By Emily Fedor
600 fashion design students from around the country were in the running for the YMA Geoffrey Beene Scholarship. The highest honor, a $35,000 scholarship, was reserved for but one of them; that one designer turned out to be Dunmore’s own Vivian Cooper.
A 2013 graduate of Dunmore High School, Cooper is currently a senior fashion design major at Philadelphia University. Her interest in the arts, and more specifically designing, was sparked when she was young and surrounded by creative family members.
“My grandparents on my mom’s side were both artists and my mom is very artistic as well,” said Cooper. “So I grew up with tons of art supplies and creativity.”
Then when she was in 6th grade, she was given a Scholastic paper clothing craft book.
“I would design in it for hours,” said Cooper, “and eventually my parents got me sewing classes in 8th grade. I ended up sewing both of my prom dresses.“
That love for creating and designing clothes brought Cooper to Philadelphia University. This year, the university was one of a number of schools chosen by the Fashion Scholarship Fund committee to apply for the annual Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship.
To take home the high honor, designers had to create a project that focused on the future of sustainability in the fashion industry, which one of Cooper’s major interests.
“I’m passionate about sustainable fashion and brands that support a mission instead of focusing totally on making the sale,” said Cooper. “Ultimately, fashion is a business, but it’s exciting to see the innovation that’s changing the market and helping companies sell product while also giving back to the community and environment.“
Cooper’s concept for the Geoffrey Beene Scholarship was called “Full Circle, a junior’s swim and beachwear line sold at Target. Designs for the line would be made from recycled plastic bottles.
“The brand would get Target employees out into the communities and, in turn, invite communities to get involved in the bigger mission behind the line — which is to reduce pollution in our oceans,” Cooper said.
A number of Cooper’s fellow PhilaU classmates also applied for the scholarship. Then out of that pool of students, the school would select one designer to represent the school in the next level of competition.
Cooper’s fun but elegant design style, combined with her clever project pitch, earned her a spot in the next round. And out of that pool of national winners, Cooper made it into the top 8.
The YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund’s 80th annual Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Awards Dinner was held on Thursday, January 12 in Manhattan. On that night, Cooper found out her work paid off, She received the night’s top honor — a moment she recalls fondly as a true honor.
Following her graduation from PhilaU, Cooper aspires to work for a company that has a mission bigger than itself — preferably one that shares her passion for transparency, sustainability and innovation.