Fashion, Body and Garment Overview

The Department of Fashion, Body, and Garment at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers serious fashion design students an intensive, two-year Master of Fine Arts in Fashion, Body and Garment program devoted to a final, distilled collection or body of work that is exhibited as appropriate to the form.

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 and for deeper individual investigation of fashion within the broader context of community, sustainability, technology, and the industry.

You will have the freedom to explore a breadth of possibilities, yet achieve an in-depth focus within your individual practice through a combination of:

  • Dedicated design studios
  • Topical seminars
  • Self-directed research
  • Technical labs
  • Design history and theory courses
     

You are also encouraged to explore a range of electives in other disciplines, such as:

  • Performance
  • Film, Video, New Media, and Animation
  • Writing
  • Sculpture
  • Fiber and Material Studies
     

If you have a bachelor’s degree, but need additional foundation work to prepare a portfolio, or you are an international student in need of a year of intensive studio work typical to the U.S. education system before beginning a master’s program, take a look at the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fashion, Body and Garment program.

Professor Nick Cave

Letter from Nick Cave

It's been a decade since the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Fashion Department launched its graduate program called Master of Design, Fashion, Body & Garment.

We are extremely proud of its success, but even more by its growth. The program keeps evolving as the world keeps changing, ensuring its relevance to our creative future. This dynamic quality is what keeps it fresh, exciting, and always BOLD.

As an artist, educator, and activist it has also been an incredible opportunity for me to spearhead this program. It has gifted me with a plethora of amazing young creators who are quickly becoming the next leaders in the field of fashion, art, education, politics, and parenting.

I could not be more proud of each and everyone's success to date and look forward to your future development via whatever road you choose next.
 

– Nick Cave
Stephanie and Bill Sick Professor of Fashion, Body and Garment

Requirements and Curriculum

  • Degree Requirements and Specifications

    1. Completion schedule: Students have a maximum of four years to complete the degree. This includes time off for approved leaves of absence.
    2. Transfer credits: A minimum of 45 credit hours must be completed in residence at SAIC. Up to 15 transfer credits may be requested at the time of application for admission and are subject to approval at that time. No transfer credit will be permitted after a student is admitted.
    3. Design Studio: Each design studio must be successfully completed prior to participation in the consecutive design studio.
    4. Advanced Fabrication Lab: FASH 5311 Advanced Fabrication Lab must be taken in the first fall semester.
    5. Full-Time Status Minimum Requirement: 12 credit hours

    First Year Fall 

    15  

    • FASH 5310 Design Studio 1: Dress, Un-Dress, Re-Dress (6)
    • FASH 5311 Advanced Fabrication Lab (3)
    • ARTHI 5002 Survey of Modern and Contemporary Art (3) or
      ARTHI 5120 Survey of Modern and Contemporary Architecture and Design (3)
    • FASH 5315 Seminar: Professional Practice (3) required

     

    First Year Spring 

    15  

    • FASH 5330 Design Studio 2: Interfacing Fashion (6)
    • ARTHI 5560 Critical Perspectives in Fashion, Body and Garment I (3)
    • Electives (6)

     

    Second Year Fall 

    15  

    • FASH 6310 Design Studio 3: Contextualizing Fashion (6)
    • ARTHI 5561 Critical Perspectives in Fashion, Body and Garment II (3)
    • Elective (6)

     

    Second Year Spring 

    15  

    • FASH 6330 Design Studio 4: Fashion, Fusion, Vision (6)
    • FASH 6335 Seminar: Professional Practice 2 (3)
    • Elective (3)
    • Art history elective (3)

     

    Participation in four Graduate Critiques

     

    Participation in Graduate Design Exhibition

     

    Total Credit Hours

    60  

  • The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fashion, Body and Garment is a 30-credit hour program that helps students who already have a bachelor's degree develop a portfolio for the fashion design field. Read on for the coursework required to complete this certificate.

