Gladys Perint Palmer on
Fashion Education Past and Future
Gladys Perint Palmer wears many hats: artist, writer, humorist, journalist, fashion illustrator – and Executive Director of the Academy of Art University School of Fashion. She studied fashion at St. Martin’s School of Art in London, and was mentored by the noted fashion illustrators Elizabeth Suter and Muriel Pemberton.
Her work has been featured in magazines and publications around the world, including The Sunday Times, The New Yorker, L’Officiel, and several international editions of Vogue. It was used in the branding for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in 2011.
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Gladys Perint Palmer came to the Academy of Art University in 1995 and has built the School of Fashion into a well-respected program that offers students an excellent education and countless opportunities. Each year, students are exposed to top industry professionals at the annual Graduation Fashion Show and Awards Ceremony. Past guests have included Oscar de la Renta, Rosita and Tai Missoni, Azzedine Alaïa, Philip Treacy, and Sarah Burton. Earlier this month.
Palmer’s illustrations of former guests were displayed at the University’s central building at 79 New Montgomery – a gorgeous exhibition of her work which Modeconnect is sharing with you here. We are honoured that Gladys Perint Palmer accepted to answer some of our questions on fashion education, illustration, and fashion.
What originally drew you to fashion illustration – as opposed to other drawing disciplines?
I was supposed to go into Illustration after my foundation year at St. Martins but I did not do a stroke of work during the summer and dared not return without the required sketchbooks filled with work. So I went into fashion.
You often speak of your instructors at Central St. Martins – Elizabeth Suter and Muriel Pemberton. What was it that made them amazing teachers?
Muriel Pemberton had amazing colour sense and broke every rule (as laid down at that time). Her compositions started with the background leaving negative spaces to fill with figures. Elizabeth Suter taught me everything I know about drawing the figure, young, old, fat, fashionable. I think of Pemberton when I mix colour and texture; and remember Suter every time I pick up a stick of charcoal.
What is your favorite memory of being a student?
Loitering around Soho with a gorgeous sculpture student.
And now you’re on the other side of things – leading students at the Academy of Art University. What are your proudest moments at the School?
When I realize that drawing students have learned to see, not just look.
When Simon Ungless produces yet another brilliant fashion show.
Opening a copy of 180 Magazine.
March 21, 2012 when Jean Paul Gaultier said to the entire student body: I have to say I admire her work a lot. If I knew how to sketch like her, that’s what I would have done, you know?
You preach a classical training in fashion – where all students must learn to cut, sew, and draw. Why is this foundation so important?
Even if you never cut or sew after graduation, it is essential to understand how garments are put together; why they fit – and sometimes why they don’t fit. Drawing is communication and the key to sketching a design is the silhouette and the hemline. Fabrics determine the shape – a brocade skirt is different from a chiffon skirt or a crepe dress cut on the cross. Or, a fur jacket compared to satin coat.
If you could only impart one piece of wisdom on students, what would it be?
Work twice as hard as everyone else and when you hit a ‘block’ (as we all do) work three times as hard. Follow your instincts. The world of fashion is fifty percent hype and fifty percent humiliation. Try not to take either to heart. I’m still trying. It’s very trying.