fashion institute of technology




By Deyanira Martinez

Her passion for fashion goes all the way back to the village of La Piedra in the town of Cotuí, Dominican Republic, where, surrounded by old dolls and fabric scraps, Cenia Paredes embarked on what would be a great career in design.

Cenia Paredes, the eldest daughter of the only seamstress in her hometown, grew up sketching dress designs for her mother’s clients who preferred to order the drawings of a 9-year-old girl than designs from fashion magazines. Since then, Cenia knew what she wanted to be in life: a fashion designer like Oscar de la Renta, as her aunt would predict on a family visit.

With the certainty that everything is possible and that the most unlikely dreams can come true, Paredes registered at a local community college, and then at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) when she arrived at the United States at the age of 20.

She refused to listen to the naysayers who said it was almost impossible for a Latina woman to launch her own clothing line. Paredes worked incessantly during the day at a design company and spent nights and weekends creating what would be her own collection.

When she learned that Macy’s was sponsoring a program for women and minorities in fashion, she immediately applied and was selected from more than 900 participants to create a clothing line for the famous retailer.

Cenia recognized that designers always used the same measurements when creating and that there was a gap in the industry, so she conceived Cenia Fit, a design with more room in the hip area and less in the bust area, which solves the problem of women with curves.

Today, Cenia Paredes’ designs are sold around the world, her collection is available in HSN, The Home Shopping Network, and celebrities wear her designs. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s wife and his mother wear Paredes’ designs too!

The story of this amazing Dominican woman is an example of determination, an example of a woman who dreams big and takes action to make her dreams come true.

Cenia Paredes (c) with the HSN crew

Cenia Paredes (center) with the HSN crew

LT: How are Dominicans in NY different from Dominicans on the island?

CP: The United States offers more opportunities and, when you achieve success, you do it globally. This country is a great platform to excel. I come from a poor family and did not know if in the Dominican Republic I could have the same opportunities. When you come from such humble beginnings as I did, you appreciate more the opportunities and want to improve in any way possible. “I am concerned that, in some cases on the island, there is a lack of values ​​that is affecting society and that many young people are not focusing on education”.

LT: What are Dominicans’ greatest attributes?

CP: Our joy.


LT: Are you connected to the island and, if so, how do you maintain that connection?

CP:I travel once a year and I have many relatives there. I grew up there. That’s something that I have deeply rooted, and my Dominican essence will not change regardless of how long I’ve been out of the country. The love I have for my country is immense.

See for more of this story in this month’s issue of LatinTRENDS Magazine.

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Women in Focus

Bestia de Cardo - picture courtesy of chelsea film festival

In its third iteration, the Chelsea Film Festival, which showcases movies on global issues by independent filmmakers, will highlight women in film and media. The festival will run from Oct. 15-18.

The festival was created in 2013, shortly after Co-Founder Ingrid Jean-Baptiste, a former child actress and arts reporter from France moved to Chelsea in 2010 and was in a car accident with her mother in her new neighborhood as she started to pursue acting again.

We had this car accident that changed my perspective of my career as an actress, so I had to be quick on my feet and think about something else,” said Jean-Baptiste.

Instead of allowing this incident to derail her love of films, she co-founded the festival with her mother, Sonia Jean-Baptiste.

While I was healing at home and also visiting different doctors, I had the idea of supporting emerging filmmakers and creating and independent film industry community,” says Jean-Baptiste.

Coming from France, and having traveled all around the world, Jean-Baptiste wanted the festival to focus on international themes.

Global issues, is something we wanted to have as a focus because it is a film festival for a purpose. We screen films that have a very important message to share,” says Jean-Baptiste.

Day release- chelsea film festival

Day Release is from Spanish-Australian director Geoffrey Cowper, Bestia de Cardo is from Virginia Sanchez Navarro of the Dominican Republic and Semper Fidel was produced in conjunction with Cuba, the United States, and the United Kingdom by Robert Pietri.

Semper Fidel -courtesy of chelsea film festival

Semper Fidel is about a Cuban-American Marine that goes to Havana after his father’s passing to get in touch with his roots. Bestia de Cardo explores class structures in a small town as a wealthy Dominican woman falls in love with a tailor. Day Release follows a parolee that witnesses an armed robbery.

The films at the festival this year feature women directors, writers, producers and themes.

Having not had a theme before, the mother-daughter duo were quick to come to one this year.

“The past two years was very broad and we had a large section of different themes within the focus of global issues,” said Jean-Baptiste. Needing a different angle, the women decided “to be more specific on what global issues … to focus on and women in film and media,” came to mind she adds.

This year the festival will also incorporate two different programs: The Reel Magic Hour on Saturday, Oct. 17 at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the Kino & Vino monthly series (except Dec. and Jan.), which will start on Nov. 9th at Bow Tie Cinemas in Chelsea.

The Reel Magic Hour will be a series of panels of industry insiders that will be presented at this year’s festival, which is completely brand new,” says Jean-Baptiste. Even though “that will be specifically focused on finance and distribution, it’s also a big family. A big cinema family,” she adds.

The Kino & Vino a wine mixer and networking opportunity, will have Q&A sessions for the 15 finalists and present the Grand Prix winner of the international competition. The winner will receive a certificate from Panavision covering equipment expenses for his or her next film and a mini raging bull statue similar to the one on Wall Street from the same artist, Arturo Di Modica.

The proceeds of the festival will be going towards the Chelsea Film Institute, a program that will give access to free art classes in dance, acting and directing to teenagers.

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FIT Launches Emuseum

The Museum at FIT (MFIT) announces the relaunch of the MFIT Online Collections, a digital resource – or e-museum – that enables designers, students, educators, and members of the public to interact with the museum’s world-class permanent collection at This repository of digital images, documenting over 600 objects, allows users to search, browse, collect, and share online images of fashion and accessories dating from the last 300 years to the present. New objects and images will be added to the MFIT Online Collections every month.

“The Museum at FIT is thrilled to make available this repository of fashion and accessories,” said museum director Dr. Valerie Steele. “Access to the museum’s extraordinary collection advances knowledge of fashion, supports research and teaching, and inspires creativity.”

MFIT Online Collections features a new, more integrated design, as well as over 875 images of more than 600 objects. This is more than twice as many objects as were previously available on the site. Users can search the collections by keyword in the Quick Search box, or they can browse pre-existing collections created by museum staff. The pre-existing collections are based on time periods, such as the 1930s, or topics such as menswear. A special feature of the MFIT Online Collections is the ability for users to create one or more personal image sets. They may save these collections for their own research and inspiration or share them with other users. These personal collections, called MyCollections, require registering a username and password on the site.

A Fashion Museum
The Museum at FIT is the only museum in New York City dedicated solely to the art of fashion. Best known for its innovative and award-winning exhibitions, which The New York Times has described as “ravishing,” the museum has a collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present. Like other fashion museums, such as the Musée de la Mode, the Mode Museum, and the Museo de la Moda, The Museum at FIT collects, conserves, documents, exhibits, and interprets fashion. The museum’s mission is to advance knowledge of fashion through exhibitions, publications, and public programs. Visit

The museum is part of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), a State University of New York (SUNY) college of art, design, business, and technology that has been at the crossroads of commerce and creativity for nearly 70 years. With programs that blend hands-on practice, a strong grounding in theory, and a broad-based liberal arts foundation, FIT offers career education in more than 45 areas, and grants associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. FIT provides students with a complete college experience at an affordable cost, a vibrant campus life in New York City, and industry-relevant preparation for rewarding careers. Visit