Professor Alison Trope was already exploring fashion in her “Gender, Media and Communications” class at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. But it was a former student, Alexander Lewis ’06, who inspired her to build an entire class around the topic.
Lewis, who was in two of Trope’s classes, worked with her on his senior thesis dealing with the career and style of fashion designer John Galliano. Trope’s communication course, “Fashion, Media and Culture,” now is a staple in USC Annenberg’s undergraduate curriculum. The course, which she began teaching in 2007, covers fashion’s historical significance, its role in the media, industrial structure and relationship to gender and sexuality.
“At the time he proposed this directed research, I had no idea that there was such an extensive body of academic literature on fashion,” Trope said.
Lewis’ research included the influence of historical and popular culture on Galliano, including the French Revolution and Hollywood swashbucklers. He was also particularly interested in how Galliano’s designs presented a crossover of gender and sexuality.
“I felt like that was something worth exploring,” Lewis said.
In his own designs, Lewis attempts to convey masculinity and femininity in the garments he designs. He credits his style and approach to fashion to his training on Savile Row, the renowned street in London known for its traditional men’s tailoring,
“It’s all about having a point of view but also about knowing where that point of view comes from,” Lewis said.
His newest collection of women’s clothing is meant to emphasize positive energy and is designed “for a woman who is quite casual about the way she interacts with fashion,” Lewis said. “She loves fashion; she just doesn’t live or die by it.”
Lewis also stressed that having a good education and knowledge of fashion history is important to establishing a career in the industry.
“Like anything else, you start with nothing and it’s like learning another language,” he said.
What Lewis learned during his time at USC and in Trope’s classes was important to him and the development of his career, he said.
Trope, who follows Lewis’ accomplishments in the industry, is impressed by the work he is doing and hopes to one day have him speak to her students.
“Fashion is a difficult business, and I hope he can make his mark,” Trope said. “It seems like he’s on his way.”
More stories about: Alumni