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The Solstiss Academy Sponsors U.S. Fashion School Design Competition Using French Lace

The Solstiss program culminates in an exhibit of the winning students’ work in France.

The Solstiss Academy Sponsors U.S. Fashion School Design Competition Using French Lace

A design by Bella Jean Conner from Fashion Institute of Design using Solstiss lace.

The Solstiss Academy, which Solstiss USA began at the beginning of the school year to teach fashion students in the U.S. about the history of French lace, will culminate with an exhibit of their work in France this fall.

Solstiss Academy was initiated by Francois Damide, chief executive officer of Solstiss Inc. Students were given the opportunity to create three looks using Solstiss lace. Solstiss Academy’s participating schools for the 2023-24 academic year are Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising of Los Angeles; Fashion Institute of Florida; Istituto Marangoni Miami; Kent State University; Otis College of Art & Design; Parsons School of Design, and Savannah College of Art and Design.

The Solstiss Academy Sponsors U.S. Fashion School Design Competition Using French Lace

Kevin Sayari of Fashion Design and Merchandising.

Damide presented to each school a masterclass on the History of French Lace, bringing students to understand the importance of this handmade textile and to introduce the sponsoring program.

A total of 67 students participated in this program, where Solstiss donated a total of $55,000 of lace for students to design their garments. Throughout the process, there was coaching to ensure that working with lace was done smoothly. Each student is assessed on creativity, innovation, craftsmanship and overall aesthetics.

The Solstiss Academy jury will award all participating students’ The Leavers Lace Expert Diploma, and the top students will receive lace prizes valued at $33,000 in total.

The Solstiss Academy Sponsors U.S. Fashion School Design Competition Using French Lace

Ran Tian and Zhiyou Pan of Otis College of Art and Design.

Finally, winning garments from each school (about 14 looks in total) will be sent to France for a special exhibit at the Lace & Embroidery Museum of Caudry in Northern France that will take place from mid-October 2024 to mid-January 2025. Caudry is the largest French center of traditional Leavers lace making, which started back in 1834. The exhibit celebrating American fashion in France will be the first in the French lace history.

Damide said this was the first year they created this academy and worked with seven schools. Previously, they worked with Parsons School of Design. He said he’s been traveling to all the schools to do the judging. For each school, the first place winner will receive $3,000, the second place winner will get $1,500 and the third place winner gets $500. One school only had one winner.

The Solstiss Academy Sponsors U.S. Fashion School Design Competition Using French Lace

A look by Caroline Barrera from Kent State University.

Asked about the quality of the students’ work, Damide said, “Unbelievable. The goal of this is to give an opportunity for young students to work with couture textile that they may not have an opportunity in their career. We want them to think outside the box and be super creative. The outcome has been absolutely amazing,” he said.

For example, two students from Otis College created an outfit inspired by a video game called “Blizzard.” They used lace in the characters’ clothing. “It’s something totally different and very refreshing,” he said.

The Solstiss Academy Sponsors U.S. Fashion School Design Competition Using French Lace

Ranze Zhang and Tina Chen from Otis College of Art and Design created a look based on the Blizzard video game.

Damide said he plans to do the program again next year and hopes to add more schools.

Solstiss, which is headquartered in Caudry, Northern France, is the world leader in French lace creation and manufacturing since 1879. Their expertise has been passed down from generation to generation without leaving the ateliers. Solstiss opened a subsidiary in New York’s Garment District in 1986, and an L.A. showroom in 2000 to be closer to its California customers. Since 2022, it has operated an L.A. showroom at the Row DTLA, which it shares with Malhia Kent, the French tweed novelty house.

In February, Solstiss USA set up the Solstiss Boutique at the California Market Center in L.A.’s Fashion District for quick purchases.

As reported, Solstiss has annual global revenues of about $21.6 million, and its largest market is in Italy, Damide said in a WWD story in February. Damide said Monday the U.S. market accounts for $2 million in revenues.

Damide said Dua Lipa wore an all-black lacy Marc Jacobs look to the Met Gala last week, featuring Solstiss lace. The outfit included a corset under a lace layer and a gathered see-through lace maxiskirt.

The Solstiss Academy Sponsors U.S. Fashion School Design Competition Using French Lace

Dua Lipa at the Met Gala in a Marc Jacobs look made with Solstiss lace.