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'Hats off to Humbleness' Audrey Schilt speaks to Patrick Morgan RCA
Audrey's responsibilities included collaborating with Ralph Lauren and collection design team, in setting direction and followed through with sketches and designs for runway with detailed accuracy for pattern makers, as well as inspiration for direction. Participation included lifestyle direction, inspiration for fabrics, hats, bags, shoes accessories, for evening wear, day wear, outerwear, etc Worked w celebrities to produce dresses for red carpet and other high profile events. Created and executed sketches and cover for RL's books: The Aviator Collection and RL's most recent book. Audrey's illustrations appeared in WWD, W, and other leading fashion publications.
PM - How did you start you career as an illustrator/designer
I started my career in fashion illustration and design w Halston after graduating F.I.T. I sketched his hats at Bergdorf Goodman and his first women’s collection. He introduced my work to every important person in fashion at that time including Jackie Kennedy . I also started doing the ads for Bigi @ Bergdorf plus the children’s wear ads in The NY Times. This continued for 8 years. I also freelanced for all the major dept stores : Macy’s, DiPinna , Bendels as well as Vanity Fair, Vogue Butterick, Etc. Halston literally launched my career singlehandedly... He was my first mentor and friend.
"He introduced my work to every important person in fashion at that time including Jackie Kennedy"
PM - Working for Ralph Lauren, how was the start of your journey and what were your main hurdles during your career.
RS - I started working for Ralph Lauren in 1986 after answering an ad in WWD for a conceptual artist. I was hired as “his eyes and his hands “ and worked w him for 22 years climbing the corporate ladder to VP creative Director of Women’s Design. I worked in every area of the Ralph Lauren world. There were many hurdles to overcome as a sensitive artist in the corporate business world. Learning to cope w different personalities, styles, egos , including my own, politics, time schedules, corporate govt , competition, etc was very challenging. It was filled w life’s lessons and I learned to survive first and then to thrive.
PM - I found you on Instagram, what are your thoughts on social media and showing your work past and present.
AS- I enjoy showing my work past and present on social media . I like hearing the compliments and welcome any criticism ! I have made many contacts and developed a nice following including people I have admired and respected for their work but might never have met were it not for social media. Showing my work In this way has inspired many to reach out to me and I in turn to reach back to them to answer questions, sell art and make lasting relationships. To b inspired and to inspire on many levels.
"I enjoy showing my work past and present on social media . I like hearing the compliments and welcome any criticism !"
PM - You play with many styles, what medium do you like to work with most.
AS - I love trying different mediums. I get bored sometimes so I’m always looking to reinvent myself. My most comfortable medium is probably prisma color black w magic markers. Mixed media is always fun!
PM - Who influenced you when growing up or inspired you when working.
AS - Nobody’s influenced me growing up... I loved sketching horses or doing portraits. But when I started in Fashion Illustration, Norma Kamali who was a classmate was very inspiring. Antonio was my idol though!
PM - how much drawing, designing do you do now?
AS - I don’t do as much as I did when I was sketching every day at Ralph Lauren but I try to stay active. Im painting more now but fashion , people , style, are all part of my paintings and style. I just got an iPad Pro and plan on taking classes to master the procreate app. I’m excited to learn new techniques!
"I’m excited to learn new techniques!"
PM - What advise would you give to a young creative practice fashion drawing or designing today
AS - My advise is never stop learning, practicing, growing in whatever skill you love! Master it! Be inspired ... seek out the best people and learn from them. Grow wherever you are planted.
PM - In a world of stress and anxiety how do escape from work and relax from the intensity of fashion
AS - I am fortunate that I have an apt in the city where I stay connected to inspiration from museums , galleries, great designer stores, shows, and street smart style. My eyes are always open for the newest trends! Then I go to the country house where nature looms. Beautiful sunsets, beaches and lots of peace. I have a nice studio where I can create in a large area.PM - Did you ever work as a freelancer and if yes, how did you find the experience, if not why did you work in house or full time
"My eyes are always open for the newest trends! Then I go to the country house where nature looms."
AS - I freelanced for many years and then worked in house for Ralph Lauren. Having the security of a steady pay check definitely had its advantage but more importantly, being an executive allowed me to create a retirement future. My work became part of helping to build a designers name like Ralph Lauren and I was rewarded for my efforts. It’s definitely something , I would recommend if you don’t want to create your own label. But creating your own company might b a better choice if you have the courage, talent , ambition, backing and luck to succeed at any cost!
PM - where next?
AS - I’m planning on doing exhibitions of my work along w the publication of a coffee table book called The Art of Inspiration. I continue to consult, design and illustrate whenever the opportunity presents itself. Being an artist is one of the greatest blessings I have received and I will respect and honour it along w my family, and my beautiful grandchildren Drew age 4 and Myles 1 for as long as the universe allows.