Wearing black can be futuristic, edgy, sleek, chic, or just downright easy, and for all these reasons and more the all-black palette has become the standard uniform among artists and designers alike. For the students, staff, and faculty at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD), wearing black is an announcement of their craft but, increasingly, color has found its way back into vogue.

 

1 It’s all in the little details for GSD students Dana McKinney (clockwise from left), Aaron Hill, Lauren McClellan, Cara Michell, and Sarah Kantrowitz.
2 “My boyfriend wanted me to wear this hat. It’s a Danish-designed, felted-wool hat. Part clown, part writing cap. Kind of silly, kind of fancy,” said student Sarah Kantrowitz. Style philosophy: “Style is character, storytelling, and making meaning … it’s trying out something you don’t feel is totally new. I like getting dressed up and wearing blazers. I like to play with being silly.” Style at GSD: “This nose ring was super-normal in Portland, Ore. It looks a little punk to people. I didn’t wear it here at first, because I was trying to lay low. I was just being shy. You think Harvard, you think, ‘Dress like a grown-up.’”
3 “Wear what makes you feel good,” said Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Silvia Benedito. Fashion icon: “I believe icons aren’t fixed, particularly when it comes to fashion. However, and very young, I got really thrilled by Madonna’s style in her eponymous debut album ‘Madonna.’ The mix of multi-layered necklaces with short and cut shirts, tight pants, bleached hair, high heels with socks, and strong eyeliner, was radical. Plus, she was doing her own music and mixing. All felt very empowering and liberating.” Fashion philosophy: “Wear what makes you feel good.”
4 “I have a stack of gray T-shirts. I bike everywhere, so anything that’s fancy I can’t bike around in,” said student Aaron Hill. On beards: “It’s a seasonal thing, 10 years running. I always like having a winter beard. I don’t have any scarves …” Listening to: TED Radio Hour, Freakonomics, and Radiolab podcasts Bucking the black: “Designers are expected to appear stylish at all times. I get it — you’re trying to build a mystique about being a designer and not a civilian. There’s an assumption that style must permeate your entire being. I think there’s something wrong with that assumption.”
5 “My haircut isn’t very feminine, but I’m OK with that. I’m trying to show people it’s OK,” said student Sarah Bolivar. Style philosophy: “I like being aware of myself as a woman and how people may perceive me. I’m trying to model what being comfortable could look like.” Favorite item: “I’m really into snakes. I’m the year of the snake in the Chinese zodiac. So I love this bracelet of my mom’s. Her mom gave it to her and she gave it to me.” Style and the GSD: “Days that I have reviews I like to wear big earrings that make me feel like a warrior to feel more secure.”
6 K. Michael Hays, Eliot Noyes Professor in Architectural Theory and associate dean for academic affairs, prefers to wear “black, except for socks.” Style icon: “Philippe Starck, the — otherwise inconceivable — model of a slightly over 60, slightly overweight, white, heterosexual man with taste.” Listening to: “Kendrick Lamar’s latest album — the most relevant music at this moment; it should be required listening for entrance to any college in the United States.” Fashion philosophy: “Black, except for socks.”
7 “I really like Willow Smith’s style,” said student Cara Michell. Style icon: “I really like Willow Smith’s style.” Fashion philosophy: “I try to keep it relatively simple and always comfortable. I’m conservative with color. I take so long to get out of the house in the morning that I keep a lot of items neutral, and the same color. I wear the same pants every day and add a shirt.” Style history: “I started thinking about style at 12, 13 … I began sewing my own clothes, using silk scarves as belts. I had this cape I made — it was teal satin — with some crazy yellow stitch. I wore it once a week to school and some kid told me he thought I was wearing it just to stand out.”
8 “My attitude toward architecture is consistent toward fashion. I like simple pieces, clear ideas, clean structure,” said student Lauren McClellan. Fashion philosophy: “I think I like things that are reasonably quiet that require a second look.” Style and the GSD: “My attitude toward architecture is consistent toward fashion. I like simple pieces, clear ideas, clean structure.”
9 “Style is everywhere at the GSD — consciously or unconsciously. You cannot help but intersect with it when you walk down the halls!” said Benjamin Prosky, assistant dean for communications. Style icons: Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler Fashion philosophy: “Always wear good socks.” Style and the GSD: “Style is everywhere at the GSD — consciously or unconsciously. You cannot help but intersect with it when you walk down the halls!”
10 “I’m not particularly interested in fashion icons or in the idea of ‘being fashionable.’ Instead, I collect glimpses, flashes, images. I dress myself as myself,” said Jennifer Sigler, editor in chief of Harvard Design Magazine. Fashion icon: “I’m not particularly interested in fashion icons or in the idea of ‘being fashionable.’ Instead, I collect glimpses, flashes, images. I dress myself as myself.” Listening to: “I’m rediscovering Nina Simone after watching Liz Garbus’ documentary at the Harvard Art Museums. Now there’s a woman with her own brave style.” Fashion philosophy: “‘Next time, it won’t be black.’ But it usually is!”
11 “My style has gotten more refined since GSD. More structured clothing, more solids — less prints,” said student Dana McKinney. Style icon: Lupita Nyong’o Fashion philosophy: High-contrast, bright colors, clean lines; “minimalist, but bright.” Style and the GSD: “My style has gotten more refined since GSD. More structured clothing, more solids — less prints.”
12 “Wear whatever you feel like, but if you have to look nice before a review on 45 minutes of sleep, tuck your shirt in, and always brush your teeth,” said student Giancarlo Montano. Style icon: “Texas. Does that count? I’ve always liked a comfy flannel tucked into jeans. On the other hand, I’ve always thought Marcello Mastroianni was the gold standard for cool. I feel like I aspire to fall somewhere in between …” Listening to: Shamir Fashion philosophy: “Wear whatever you feel like, but if you have to look nice before a review on 45 minutes of sleep, tuck your shirt in, and always brush your teeth.”
13 “I feel like I’m something of an anomaly here — we all laugh at ourselves because we wear a lot of black. We play with shape and cut, but color is something we don’t see a lot,” said student Courtney Sharpe. Fashion philosophy: “I like to mix up colors and not emulate anyone else’s style. I don’t wear pants unless I’m working out. It’s a religious thing — I converted to Orthodox Judaism. But I’m not very strict on the fashion of it.” Listening to: Fetty Wap, Nicki Minaj, classic jazz like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald Style and the GSD: “I feel like I’m something of an anomaly here — we all laugh at ourselves because we wear a lot of black. We play with shape and cut, but color is something we don’t see a lot.”
14 “Landscape architecture is a lot of forms and the relationship between forms and space and patterns, and I think about volume and colors when I’m dressing. I love the colors of landscape throughout the season,” said student Azzurra Cox. Fashion philosophy: “I used to like colors, and today I’m colorful, but here at the GSD everyone wears black. I resisted the urge — but I do veer into the black zone now.” Style and the GSD: “Landscape architecture is a lot of forms and the relationship between forms and space and patterns, and I think about volume and colors when I’m dressing. I love the colors of landscape throughout the season.”
15 Student Doug Harsevoort: “An architect should try to bring more color to the world.” Fashion philosophy: “An architect should try to bring more color to the world.” Listening to: Beck, Future, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, and Blood Orange Style and the GSD: “Style influences my studies at the GSD in the way that it creatively represents my personality. It is an outward expression of my ideas on form, materiality, rhythm, or juxtaposition. This sets an expectation or preconceived idea as to what kind of designer I might be, and helps to give a personality to the work without even speaking.”