If there were a TV game show called "Name That Designer," 15-year-old Jerrold Fernandez would be a very rich boy. He can spot a Krizia at a mile, identify the season Saint Laurent did knickers, and rattle off every color of Ralph Lauren's polo shirts.
Two years ago, Fernandez was hit by a car while working a paper route and spent three months in bed with a broken leg. "I didn't have much to do, so I started drawing," he said. "First I did automobiles, then floor plans, then shoes . . . then jeans . . . and so on and so on." He's been filling sketch pads and school notebooks with fashion illustrations ever since.
He prefers to copy from fashion magazines and trade papers, but jumps at the occasional chance to sketch from a videotape. "I went over to the Polo shop last year and again this year to sketch from the video of Ralph's show," Fernandez explained. "I love watching the shows but it's hard to sit there and be quiet. I get so excited." He knows when top designers come to town to make personal appearances and is not bashful about setting himself down among the "ladies" to sketch the clothes.
Fernandez, the only child in what he calls "a very conservative family," is quiet about his work. "Most of my friends don't even know about it," he admitted. "But I plan to make a new group of friends at Duke Ellington." Fernandez will start at the public high school for the arts this fall and regards his chance to go to Duke Ellington as his big break, his next step before New York and the Fashion Institute of Technology. "A month after the audition I knew I got it. Everybody knew I got into Duke Ellington. I was so happy," he beamed.
His itch to leave Washington is almost palpable. "I wish I could walk down any street and see someone dressed like they've stepped from the pages of Vogue. Washington is really not a fashion city to me. I guess all the fashion people are stuck in their limos up at Saks," he said with a grin.