Fashion illustrator speaks to students


Dallas Shaw swept into the Morris Library lecture room dressed like spring. With her hair perfectly curled and a chiffon, pleated dress twirling around her knees, it became clear why Shaw has a reputation as a personal-style guru.

In her Twitter biography, Shaw describes herself as a “fashion illustrator, luxury product designer [and] author.” Her website ticks off a long list of services she provides for fashion and lifestyle companies and her list of clients is just as extensive. In an event hosted by the fashion merchandising club on Monday, Shaw made a stop at the university as a part of her book tour to speak about her unconventional experience entering into the competitive world of fashion and the process of writing her first book, “The Way She Wears It.”

In the sixth grade, Shaw grabbed a piece of paper, a pen and a stamp and wrote an ambitious letter to the animators at Disney Animation Studios requesting that they hire her. She had been illustrating since age four and had her mind set on working for Disney. She received a bittersweet response. Unfortunately, read the response, it would be illegal for them to hire her. But they did offer advice on how she could work her way toward her dream job.

Shaw carried that advice with her and, after doing several internships with Disney and graduating college with a degree in illustration, she was able to get a job there soon after graduating.

“I knew when I was very young that I wanted to do something creative,” Shaw says. “I thought [Disney] was so magical and I still gravitate toward all that.”

After obtaining her dream job, Shaw realized that Disney was moving toward the digital realm — a field she didn’t possess any experience in. With a pre-existing interest in fashion and lifestyle, Shaw made the decision to restart her career and establish her own company in that field.

Having no connections in the fashion world, her entrance into the industry would have to rely on her talent for illustrating and her creativity. To support herself financially, she maintained a job teaching children how to illustrate while working on her company after hours.

“I taught from seven in the morning until two in the afternoon and then from 2:30 to 11 I would work on my own business,” Shaw says. “I started it online and I just kept at it for years.”

Shaw’s company is currently based in Delaware, though she mostly consults with high rolling New York City clients. Growing up in Scranton, Pa., this lifestyle was never one she would have imagined for herself.

Shaw credits her artistic talents for allowing her to stick her foot into the fashion-industry doorway. Even after leaving her career as an animator, illustrating has remained a crucial part of her career. Her new book, “The Way She Wears It,” is scattered with Shaw’s own illustrations in addition to her fashion and style advice.

Shaw also credits her own ambition and persistence for her success. When she started her company, it was only after a multitude of dead-end cold calls that Shaw was able to speak with a representative at DKNY.

“You have to be persistent and have that drive because you hear a million no’s,” Shaw says.

After her introduction, Shaw took questions from the audience members at the event, who consisted mostly of women in fashion-related majors. Sophomore apparel design and fashion merchandising major, Tori Raff, was amazed at Shaw’s confidence and grace.

“I want to be her,” Raff says with a laugh. “Even talking to her, I feel like I’m more confident.”

As many women in attendance were seniors, job-anxiety was also present in the lecture room. Many were wondering how they could make it in the “cut-throat,” as Shaw describes it, fashion industry. Junior apparel design and fashion merchandising major Jackie Rafferty found comfort in the winding path Shaw took to establish her career.

“I think that even though even if you don’t have a straight career path, you will find your way,” Rafferty says. “It’s really comforting to hear that.”

Today, Shaw has come a long way from making cold calls and getting ignored. She has a long list of clients, from Target to Oscar de la Renta. Also included on Shaws list of clients is Disney. Coming “full circle,” Shaw says she is now able to work with Disney in the capacity she always wanted to. Most recently, she worked with them to turn Cinderella into a fashion illustration for the Cinderella movie.

Each day presents a new opportunity and Shaw is willing to welcome them all. Learning to use fashion and beauty to boost her confidence has allowed her to thrive in the industry she once never imagined would be within reach.

“I was thrown into the fashion industry—I [began] working for these huge designers and all of a sudden I was intimidated,” Shaw says. “I realized I had to get comfortable and confident with myself [and] I had to feel comfortable in what I was wearing to not freeze up in this crazy industry.”Read more | bridesmaid dresses australia