Mary O’Connor’s Passion for Fashion
Among the many interests and hobbies of MHS students, only some express themselves through the student body on a regular basis. One such hobby is fashion, a lifelong love of senior Mary O’Connor (MOC). Mary can be seen in the halls on a daily basis sporting the latest trends, but her love for fashion extends beyond her wardrobe and into her career goals: she recently committed to LIM College – “where business meets fashion” – a perfect fit for the career-driven student. MDO had the opportunity to discuss her love for fashion and her goals in the “iconic” industry, receiving an inside look to how she manages keeping up with the fast-paced fashion world and where her passion first began.
MDO: What first peaked your interest in fashion?
MOC: I was about 14 years old when my sister gave me, as a Christmas present, my first class at FIT… I just did it as a hobby sort of thing and then when I was about 16 or 17 I started to appreciate fashion for what it was and understand it a lot better. So I continued taking classes every year since.
MDO: Where do you draw your inspiration from for your outfits?
MOC: At the beginning of each month, I buy five to seven fashion magazines and I just flip through them and I rip out whatever I can picture myself in, whatever I like, and I put them in that month’s folder. From there, I work with what I have and within my budget.
MDO: Where do you buy your clothes? How do you maintain such a high fashion wardrobe?
MOC: Right now, a couple stores that I shop at are Zara, Top Shop, and Gypsy Warrior. It’s hard sometimes because I can’t buy everything I want, but those are my top three. Zara is a perfect mix because it’s classy but it’s also street style, which is one of my favorite things… My favorite trend is street style. It’s timeless.
MDO: Sometimes people aren’t totally aware of what’s fashionable but you wear it anyways. How do you deal with any looks or comments in the halls or classes?
MOC: I’m human. It gets to me sometimes, it does. I’m not a stonewall, but the fashion industry is very tough, it’s very competitive…It’s really preparing me for the rest of my career. When it comes to the actual fashion industry, people don’t do that kind of stuff. We respect each other based on each other’s styles and that’s how it is. But it is competitive, so this is just building my backbone. I really have unshakeable confidence in myself.
MDO: Some seniors mentioned that you and your mom were making your prom dress. Why did you decide to do that? Where did you get the design from?
MOC: I wanted to leave with a bang. My prom dress may seem over the top to some people, but I am over the top. That’s my personality. I got the design from the designer Michael Costello. Beautiful dresses but ridiculous prices. The dress I wanted cost $8,500. So, I had to downsize *laughs *…Most of the pattern is from Michael Costello but a lot of it, little tweaks here and there, are my own ideas. My mom helped me make it a reality, really, but I really just needed it to be me. I don’t wear anything that doesn’t represent who I am.
MDO: Do you want to pursue fashion? If so, how? What are your goals in the industry?
MOC: Whenever I tell someone I’m going to fashion school, people are like, ‘Oh you want to be a designer!’ No. *laughs* Yeah, I want to design my own clothes but that’s later on in my future. I’m majoring in fashion merchandising and minoring in Visual Arts. I want to be a well-known Fashion Show Coordinator, [which means] taking what a fashion designer is known for and expressing that through a Fashion Show. I directed a Fashion Show at LIM in the fall. It’s a lot of work but [that work] is something that I strive for; it’s something that makes me happy as a person. I’m not one to be fake – ‘Oh I’ll have a job just to make money’ – no, I need to love something to do it. That’s where my heart is.
MDO: What experiences have you had while learning and working with fashion professionals?
MOC: My professor that I directed my first fashion show with, he was someone that really inspired me to know what I want to do…There’s something about fashion that makes people very nervous. Being surrounded by people who have the same passion as me and learning from them is something that I look for in a person, in a teacher, in anyone because I learn from them.
MDO: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your experience or what you look forward to?
MOC: I’m looking forward to going to college. I am. LIM is a great school and it’s full of internships and studying abroad…I can’t wait.