Courtney Lyons is the first student profile of the BarnardHistoryBlog column “Barnard Crush” which aptly describes how I felt about her when we first met – through her Instagram profile. When I interviewed her on Thursday, January 28, 2021 (the first time we’ve ever talked), she was an absolute ray of sunshine dressed in shades of yellows and oranges and sitting in front of a wall of eclectic thrifted frames and art. She exuded carefully-curated individuality that’s fun and lively. Here is Courtney Lyons in her own words on how she cultivated her passion for fashion as a History major at Barnard College
–Reporter Connie Cai
What are your most memorable college courses to date?
“Consumer Culture in Modern Europe” with Professor Lisa Tiersten informed my concentration which is Global Trade and Consumerism. I begged her to be my advisor and begged to be in that class! I made up my concentration and focused on my personal interest: fashion. I wrote my final paper on Coco Chanel, how her involvements in World War One and Two, especially her Nazi affiliations, impacted her fashion brand. I also took a seminar on technology and capitalism with Professor Whitney Laemmli and focused my final paper on fashion again! I wrote about how sewing machines changed the fashion industry and investigated the categories of ready-to-wear and haute couture.
Why did you become a History major and what is the topic of your senior thesis?
I fell in love with history in high school when I took AP World History. When I applied to Barnard, I applied as a prospective History major but when I arrived, I tried out a couple of majors, including Computer Science. Ultimately, I returned to History because History is absolutely my favorite subject. I’m writing my senior thesis on the development of the fashion industry in Italy after World War Two and how the Hollywood film industry helped create the fashion industry.
I studied abroad in Italy last spring semester (which was cut short due to COVID 19) so my Italian knowledge comes in handy for my senior thesis.
What extracurricular activities have you participated in?
I’m involved in the HOOT magazine and wrote a history article about the history of high heel shoes. I’m also a part of Sprout Up, a student-led organization that teaches environmental science to elementary students. I’m on the administrative side of the club so instead of teaching, I put together learning kits for students to use in class.
Off-campus activities have included internships in New York. As a Freshman, I was the social media intern at Rent the Runway (more fashion!). I also worked at the Lincolnshire Private Equity Firm doing marketing and at a startup incubator called Innovation Department.
What do you wish people would know about fashion?
I’m also an environmental science minor so I’m always thinking about how fast fashion contributes to climate change. I hope people become aware of the detrimental effects of the global economy of fashion- the pollution and the human rights violations. As a History student, I’m in love with how fashion has evolved in a cyclical way. Fashion is an art form that should move forward sustainably and maintain its artistic integrity!
What do you think about Barnard students’ style? Is our campus fashionable?
Yes! Barnard is such a stylish school! There is a level of encouragement that comes from being New York City too. On a whole, Barnard is a well-dressed school and students have such different styles.
How would you describe your wardrobe?
All over the place. I am inspired by different time periods and also appreciate modern trends. I’m heavily influenced by the 80s and I love thrifting. I’m from Westchester, NY so I often go to the Salvation Army. Beacon’s Closet is a guilty pleasure and L Train Vintage has great denim. Also, I encourage people to thrift online as well. I like Poshmark. There are more choices to explore and you can bid! I’m very meticulous about what I buy and I’m not a fan of just getting rid of clothes. I like to upcycle and rework them. I also put certain pieces on Depop or gift it to my younger sister.
http://www.lyonsfeels.com was my 8th grade creation. I just kept it going. Now, it serves as a portfolio and sometimes I get to work with brands which is really exciting. Most of my photos are actually taken via self-timer but sometimes my friends and my boyfriend help out.
How have you been handling Zoom classes and combatting Zoom fatigue this semester?
I highly recommend that you take handwritten notes. It’s less distracting and you can make the zoom lectures full screen. Also, when it is time for course selection, go try out for anything that sounds interesting via the Zoom link on the Vergil page.
I really miss my go-to study spots: the big, green chairs near the windows on the fourth floor of Milstein, Diana third floor, and Diana Café but never Butler. Butler is too dark and too quiet. I also loved studying in the Starbucks on 111th Street. I write my essays there. I work best when there is a lot of noise and other people doing their own things. I would have tea or hot chocolate and just work on my essays.
Courtney Lyons can be found on:
If you have someone in mind for the “Barnard Crush” column, please email Connie Cai at firstname.lastname@example.org. Barnard students are welcome to send in their own articles!