• 40 hours. 30 days. A Long Island teen makes his own prom dress, inspired by Cruella

    Posted by S. Ashton Rosato, Class of 2021, Connetquot High School on 6/28/2021

    S.Ashton Rosato

    This article appeared in Newsday on June 28, 2021 written by Rachel Weiss and Chelsea Irizarry


    When senior prom was approaching, S. Ashton Rosato was hit with inspiration in the form of a cunning, vengeful, and arguably the most fashionable Disney antagonist: Cruella de Vil.


    Rosato said he had always been fascinated with Cruella, the Dalmation-snatching dame depicted in "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" in 1961. But more recently, the 18-year-old was taken with Emma Stone’s cinematic portrayal of the character in "Cruella," the origin story of the villainess.


    For two years, Rosato has been taking fashion design and merchandising classes in the Bixhorn Technical Center at Eastern Suffolk BOCES, alongside his studies at Connetquot High School. So for prom, he had a plan: to design his own attire, inspired by Cruella.

    "I learned so much and I wanted to be able to take that and use it in real life," he said. "So I decided to make my own dress."


    His vision was to "do something a little special and a little extra." Rosato had already toyed with this fashion inspiration in the past. One year for Halloween, he created a "gender-bent version" of a Cruella costume, he said.


    "I want to make a really classy gown using black and white," Rosato said on May 26. Prom was less than a month away, and he had his mock-up done. Soon, he would start sewing. "I’ll throw in some gold and come up with something really nice, with Cruella-inspired hair: half black, half white."



    To achieve this part of the look, Rosato purchased a white wig and dyed half of it black to match Stone’s curly updo in the film. As for the gown, it’s white and floor-length with splashes of black and flecks of gold. Rosato spotted the fabric while sourcing materials in New York City.


    "I wanted to go for subtle, yet statement," he said.


    Rosato first fell in love with fashion design in his ninth grade art class. His friend taught him how to draw characters, and Rosato started having fun coming up with outfits for them to wear. Little did he know, that would become his passion and professional pursuit.


    "I'm so picky when it comes to what I want to wear," Rosato said on June 9. At this point, his gown was coming together. He sewed the fabric mostly by machine; next came the hand-stitching for the lining. Fifteen hours of work had gone into the creation so far, with around 15 to 25 to go before the prom on June 21, he estimated. All of the sewing and stitching took place right in Rosato's home in Ronkonkoma. He turned a space in his dining room into his workshop.


    "I just knew that if I really wanted to love it, I would have to be the one to create it."


    In addition to his own dress, Rosato sewed prom attire for two of his friends. For one, he created two-tone pants. One leg features a checkered pattern, with pinstripes on the other side. For his other friend, Taylor Austin, Rosato designed and sewed another gown. This one is purple and decked out in tiny, silver beading and accentuated with red and white flower appliques.



    "I wanted to make my own dress," said Austin, 17. "But then I thought, ‘Why make my own dress when I could have someone extremely talented put my vision into fabric?’ "


    Austin came up with some ideas for what she wanted her gown to look like, but also asked Rosato to add in his own special touches. With the gown, she sported her own pair of gray and white Converse sneakers.


    "I’m just really happy he agreed to make my prom dress for me, with my ideas," Austin said.



    On the big night, Rosato posed for pre-prom photos in front of his house, excited to show off his masterpiece, and relieved that it came together. Prom was held at East Wind Long Island in Wading River.


    Rosato added a sheer black sleeve to one side of the gown and a shimmery gold cape to the other. He walked in a pair of snakeskin high heels, and behind him, a stunning 10-foot train followed. Rosato completed his prom look with a smoky eye, winged eyeliner and black-and-white lipstick.


    In total, it took Rosato more than 40 hours to sew the gown.



    "I’m hoping to make a huge statement and just pretty much catch everybody’s eye," he said with a warm smile, in contrast to the villainess he was honoring that night.


    In the fall, Rosato will keep the momentum going as a student at FIT in Manhattan. He hopes to focus on designing evening wear while there.


    He’s happy that he’s discovered exactly what he wants to do with his life.


    "When I’m in my zone sewing, I forget the world around me, and I’m happy doing it," Rosato said.

