Mar 6, 2014
10:35 AMStyle & Design
ESPN's Sage Steele Wears Connecticut Designer's Dress on 'NBA Countdown'
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She was an English major at Fairfield University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, and then received a law degree from Villanova University. “I stopped working after my oldest was born,” she said of a son who is now 14. At the time, was clerking for federal judge in New Haven.
Another son followed—now 12—and after being home with the boys, she “decided it was time to pursue her dream of bringing her design ideas to the marketplace,” her bio says. “With exhaustive research and an entrepreneurial spirit, she put together a line that was picked up by a showroom in New York City and sold in some of the finest boutiques in the Northeast.”
Boccaccio explained that after solidifying her design ideas, she then found a talented pattern maker in New York City and did a trade show with the pieces she had designed and constructed, which was when they got picked up by the showroom in New York. (Above, Jean Anne Boccaccio with her sewing machine, and Maryanne McLafferty wearing the winning design; note the gold masking tape 'jewelry.' Photo by Jay Sottolano; ImagesByJAS.com.)
“So I did that for a couple of years. It was thrilling to me,” she said, remembering balancing her roles as fledgling fashion designer and full-time mom.
“My husband and I had a long talk,” she said of their desire for a third child—a girl who just turned 8. And so she decided back then to put the business on hold for a few years.
“But I missed it and was trying to figure out how to get back into this,” she said, but more locally somehow. “So I went back to school and got yet another degree.” She took patternmaking and other technical classes at the now-closed Gibbs College in Farmington, and earned a degree in fashion design and merchandising.
As a result of that experience, Boccaccio was chosen for a design internship in New York City with the Donna Karan Collection, which, she said, “was beyond thrilling to me, because I absolutely love her designs.”
With her children a little older and the technical skills to create some of her own designs, Boccaccio is pursuing her passion for design once again, her bio explains, saying, "Her aesthetic focuses on highlighting and flattering the female form—providing elegant yet edgy styling with clean lines, luxurious fabrics and an optimal fit.”
“I feel that design should never really overshadow the person wearing it,” she said in a chat on the phone. “It should highlight and accentuate the person.”
She likes clean lines, as part of designs that are rich-looking, and says the feminine form is so naturally beautiful that too much embellishment only detracts.
What separates her from others?
“I really am a big believer in not owning too many things, including garments,” she said. “The ideal is to own less but really love the things you have. … I think it’s just important to kept things edited, including your wardrobe.”
In moving forward with her fashion design business locally, Boccaccio has been able to link up with a “very talented pattern maker who’s right here in my hometown,” Rebecca Reinbold. And she’s in the process of building a website.
“I’m fueled by my passion for design, but I’m very much fueled by my desire to use my designing as a platform to do good things,” Boccaccio said, expressing a desire to use her fashion business in some way to benefit the fight against cancer. She lost her mother to cancer, her sister-in-law is going through chemo, and she underwent two surgeries last year for a cancerous ovarian tumor.
However her business evolves, the designs of Boccaccio—who also created the dress she wore to the Connecticut competition—will soon go worldwide when Sage Steele takes them before the bright lights and big (NBA) cities of ESPN.
To connect with Boccaccio, see her website under development.