YORK — Aspiring fashion designer Zack Ward is leaving his downtown York business for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work in the heart of the fashion world.
Ward, a 28-year-old graduate of Fort Mill High School who holds a fine arts degree in haute couture fashion from the Academy of the Arts University in San Francisco, will complete an internship with a world-renown Italian fashion label.
Ward, who obtained the internship through connections forged during his education, said he’ll be working as a design assistant under a grand master.
Ward leaves for New York this week. He said he’ll be working in Manhattan during the industry’s Fashion Week in early February, then travel to Rome to work with the label until early March. Then he said he plans to return to the United States to prepare to show his own collection.
Ward said he isn’t allowed to name the label where he will be working because he was required to sign a confidentiality agreement. The purpose of the agreement, he said, is to protect his employer against intellectual property theft, a serious concern in the fashion industry.
Ward has closed his York business, The Artful Home, which he opened last year. He said his merchandise will be sold by business associates who plan to open a similar store.
We chatted with Ward about his career.
Q. How did you get into fashion design?
A. “As a child I loved to sculpt. My favorite was aluminum foil. My parents would buy modeling material, clay. As I got older, I knew it was difficult, to say the least, to make a living as a studio artist. I started expanding my views on what art was and looking to different avenues, where art and design meld. That’s kind of how I found fashion.”
Q. How did you get this internship?
A. “In fashion, it’s like every other business in the world, the talent is obviously an asset, but it’s more or less who you know and who you’re connected to . . . I was very fortunate to have those connections. My style has been very nurtured by this wonderful guidance of my mentor.”
Q. What do you want to do career wise, and what does this opportunity mean to you?
A. “I want to work for a major fashion label. It’s definitely a launching pad, it makes a world of difference. This is how you get your name out there. It’s very difficult to get your name out in this industry. But the fortunate thing about fashion is, there’s a lot of designers who work at a label and there’s all different levels of employment within that design team.”
Q. You’ve said you prefer to design haute couture, or custom fashion pieces, as opposed to ready-wear fashion. What’s your style like?
A. “A lot of haute couture is shock value, and that’s what makes it unique. I’m a minimalist, which is completely different from the avante garde costumey aspect. When I design a garment, I focus on the silhouette, mainly. I’m a minimalist and I play a lot with monochromatic design. I’ve done complete collections in black.”
Q. You’ve said that you’re planning to show your own haute couture collection under the name Ford King in 2015. What’s it like?
A. “It’s being sewn together now. It’s two parts, a men’s wear collection, that is a statement in minimalism, and a men’s wear and women’s wear collection. There are a total of almost 40 different looks. Some pieces transform into different articles of clothing. It’s all about movement. It was making art that you could physically live in with ease. It’s about versatility and urban movement.”
Jennifer Becknell • 803-329-4077