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  • Fashion Merchandising Students Get Real World Experience in Sayville

    Posted by Fashion Merchandising Class on 6/1/2019



    Fashion Student painting a window

    Fashion Merchandising students from the Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology, Bellport campus, found their opportunity to show their love for their craft in a window in downtown Sayville. The students were told to put their skills to work designing a window display at Ooh La La on Main Street in Sayville. Fashion Merchandising is a class taught at the Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology, which is the Career and Technical Education Program at Eastern Suffolk BOCES.


    The students were tasked to create a window display with a Pride theme.  The students created a rainbow curtain display using crepe paper and streamers. They covered the bottom of the window with rainbow-colored paper flowers. To finish off the display, they painted “Love is Love is Love” in white paint on the window itself.

    Another student preparing a window display


    “Part of fashion is not just making beautiful clothes, but showing them in a way that people can admire them,” said Fashion Merchandising Teacher Joyce Sims. “This helps our students learn how to set up a display that works for you – it draws someone in by being beautiful, but also current.”


    Love is Love is Love Display

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  • Journey to NYC in Search of the Perfect Fabric

    Posted by ES BOCES News on 12/21/2018

    The Academy Fashion Design students recently traveled to NYC to visit Virgin Fabrics. "The students' objective there was to select, negotiate and purchase fabric that would be appropriate for custom garments they will be creating the patterns for and then sewing,” said Teacher Joyce Simms.

    Two fashion students shop for fabric    Student watches as fabric is cut

    Students will model the garments they created at an upcoming fashion show in early April.

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  • Academy of Art University in San Francisco recently visited the Fashion Merchandising

    Posted by AcademyLI News on 10/4/2018

    A guest speaker from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco recently visited the Fashion Merchandising program at BTC. She discussed the university’s courses of study, showed students a Power Point presentation, answered questions, and helped to get students excited about higher education and next steps for a career in fashion.

    Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing

    Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, screen and indoor

    Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and standing


    Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting and indoor



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    Posted by Fashion Merchandising Class on 5/22/2018

    The Fashion Merchandising & Design students modeled the garments they designed and created as they walked the runway at the Fran Cook Competition, held at the Clarion Hotel, Ronkonkoma, on May 21, 2018.  Shown below are highlights from the night's event.  We would like to congratulate the Fashion Merchandising & Design Students on their outstanding, unique and creative designs.

    2 more girls


    2 girls


    2 Girls


    2 girls


    1 Girls


    1 girl


    Back of Dress


    2 girls


    1 Girl


     3 Girls


    2 girls


    3 Girls


     The fashion Class 2018






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    Posted by Fashion Merchandising Class on 2/20/2018

    Students’ Work Featured at Ooh La La on Main Street

     Student working on display


    Display window

    The Fashion Merchandising Students from the Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology in Bellport recently put their creative expertise to use by designing the window displays at Ooh La La on Main Street in Sayville. The Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology is the Career and Technical Education Program at Eastern Suffolk BOCES.

    Student working with Pink and white flowers  

    Students visited the boutique, developed their ideas back in the classroom, returned to the store to have the manager review their sketches, and went to work after they received approval. They chose new clothing to spotlight in the window, in addition to accessories and props, and constructed approximately two dozen oversized paper flowers to hang at various lengths to create an overflowing cascade effect. Intricate floral designs were also painted on the inside of the windows. Said Fashion Merchandising Teacher Joyce Sims, “This project provided my students with authentic firsthand experience. They used decor to showcase new items in the store, and inexpensive materials such as paint and tissue paper to make the window design pop and grab the attention of passersby. They worked as a team to bring their ideas to fruition and we’re grateful to Ooh La La for giving them this opportunity.”

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    Posted by Fashion Program @ Bixhorn Tech on 11/30/2017

    Students Create New Designs from Multiple Pieces for America Recycles Day

    Group shot of students in Savers with baskets of clothes    Student and teacher looking through racks of clothes in Savers    Student sweater featuring men's neck ties

    The Fashion Merchandising students at the Long Island Academy helped to bring attention to America Recycles Day on November 15, which was created to raise awareness about recycling and purchasing recycled products. Students worked in partnership with Savers in Holbrook to “upcycle,” or compose innovative fashions by repurposing pieces from many garments found at the store. The Fashion Merchandising class is part of the Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology, the Career and Technical Education Program of Eastern Suffolk BOCES.

