More than 90 students started classes this fall to obtain an associate’s degree in fashion design or merchandising at the Miami Fashion Institute. The program is Miami Dade College’s newest fashion oriented track.
Nicholas Huxley, an award-winning Australian fashion designer, has served as the backbone of the program. He is doing a nine month residency at the MFI.
“It’s like Hurricane Nicholas,” said Huxley, describing his arrival to MDC.
He set up the curriculum, organized courses and ordered the necessary furniture and equipment to get the MFI up and running by Aug. 22.
“It’s already an intimacy that is formed, a family feel, which is what I really wanted,” Huxley said.
In a month, he transformed the sixth floor of building 8000, which previously housed the Fitness and Wellness Center, into a stylish fashion lab, aiming for the students’ creativity to flow.
Back home, Huxley garnered numerous accolades, including the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Costume Design (Sons of Steel). He has outfitted Nicole Kidman and is currently the director of the Fashion Design Studio in Sydney, Australia.
“I’ve taken nine months off from there to come here,” Huxley said. “Dr. Eduardo Padrón came to see me and found me.”
The College is still looking for an institute chairperson. Huxley’s official title is scholar in residence, but he described his position as one of a consultant or creative director. His responsibilities also include teaching illustration classes and delivering workshops on special topics.
In addition to Huxley, five faculty members are teaching at the institute. Besides taking general education credits and internship credits, fashion design students will be able to take classes such as introduction to fashion design and related industries, basic clothing construction method, and fashion illustration technology. The fashion design program is geared toward designing and manufacturing clothes.
Fashion merchandising shows students how to take a product and sell it through styling and creative imaging, according to Jessica Huerta, a pre-college advisor at Wolfson Campus. Merchandising majors’ classes include principles of contemporary retailing, fashion merchandising strategies and principles of marketing.
Miami Dade College became the only public higher education institution in the area to offer a degree in the fashion industry. Tuition costs under $10,000. Its long-term plans include relocation to the Dyer Building, the former federal courthouse located at 300 N.E. 1st Ave., and a study abroad program for its students, according to the interim dean of academic affairs at Wolfson Campus, Diana Bien-Aime.
Another fashion institute is housed at North Campus, and it is part of the School of Continuing Education and Professional Development. It offers weekend, noncredit classes such as construction studio, design studio, fashion pattern making, sewing and textile 101.
Gabrielle Rueda and Tomás Monzón contributed to this report.