A Tribute to Fashion Design-Art faculty member Harvey Boyd by Carol Gantos, Fashion Design ’87

It’s been more than 20 years since Associate Professor Harvey Boyd’s premature passing, at the age of 52, but I still remember the first day of his Fashion Design portfolio class. It was a pressure cooker full of students aspiring to fame. And what does he write on the chalkboard?

“Nurturing Creativity.”

From that moment I knew I was in the right place.

Harvey told us, “You’re not here to learn to draw like anyone else.” He pushed us to find our own way of expressing our ideas. This was revolutionary for that setting, where it was all about following the rules of Seventh Avenue. He talked about “breaking the rules” and noticing the glamour on the streets of New York. He saw beyond the work you did to the person you were about to become.

Years later, I found myself in a lead design role for Halston, counted on to come through for the next New York fashion show. I had some rough sketches from our creative director, Randolph Duke, scribbled on dinner napkins during his last visit, and I came up with a controversial interpretation of his vision. Let’s just say the beading only covered the parts of the female body that you’d have to cover. Everything else was sheer.

HUE-spring2015-whatinspiresyou-2You could hear a pin drop as Randolph meticulously reviewed my prototypes. I thought I’d be fired on the spot. Then he stood in front of this slip of a dress, with a constellation of jet beads from front to back, and said, “This is your best work.”

Some time after the runway event, I got a startling call from our production guy. He said, “You know that dress you did? It’s now in a movie…The Thomas Crown Affair. They’ve remade the film and Rene Russo is wearing your dress.”

I have worked in many professional design settings since then, and I have found that the creative process, encouraged by Harvey Boyd—with his relaxed, confident ease—lives on as a reservoir in me that I can still access today. It’s calm and caring yet defiant and rare.

A great teacher lives on through his students. So, I gratefully thank you, Harvey Boyd.


Boyd, who taught Fashion Design–Art at FIT for 26 years, worked for Estée Lauder, designed for Elizabeth Arden,  and sketched for Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Claude Montana, and Sonia Rykiel. Gantos, now a design consultant and educator, has worked for Halston, Reem Acra ’86, and Lilly Pulitzer.


Featured Image: Image courtesy of Fashion Institute of Technology|SUNY, Gladys Marcus Library, Department of Special Collections and College Archives