    Certificate Requirements and Specifications

    1. Curriculum: The Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fashion, Body and Garment program is designed to be a full-time, three-semester program. Any exception to this requirement must be approved by the program/department chair and will only extend to one full calendar year.
    2. Full-time Status Minimum Requirement: 12 credit hours

    Term

    Credit Hours

    Summer Intensive 

    6  

    • FASH 5101 Design Studio I (6)

     

    Fall Semester 

    12  

    • FASH 5110 Design Studio II (6)
    • FASH Elective (3)
    • ARTHI (3)

     

    Spring Semester 

    12  

    • FASH 5130 Design Studio III (6)
    • FASH Elective (3) OR
        FASH 3021 Fashion Intensive Portfolio (3)
    •   ARTHI Elective, suggestion (3)

     

    Participation in two Graduate Critiques 

     

    Total Credit Hours

    30  

MFA in Fashion, Body, and Garment Courses

Title Catalog Instructor Schedule

Description

This is an introductory look into fashion. Students will explore basic design skills and processes, and work with various materials used in constructing garments. Both traditional and non-traditional materials will be explored through techniques and exercises related to the body. Students will learn how the tools and equipment for hand and machine sewing functions, and its role in constructing garments. A critical overview of fashion introduces students to various practical and theoretical approaches to understand and explore fashion within an art context.

Class Number

1166

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Area of Study

Costume Design

Location

Sullivan Center 727

Description

This is an introductory look into fashion. Students will explore basic design skills and processes, and work with various materials used in constructing garments. Both traditional and non-traditional materials will be explored through techniques and exercises related to the body. Students will learn how the tools and equipment for hand and machine sewing functions, and its role in constructing garments. A critical overview of fashion introduces students to various practical and theoretical approaches to understand and explore fashion within an art context.

Class Number

1167

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Area of Study

Costume Design

Location

Sullivan Center 727

Description

This is an introductory look into fashion. Students will explore basic design skills and processes, and work with various materials used in constructing garments. Both traditional and non-traditional materials will be explored through techniques and exercises related to the body. Students will learn how the tools and equipment for hand and machine sewing functions, and its role in constructing garments. A critical overview of fashion introduces students to various practical and theoretical approaches to understand and explore fashion within an art context.

Class Number

1760

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Area of Study

Costume Design

Location

Sullivan Center 704

Description

This course offers foundational methods of draping, pattern drafting, and construction techniques to build garments. The students learn how to develop a set of slopers, consisting of bodice, sleeve and skirt, combining and integrating draping and pattern drafting methods. Through these methods, the students develop and construct design concepts, first in muslin, then in fabric; stressing the importance of proper fit and craftsmanship. No pre-req.

Prerequisites

Students must be a sophomore grade level or permission by instructor

Class Number

2200

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Location

Sullivan Center 704

Description

Fashion Construction II builds the fundamentals of construction through a unique combination of pattern drafting, draping on the form, and sewing techniques, expanding to principles of the torso block, shirt-, and dress variations, as well as adding more variance in finishes and closures. Students develop and construct design concepts and explore variations, first in muslin, then in fabric, and will complete 2 garments. Pre-req: FASH 2001

Prerequisites

Student must have completed FASH 2001, 2022, or 2024

Class Number

1990

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Location

Sullivan Center 706

Description

Explorations in the design of 'experimental' garments using the basic elements of mass, volume, form and motion. Rather than concerning themselves with current design trends or regular fashion problems, students emphasize bodies as forms in motion or as moving sculpture.

Class Number

1759

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Area of Study

Costume Design, Community & Social Engagement

Location

Sullivan Center 727

Description

In this workshop, students create various accessories from original ideas. This program is divided into projects such as the design and construction of embellished evening bags, summer totes, gloves, costume jewelry, and millinery. Emphasis is placed on references to history of individual accessories and developing collections of illustrations in color.

Class Number

1168

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Area of Study

Product Design

Location

Sullivan Center 727

Description

This course develops drawing skills with an emphasis on figure gesture and proportion along with a wide range of media. Students are taught to sketch from a live model while communicating design concepts in clothing with style and expression.

Class Number

1169

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Area of Study

Costume Design, Illustration

Location

Sullivan Center 734

Description

This course develops drawing skills with an emphasis on figure gesture and proportion along with a wide range of media. Students are taught to sketch from a live model while communicating design concepts in clothing with style and expression.

