Broadly conceived, the field of fashion is a discipline informed by the changing cultural, psychological, and economic milieu, and in turn, one that shapes the larger social structure. It is a dynamic interaction of culture, lifestyle, and commerce, with global forces constantly challenging the aesthetic and material landscape in which designers and artists engage.

Today, ideas and concepts carry a product, an entity which must embody an experience and a lifestyle. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Master of Design (MDes) in Fashion, Body and Garment program provides a conceptual and intellectual context in which the nature and potentiality of fashion is closely examined and reimagined.

The Masters of Design in Fashion, Body and Garment program is uniquely situated within a vibrant contemporary school of art and design associated with a world-famous museum of art and design. This program builds on the connections and relationships between art and fashion that have been evolving in the past century and that reach an unprecedented level in contemporary practices today.

Grounding individuals in their personal creative motivation and strengthening the context of their work through critical, theoretical, and practical studies, SAIC cultivates graduates who are highly sensitized, responsive fashion innovators.

Coursework

Through a combination of dedicated design studios, topical seminars, self-directed research, technical labs, design history and theory courses, and a wide range of elective options such as performance, film, new media, writing, or sculpture, students are able to explore a breadth of possibilities yet achieve an in-depth focus within their individual practice.

The main component of the program, the Fashion Design Studio, taken each semester, provides a place for an expansive investigation of fashion, body, and garment. Beginning at the most intimate level, the first semester examines the relationships of garment as skin or second skin.

Aside from the two-year requirements of the MDes in Fashion, Body and Garment program, students are invited to partake in the Summer Intensive Fashion 5101 Design Studio (6), to sharpen their technical skills prior to the beginning of the first year fall program. This Intensive concentrates their skills on conceptual research and design, draping techniques as well as finishing details and flats. 

Studios then progressively provide a space for a deeper individual investigation of fashion within the broader context of community, sustainability, technology, and the industry. Four electives taken in the final year allow students to finely hone their interests and practice and may be utilized to support a more interdisciplinary practice. Issues in professional practice are built into the entire curriculum and supplemented by visiting designers from both the fashion industry and related fields.

Final Projects

Each year of the two-year program is devoted to a final, distilled collection or body of work that is exhibited as appropriate to the form. Fashion, body, and garment graduate students are also expected to support their work with thesis documentation in various media.

Facilities and Resources

SAIC's Fashion Design program is housed in the redesigned, expansive space within the Sullivan Center, the building originally designed by Louis Sullivan in 1899 and the home of the Carson Pirie Scott department store in downtown Chicago until 2007. Graduate students have designated studios within a shared studio workspace. Click here for a full list of resources offered by the Department of Fashion Design.

Interested in learning more?

Click around the pages of this website for information on admissions and curriculum requirements, Master of Design in Fashion, Body and Garment faculty, students and alumni, and more.

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or gradmiss@saic.edu.