Alison “Ali” Rasch started in the Cañada College fashion department in 1999—nearly 20 years ago. At the time she was a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School “ready to go to college.” She was interested in fashion design and managed to take courses at Cañada part-time while completing her high school diploma.
Ali remembers taking Beginning Clothing Construction with Ronda Chaney, which was “fantastic” and helped her hone her sewing skills. Ronda’s Introduction to the Fashion Industry also made a big impression. The field trips helped her “see how the whole process went” and also that fashion businesses could take many forms, not just “massive, global companies.” She also enrolled in Fashion Illustration with Kathleen McCarney, where she learned to sketch quickly and build her portfolio for school applications. She also studied fashion history with Judy Jackson.
All of this helped Ali get into Parsons in New York City a short time later. There she says “there were a lot of talented people and lots of homework, but it was all exciting.” She found that her experiences at Cañada helped a great deal. Specifically, “the construction and pattern making was a great basis to dive right in at Parsons and get to work.” After two years there, Ali transferred to Central St. Martins in London, where she earned a bachelor’s in Fashion Design, Women’s Wear. She also completed a minor in Industrial Studies through an internship.
Ali worked for a time with Raf Simons, now Chief Creative Officer at Calvin Klein. As she describes this rare opportunity:
“I worked … at his studio in Antwerp, Belgium from October 2003 through July 2004, two seasons of his men’s wear line. He was already getting a lot of interest. He showed his collection at men’s fashion week in Paris. It was a superb introduction to men’s wear and working in the fashion industry. I learned so much!”
Ali then moved back to New York, where she served for one year as an assistant designer at Karl Lagerfeld. Unfortunately Lagerfeld closed the New York studio, and Ali moved on to Vienna, Austria where she worked with designer Ute Ploier.
She moved back to California for a while, hoping to start a clothing business based in San Francisco. Ali and a few talented friends planned to make clothing for medical professionals out of sustainable fabrics; however, these types of textiles were hard to come by in 2008. An even bigger challenge turned out to be the Great Recession that broadsided us all that year. During this uncertain time Ali returned to Cañada and studied tailoring with Ronda. She recalls, “The familiar faces were nice, and the mix of students was exciting. Everyone is there for different reasons.”
In 2010 Ali went back to London to earn her master’s in fashion, specializing in men’s wear this time.
Today Ali has her own custom design business for men and women. Among her recent clients: a musician looking for specific pieces for his music videos and a filmmaker who needed wardrobe help. Now living in the larger Sacramento area, Ali is also hoping to teach fashion, something she is prepared to do having earned her teaching certificate while she was in London.
Does Ali have any advice for students in the fashion department now? “I recommend getting industry experience,” Ali encourages. Luckily for our students, Cañada offers an internship program! Learn more here.