Albright senior fashion major, Paul Cieri ’20, is set to take on the world of fashion.
The runaways of Paris seem like a world away from the rolling hills of Berks County, but for senior fashion major Paul Cieri the leap isn’t as large as most would think. Thanks to Albright College’s fashion design program, and a minor in French, Cieri is laying the groundwork for just such a move in the future.
But for an aspiring fashion designer from Marina, Calif., Reading, Pennsylvania may not seem like the most likely place to land either. That is, if you don’t know that Albright College is one of the top fashion schools in the nation. Fate and a few clear requirements Cieri outlined for his college search led him from California to Albright, and has already given him a taste for a future in the City of Lights.
“I needed a school that had a swim team and a fashion design program. Most schools with fashion design programs were just art schools, and I wanted a more well-rounded education. And I have family in the area, so it just made sense,” said the four-year distance swimmer for the Lions.
Digging deep, one-on-one
Cieri soon found useful preparation for his career through the Albright Creative Research Experience (ACRE) program. The competitive, committee-reviewed award provides a stipend and free room and board for Albright students to conduct research or creative activity in partnership with faculty mentors.
Cieri’s research with Doreen Burdalski, assistant professor of merchandising and chair of the Fashion Department, resulted in a presentation, titled “Where are the Fashion Police? Examining the Effects of Copyright, Patent, and Trademark Legislation on Fashion Design,” at the 2018 Higher Education Council of Berks County Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference.
Studying Abroad illuminates career and humanity
But his dream of working in the mecca of the fashion world took tangible shape half way through college when — through an Albright study abroad experience — he spent eight summertime weeks studying abroad in Paris. While there, Cieri took his time delving into the fashion industry’s back story though France’s most famous museums.
“Instead of having a history lecture in a classroom, our professor took us to museums to inspect paintings and how figures were dressed,” explained Cieri. “For class we visited the Louvre the most, but we also visited the museum of fine decorative arts to understand furniture design and how that affected the fashions of the time, as well as visiting Musee D’Orsay and L’Orangerie.”
Cieri walked in the footsteps of 17th and 18th century shoppers at Palais Royale, gained firsthand experience on different cultures and learned how history left its mark on France and its people.
“There is so much history ingrained into every part of the city,” said Cieri. “Every corner you turn in Paris you get to see a historic monument, or a museum with some of the greatest art ever created, or the gardens that the king and queen strolled through.
The summer exceeded my expectations every single day, whether it was the people I met, the relationships I built, the food I ate, or the history I saw.”
As a Beall Scholarship recipient, Cieri also committed to participating in an activity that would increase his engagement in French culture and benefit the local community. He wasted no time in volunteering for Biocycle, which collects unsold food from supermarkets for use in local food banks.
“The experience gave me hope,” said Cieri, who learned that 300 people volunteer with the organization each week. “I think it is so easy to pass off most of the world as not caring about others. But this experience taught me above everything else that despite boundaries we think exist, such as language or culture, anything is possible if we just work together.
The trip inspired me to become a better citizen of the world, to look out for others, help those in need, and break down boundaries I may think exist.”