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Prominent Fashion Designer Internship is Perfect Fit for F&M Senior

The Franklin & Marshall student experience doesn't stop when the academic year ends. From internships in Lancaster, to travel around the world and research across the country, our students continue their quest for knowledge this summer.

Sitting in an office as her mother worked, a young Siwen Shen would entertain herself by crafting collages made of models and clothes she found in fashion magazines.

"As time flew by, I learned fashion isn't only about pretty clothes or high-quality materials. It's also about stories and history behind a brand," Shen said.

Her curiosity about the stories and cultures of others inspired Shen to continue her education in the United States. She traveled from her home in Beijing to Franklin & Marshall College, where she is now a rising senior majoring in anthropology.

"I find it fascinating to know there are others in this world who have a different or unexpected lifestyle than me," she said.

This summer, Shen is blending her love of fashion and anthropology through what she said she hopes will be a "highlight of her resume" — an event internship at renowned fashion design firm Diane von Furstenburg (DVF). Shen uncovered this opportunity with the support of Monica Cable, director of fellowships and teaching professor of anthropology, who introduced her to F&M alumna and DVF President Gabby Hirata '11.

Shen is working onsite in Manhattan, N.Y., enjoying an in-depth look behind the curtain of fashion event planning, a career path she plans to follow. At the same time, she's gaining invaluable insight for a research project she is completing alongside Cable.

"I suggested to Siwen that we think about her doing some independent research on the anthropology of fashion," said Cable, who holds an interest in fashion and how culture is often reflected in dress. "I remember her delight in learning that her interest in fashion could be approached academically."

Shen explained how her research is using an anthropological lens to examine fashion costumes from different cultures.

"I always believe that fashion and culture can't be separated," she said.

Cable said she has no doubt that Shen's time at F&M has prepared her well for her summer internship and research project.

"Siwen has a deep interest in art and film as well as anthropology, and I can't help but think that her studies in these areas allow her to look at fashion from an artistic perspective as well as a cultural one," she said.

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