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Carolina Herrera Honored at FIT

Designer offers sound advice to FIT grads.

NEW YORK — Along with their diplomas, Fashion Institute of Technology graduates were greeted as equals by none other than Carolina Herrera at Tuesday’s commencement ceremony.

“It is such a pleasure to be among all of you talented designers, or students and graduates,” Herrera said before the soon-to-be alumni of the School of Art and Design and the School of Graduate Studies. After receiving a doctorate of fine arts, Herrera said, “It is such an honor for me to receive this doctorate, which I was not expecting at all. For me, it is a dream.”

With more than 300 stores worldwide, the designer offered some sound advice. “I have to say to you all that I have been a designer for 30 years and I have a passion for fashion,” she said. “I hope all of you do the same, because it is not always very glamorous. It is a lot of work and you will love it. You will never give up because the moment you have a bit of success you want much more.”

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In his keynote address, Davin Stowell, founder and chief executive officer of Smart Design, a multidisciplinary design firm, recalled interning at CorningWare where he suggested the company make a saucepan that could also be used as a bowl to eat from. Even though market research indicated consumers would balk at the idea, the company liked the design and went ahead with production. Stowell said the creation wound up being the brand’s bestseller for many years. He told the 600 graduates at the Javits Center North, “I’m sure all of you have ideas. They’re probably terrible ideas. But if you believe in them, stick with them. See them through. You just never know.”

Stowell, who introduced the OXO Good Grips collection in 1989, noted that only 6 percent of all college graduates earn their diplomas in creative fields. “The world is starving for your creativity,” he said.

“Aim high, but remember how many small steps may get you further than waiting for the big one,” Stowell said.

Earlier in the day Leslie Blodgett, creator of bareMinerals and executive chairman of Bare Escentuals, addressed graduates of FIT’s Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology.