Fashion students get star treatment

Jessica M. Kanalas

Suede gives fashion students tips in NYC

Fashion students are studying in New York under the advisement of Suede, a Kent State graduate and fashion designer who was recently eliminated on Bravo’s “Project Runway.”

Host Heidi Klum gave Suede the show’s usual goodbye, but “you are out” was anything but the end for the 37-year-old designer from Seven Hills.

“Since the show aired,” Suede said, “I’ve received over 600 e-mails. Everyone loves Suede.”

Suede, whose real name is Stephen Whitney Baum, graduated with a degree in fashion design and has not forgotten his alma mater.

Although his new found name in the fashion industry results in him traveling more, Suede also teaches part-time in New York to a class of 11 juniors, all Kent State fashion students.

Michelle Curren, a junior fashion merchandising major, is taking Suede’s class.

“He’s a really great teacher,” Curren said. “He has so much personal experience and he always has a story.”

Curren who watched the show, she knew Suede’s work is creative and different from everyone else.

“He’s very true to himself,” she said.

Although there aren’t many students in this semester’s course, next spring’s classes are already “capped out,” Suede said.

Emily Aldredge, the New York City studio director for Kent State, said the prospect of having Suede as a professor attracted students to his course.

“We definitely had a few students register for his professional seminar course after they found out he was teaching the class,” Aldredge said.

Suede explained his class is writing intensive and designed to help the students pinpoint their career. They work on their resumes and learn how to network.

“He wanted an opportunity to share his experiences with the students and provide them with strategies for success,” Aldredge said. “He was a natural fit to teach our professional seminar course to prepare students for entry into the competitive job market.”

The class is helping Curren and her classmates get ready to “pass the transition phase of college into the real world,” she said.

“The class is a great opportunity that I didn’t have when I was in school,” Suede said.

He explained that teaching is “very different” and that teachers work harder than most people think, adding that he still wants to explore other options.

He is looking into more work with television because he said he has wanted to be an actor since he was a child.

“I’m really blessed with all the doors ‘Project Runway’ offered me,” he said. “It was a great launching pad.”

Suede said he was able to learn from everyone on the show, including his fellow contestants and all the judges.

“Even if they were ripping you apart,” he said, “you still learn something.”

Contact fashion reporter Jessica M. Kanalas at [email protected].