for the Neiman Marcus brand, as well as serving as the brand’s international fashion ambassador. He provides oversight to the company’s merchant and creative divisions, and is responsible for dictating the seasonal trends for Neiman Marcus stores and online businesses.

Downing began his career with luxury retailer I. Magnin and held various creative positions in visual planning and fashion. He joined Neiman Marcus in October 1989 as the fashion coordinator at the Los Angeles store. Downing now travels the globe to bring luxury and style to the Neiman Marcus customer. He is a constant figure at New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks. Annually, he hosts more than 20 customer events within Neiman Marcus stores, alongside esteemed designers such as Stella McCartney, Derek Lam, Zac Posen, Donna Karan, Olivier Theyskens, Tory Burch, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, David Yurman and Rachel Zoe.

Over the course of his career, Downing has appeared as a fashion industry expert on many local and nationally televised programs, including the Oprah Winfrey Show, E! Entertainment, Fox News, The Rachel Zoe Project and Project Runway All Stars.

About the Westphal Award
The Westphal Award, named in honor of Antoinette Westphal, a Drexel graduate and longtime supporter of the College, is awarded to a leader in one of the many fields of design, media and arts taught at the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. The award is given to honor not only the recipients’ business and creative success, but also their humanitarian efforts to inspire and nurture the next generation of leaders. Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, received the inaugural Westphal Award in 2012.

About the Drexel Historic Costume Collection
The Drexel Historic Costume Collection is housed in Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. The museum-quality collection of more than 12,000 garments, textiles and accessories dates back centuries, with holdings including garments worn by Greta Garbo, Babe Paley and Princess Grace of Monaco. As one of the oldest university collections in the United States, it is internationally recognized for the exceptional quality of its holdings and has lent objects to exhibitions in Paris and Milan. The oldest documented objects are a man’s waistcoat dating from the 1750s and a group of 16th century velvets. The most recent acquisitions date from fall 2013. For more information, visit


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