Ilia Rivera Technical Design ’15, Fashion Design ’11

You’re the first Technical Design student Hue has interviewed. What do graduates of that major do?
We’re the bridge between the designer and mass production. We’re garment engineers. We make sure the design is going to fit right, and it’s not going to be too expensive to produce. It’s less creative, though we do have some creative leeway.

What’s your favorite assignment so far?
Making a pair of drop-crotch jeans for myself last semester. You get to see all the elements that come into play. I had to make sure there was enough give at the knee and ankle so the fabric wouldn’t pop open. We went to Theory and they gave us free fabric—wax-coated denim—and a lot of it, too. I don’t have a standard body, so to be able to make my pants with that fabric was, like, superb.

So now you get to wear them?
No, this semester we have to refit and remake the garment. When I was in Fashion Design, I would just make something and that would be that. But Tech Design is more detail-oriented than that. You’d think a pair of drop-crotch pants would be simple, but they needed a lot of yoke and seaming work. I had a lot of issues with transforming a 3D idea onto paper and then back into 3D. I even had the teacher puzzled.

You worked for six years as a denim specialist for women at Barneys. What was that like?
Spotting celebrities was always fun. I helped Leslie Mann—she bought a ton of stuff. I also spent a lot of time convincing older women not to buy low-rise jeans.

What do you do when you’re not studying?
I went skydiving last summer in Upstate New York. There’s no practice jump; you just watch a video, and then they take you up 14,000 feet. You jump with an instructor on your back, and they sort of push you out. They have to or you’d never jump, you’re too scared. Then you’re falling. It feels like a big fan is blowing in your face. My gum flew out of my mouth. You just fall for a minute, but I wish it lasted longer. The instructor said, “Breathe,” because I forgot to breathe. Then he said, “Pull the ripcord,” and the parachute opened. And then it’s like sitting on a really high swing. You could see mountains everywhere. Once you have an experience like that, you realize there’s no problem you can’t get through on Earth. Not if you can fly in the sky.