Jasmine Schulte did not know how to sew when she came to Moore to study fashion design.
“I had never made an article of clothing before, and I didn’t know how to knit, either,” she said. “But I looked at the program and I knew that it was going to give me the skills that I needed to be a successful fashion designer.”
For her senior thesis, Schulte created a collection of sculptural knitwear.
“I’m so interested in the textures and organic shapes in nature that I’m able to reflect that more so with knitwear and hand manipulation of fabrics,” she said. “I like to be very hands-on with my materials.” The prototypes of her avante-garde pieces were shown during Philly Fashion Week in February.
Schulte said she didn’t expect to fall in love with textiles, especially when machine knitting seemed so difficult her sophomore year.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m never doing this again, this is so hard,’” she recalled. “But then I kind of got addicted to it, so I took the advanced, and then I took the independent study, and then this year for my thesis I was like, ‘This is what I want to do. All knitwear.’”
The theme for her collection is based on her childhood home in a small town in Michigan.
“It was a very beautiful place that was surrounded by very beautiful nature where I found inspiration for a lot of my color palettes and textures,” she said. “But even though the place is so beautiful, there’s sadness for me because there was a lot of tragedy.”
Only recently has Schulte felt she can talk about the murder of her stepmother by her father at that house. It happened when Schulte was about 12 years old. She had just left the home for the summer to go back to live with her mother in New Jersey to attend school.
“I found out about all this when I woke up and I saw posts online and a news article,” she said. “Nobody called me. I had to find out about this tragedy on Facebook.” She felt like she had lost her entire family. Not only did she lose her father to prison and the stepmother she had known all her life, the domestic violence incident also cost her her relationship with her younger half-brother, who now lives with her stepmother’s relatives.
Schulte visited the home last summer. She walked through the rooms and on the paths near the Chippewa River. She decided to make a "heavy" collection based on the beauty that was still there.
"I feel like I'm able to talk about how that situation made me feel through my collection," she said. "I just wanted to be very reflective in a cohesive body of work, to finally feel heard about how upset I was and how silent I had to be for a long time, so it's very nice to be given a voice again through my own work."
Schulte enjoyed drawing clothes as a child, which was nurtured through Saturday Young Artists Workshop classes at Moore.
"Eventually I started wondering like, wow, I would love to know how to make these things in real life, but I thought that was such an impossible goal until I came to Moore," she said, crediting Fashion Design Chair Nasheli Ortiz-González, visiting professor Richard Killeaney and adjunct faculty member Lorraine Beckett. "Richard really got me into textiles and Lorraine has done so much for me and showed me how to be a successful machine knitter," she said.
After graduation, she wants to continue to make avant-garde knit pieces and create custom designs, "the crazier, the better."
"I'm taking all of these skills, and now I'm able to do what I want to do and it feels really good to look at my ideas and concepts and know how to move forward to make it come to life."