Dom C

Each year, Columbus College of Art & Design identifies the person with the highest grade point average throughout their college career and selects them as valedictorian of their graduating class. This year, Fashion Design senior Dominic Ciucci has earned that distinction.

Ciucci, a native of Toledo, Ohio, had an interest in arts from the start. He was encouraged in his creative pursuits by teachers, friends, and family, and while he knew he wanted to pursue an art-related career, he also excelled in other areas of study, specifically math. In his senior year of high school, Ciucci chose to pursue a degree in architecture, which combined both his artistic and mathematical passions.

However, after studying architecture at The Ohio State University for two years, Ciucci made a change. He’d been enrolled in a fashion history course at Ohio State, and, he shares, “I found it so intriguing and wanted to learn how to create clothing just like the designers I was learning about. I also realized that I enjoy looking at and learning about architecture, but I don’t want to design it.”

So he transferred to CCAD to pursue Fashion Design. “At the beginning, I think we all were a little hesitant, mainly because I had already completed two years of architecture undergrad and had no skills in fashion at all,” admits Ciucci. However, he says, his family has been “extremely supportive and happy that I am pursuing something I am passionate about.”

Fashion sketches by Dominic Ciucci.
Fashion sketches by Dominic Ciucci.

Ciucci says his first impression of the CCAD “was that it was very small, at least in comparison to a school like OSU,” but he learned to appreciate its size. “It made it easier to make stronger friendships and connections, especially within the Fashion department,” he says.

If he had a time machine and could talk to past-him, Ciucci would encourage his younger self to experiment as much as possible, he says. “CCAD has so many unique and specialized classes. You can do yourself a real disservice by not exploring the possibilities. Take advantage of your resources and don’t take them for granted!”

At CCAD, Ciucci worked to make up for lost time learning about fashion design. He discovered he had a passion for garment construction, textile manipulation, and surface design techniques, and he quickly realized that the physical creation of fashion was where he belonged.

A drawing by Ciucci.
A drawing by Ciucci.

“I think I love the versatility and variety that design offers. Having the ability to stick to, or stray from, specific concepts and designs per project always makes me feel like I can adapt and change, instead of staying stagnant in my work,” he says. “The freedom of design pushes me to be even better than before.”

Ciucci says he used to say that his architecture background didn’t influence his fashion work. “But I was just fooling myself.”

“The best lesson it taught me was the importance of craftsmanship and attention to detail, something which I try my best to apply to any garment I make,” he says.

Cynthia Erivo Dress image
A dress design sketch by Ciucci.

Ciucci’s creative process has evolved at CCAD. These days, it’s more organic and unrestricted. “I used to be very structured when I designed, but fashion has allowed me to problem solve and adapt freely in both the design and creation stages,” he says.

Among Ciucci’s creations as a CCAD student are a fully tailored jacket and an accompanying 3D printed silicone spine he made for a junior-year tailoring class under the guidance and support of Adjunct Faculty Celeste Malvar-Stewart. (“She’s the best,” he says.)

In his senior year at CCAD, Ciucci received the Columbus Fashion Council Scholarship, which recognized his outstanding accomplishments as a student and designer in CCAD’s Fashion Design department. Winning the scholarship, he says, “was very validating.”

Apart from earning the distinction of being class valedictorian, Ciucci says completing his senior thesis/collection for the 2024 CCAD Fashion Show has been his greatest accomplishment at CCAD. “As a fashion student, you start working on your thesis during the summer leading into senior year, so my classmates and I have been working on our collections for almost a year now,” he says. “All of my garments were also accepted into this year’s Fashion Show, making all my hard work worth it.”

A look from Ciucci’s CCAD Fashion Show collection.
A look from Ciucci’s CCAD Fashion Show collection.

After graduation, Ciucci plans to expand his thesis collection and continue to grow his fashion expertise via independent work or a corporate position. And in the most immediate future, he will show work in “Fashion as Art,” a runway show at 8 p.m. Friday, June 7, on the Genoa Park Main Stage as part of the Columbus Arts Festival. All of this year’s designers are CCAD alums, including Chawis Saelim, a fellow member of the class of 2024, as well as Casey Immel-Brown (Fashion Design, 2023), and Tracy Powell (Fashion Design, 2020).

And Ciucci is effusive when it comes to thanking the people who got him to where he is today. “I want to thank my mom, dad, grandma, Abbie, CC, Rae, Kelly, and Bridey for always supporting and encouraging me,” he says. “To Amanda Constantine, Rachel Cass-Kauser, Celeste Malvar-Stewart, and the Fashion Design department faculty, thank you for teaching me all the skills necessary to excel as a fashion designer. And a special shoutout to Logan, Chawis, and Alyssa for always being in the labs with me this semester. You guys made all the work bearable!”

CCAD celebrates its 145th Commencement on Saturday, May 11. Visit for more.

Learn more about the Fashion Design program at CCAD or apply here.