About This Video
Soul Club Oral History Project: Karen Curinton Rippy
The Soul Club of FIT was organized in 1968 by community member Clara Branch after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Clara Branch was a staff and faculty member of the Fashion Design Department who served as the club’s advisor until her retirement in 1991. The purpose of the club was to share and celebrate Black heritage and culture, and to assist students with books, materials, and mentorship. The Soul Club of FIT is best remembered for its annual standing-room only event, The Soul Fashion Show, which was held at FIT from 1971 through the early 1990s. Clara Branch directed these shows which featured the work of young Black designers and models, and were supported by the larger community of the New York City fashion industry. In 1992, Rhonda Burrell-Stubbs took over as director upon Clara Branch’s retirement.
The Soul Club Oral History Project is an initiative of the FIT Library, inspired by the Soul Club fashion shows’ exuberance, positivity, dynamism, and joy. For this oral history project, FIT alumni and faculty members are interviewed about their participation and experience in the Soul Club. The goal of this project is to explore FIT’s rich and diverse history and uplift, amplify, and publicly share the stories of Black fashion students and faculty members as told by the community members themselves.
Karen Curinton Rippy graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with AAS and BFA degrees. While at FIT. Karen joined the Soul Club and was part of the Soul Fashion Show from 1980-1991, designing clothes and modeling for the annual show. Karen received the Designer of the Year title in 1990. Karen has been an adjunct professor at FIT for 32 years, and an adjunct faculty member at Parsons School of Design since 2005. In 2015 Prof. Curinton Rippy retired from the Pratt Institute after 16 years.
Karen has had a full career in the intimate apparel, swimwear, and athleisure industry, working for Jack Murphy Lougewear, Bill Tice, Martha Colon, Victoria’s Secret, and Adore Me, an online lingerie company. At Parsons/The New School, Karen wrote the curriculum and taught the first lingerie fundamentals course in 2014, and also the swim/athleisure course in 2017.
Karen has won many “Excellence in Design” awards and in 2013 received the AFD Faculty Award from the School of Fashion at Parsons.
As a hobby, Karen makes ethnic fabric dolls and one of a kind treasures.
Taur Orange, interviewer, is the head of Educational Opportunity Programs at FIT.
FIT Special Collections and College Archives
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