San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapels

Embarking on a Creative Journey: From Apparel Design to Cultural Exploration

As an IUE student studying at FUA, I have had the incredible opportunity to immerse myself in the world of apparel design  and what better place to do so than here  in Italy!

 Our final project has been an incredibly fun and immersive experience—a collaborative effort to create a summer Florentine collection that will be showcased and sold at FLY in Florence, Italy. From the initial concept sketches to the final stitches, our class worked closely with one another to not only hone our design skills but also build incredible team work and unforgettable memories. Our collection project began with brainstorming sessions, where we shared our individual ideas and inspirations. As diverse as our personalities, our concepts ranged from sleek and minimalist to vibrant and avant-garde. We delved into discussions, exploring the finer details of our fabric choices, color palettes, and silhouette preferences.

Once our concepts were finalized, fabrics were chosen, and each person chose a garment, we dived right into the practical aspects of our project. Tracing our patterns, pinning each piece, and meticulously cutting the fabrics. Many class hours have been spent hunched over the tables cutting and trimming, working with ur sewing machines, each stitch bringing us closer to completing our collection and collective vision. One of the best portions of this class is our professor, Sabrina not only teaches us but also encourages us to have fun as well. All of us are impatiently waiting the day our finished pieces grace the store window of FLY and hopefully someday, someone’s closet.

In the midst of our creative endeavors in the classroom, we have also had the privilege of exploring the cultural wonders that Florence has to offer thank to IUE’s incredible program. Our most recent and notable site, which I must say left an indelible impression on me was the visit to San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapels. Steeped in history, this architectural marvel holds tales of the powerful Medici family, who left an indelible mark on Florence’s cultural heritage. The Medici Chapels, built in the 16th century, serve as a final resting place for members of the Medici family. As I stepped into the incredible space, I was immediately struck by the grandeur and splendor of the artistry that surrounded me. The frescoes and sculptures adorned the walls, depicting scenes from the lives of the Medici rulers and evoking a sense of reverence and admiration. The intricate detailing and skillful craftsmanship showcased the immense talent of the artists of that era. Beyond its artistic magnificence, the site also offered a glimpse into the rich cultural tapestry of Florence. The Medici family’s patronage of the arts and their significant contributions to the city’s intellectual and cultural development were evident. Walking through the halls, I couldn’t help but feel a profound connection to the history and legacy that Florence represents—a city that has nurtured countless creative minds and celebrated artistic expression for centuries.

Amidst our collective pursuit of creativity and cultural exploration, I have found myself surrounded by an incredible group of individuals. We started this journey as strangers, but our shared experiences have quickly transformed us into a tight-knit group akin to the IUE version of “FRIENDS.” Each person brings their unique qualities that add vibrancy to our dynamic. 

Kady, with her infectious smile, loving nature, and quirkiness, never fails to bring laughter to our group, even during the most inconvenient moments. 

Anna’s soft-spoken demeanor hides a bubbly personality, as well as an incredible talent for sewing and a love for long walks, to which she also has an amazing sense of direction when it comes to getting around Florence. 

Payton, the epitome of intelligence and spoken talent, is the glue that holds and brings our group together. With his exceptional ability retain and to explain complex concepts and talk about art history, he ensures that we always learn an extra fact, or two. He brings a sense of stability and cohesion to our friend group.

Martina, the organizational genius, is the spark that keeps our friendship aflame. With her innate talent for keeping us on track and her impeccable planning skills, she ensures that we stay focused and meet our project deadlines. Additionally, Martina is essentially a culinary genius, which i must add  is a delightful bonus. She treats us to mouthwatering homemade meals, giving us a sense of home.

Sara, the embodiment of sweetness and style, adds an elegant touch to our group. Always impeccably dressed and with a keen eye for fashion. We always joke that Sarah is the wingman of our group. Sarah is always bringing laughter to our outings, and her warm and kind-hearted nature makes her a joy to be around.

Serena, the sweet and humble soul of our group, brings an infectious laughter and adventurous spirit that completes our little group. From meeting for coffee every morning to helping sort the trash, to uno games that last entirely too long. Our little group just wouldn’t be complete with out here.

Last but not lost least, Lilian, even though often times shes out on her own little adventures, our group wouldn’t be complete without her.

Together, our group of friends has become a close knit little family. We explore the streets of Florence, savoring gelato in every flavor imaginable, browsing local stores for unique fashion finds, and engaging in marathon sessions of Uno that leave us laughing until tears stream down our faces. Our shared experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, have forged bonds that will undoubtedly last a lifetime. Our journey here in Italy is not only about learning history and culture but also about the friendships we have cultivated along the way. The laughter, support, and camaraderie we share are the threads that weave together our memories and make this experience truly unforgettable. And as we continue on this journey here in Florence, and eventually on to Rome, I am reminded that it is the people—the friends—who have truly made this experience extraordinary. Kady, Anna, Payton, Serena, Martina, Sara, Lilian and all the incredible individuals who have joined me on this creative odyssey, I am eternally grateful for your presence in my life. Together, we laugh, learn, and continue to create memories that will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

Florence has been our backdrop, but it is the collective spirit of our group that has truly made this journey remarkable. As we continue to explore new horizons and embrace the endless possibilities that lie ahead, I am confident that our friendships will endure, and our creative endeavors will continue to flourish.

Gwendolyn Durham

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