Alumni Spotlight

Mentoring and Leading Textile Design Professionals and Students to Success

Deanna Amorello ’02, M’04

Deanna Amorello

Deanna Amorello ’02, M’04 developed her appreciation for textile design at Philadelphia University. She quickly became enamored with the work she saw in the textile design studios and labs in Hayward Hall. Her initial major was graphic design but after three semesters, she decided to reach out to Peggy Goutmann, professor emerita, to learn about the textile design program and made the switch. Textile design could not have been more fitting for Amorello as many of her relatives worked in the textile mills of New England during the nation’s manufacturing heyday.

Heading into her senior year, Amorello received the ECHO Design Group Award for Excellence, a scholarship awarded to a student with 80 or more credits studying fashion or textile design. She had arranged to visit New York City to meet with the ECHO team to properly thank them in person. The week she was scheduled to visit, 9/11 happened and the meeting had to be cancelled. Amorello continued with her studies at PhilaU as a graduate student and in her final year, she contacted the team at ECHO once again in hopes of rescheduling the meeting with her gracious donors. Instead of a casual meet and greet, they asked her to interview in January of 2004 and offered her a full-time position upon graduating in May. She had to decide, continue her education at Virginia Tech (where she was accepted) to pursue a PhD program or accept the job. She took the latter. To this day she knows it was the best decision she could have made.

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In 2007, Amorello joined Collection XIIX, a women’s fashion accessory company specializing in scarves, hats, hair accessories, ready-to-wear knits, silk prints and cold weather accessories. She started her career with Collection XIIX as a cold weather accessories designer, and over the course of eight years, worked her way to her current role as vice president/creative director. She leads a design team with over 45 members. The company is one of the premier leaders in design, brand, licensing and product development, and has a vast portfolio of private label and specialty store retailers. In addition to her direct creative responsibilities and driving company revenue, she has hands in sourcing, media and graphics, product innovation and staff development.

As a leader, Amorello believes it is important that her team understands the criterions and expectations she has and that they develop their own principles for success. She enjoys being able to mentor and lead the individuals on her team and across the department. “While design is the core foundation of our company, there is something personally fulfilling when your perspective shifts from one of your own success to supporting and guiding the success of those working under you,” shared Amorello. She has always found attention to detail, dedication, honesty and humility to be the most valuable principles.

One of the challenges Amorello faced and is a struggle for the young designers she has on staff, is transitioning from a student-studio mindset to a fast-paced work environment. She said, “In school, students are granted the luxury of developing skills and working on projects over the course of weeks and semesters, very infrequently does a professor turn around and say ‘I need this in an hour.’” Designers always have deadlines that need to be met and prioritizing is crucial. “Perfection is no longer reality and I had to learn (fairly quickly) where it was important to take the extra time and where it was okay to wrap up a project and move on to the next,” admitted Amorello. An ongoing challenge for Amorello as a professional in the fashion and textile industry is getting the company’s goods to the consumer when the products are most desired. The consumer mentality has shifted to “buy-now, wear now” which goes against how most U.S. retailers currently function. Consumers no longer shop in store for an entire fall or spring wardrobe and put it away for when appropriate weather arrives. “The consumer holds the power to dictate purchases solely on immediate gratification,” explained Amorello. This requires companies like Collection XIIX to continuously think outside the box of how business is traditionally done.

Throughout the years, Amorello has stayed in touch with the faculty at PhilaU. “Deanna exemplifies the active, engaged alumna,” said Marcia Weiss, associate professor and director of the textile design program. Amorello sits on the advisory board for the textile design program and meets with the committee annually to review, assess and support the curriculum. She also works closely with faculty to organize on-site campus portfolio reviews providing critical industry feedback to current students. Amorello spearheaded the efforts to have Collection XIIX establish a scholarship fund and will be providing the “Collection XIIX Award for Collaborative Textile Design for Womenswear”, one of the inaugural textile design awards at the PVH Corp. Philadelphia University 2015 Annual Fashion Show. “We are fortunate to have Deanna continually involved in the textile design programs, and with the University,” said Weiss.

Amorello leads a fast-paced life in New York City. “You can find phenomenal trims in the fashion district, race across town to take in the newest museum exhibit and then cap it all off with a client dinner at a downtown eatery,” she said. “No matter your project or challenge, you can almost always find the solution in Manhattan.” Although she enjoys working in the city, she likes being able to turn off the lights in her office and retreating to her suburban home in Connecticut at the end of the day.

Even when Amorello is not in the office, the work continues. She is the owner of The Gilded Lobster, a creative consulting studio, and spends her downtime working with clients, seeking inspiration and developing content for the complementary blog, Around the Pound. Amorello and her husband enjoy travelling in search of cities that can offer the best cup of coffee, new restaurants, independent shops and boutique hotels. It is not uncommon for them to take a road trip or hop on a plane in search of these things.

Amorello leaves her fellow alumni with one piece of advice, “Should you have an opportunity to provide mentorship to current PhilaU students, either through direct program development, alumni sponsored events, or positions in the workplace, embrace each and every one, because we too were once these young students, anxiously anticipating the road to success that lies ahead.”