Renowned Fashion Designer Barbara Tfank Featured in Tang Teaching Museum Exhibit, March 18-26

Barbara Tfank, Embroidered Square Neck Full Dirndl Gown, 2022, photo by Kylie Shaffer

SARATOGA SPRINGS — An exhibition by fashion designer and Skidmore alumna Barbara Tfank, whose designs have been worn by such notable figures as Michelle Obama, Uma Thurman, Kate Winslet, and Adele, will be on view March 18–26 at the Tang Teaching Museum. The exhibition “Barbara Tfank” will include photographs, sketches, textiles, video, and 20 original designs. It is organized by the Tang and Guy Mastrion, F. William Harder Chair in Business Administration, in collaboration with Tfank.


Tfank will also deliver the 2023 F. William Harder Lecture in Business Administration at Skidmore on Tuesday, March 21. The lecture, titled “Fabric Inspires,” will be available to the public via livestream beginning at 6 p.m.


An American fashion designer, Tfank launched her eponymous label in 2001, with a line of vintage brocade cocktail coats and colorful, classically shaped dresses. Pairing flattering silhouettes with luxuriant fabrics and hand-tailored craftsmanship, her work combines imagination, creativity, and sophistication. Cut individually and sewn by custom-trained seamstresses, each piece is a unique creation.


Tfank graduated in 1972 from Skidmore College with a degree in education and received her master’s degree from Stanford University. She went on to work as a fashion design assistant for Cesarani in New York City and a stylist featured in Vanity Fair before becoming a successful costume designer for feature films. 


“I’m thrilled to return to Skidmore College for this lecture and exhibit,” said Tfank. “The insights and validation of my interests that I received as a student have proven invaluable. The nurturing and creative environment here helped facilitate my own curiosity and set me on a successful path to becoming the designer I am today.”


Tfank debuted her bridal collection — featured in Vogue Weddings, Town & Country, and Over the Moon — in 2019. Her collections are presented twice yearly at New York Fashion Week and featured in Most recently, she was invited to work with first lady Jill Biden. 


“Barbara’s ability to express ideas through fabric, structure, and elegance of form makes her voice unique in the world of couture,” said Mastrion. “Her commitment to not only excellence but also innovation is inspiring.”


The annual F. William Harder Lecture at Skidmore College was inaugurated in 1985 and made possible by the generosity of F. William Harder, a Skidmore parent and College trustee from 1968 to 1980. The lecture brings together students and faculty with industry leaders and invites them to explore the current business environment and the challenges that lie ahead.

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