Sandra Wilkins

Chair of Fashion Design


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  • BFA Virginia Commonwealth University


Sandra Bell has been creating clothing for profit since the age of nine. Fashion design was deemed a creative and lucrative hobby for a young woman but everyone thought that music would provide a respectable future and it was music that provided a scholarship to University.  When Sandra applied and ultimately arrived at University there was no question in her mind that Fashion was her ultimate passion. After graduation from VCU in 1968, she freelanced in LA and worked as a sales manager for Bullock’s of Southern California to pay the bills. In 1977 she returned to her alma mater as a full time graduate and teaching assistant in the Theatre Department and in 1978b became a fulltime instructor in the Department of Fashion, promoted to assistant professor in 1985 and tenured professor in 1992. In 1990 Sandra ended her part time pursuits of a MFA in Costume Design with only 8 credits and a thesis in the way of completion, but vowed to resume her studies in the not so distant future.

In 1992 she was named interim chair of the VCU Fashion Department and remained in that position until 1996. It was that same year that Sandy travelled to Zimbabwe on a USAID grant to teach, consult and develop Fashion Programs for technical schools in Southern Africa, and in the fall semester of 1999 traveled to Qatar to head the Fashion program in the Shaqab College of Design Arts. In 2002 Shaqab College officially became VCUQatar and in 2005, Sandra became the Chair of the Fashion Department.

Research Interests

  • History of middle eastern fashion, sustainability in the middle eastern region and the similarities in/between and the juxtaposition of silhouette in North African, Middle Eastern and South Eastern Asian apparel.



  • National conference of Artist, “Fashion: the African influence” – April 1984
  • Maymount Foundation, “Victorian Fashion” – October 1993
  • Virginia Film Festival, University of Virginia, “fashion of the 40’s film Noir Genre” – October 1993
  • Regional Meeting “Mary Kay International - effective wardrobe planning”  – April 1991
  • Professional Women’s network “Fashion do’s and don’ts” – June 1991
  • VCU “Fashion in the Fifties” – October 1984
  • Chapitre Rochambeau federation des alliance francaises “Development of French Couture” – December 1991
  • Valentine Museum “Fashion between the wars” – November 1985
  • VCU “French fashion since 1947”
  • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts “The Harlem Renaissance” – Mat 1998


  • NAACP – Actso Juror, National Student drawing competition – Atlanta Georgia 1998
  • NAACP – Actso Juror, National Student drawing competition – Pittsburg Penn 1997
  • Hal Jackson, National Talented Teen Competition – Washington DC 1995
  • Miss Black America, Virginia State Finals – 1993


  • Gordonsville Museum “Historical Garments” - 1990
  • Maymount Foundation “Holiday Christmas” – 1983
  • VCUQatar “Arabian and Islamic Dress and exhibition of traditional clothing” (with Precious Lovell – 2001
  • VCUQ “Generations” – 2008


  • VCUQatar Faculty Show “All Dolled Up” – 2011
  • VCUQatar 10th Anniversary Solo Exhibition “Kiabaya” – 2008
  • Eric Schindler Gallery “Kimono” – June 2004
  • VCUQatar faculty show “All tucked up and nowhere to go” – 2003
  • VCUQatar faculty show “Stripes – a tribute to Gilbert Adrian” - 2002

Recent publications/articles

  • Society Magazine – January 2012