Class Number

1178

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Area of Study

Costume Design, Illustration

Location

Sullivan Center 734

Description

Production design for stage and screen is explored, emphasizing the collaborative world of theater and film. Students communicate with playwrights, scriptwriters, producers, and directors to understand their role as artists and designers. From 'no-budget to big-budget' productions, students explore the highs and lows of real world design through various projects. Student design teams create costumes, sets and props to understand the coordination of efficient and supportive group dynamics. Particular connections the off-Loop theater movement and the indie film scene.

Class Number

1170

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Area of Study

Furniture Design

Location

Sullivan Center 723

Description

This course cultivates a conceptual and interdisciplinary approach to fashion. Through experimentations in object-making, students will engage with traditional and non-traditional materials and processes to question how objects can engage the body. Emphasis will be placed on function through the exploration of constructive processes and placement to body and space. The course is divided in four topical sections: technique meets body, power in wearability, conceptual artifacts and material matters. Students will be introduced to artists who's work is generally associated with other disciplines but engages fashion, body and garment. For example, artists such as Leigh Bowery, Rebecca Belmore, Brian Jungen, Isa Genzken, and the readings/screenings will vary but may include Susan Sontag's Notes on Camp, Malcolm Gladwell's The Cool Hunt or Robert Friedel's Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty. Course work involves four major projects, one for each topical section, as well as in-class discussions, reading responses and presentations. The occasional field trip and follow up in-class discussion can also be included.

Class Number

1761

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Location

Sullivan Center 723

Description

Designed to encourage 3-dimensional surface experimentation, this course begins with traditional embellishment methodologies primarily originating in couture millinery, as a means of altering or breaking away surfaces and dimensions. Students then explore alternative materials and methods to transform, mutate or redefine garments, accessories, etc., or to create textured objects in their entirety. To provide related information of interest, selected texts concerning the sociological theories of craftsmanship may be included as well as works by authors like Thor Hanson, Laura Jacobs, Candace Kling, Howard Risatti and Erica Wilson. Field trips to local venues, videos such as the Craft in America series, plus the investigation of works by artists like Nick Cave, Tara Donovan, the Haas Brothers, and Kate MccGwire optionally augment the course content. Projects may be based on up-cycled objects and materials, and will entail various techniques including ribbon manipulation, feather work, flower tooling, and embroidery. Fur/faux sewing and leather tooling are introduced, and other `thread arts? (macrame, tatting, etc.) may be individually investigated in support of conceptual and formal design.

Class Number

1171

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Area of Study

Costume Design

Location

Sullivan Center 727

Description

Various investigations are conducted regarding traditional and alternative shoe design and assembly. Assigned readings and discussions focus on history, materials, the designers, lifestyle, terminology and processes, and the involvement of feet and shoes in art. Emphasis is placed on interpreting the foot and shoe for visual presentations and experimenting with components for artistic and practical expression. Final critiques include presentations of one of half pairs of shoes and sandals, illustrations, weekly clipping files and a thematic selection of thematic original ideas. Group critiques are scheduled several times during the semester. Weekly slide lectures, field trips, guest lectures or demonstration enable students to develop their ideas in the studio with a focus on fit and originality.

Class Number

1172

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Area of Study

Costume Design

Location

Sullivan Center 723

Description

Various investigations are conducted regarding traditional and alternative shoe design and assembly. Assigned readings and discussions focus on history, materials, the designers, lifestyle, terminology and processes, and the involvement of feet and shoes in art. Emphasis is placed on interpreting the foot and shoe for visual presentations and experimenting with components for artistic and practical expression. Final critiques include presentations of one of half pairs of shoes and sandals, illustrations, weekly clipping files and a thematic selection of thematic original ideas. Group critiques are scheduled several times during the semester. Weekly slide lectures, field trips, guest lectures or demonstration enable students to develop their ideas in the studio with a focus on fit and originality.

Class Number

2049

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Area of Study

Costume Design

Location

Sullivan Center 723

Description

This course offers a straight forward instruction to the hand knit process. As an ancient process the techniques of hand knitting are explored through various methods concentrating on surface, pattern, construction, color and texture. Emphasis is placed on garment or a wearable knit object. Cultural and historical references are studied along with contemporary application to design. Demonstrations and discussions provide challenges to explore modern interpretation in traditional and non-traditional ways. Offered in the spring semester only.

