Fashion Design Students Win CFDA Scholar Awards with Impactful Collections — MARIST CIRCLE – Marist College The Circle


Marina Matozzo’s winning CFDA project. Source: Marina Matozzo ’23
From scar tape to sensory clothing and sustainable looming, Marist College Fashion Design students brought home the 2022 Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Design Scholar Awards in mid-July. 
Tara Sears ‘23, recipient of the $25,000 Avani Gregg scholarship, centered her project on inclusion. Entitled “Sense”, Sears focused on sensory exploration in fashion for those who are blind or visually impaired and emphasized the importance of texture in her collection. With weaving and beading, one doesn’t need vision to enjoy these garments. 
“When I was working at a cafe when I was a senior in high school, there was this regular we had and he was blind. He would come in all the time and he would ask us, the baristas, about our lives. He asked what I was planning on studying and I told him I’m going to be a fashion designer,” said Sears. “It was actually really sad. He was like, ‘I wish I could experience clothing in the same way I could when I had vision.”
She even included braille tags and worked with sound to create QR codes that would give a full description of the garment, from what it looks like, to fiber context and different facts regarding the garment. 
“Fashion can be for anyone. Fashion can be altered and made for anyone. It’s something I really wanted to emphasize with my project and with my career,” said Sears. She plans to carry this project over into her senior collection, making it bigger and better. 
Allissa Divak’s CFDA project concept highlighting her own scars. Source: Allissa Divak ’23
Similarly, Allissa Divak ‘23 tugged at heartstrings as she pulled her own experiences into a meaningful collection. “I have a giant scar going down the center of my stomach and so I decided to take away people trying to hide theirs and destigmatize the whole thing —that you don’t want to show your scars and something people don’t want to be seen,” said Divak. 
Having experienced stomach surgery a few years ago, Divak wants to call attention to scars that people so often try to hide. Scar tape, or silicone tape, is used to support an incision and provide moisture. With butterfly tape representing “let go of your worries” and superhero tape to excite children, Divak creates a space for those in the fashion world who might feel like they need to hide.
Recipient of Häagen Dazs’ $25,000 scholarship, Divak plans to use that money towards her heart-wrenchingly beautiful senior design collection of bulletproof and protective clothing in light of the mass shootings that happen too frequently. “I always design very deep,” said Divak. “I want to use fashion as a platform to make a difference rather than just more clothes that we don’t need.”
As Sears and Divak highlighted inclusion, Marina Matozzo ‘23 revisited her roots by channeling her Calabrian heritage. With a passion for woodworking, Matozzo built a loom from scrap pallets and began her sustainable weaving process. Matozzo used discarded clothing and kitchen twine instead of thread because of the chemicals thread holds to breathe new life into these garments. 
Matozzo was the recipient of Coach’s $15,000 scholarship, but found herself gaining much more. Now, with a mentorship from Coach, Matozzo is designing something special for them. 
Being a junior Fashion Design major in the spring semester, Marist has everyone participate in this project and allows students to submit their work if they feel it is worthy. So while these winning projects started in the classroom as an assignment, these students found themselves taking home a lump sum of money, building connections in the fashion realm and reassurance that they have what it takes. 
They each credited their professors and peers for giving them the guidance and feedback that made their projects winner-worthy. “Without that sort of guidance I don’t think I would have made it as good as it was,” said Sears. 
“I would have of course pursued it, but I don’t think I could have done it as well,” said Matozzo. 
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