Take Note

March 10, 1999 1 min read

Haute couture classes

What do Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Todd Oldham, and Vera Wang have in common?

Those top fashion designers, along with several others, are donating surplus materials and their staffs’ time to help hundreds of New York City students in the “BID for Kids” program. The four-week program, created by the city’s Fashion Center Business Improvement District, brings together designers and students to work collaboratively in an arts education program.

Todd Oldham, the program’s honorary chairman, launched the 1999 season of BID for Kids in a classroom at Public School 166 last month.

Mr. Oldham talked with the 4th graders at the Manhattan school about different fabrics and also showed them how to cut and measure material. The actual classes for the arts education program were scheduled to begin this week.

More than 300 4th to 12th graders in 12 schools throughout the city are applying their research, reading, and math skills to the project. Each class will research a different period in history, with a special focus on how socioeconomic conditions affected and determined the clothing worn at the time. Then, students will use what they learned to design garments that will be exhibited in a public space in the Fashion Center District, known in the vernacular as the garment district.

And to show his support for the program, Mr. Oldham, 37, is not just the chairman; he is also one of the instructors who will work with students.

This marks the second year that fashion houses have donated discarded fabric, beads, buttons, and trimming--all of which would normally end up in a landfill.

“I have seen the serious dearth of arts materials available to our public school students,” said Barbara Randall, the executive director of the Fashion Center BID. “Thanks to manufacturers, designers, and contractors in the fashion district, we are able to fill this gap.”

--Karen L. Abercrombie

A version of this article appeared in the March 10, 1999 edition of Education Week