Designing with Professor Vallely

By Jessica Lindell – Contributing Writer

Professor Anne Vallely showcases her office collection. Photo by Jessica Lindell

Professor Anne Vallely is one of the most influential professors in the fashion department. Her call to fashion first came from designing her own dresses as a young age before becoming experienced in modeling and fashion retail. She currently balances teaching fashion and an interior design occupation.

Did you always know you were going to be into fashion?

As a young girl, I always designed my own clothes. I had an aunt that was a designer, so I would go to her and ask if what I had was good. I had no interest in actually making the clothes but I always enjoyed designing them. Then, when I was 14, I became a model and I was able to see the behind the scenes of retail stores and fashion shows and grew a liking to it.

What truly made you want to be more involved in fashion?

After graduating college with a degree in English, I learned that FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) had offered a fashion class that focused on the business side of fashion. After taking that program and living in New York, I became an assistant buyer at a company. Not only did I work as an assistant buyer, but I was also modeling. So I would model at trade shows and see this is a job.

After being in the real world of fashion, did you ever think you would end up teaching?

After living in New York for a while I ended up deciding to get my masters degree. Then one day my friend saw that there was an ad in The Boston Globe for a teaching position, the classes were English and modeling. I ended up getting the job and they weren’t exactly what I thought they would be, but I worked with it. Eventually I suggested opening up a fashion department and they did. I ran the fashion department for about a year before moving onto my next project.

Is having an interior design company and teaching full-time challenging?

Absolutely! Teaching always comes first, then any of my interior design projects. I usually will just take on small projects during the year and big ones during the summer. If I ever get too overwhelmed, I have friends that will take over some of my jobs. When I moved to Texas, I had to find something that worked with where I lived, which ended up being interior design. Ever since then, I’ve always kept it around.

Managing a relationship with being so busy must have been hard. How did you manage to make it work?

My husband was a physician who would be on call most of the time, so it was hard to have nights just to us. We found a balance that allowed us both to focus on work and grow ourselves while staying together and making “us” time truly just for us. We have to respect each other and balance the two lifestyles we have. I think we are doing a pretty good job considering it’s been 32 years.

If you had to chose a dream job what would it be?

I was always interested in real estate. Rebuilding communities that seem to be broken down and forgotten about always seemed to be something I found interest in. Designing and planning the new communities that allow others to enjoy a once unwanted place, and be used for years to come. Bringing something back to life is so rewarding and worth the hard work.

Throughout the whole fashion industry, what was one thing that shocked you the most?

Technology. Technology has transformed so much between the physical world and the online world. Not only the advancement of the technology we have and what it can do, but even communication wise. It’s so simple to get into contact with someone. Not only fashion but also with interior design. We can now show people exactly what their homes will look like because of the technology we have. Back in the day we used to have to sketch it out and show them to the best of our ability what it would look like.

What is one piece of advice you would give to the seniors graduating?

Work harder than anybody else is. Become self-motivating and be the one who stands out from all the others. Remember what you are doing is important and will help change someone’s life. Make sure you always have someone to always go to, they can help you out and give you advice. A mentor, someone you can trust, and guide you through life. Lastly, never burn any bridges. It’s a small world and you never know whom you might run into.

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