Meet Isabella Korunda CC’24 (she/her) and Maria Elena Gerbaud CC’24 (she/her), co-presidents of the Columbia University Fashion Society. Korunda is a film studies major from Naples, Fla. and Gerbaud is an art history major from Panama City, Panama. The two have been members of CUFS since they were first-years; they look forward to bringing fashion-focused talks to campus this semester, as well as keeping the community up to date on fashion trends through regularly posted editorial content on the CUFS website. This semester’s upcoming events include talks with insiders from Golden Goose, LoveShackFancy and Dior; check out the CUFS Instagram (@columbia.fashion) for the latest updates!
What is the Columbia University Fashion Society?
Gerbaud: CUFS is a pre-professional fashion club, dedicated to expanding our members’ network in the fashion industry. We plan speaker events and publish articles regularly through our website, which allows both CUFS members and the general Columbia community to be informed about new fashion trends. I would say that CUFS is for anyone who enjoys fashion, as well as for those who are interested in going into the industry!
Korunda: Our speaker series brings in a lot of different people: Roberto Vedovotto (The CEO of Kering Eyewear), Donata Minelli (the CEO of Ulla Johnson); and Tiffany & Co. also invited CUFS to its headquarters to hear from heads of the different departments. We’ve also had Columbia alumni who are just starting out in the industry give talks; I think they offer a really interesting perspective, too, something that feels more tangible for current students. Furthermore, we also have an online publication, where our editorial team regularly posts articles.
What has been your favorite part about being involved with CUFS?
Gerbaud: CUFS has given me the opportunity to learn from successful and inspiring members within the fashion industry. Last semester, we held an event with footwear designer Stuart Weitzman, where he gave a presentation on his professional trajectory as the creative director and CEO of the company. We learned about his creative role and business strategy. It was incredible to learn and receive life advice from such a successful yet down-to-earth person.
Korunda: I don’t know if I can pick a favorite event, it would be like picking a favorite child! But another cool event that I want to highlight is when we had Federico Turconi, the CEO of Gucci’s Americas division, come to campus for a Q&A. Hearing his industry insights and advice was incredible.
What has been your favorite class at Columbia and why?
Korunda: I’ve luckily been able to take many incredible classes at Columbia. But one that I really loved was “Major Women Filmmakers” with Professor Breixo Viejo Viñas. As an aspiring filmmaker, it was really exciting to dive into female directors who have made incredible films that are often left in the margins of the male-centric film canon.
Gerbaud: One of my favorite classes was “Abnormal Psychology” with Professor E’mett McCaskill. After that class, I was even inspired to take other psychology classes.
What do you like to do outside of class?
Gerbaud: I started taking piano lessons in my sophomore year, when in-person classes started again. The Music Department offers one credit courses with different instruments; I had always wanted to learn the piano, so I decided it’s never too late to do so!
Korunda: I like to make short films, some for class, some through Columbia University Film Productions. I also am in Orchesis, a dance group, and I regularly take classes through Barnard — its dance program is amazing. I’m also in a sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta; that’s been such an enriching experience.
How do you like to take advantage of being in New York City?
Korunda: One of the main reasons that I chose to apply to Columbia was because of its location, especially for career opportunities. I’ve been able to have in-person internships with companies that are based in New York during the semester, and these are opportunities that I would not get elsewhere. Outside of professional development, New York has so many amazing parks and museums, and through Columbia, we have access to many museums for free, so I regularly take advantage of that as well.
Gerbaud: I also chose Columbia partly because of its location. I’ve tried to take advantage of all the cultural opportunities we have here. I really love going to art museums like the Met, MoMA and The Frick Collection — not only for my art history classes, since most of them do field trips to these museums, but also in my free time. Columbia also has the Arts Initiative, through which it offers discounted tickets for music and arts-related events; I’m going to the Met Opera next week to see Madama Butterfly. That’s something that is only in New York!