As the coronavirus has developed over the course of the past months, weeks, and days, our plans have changed and so have our lives. And it appears this will be the norm for a while. In this series (duration: a few weeks to…not sure?), we’ll share the stories of people who have confronted the unexpected in interesting ways. Today, we have five FIT students sharing how their lives have changed since the below photographs were taken.
In early March, Beth Sacca, FIT student and Man Repeller photo intern, decided to take portraits of her classmates. What she didn’t know then was that she was actually saying goodbye to her friends for the last time before their graduation: She’d intended to use her photos in a street-style story, highlighting her classmates’ unique approach to fashion. But as in-person classes were canceled and dorms hastily vacated, students headed back to their apartments or hometowns. Beth’s photos started to take on a different meaning–and to explore that meaning, we called each person featured, to hear about how their lives (and education and approach to style) have changed since they were photographed. Here’s how they’re processing lives now, in their own words.
On the Challenge of Learning Long-Distance
“There are conflicts with a lot of classes—I think they’re just taking it week by week to figure out how we’ll be able to do things. Our studio classes especially can’t be the same online. I can’t imagine how I’m going to be able to finish my handbag class. Right now, we’re literally just cutting out paper to show how we’d make the pattern.I don’t know how I’m going to be able to sew leather without an industrial sewing machine.
I’m currently in the city, in my apartment uptown, using what I have here. I was working the last few days as it was getting worse and school was closing, so I wasn’t really able to grab everything I needed. I still went to my internship, and my roommate and I would meet and walk home together so that we didn’t have to take the subway, which is an almost-two-hour walk. When they told us we could come back to the school to pick up supplies, I didn’t even want to take the risk of taking stuff on the subway. I felt like that was too much of a risk at that point.
They just emailed us that one of our professors passed away from Covid-19, and there’s a bunch of students who have it.
I changed my thesis to something else that I’m able to do in my house. Originally I was making these 3D-looking prints—you know those plastic prints from the 2000s that change when you move them from side-to-side? I was making an installation with those that was like ‘2000 punk princess,’—but now it can’t be viewed or interacted with. I ended up changing my project to a process where I’m using photos that I’ve taken and turning them into collages. I’m actually really excited about it. It’s a really therapeutic thing to work on right now.” —Brianna Clarfield
On Study-From-Home Style and Shopping Online
“The photo Beth took of me is so sad because that was the last time I got an outfit off in public [laughs]—her timing was really good on that. I’ve been wearing a lot of pajamas at home. On the days when I have online school, I’ll actually get up and put an outfit on so I feel like I’m doing something and I’m not just, like, sitting around in sweats. Right now I’m wearing a hoodie with some runner pants and Yeezy slides. This is pretty much what I would wear on a regular day, but I have been thinking about certain things I don’t need to be wearing in the house. I’m not going to be wearing, like, leather loafers and a trench coat at home, you know? I’m definitely taking it down a couple notches, but still trying to wear clothes that make me feel good.
I’ve bookmarked so many things that I want to buy when we can go back out. I’ve also been able to look in my closet and streamline my style even more. Shipping is at the top of my line of questioning when I think about buying stuff right now. The other day I was closing and opening tabs, and I was like, “Should I even have stuff shipped to my house?” From a really realistic standpoint—we don’t know. But I want to support the brands I love right now because everybody is hurting. I think this is going to impact everyone in really hard ways. A couple of my friends work at a bar downtown called Beverly’s, and they have a lot of efforts to keep money coming in, like gift cards and merch. I feel so bad—not only do I get to work there sometimes, but I also go there a lot. We all have to be conscious of what money is going out and what’s coming in. It’s a weird time for everyone.” —Stephen Velastegui
On Masks as Design Objects
“I study photography at FIT, and I also work at school in the historical fashion archives. There’s definitely a lot of history in face-mask design, and we’ve been sharing a lot of it on social media. I think it’s cool that so many independent designers are making them right now, both for surgical use and for the community. People are making them in cool, inventive ways—I’ve seen so many different styles. I think the things that are being made now will be a part of the history of face masks in some way.
I’m making a mask for class myself, but I left my first prototype at school, which really sucks, because that had a lot of the basic construction. I wouldn’t have been able to finish it anyway, because [that version] had metal that requires tools to weld. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Spy Kids, but there are these over-the-top, creepy sunglasses that go over your head instead of around. I’m making similar alien goggles with custom lenses that I literally made in the oven. I weave a lot, and my whole thesis is called ‘Coping Mechanisms.’ It’s about my mental health journey through art and fashion as therapy, so I’m doing a lot of weaving, crochet, knitting, and embroidery for it—I do it all. That’s basically what I’ve been working on for the past week, every single day.” —Danielle Paterson
On Staying Inspired
“Being home, I can take the time to think out projects more. We’re so accustomed to our daily routine, and this is a great time to think about other projects you want to do, or if you’re on a path that you don’t want to be on, to think about how you can get on another path instead. So far, I’ve been staying up late sketching a lot. I’m interning at Sergio Tacchini, so I’ve just been designing and drawing a lot, and they’re happy with what’s coming out. I’m really proud of that.
I’ve also been doing a lot of research. I’m looking at archival works like old Helmut Lang, Comme des Garcons. I’m the type of person who doesn’t get inspired by garments, but by colors and the movement of shapes, so I’m also looking at random art pieces and watching films. If I do go outside, it’s for groceries or something, and I did see an interesting outfit that a girl had on yesterday: She was wearing this nice wool trench coat that was dark gray, and a graphite sweatshirt, so it was like shades of gray, down to some faded navy blue sweats. I even like the face masks—I think they’re a fashion statement.” —Naseem Muhammad
On Making a Yearbook In Lieu of Graduation
“School getting canceled made the whole situation very real for me. I’m graduating this semester and they just sent us an email yesterday telling us that our commencement is cancelled. One person said we’ll have a graduation in August, another email said it will be in December. I’m currently in California with my family, but I do have to go back to New York to work on my senior thesis. I can’t do it from here because I’m making a magazine and all my stuff is in my room in New York. I’m taking pictures of my best friends and putting them in ads, doing features on my best friends. It’s kind of like an ode to my senior year and my school life. I have a feature called ‘Class of Chaos.’ It gives all of my friends superlatives. I’m figuring it out still, since I don’t have as much time to shoot. Today I’m going around to all my California friends, and I’m going to take a photo of each of them and do a story on this whole situation.” —Nia Spencer
Photos by Beth Sacca.