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Faculty Member and FIDM Grad Shaun Samson is Senior Designer for Moschino

Prince Charles once invited him to St. James's Palace for a British Men's Fashion event; when he launched his own menswear label, A$AP Rocky was an early supporter; and Rei Kawakubo’s team approached him to be stocked in the Trading Museum Comme des Garcons store in Tokyo. After receiving an A.A. in Fashion Design and an additional A.A. Advanced Study degree in International Manufacturing & Product Development from FIDM, Shaun Samson moved to London and earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Fashion Menswear from Central Saint Martins. He is now not only a Senior Designer at Moschino working directly under Jeremy Scott with the rest of the design team in Milan, Shaun also teaches fourth year studio classes in the B.A. Design program at FIDM. He travels quite a bit and is currently in Milan right now for Moschino fittings. We caught up with the talented designer to learn more about his creative world, teaching philosophy, and how he brings his direct industry perspective to the B.A. Design program.

Tell us some of the highlights of your professional experience in the industry: There are honestly too many to count. Every moment was exciting and I’m surprised even to this day at the projects I work on.  

When I had my menswear label, I’d say working with A$AP Rocky was a great early highlight. He was a huge supporter of my work from the beginning, and was one of the first people to champion my label. He was the first to wear my graduate collection outside of school and wore a jersey top I designed for his Long. Live. A$AP album artwork.  

Being approached by Rei Kawakubo’s team to be stocked in her Trading Museum Comme des Garcons store in Tokyo was another highlight. Trading Museum Comme des Garcons and Opening Ceremony were my first stockists. They both carried my graduate collection in their stores, which I had no intention of even selling since my graduate collection was pretty much a school project. They’re both a big part of why I was able to start my label. Them, and winning Fashion Collection of the Year at the International Talent Support student competition in Trieste, Italy also helped.

Having my first fashion show during London Fashion Week through a FashionEast sponsorship was a dream. Meeting Tim Blanks for the first time during my first sales showroom in Paris was another dream realized.  As a teen in the 90’s, there weren’t a lot of places to learn about fashion other than magazines, but there was a TV show called Fashion File that would come on during the weekends that would feature the latest fashion stories and trends, and Tim was the host. If fashion magazines were the visual representation of high fashion, Tim Blanks was the literal voice. His tone, his accent. One of the first things he said to me when I met him was a comment about my infamous graduate collection, which tripped me out because Tim was pretty much Fashion God, and for Fashion God to know about my work and compliment me on it—I was having an out-of-body experience. 

Being invited to St. James’s Palace by Prince Charles who hosted an event for British Men’s Fashion (which I was part of, being part of the new Garde) was another great highlight. I think I threw him off when I was talking to him because I had an American accent.  I throw lots of people off actually. It’s my party trick.

The Moschino highlights are equally as crazy, but different because it’s Jeremy Scott’s exciting world. His world is anything and everything from Moschino fashion shows at Universal Studios, to Jeremy Scott Adidas parties at Coachella, to working with the world’s biggest celebrities and top models, and even helping Jeremy design a Chandelier Dress and Hamburger afterparty outfit for Katy Perry for the Met Gala. Every now and again I have to step back and remember to live in the moment.  
Tell us about your position at Moschino: I’m a Senior Designer and I work directly under Jeremy Scott with the rest of the Design team that’s based in Milan. I support Jeremy in designing the Men’s and Women’s Collections, as well as collaborations and special projects. I travel quite a bit for work and I’m actually in Milan right now for fittings, but I’m able to still host the classes I teach over Zoom, which is one positive outcome that has come out of the pandemic—the ability to isolate ourselves but still be connected.
What led you to return to FIDM as an instructor: I thought I had a unique experience that I could share with the next generation of fashion designers. FIDM was my first step into the fashion industry and I want to be there to help other FIDM students who are taking their first steps.  

Tell us about the BA Design program at FIDM and how you bring your direct industry perspective to the student work: Education is a collaboration, and I treat the students as if they’ve hired me as a consultant to help develop their next greatest collection. I give them the opportunity to evaluate and delegate all work that needs to be done to create a thought-provoking collection that will make an impact on their career and the industry. Whether it’s working on innovative patterns, creating their own textiles, or outsourcing work to the hundreds of specialized contractors in Downtown LA, the students run the classroom like their own Design and Pre-Production Studio.

There are obviously boxes they have to tick in regards to the amount and quality of work they need to achieve in order to earn a B.A. Degree, but the overall goal is to mimic their experience in the classroom as close as we can to how they would work in the industry so the students are confident in their skills to tackle the industry on their own once they graduate. 

Describe your teaching philosophy: The great thing about teaching fashion in the B.A. Design program is that it’s an elevated form of fashion which puts students at a higher level conceptually than the normal fashion student. Fashion students in B.A. Design are expected develop projects that question what fashion is and what fashion is supposed to be. We want them to be innovative thinkers and disruptors, which is the mark of a great designer. 
I encourage and expect students to wow me with their ideas in design. If we use food as an analogy, in the beginning of the program lots of students give me macaroni and cheese from a box, but by the end of the program I’m hoping the students are able to make their own pasta from scratch from a recipe they’ve developed themselves, using ingredients that I’ve never heard of, made with humanitarian intentions that will save the world—all plated on a dish like you’re eating at a Michelin rated restaurant.
Any advice for current FIDM Students? Your design school journey is yours and yours alone—don’t let anyone (especially your classmates) distract you from achieving your goals.
What is your biggest goal right now? Short term goals are to help FIDM discover the next breakout design star. Long term goals are to continue building and developing the B.A. Design program at FIDM that truly rivals any other design school domestically or internationally.

Image Courtesy of Shaun Samson | Features album artwork of A$AP Rocky wearing a top designed by Shaun Samson

Categories:  Design Fashion Design Alumni Faculty