The latest act in Donna Ricco’s career has been underway for a few months now. The Milwaukee native co-founded and went on to success with her eponymously named dress company. After selling the company, Ricco took a few years away from the field, but this summer returned to her alma mater, Mount Mary University.
Ricco splits her time between New York and Milwaukee in her role as an Executive Fellow in the Fashion Design Department, the place where she first refined her eye for design. Some of her new role involves strengthening the ties between the school and the design industry. But since students have returned to campus, Ricco has also begun interacting with the next generation of fashion designers, trying to impart the lessons she gained both in school, but also in her decades as a professional.
In fact, Ricco says, that’s part of the message – that there are lessons to be learned in the classroom, but equally important ones outside.
“It’s not easy being a fashion student,” Ricco explains. “Because if you choose to be a designer, you do have to learn those basic [technical] skills. And not every fashion student is interested in sewing or loves to sew. And you do have to know enough about it to be a better designer.
“But I would advise anyone who’s thinking about getting into fashion – what you come with would be your passion for fashion or art, and some ambition to be in this field. Those are things that can’t be taught.
“And once you have those basic skills that you’ve learned in school, your intuition can help you break the rules, and how people and the world works.”