June 16, 2024

Fashion Design

Fashion Designs that Enlighten the Soul.

NYC designer Laura Gabrielson turns kids into mini fashion trendsetters at school club that sends students’ ideas to factory

4 min read

A group of up-and-coming fashion designers were putting together new ideas for the season  – but instead of a fancy Soho boutique their workshop was a Brooklyn grammar school.

“I’m doing shorts because I am not a skirt girl. I do not like skirts,” fledgling trendsetter Madeleine, 8, told The Post of the design she created at the St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy’s Fashion Club.

“I picked the neon green because it’s the only color that is most like me because I’m not into the girly stuff,” the discerning youngster added.

Students pick out fabric samples. Michael Nagle

Madeleine is one of several students in first through sixth grades learning the ins-and-outs of fashion design from St. Stans parent and local designer Laura Gabrielson, who started the club at the Greenpoint school this year.

Gabrielson has run her own company, the LG Project, for 13 years, and also uses her factory to manufacture clothing for other New York designers.

“I started this mainly because of my [eight-year-old] daughter. She’s always with me in my factory,” Gabrielson told The Post.

Over the past few weeks, Gabrielson has walked the students through the entire design process, starting with a moodboard, concepts, and trying their hand on some t-shirts.

Designer and club founder Lauren Gabrielson and her daughter, Hobey Morse, 7 years-old. Michael Nagle

“So now we’re working on the bottoms. Today, then they’re going to draw it and pick some fabrics,” she told The Post.

The kid used paper templates to draw their designs before they select fabrics and take measurements.

The final products will come to life at Gabrielson’s factory.

“I have a team of 13 seamstresses in my office so we figured the best way to execute their vision is to make it in our factory. So they truly are designing,” she told The Post.

The fashion club provides a special creative outlet for students, Gabrielson said.

Sarina DeStefano, 7 years-old, left, and Olympia Moreau, 6 years-old, center, work on their runway looks. Michael Nagle

“I think art programs are going away and so it’s nice to keep a creative field going,” she noted.

Eventually, she would “love” for the kids to learn to sew, and she wants to bring the club to her factory to see the process firsthand.

“I think it’s super rewarding to have a finished product and be able to have that themselves,” she mused.

Under Gabrielson’s tutelage, the Fashion Club kids are already developing razor-sharp tastes that rival Wintour’s.

“I had to pick the zebra pink but I wish it was zebra blue. That would be better. Pink is the worst color in the world. No offense to the people that like pink,” Rebecca, 9, lamented.

Eight-year-old Vincent – the only boy in the program at the moment – took his design inspiration from the natural world.

A student works on a mood board before their design is made. Michael Nagle

“I picked blue and green fabric because it reminds me of the earth,” he told The Post.

Seven-year-old Francesca said she enjoyed the coloring part of the process the most.

“She said we can pick two so I’m picking a skirt and shorts,” she explained of her design plan.

Hazel, 8, said she enjoys the social aspect of the club.

“I like fashion. I like it here because I’m here with my friends, I like making different designs on my skirts and shorts. And we have really nice teachers,” she explained.

On the day of The Post’s visit to the St. Stan’s design studio, the job of taking everyone’s measurements fell to 10-year-old Helena.

Gabrielson instructs the group on all aspects of the design process, and makes the final products in her factory. Michael Nagle

“Yes, I’m taking the measurements because they are younger and I’m in fifth grade,” she said proudly.

“I actually made a shirt here that’s blue and yellow. I wear the shirt all the time,” she added. “So now, I’m making a skirt that matches the shirt I’m wearing now.” 

For Gabrielson, design is a generational endeavor.

“My grandma would do this stuff with me and so now I have my daughter around me. She can cut, she can sew,” she explained.

With the new Fashion Club, she explained, she is also hoping to expose a younger generation to the basics of clothing manufacturing.

“I think manufacturing is becoming a lost thing — all the manufacturers in midtown are gone,” Gabrielson said.

The Fashion Club kids pose with their work. Michael Nagle

Once the backbone of the city’s economy, the Garment District in Midtown Manhattan dwindled in the latter half of the 20th century when sky-rocketing demand created the need for larger factories that could make more in less time and for less money.

Today, more than 97% of clothing sold in America is made for cheap overseas, WBUR reported – though the history of the city’s clothing industry lives on in the careers of designers like Klein, Donna Karan, and Marc Jacobs, as well as renewed efforts to draw attention to New York City-made fashion.

Those endeavors are no doubt getting a boost from Gabrielson’s Fashion Club, where students are already appreciating the ability to make their own clothes as opposed to schlepping to Target or going online.

Sarina DeStefano, 7 years-old, left, and Olympia Moreau, 6 years-old, right, work on a mood board. Michael Nagle

“I like that we get to make stuff and then we can wear it. Like instead of buying it,” Madeleine told The Post.

At the end of this week’s meeting, the budding designers modeled their work and practiced their very best runway walks for their upcoming fashion show.

The youngsters tried out poses and even picked their own songs for what will surely be one of the hottest tickets in Brooklyn.

As the saying goes: Today, elementary school, tomorrow, New York City Fashion Week.

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