Sarah Burton and Philip Treacy Discuss Fashion

Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Global View | No Comments

The fashion industry has its celebrities; not the movie stars who adorn lavish designer garments on the red carpet, but the designers themselves, IPhones came out and cameras flashed as Sarah Burton, Creative Director for Alexander McQueen, and Philip Treacy,  milliner extraordinaire, made their way towards the stage of the  Academy of Art University tenth annual fashion symposium. The discussion, led by Gladys Perint Palmer, Executive Director of the school of fashion, Dr. Elisa Stephens, President of the Academy of Art, and Simon Ungless, Director of the school of fashion, gave the audience  an inside perspective of the fashion industry and the careers of these two renowned designers.

Simon Ungless, Sarah Burton and Dr. Ellsa Stephens

Although the two fashion celebrities addressed to a full house, the panel setting did not feel formal, instead was of a group of friends gossiping around the dinner table. The light-hearted conversation detailed everything from the beginnings of Burton’s and Treacy’s careers, to working alongside the late Alexander McQueen, to the future of hats according to Lady GaGa.

The panel also reminisced over stories of late Isabella Blow, who befriended most of the people on stage that night and  whose warm, genuine nature and eye for talent brought this group together.  The iconic fashion editor known for pillaging Treacy’s studio late at night in search of the best, most creative hats and calling up garment orders to McQueen on a daily basis, originally encouraged both McQueen and Treacy in their pursuit of a career as top designers, setting up studios for both men in the basement of her home.

Dr.Ellsa Stephens and Phillip Treacy

“Encouragement is the best thing to give a young person,” said Treacy, “and that’s what [Isabella] did for me.” Later, Blow worked for Sunday Times with Perint Palmer, Burton began her career with McQueen in 1997, and the rest is history.

With the same supportive attitude, Burton shared with students the advice she was given while studying at Central St. Marin’s College of Art & Design in London under the Academy’s own Simon Ungless – “Nothing is impossible. You can do anything you like.”

While we may rightly be in awe of the people who were on that stage, we who are to graduate soon should not forget that Burton and Treacy did not always hold movie-star status. They too were students once, studying under some of the same instructors now teaching at the Academy of Art. Burton and Treacy both worked their way up from the bottom, learning the basics, interning and pulling all-nighters. Yet, through it all, they worked their way to the top, proving that anything is possible.

Photography: Curtsey of Randy Brooke

Written by Bethany Mullinix

Bethany Mullinix

Bethany is a publicist at SutherlandGold Group is San Francisco where she has had the privilege of working with a wide range of consumer tech and enterprise startups such as Apartment List,, Comcast Ventures, CardSpring, and Solar Universe. However, her true love is fashion.

As a child, Bethany would painstakingly design garments for her Barbies, as her father watched in wonderment, questioning his eight-year-old’s taste for micro-mini skirts! Today Bethany channels this love of fashion and design into her writing, taking inspiration for the best and avoiding vapid fashion magazines too easily bent by advertising. Her main goal as a journalist is to make people understand fashion the way she does – as much more than playing dress-up. Above all, fashion makes her feel good and through her writing she hopes to share this feeling with others.

In addition to ModeConnect, Bethany has written for variety of fashion and lifestyle outlets including Fashion School Daily, Paper Pearl and The World According To. She also manages her own online magazine, MOXIE, which she began as part of her M.F.A. Fashion Journalism thesis while at the Academy of Art University. In addition to an MFA, Bethany holds a B.A. in Journalism/PR from Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
You can follow Bethany on twitter at @bethanymullinix