Fordham Alum’s Fashion Line Blends the Best of Both Coasts

Recent Grad Discusses Her Experiences in the Fashion World and Life in College


Published: November 4, 2010

Fordham might not have a fashion program, but that hasn’t stopped one alum from making it in the fashion industry. In just two short years since graduating Fordham, Amy Gambacorta has not only designed jeans with denim icon Rock & Republic in Los Angeles but has also launched her own miniature line of clothing. The Observer spent some time with her as she reflected on her experiences at Fordham and how the University prepared her for a successful career in fashion design.

Observer: Knowing that Fordham offered no majors in fashion, how did you make the decision to attend?

Amy Gambacorta: When it was time to apply to colleges, I had my heart set on FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology). However, my dad was not a fan of art school, so even after I got accepted to FIT, I applied to Fordham. Literally two weeks before college was starting, I decided on a whim to attend Fordham instead, under one condition: I would intern in every aspect of the fashion industry possible in order to fill the void. I figured as long as I had New York City as my playground, I’d make due, since Fordham offers no fashion majors.

Observer: What was your major?

AG: I decided to major in English/Creative Writing because I figured I could at least get work at a fashion magazine with that kind of degree, in order to pave the way to later land more of a design position. But basically every semester and/or summer I was interning somewhere. I had to beg my professors and deans to let me do every internship.

Observer: Where did you intern while you were a student at Fordham?

AG: I interned at MAXIM Radio as a radio production intern and radio show host, then at MAXIM Magazine in the editorial department. Then, at Glamour magazine and Elle magazine in the fashion editorial department, and then as a public relations intern at Prada and again at Chanel and finally with a fashion stylist, Lori Goldstein, all over the course of four years while attending Fordham.

Observer: How were you able to get so many internships with fashion icons?

AG: Honestly, I was just super aggressive and lucky. I’d refer to it as the snowball effect—after I confirmed my first internship and made contacts there, they’d refer me to the next one, and so on. I was extremely active and would e-mail my resume out to every masthead of literally every fashion magazine every single day until I got some bites.

Observer: How did Fordham factor into your internship search?

AG: I got every internship on my own with no help from Fordham at all—I wasn’t kidding when I said I was overly ambitious!

Observer: Which campus did you attend?

AG: Technically, Rose Hill, but I strategically took 90 percent of my courses at Lincoln Center because I lived in the East Village. I wanted the best of both worlds.

Observer: What was your sense of fashion at Fordham?

AG: “The Lincoln Center scene was much more ‘Sex & the City’ meets ‘Gossip Girl.’ Rose Hill consisted of the standard college kid uniform: hoodie, flip flops, jeans. No offense!”

Observer: How were you involved with fashion at Fordham?

AG: I was an active member of Fordham’s first ever fashion alliance, ‘Fashion for Philanthropy,’ where I debuted some of my original pieces at our annual fashion shows, which supported the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Observer: Do you think Fordham should have a program directed toward fashion?

AG: I would give my right arm to help Fordham establish a fashion program. Heck, it would have saved me a lot of time and stress if they had offered such a program when I was there! More than ever, I think fashion is an integral part of NYC culture and is something students have been craving in their educational journeys at Fordham.

Observer: What would you say to any current (or prospective) Fordham students interested in seeking a career in fashion?

AG: Work hard now and it will pay off in the future. I used to intern sometimes for 12+ hour days for no pay and only college credit, where I would slave away in closets at magazines and packing trunks for photo shoots. But be patient—put in your time, learn all that you can, take notes, pay attention and make contacts. Keep in touch with everyone you meet in the industry and the rest is cake!

Observer: How has your career blossomed since graduation?

AG: After graduating from Fordham in May of 2008, I hopped on a plane and moved to Los Angeles, where I landed a job working in the wardrobe department on the set of Project Runway. I assisted top celebrity stylists and got to dress celebrities like Lindsay Lohan, Rebecca Romijn Stamos, Rachel Bilson and Heidi Klum, of course. After the show wrapped a little over a year ago, I landed an amazing job as a design coordinator at Hudson Jeans. Simultaneously, I launched my own line, Gambacorta. This past August, I left Hudson Jeans to take on a bigger design role at Rock & Republic, while still designing and developing my own line.

Observer: What is the inspiration for your line?

AG: The sole reason for my line is to merge the east and west coasts. I combine New York style and attitude with California colors and lifestyle. I wanted to create a line that can be worn from day to night, in any season, that would satisfy both the aggressive New Yorker and the laid back Californian. I call this the Gambacorta Immaculate Conception.