    Student and upcycled denim jacket    Close-up shot of the vinyl sewn onto a denim jacket    Student next to a jacket with contrasting animal prints

    The class visited the store last month and each student chose a variety of clothing to bring back to the workshop to produce new apparel utilizing pieces from multiple items, demonstrating how ordinary products can be upcycled into something new. Jackets, dresses, and shirts now bear only a vague resemblance to their original form as they sport new textures, materials, and asymmetric shapes. One student covered the bodice of a woman’s  sweater with a half dozen men’s ties, another put a clear vinyl panel on the back of a denim jacket and wrote her name on it in three languages, and a third embellished a leopard print jacket with contrasting zebra print and faux fuchsia fur. Their next-generation designs debuted in the store on November 15 and are available for purchase. Said Joyce Simms, Fashion Merchandising teacher, “My students took a lot away from this assignment. They engaged in project-based learning to refine their sewing and garment construction skills, and also learned the value of looking at clothing to see possibilities that others might not, which in the end, allowed them to bring awareness to America Recycles Day.”


    Student and her re-made shirt    Student and her upcycled denim jacket-sweatshirt    Student and her asymetrical blouse


    Student and her multi-patterned shirt    Student and dress

    General Questions, Comments, or Concerns? E-mail webmaster@esboces.org

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  • Fashion Merchandising Student Winners at the Long House Reserve Competition Winners featured in Local Newspaper

    Posted by Rob Van Brunt on 6/20/2017



    LHR WInner #2


    LHR Winner #2

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    Posted by Rob Van Brunt on 4/3/2017

    LI Academy Fashion Student to Appear on "Project Runway Junior"

     Career and Tech Ed Program Helps Him Hone His Craft




     Chris Russo





    He started by sewing pillows and never looked back. Seventeen-year-old Christopher Russo, Fashion Merchandising student at the Long Island Academy of Applied Technology, will appear on this season’s Project Runway: Junior, which debuts on Thursday, December 22, on Lifetime Network. The aspiring design impresario will compete against 11 other teens to create fashions in an elimination-style series with celebrity judges (Kelly Osbourne, Christian Siriano) for a scholarship to Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. The Long Island Academy of Applied Technology is the Career and Technical Education branch of Eastern Suffolk BOCES. Christopher attends the Fashion Merchandising Program, located at the Gary D. Bixhorn Technical Center in Bellport, for a half-day where he fine tunes his sketching and garment construction skills.


    Project Runway Junior Graphic


    Christopher, a Calverton resident and senior at Riverhead High School, completed an online application that led to an in-person audition and won a spot on the second season of the show, which filmed this past summer. He summed up his experience this way: “It was the best and worst time I’ve ever had in my life. I’d go from the most extreme up, to the lowest of lows ever, in the course of an hour. It was exhausting, and exciting, and exhilarating.”


    CR at BTC

    Christopher got his start in a seventh-grade home economics class where he learned to sew a straight stich using a sewing machine. He then spent the next six months making pillows. “Every house was filled with pillows,” he said. “There were pillows for every occasion; Halloween pillows, Christmas pillows, way too many.” Christopher’s grandmother, who helped to nurture his talent, suggested that he instead begin making clothes.  “That was the next step organically,” he explained. His aunt, another enormous influence, owns works at a New York-based womenswear design company whose fashions are sold around the country. Christopher has interned there learning many aspects of the business.


    Even though he is self-taught and starred on the show before he ever set foot in the Academy’s fashion classroom, Christopher is a fan of the program. “It’s been really great to learn how clothes are actually made,” he said, citing an example of the necessity to line scratchy material. Christopher can’t say anything about the outcome of the show or if he won the scholarship, but affirms that he is college-bound after high school and plans to continue his fashion studies. “I want to learn how to sketch and design better. I don’t know if I want my own business. I want to see where everything takes me,” he said. One thing he is sure of – his desire to one day have his own boutique within Macy’s where he will feature his designs for men, women, children, and of course, pillows.

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