Student Stories: Theadora Iacobellis

Student Stories: Theadora Iacobellis

Major: Fashion Studies

Theadora Iacobellis has a passion for fashion.

That may sound like a cliché, but Iacobellis has shown her creative side since she was a child, when some of her favorite activities were drawing and coloring.

“I would spend my summer days outside doing sidewalk chalk drawings. On occasion I even took my easel outside to paint pictures of the nearby prairie path and my neighborhood,” she said. “I enjoyed taking pictures everywhere I went. I relished performing in plays and puppet shows. I would orchestrate a whole play, make tickets, pick out the loveliest costume and perform in front of my fireplace for family and friends.

“When I was in fifth grade and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I responded by saying a fashion designer. My mom introduced me to fashion at a very young age. When I was a baby I wore bows and flowers in my hair that were as big as my head. As a toddler, I never left the house without accessories. Growing up, my style ranged from frilly dresses and shiny loafers to overalls and work boots. I loved dressing up at every opportunity and going out. And Audrey Hepburn is my absolute favorite fashion icon. She was glamorous, sophisticated and classy. She was someone I aspired to be.”

Iacobellis’ love of fashion and style hasn’t change as an adult. She enrolled in the Fashion Studies program at College of DuPage and enjoyed every moment of it.

“I have dreamt of being a fashion designer my whole life, but I never could have imagined I would be this far,” she said. “When I started in the program, I didn’t even know how to thread a machine. I have since learned how to sew numerous stitches, drape a whole garment from a piece of fabric, and illustrate future garments I want to create. I look forward to the future with an open mind and an eager will to learn. I have made everlasting friends, developed bonds with teachers, and found who I wanted to be in the process.”

In fall 2016, Iacobellis and her fellow students had the opportunity to work with College of DuPage alumna Peach Carr, who was featured on the hit reality TV show “Project Runway” during Season 8 and All Stars Season 2. Carr worked with students and then headed a jury that selected items from submitted work to be shown during the annual student fashion show.

Iacobellis had two garments selected, and it was the culmination of her work with a successful fashion designer.

“In our first meeting together, Peach was kind, friendly and funny,” she said. “Talking to her was like I had known her for years. Peach exudes a confidence and a love for both fashion and her work. Throughout the process, she was open to everyone’s ideas and never, ever put us down.

“Each trip that Peach made to the fashion department, I had the chance to talk to her and get her input on my garments. She never once discouraged me. Instead she motivated me and my peers, offered solutions and encouraged us to pursue whatever our hearts desired. I started looking for inspiration everywhere I went, designing sketches and making frequent trips to vogue fabric. Throughout this journey, I went completely outside of my element patterning designs I had never chosen before, using draping and couture techniques totally new to me, and finally choosing fabrics that were different and difficult to work with. I did not know how or if it would work, but I created the best garments I have ever designed and just had fun with it. From where I started to where I am now, I become a new designer and person.”  

Iacobellis earned two associate degrees – in Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising – and a certificate in Fashion Entrepreneurship. She transferred to Elmhurst College, where she was inducted in the Delta Mu Delta business honor society and started building a business painting fence boards.

Having earned her bachelor’s degree in Marketing with a nearly 4.0 GPA, Iacobellis plans to continue pursing fashion, marketing and her entrepreneurial spirit. After graduation, she worked as a digital marketing associate at Innovation DuPage, the business incubator and accelerator co-founded by COD. She focused on product development and research, but while there she accepted an offer to become a marketing analyst at Silgan Closure, a global company that works with some of the biggest brands in the food and beverage packaging industry. In her role, she specializes in sustainability and communications.

“It is so funny telling people my story, going from making clothes to marketing closures, but I don’t find the worlds much different because I always seem to incorporate flare and fashion in whatever I do,” she said. “I have not given up on my passion for fashion; in fact, my fashion and creative background is what my company loves about me so much!”

Although Iacobellis loved fashion from an early age, it was COD that helped her see the possibilities.

“It has been a long process, but I am literally living my dream,” she said. “College of DuPage gave me the opportunity to grow at my own pace and find out what I really wanted to do with my life. If you were to tell me a few years ago this is where I would be, I would have never believed it.

“I would tell students considering COD and the Fashion Studies program to do it! It’s going to be hard, scary and challenging, especially if you’re going into the program with no experience whatsoever like I did. You will laugh, cry and poke your fingers with pins on a daily basis. Eventually, days will come and go, and you will learn more than you realize. The reward comes in the end when you see your garment on the runway for the very first time. You will recall every stitch of that piece and there is no emotion to describe the sensations you will feel.”

Learn more about the Fashion Studies program at College of DuPage.