Fashion professor Ana Ortega-Johnson serves as a beacon of inspiration and individuality. – Marist College The Circle

Fashion Professor Ana Ortega-Johnson in her Thanksgiving glamor.
Photo by Ana Ortega-Johnson
According to Forbes, Marist College ranked among the top ten best colleges in the world that are shaping the future of fashion. Naturally, those that are curating the perfect mold of the next generation reflect that of style icons, expressing and encouraging individuality without limitations. 
Adjunct Instructor of Fashion Ana Ortega-Johnson is no stranger to daily glamor. From moon boots to bows, Ortega-Johnson refuses to categorize or limit herself. 
“I never got into anything that you would have to be an identity. I never got into goth, but I love black leather so I’ll wear black leather with a pink bow,” said Ortega-Johnson. “I want me to come out. I can’t be just one thing.” 
Evading identities and never succumbing to the trends, Ortega-Johnson prides herself in her uniqueness. “I like to look different. My trend is to break the trend that everybody’s doing,” she said. “I don’t like to follow.”
While it may not seem like it, our clothes hold a great deal of power. They have the ability to create a persona, tell the world who you are and who you want to be, inspire creativity and even influence others. 
For some of Ortega-Johnson’s students, she serves as a beacon of inspiration and individuality.
“She inspires me to be bold and have confidence in my own style and it encourages me to tell my own story through what I wear,” said Jo Anna Valdez ‘23.
Ortega-Johnson credits her mother and all the women in her family for sparking her passion for fashion and inspiring her effortlessly glamorous style. But, she wasn’t always the chic professor she is today. As a young girl, all she ever wanted to wear was Levi’s, a T-shirt and wedges.
Now, Ortega-Johnson finds complete joy in dressing herself with the utmost originality and style. As she washes her hair in the morning or feeds her chickens and goats, Ortega-Johnson often visualizes her next outfit. “To me, it’s like cooking or painting. It’s nice to put things together and to project something,” she said.
While she relishes in the fashion world’s ability to create and project something beautifully unique, she acknowledges that there is still a long way to go in the fashion industry’s inclusion, honesty and education. Although the industry has opened itself up considerably by showing the backend and process of how a garment came to be or the elements of a photo shoot, she would still like to see more of the ups and downs in order for people to understand that the glamor we see takes a lot to get there, and it’s not always so glamorous. Perfection is not reality. 
Oftentimes, she is saddened by her students’ self-restraints within the fashion industry. She’s seen those with great vision shy away from design because they are not a strong illustrator. However, Ortega-Johnson reassures her students that one does not need to be an artist to create. She encourages and emphasizes the willingness to learn and grow.
She hopes to see the industry come down to education, bringing more hands-on learning to students and showcasing the other elements that exist beyond design and merchandising. Ortega-Johnson hopes to enlighten students about the endless opportunities and directions in the fashion realm and teach them that it’s okay to change your mind and it’s important to grow.
“I learned this later in life and I wish someone had told me. Because you’re this today, doesn’t mean you’re going to be this at 24, at 27, at 32,” said Ortega-Johnson. “Keep evolving. Keep learning.”
As the Marist Fashion Program continues to foster growth and expansion, Ortega-Johnson is among many of the professors that seek to embolden their students to embrace their uniqueness and draw outside the lines through experimentation and education in every aspect. 
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