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From Farmyard to Fashion Studio, Student Sets New Pattern

Josh Osborn sketched out his future when he was 10 years old. That's when the farm boy, wearing his heart on his sleeve, sent off his best sketches to Vogue magazine and to New York designer Isaac Mizrahi. Now, 12 years later, Josh is fashioning a dream-come-true by going to work for Mizrahi during a winter quarter co-op.

Date: 12/8/2003 8:00:00 AM
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Andrew Higley
UC ingot Harveysburg, Ohio, native Josh Osborn doesn’t need to check his Christmas list twice – he’s already got the best Christmas present possible. 

Just after Christmas, Josh, a fashion design senior, will spend winter quarter 2004 working in New York City.  On the face of it, nothing terribly special in that.  Fashion design students from UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning regularly work for New York design firms as part of their cooperative-education requirements.  Co-op refers to the practice of alternating academic quarters with paid, professional work related to one’s major.  The practice of co-op had its worldwide founding at UC in 1906.

But Josh, 22, has more than a ho-hum co-op planned.  It’s more like ho-ho-ho for him as he’ll work with noted designer Isaac Mizrahi, contributing to Mizrahi’s design for Target Corporation.  This co-op is the culmination of a long-time dream.

Explains Josh, “I started sketching when I was age 5.  I sketched everything from clothes and costumes to architecture and interior spaces…”

At age 10, Josh filled a school notebook with fashion sketches, mimicking store outlet catalogues, and he also sent a letter – along with 10 sketches – to the advertising department of Vogue magazine.  “Someone in the editorial department actually sent me a letter back.  They said they hoped to one day see Joshua Osborn’s work in their pages.  The writer also said that my work put him in mind of Isaac Mizrahi.  They said, ‘He started at your age, and your style is like his.’  That’s when I became aware of Mizrahi’s work, and I sent sketches off to him too.”

Though those first sketches sent off to Mizrahi came back because of an incorrect address, Josh never stopped following Mizrahi’s career:  “The movie about his work, Unzipped, is my favorite movie.  I’ve watched his show [The Isaac Mizrahi Show, a show with celebrity guests] on the Oxygen cable channel.”

When he finally had the chance to interview for a co-op quarter with Mizrahi this past summer, Josh admits to being “really nervous.”  He recalls, “I flew to New York to interview and consider various co-op opportunities, but Mizrahi was top pick.”

“When I went up to interview, they put me in Mizrahi’s office because he wasn’t there yet.”  Adds Josh, “I was looking at the ball gowns he’d designed, and I wanted to examine them up close, but I didn’t dare.  I just had this entire sense that I was on ‘Candid Camera.’”

When they finally met, Josh found Mizrahi to be just as he’d seen him on television.  “He looked at my portfolio….He was complimentary as he looked at my work.  He kept saying, ‘Congratulations.  Congratulations.  You’re a good designer.’  It was cool to hear him say that.  He lent me a book of an artist with whom my work shares some resemblance.  He told me not to spill anything on it because he wants the book back,” laughs Josh. 

After a second set of interviews with Mizrahi’s assistants as Josh was on his way to the airport the next day, Josh returned to Columbus, Ohio, where he was co-opping with Abercrombie & Fitch at the time.  Finally, in early November, Josh found out he’s to start work with Mizrahi’s firm the first full week in January.     

Once he graduates in June 2004, Josh plans to return to New York to seek permanent work as a designer while seeking to develop his own fashion sense and signature.  And while it’s far from the Harveysburg farm where his parents still live, Josh says his family is behind him the whole way.

“They knew I would never be a farmer,” states Josh.  “A few times when my dad tried to get me to help clean the stalls, I carried on so much that he said he couldn’t put up with the dramatics.  My mom encouraged my interests in art by taking me to the theater and making special trips to fashion exhibits…”

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