Class Number

1173

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Location

Sullivan Center 701

Description

This course explores an unconventional view of garment construction and design by framing the process through the parameter of zero waste. Patterns are created using techniques designed to mitigate or eliminate waste. Both traditional and nontraditional materials are used, as well as digital printing technology. All final projects are fitted on a model in both muslin and fabric.

Prerequisites

FASH 1010 Pre-req

Class Number

2373

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Area of Study

Sustainable Design

Location

Sullivan Center 706

Description

The Integral Fashion Design Studio is an immersive 6-credit, co-taught class that builds up the skills and talents required to achieve creative fashion. Taken in the spring, it integrates construction and applied design research. Students will create one look consisting of a top and skirt that express a concept through garment. Students will also hone their ability to articulate concepts and speak to their work. Students discover how to express conceptual design through garment-making methodologies by combining their design research, shape development, and creative explorations. The garments are fitted on models, and executed in both muslin and fabric. Pre-req: FASH2001, FASH2002

Prerequisites

Student must be a sophomore and have completed FASH 2001 & FASH 2002

Class Number

1982

Credits

6

Department

Fashion Design

Location

Sullivan Center 702, Sullivan Center 703

Description

The Integral Fashion Design Studio is an immersive 6-credit, co-taught class that builds up the skills and talents required to achieve creative fashion. Taken in the spring, it integrates construction and applied design research. Students will create one look consisting of a top and skirt that express a concept through garment. Students will also hone their ability to articulate concepts and speak to their work. Students discover how to express conceptual design through garment-making methodologies by combining their design research, shape development, and creative explorations. The garments are fitted on models, and executed in both muslin and fabric. Pre-req: FASH2001, FASH2002

Prerequisites

Student must be a sophomore and have completed FASH 2001 & FASH 2002

Class Number

1983

Credits

6

Department

Fashion Design

Location

Sullivan Center 704, Sullivan Center 705

Description

The Integral Fashion Design Studio is an immersive 6-credit, co-taught class that builds up the skills and talents required to achieve creative fashion. Taken in the spring, it integrates construction and applied design research. Students will create one look consisting of a top and skirt that express a concept through garment. Students will also hone their ability to articulate concepts and speak to their work. Students discover how to express conceptual design through garment-making methodologies by combining their design research, shape development, and creative explorations. The garments are fitted on models, and executed in both muslin and fabric. Pre-req: FASH2001, FASH2002

Prerequisites

Student must be a sophomore and have completed FASH 2001 & FASH 2002

Class Number

1983

Credits

6

Department

Fashion Design

Location

Sullivan Center 704, Sullivan Center 705

Description

What are the concerns that drive one's creative practice? How does one set the terms for its future development? Sophomore Seminar offers strategies for students to explore, reflect upon, and connect common themes and interests in the development of an emerging creative practice that will serve as the basis of their ongoing studies at SAIC and beyond. Students will examine historical and contemporary influences and contextualize their work in relation to the diverse art-worlds of the 21st Century. Readings, screenings, and field trips will vary each semester. Presentations by visiting artists and guest speakers will provide the opportunity for students to hear unique perspectives on sustaining a creative practice. One-on-one meetings with faculty will provide students with individualized mentorship throughout the semester. During interdisciplinary critiques, students will explore a variety of formats and tools to analyze work and provide peer feedback. The class mid-term project asks students to imagine a plan for their creative life and devise a self-directed course of study for their time at school. The course concludes with an assignment asking students to develop and document a project or body of work demonstrating how the interplay of ideas, technical skills, and formal concerns evolve through iteration, experimentation and revision. Prerequisite: Must be a sophomore to enroll.

Prerequisites

Prerequisite: Must be a sophomore to enroll.

Class Number

2195

Credits

3

Department

Fashion Design

Location

MacLean 501

Take the Next Step

Graduate Programs Application Deadline: March 1

Apply to SAIC's Graduate Fashion, Body, and Garment program by 3/1 for fall 2024 admission. APPLY 

MFA in Fashion, Body and Garment Admissions Information
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Overview

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 312.629.6100, 800.232.7242 or gradmiss@saic.edu.

Fashion, Body, and Garment program inquiries: FashionGrad@saic.edu