When Diana Fonte and Jason Cerin were freshmen, they realized that, unlike other universities, USC didn’t have a fashion magazine. The pair wanted to make a space for students to express their creativity, so they formed Haute Magazine, an art- and fashion-driven publication.
“If you are creative, you need to be able to do that. But a lot of times if you are not like, a film major, an art major, you don’t have anywhere to put that creative energy, because a lot of the organizations aren’t really based in that,” said Fonte, a junior majoring in public relations who serves as the magazine’s editor in chief. “That’s something that we saw a space for, and we wanted to showcase that work, showcase these incredible minds on campus, in the heart of one of the biggest cities in the world.”
Haute Magazine launched its first issue this semester. The organization allows students to produce both visual and written content. The magazine produces two issues per year, and they aim for around 200 pages, even though the current fall issue, their debut issue, is almost 400 pages. Fonte said the magazine’s articles explore the intersection of phenomena/social issues and art.
“Haute” comes from “haute couture,” or “high fashion,” which came about partly from Fonte’s love of French culture and art. Cerin, a junior majoring in international relations who serves as the magazine’s creative director, believes that the ability to disseminate their work so conveniently has contributed to their success and growth.
“Just the scale of it and the level of content that we have been able to achieve is something that, in such a short amount of time, is something that we are very proud of,” Cerin said.
The magazine has continued to grow and recently collaborated with Vans.
The Vans campus marketing manager for USC reached out to Fonte, and told her about the “Spirit of DIY” project, a nation-wide initiative that selects 50 universities across the country, and 10 finalists to participate in a two-day project, which includes a photoshoot.
Haute was chosen to be the one out of two of the LA chapters. It did a two-day project with Vans, which included a photoshoot with several models, staff and photography production, hair and makeup and a wardrobe styling team for their upcoming issue.
“It’s a really great opportunity, I think, to show people what we are trying to do here, how we’re trying to give people access to creative opportunities,” Fonte said.
One part of the process was finding their adviser, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism professor Christina Bellantoni, who said she was impressed by the mockup issue.
“They presented their idea to me, and they really had done a lot of work ahead of time,” Bellantoni said. “They had a mock-up issue, they had a vision, they had people, they had photographers lined up, they really had done their homework. I thought they were really organized and interesting, so I agreed.”
In Spring 2019, Haute officially debuted at the Involvement Fair with their newly created mock-up issue and hoped to recruit new members. The issue contained three large features, including a student photographer, a student musical artist and an external fashion designer that Fonte had gotten into contact with.
Now, the club comprises around 40 members, meets weekly and is composed of four different teams: a writing team, a photography team, a visual design team and a marketing team.
The theme for Haute’s fall 2019 issue is “Out of Context.” According to Cerin, this idea is about exploring content that may appear different, or may not be perceived as normal in the sense of a fashion magazine, or just art in general.
Originally, Fonte wanted something more symbolic of L.A. culture, but she felt that the mission was not focused on LA lifestyle, but bringing something new to campus culture: “an elevated art, fashion, cultural representation to USC.”
In terms of the magazine’s future, the adviser suggests that the two consider their legacy.
“You always have to think about legacy at a college,” Bellantoni said. “Because at some point, they will graduate and they’re going to need people to take over the reins, or it will die … And I think with a student organization, it is the same thing. To continue to have success, they need to recruit people that are as passionate as they are — who are going to help it live on and continue to thrive.”