Current VPA News

The fashion design program in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) has joined with iconic supermodel and entrepreneur Emme ’85 to launch “Fashion Without Limits,” a design initiative that promotes the creation of size 12+ designs in the junior year through a special competition.

“Fashion Without Limits” was created in direct response to a need for increased availability of size 12+ fashions throughout all levels of distribution in the fashion industry today. 12+ represents the size range a majority of American women wear, which is often categorized as “plus-size,” for lack of a more acceptable term.

According to Business Insider, “plus-sizes … account for 67 percent of the population;” a recent survey of more than 5,000 U.S. women by online retailer ModCloth found that “more U.S. women report wearing a size 16 dress than a size 2 and 0 combined,” and “57 percent of U.S. women wear at least some clothing in sizes 16 and above.”

The inaugural “Fashion Without Limits” competition to design an evening dress will be announced to junior fashion design majors at the beginning of the fall 2014 semester. The students will work on their designs throughout the academic year, with the winning design announced at the conclusion of the spring 2015 semester. The winner will receive the 12+ EMME Award™ and $500. Emme will also wear the winning design at a red carpet event.

The student designers will work exclusively with dress forms donated by Wolf Form Co. in Englewood, N.J., the premier designer and manufacturer of standard and custom handmade forms in the fashion industry. The dress forms allow the students to design for sizes 16, 18 and 20.

“I am deeply grateful to feel the warm embrace in my partnership with Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and ‘Fashion Without Limits;’ initiative leadership by Assistant Professor Todd Conover; unwavering support by Del and Burt Hunton of Wolf Form; and confirmation for this revolutionary step in fashion education from the student body,” says Emme. “These are all steps that will help create a radical shift in how American designers celebrate a woman’s body. ”

"Emme's passion made us aware that many college fashion design students can't even try on their own designs because they only work with size 8 and 10 dress forms," says Del Hunton, head of sales at Wolf Form Company. "We were happy to donate the forms to help the fashion design program become a founding father of size 12+ design."

“We are so proud to be collaborating with Emme and Wolf Form Co. on the ‘Fashion Without Limits’ initiative,” says Todd Conover, assistant professor and coordinator of the fashion design program in VPA’s Department of Design. “We have planned curriculum changes within the fashion design program that will introduce this powerful initiative this coming fall, and we have future plans to implement additional curriculum changes to integrate ‘Fashion Without Limits’ into all four years of our program. Thanks to Emme’s passion and commitment to aspirational high fashion for every body type, we will be at the forefront of a movement that I am hoping will spread throughout fashion programs, designer workrooms and retailers across the country and will begin to alter body image attitudes.”

In addition to curriculum changes and the competition, the fashion design program plans to offer a related speaker series. The program is currently fundraising for the purchase of fabric and other associated costs to support these endeavors. To make a donation to the “Fashion Without Limits” design initiative, visit (If you choose to give via our secure, online giving site, please specify "Fashion Without Limits" in the "Gift Information" section.) For more information about the initiative, contact the VPA Office of Advancement at 315-443-7095.

Emme, who graduated from VPA with a bachelor of science degree in speech communication, is not only an iconic supermodel but a TV host; nationally recognized women’s advocate for positive body image and self esteem; adult and children’s book author; sought-after national lecturer; creative director for her women’s community EmmeNation, EmmeNation Whole You National Tour series and clothing lines; and proud mom. Her tour series includes the EmmeNation Whole You Cruise, which will take its maiden voyage to Bermuda in May on the Norwegian Breakaway. She is also a member of the Healthy Media Commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls and an ambassador of the National Eating Disorders Association.