Nationally renowned dress designer Donna Ricco joins Mount Mary University

Donna Ricco, known for the smart and stylish dresses she designed and sold under her label, is returning to her alma mater Mount Mary University for a position that leverages her industry connections and professional expertise.

Ricco, who graduated from Mount Mary in 1981, will join the University as an Executive Fellow, University President Christine Pharr, Ph.D., announced during a media conference on Wednesday.

“Donna Ricco’s dresses have been sold by every major department store and specialty chain in the country,” Pharr said. “Her name carries national recognition and respect, a name known for her creative vision and her integrity. We are delighted to welcome Donna Ricco home to Milwaukee, and Mount Mary University.”

“Her name carries national recognition and respect, her name is known for her creative vision and integrity. We are delighted to welcome Donna Ricco home to Milwaukee, and Mount Mary University.”

Christine Pharr, Ph.D
Mount Mary University President

Ricco has worked in all aspects of fashion, including research, design and presentation, sales and product development. Her network extends to professional connections in the fields of design and textiles, merchandising, sales and production.

In 2008, Michelle Obama created a sensation for Donna Ricco dresses while campaigning for her husband’s first term in office when she wore Donna Ricco dress on an appearance for the television show The View. As a result, 2,000 of these dresses were sold in a single day.

Ricco will divide her time between the Mount Mary campus in Milwaukee and her home base in New York, where she will also work on behalf of the University, expanding its industry connections.

“Donna became a well-known name because she had the will to carry out her dreams and creativity,” said Alan Schifman, an executive in the textile industry who designed and manufactured many of Ricco’s most successful fabrics. “It’s unusual to have a designer who can integrate her ideas into a business.”

Throughout her career, Ricco has held the enduring belief that “nothing is as effortless as a dress,” she said. “My goal has been to design dresses that are the most perfect, most confident choice for a variety of women, wearable dresses that are on trend for any event, day through dinner.

“Although I’ve retired from the day-to-day design of Donna Ricco dresses, I still love to follow fashion, both the creative and the business. I’ve been thinking about how I might put this interest to good use. Because I stay connected to Mount Mary, I realized I could give back by sharing my interest and experiences, as well as my vast network of industry professionals.

“My vision is to research these trends and to connect and interact with those individuals and organizations whose ideas and methods will impact the way we build the fashion program at Mount Mary.”

Read more about Donna Ricco here

Media Coverage:

Donna Ricco Media Event

Decades of Fashion

From left to right, Ashley Brooks, Fashion Department Chair, Sister Aloyse Hessburg, the founder of Mount Mary University's Fashion Design program, and Donna Ricco '81, Fashion Designer and Executive Fellow.

Donna Ricco Inteviewed

Visions for the Future

Donna shares her views on returning back to her alma mater to help grow the university's fashion design program.

Dr. Pharr Interviewed at Donna Ricco Press Conference by Fox 6

Welcoming Donna Ricco

Dr. Christine Pharr, Mount Mary Presdient, was interviewed by Fox 6 News about welcoming Donna Ricco back to campus.