MADE Fashion Week hosted the inaugural runway show for the first graduating class of the new MFA in Fashion Design and Society at Parsons The New School for Design, a highly selective program for talented, emerging designers that was initiated through the support of Parsons alumna Donna Karan. Students presented their personal vision, with a focus on process and identity, through a body of work that encompasses highly executed, innovative clothing and accessory collections. The first graduating class is truly international—its eighteen students represent Australia, China, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Peru, Switzerland, Taiwan, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States.
As a major supporter of emerging designers I’m thrilled that there is a program like MADE which amazingly provides the space and production of their designers shows for free (and you think NYC is all about the $). I was equally excited by Parsons new MFA program and the collections I saw on the runway. There was a range of styles and concepts in the show but overall it was creative and showed excellent craft. (I’m always fearful of craft being relegated to the backseat in favor of theory or concept in graduate programs but this was not the case.) Below are images from the runway along with excerpts from the designer’s statements and the group opinion of me with a few select friends who love fashion.
All runway photos by Dan Lecca, courtesy of Parsons New School of Design.
No statement available
We say: In a city where everyone wears black it’s sometimes hard to differentiate yourself from the masses. Qianyan’s collection lets you have your black and your uniqueness too. All of the pieces play with sheerness vs opacity, symmetry vs. asymmetry in ways that seem sophisticated and don’t look like the designer (or then the wearer) is “trying too hard”. We’re especially drawn to the two full length dresses: they both achieve elegance and ease simultaneously. No small feat!
My thesis research project explores multiple histories of the origin, ownership and use of clothing. The garment is a unique artifact, which carries evidence of human activities and transactions. With this as the focus I explore ways of interacting with clothing that center around redistribution and reinvention (appropriation) and redefine the accepted understandings of possession and authenticity within the fashion system. Using the word
‘collection’ as the starting point of this project, it explores what other forms a ‘collection’ of clothing could take and in doing so reveal alternate ways of engaging with the clothes we wear. The use of the word ‘collection’ within the fashion context refers to a set of garments that relate to each other, produced and presented seasonally by a brand or designer. However a ‘collection’ can take many different forms and be bound by various conditions that have the possibility to extend beyond one season or one designer. The project is a ‘collection of collections’ – a body of work that incorporates 2D, 3D and digital/web.
We say: Ruby your statement makes our collective heads spin -and we have yet to break into the second bottle of champagne. Okay, we’re going with this as a serious research project and we’re interested to see the direction in which you develop. We find the first and third look the most striking –the cut of the fabric and jewel blue tone of the latter feels particularly fresh. Their was a bit of a discussion that the last 2 looks seemed like a riff on a Comme des Garcons trench that our friend Sophia Lamar owns but unique enough not to be considered copies in any way.
The inspiration for my thesis collection developed after I began examining the idea of self-camouflage and how we wear colors and prints to distract or enhance something. I began looking at my own wardrobe and the mixture of prints and colors and drew inspiration from how they all worked together. Then became my obsession with color… I began photographing objects and anything I could find that had an interesting color to me. While collecting these colors I was able to start developing a library of different shades and varieties of the one color. I was looking at the meaning behind different colors originally, but then when I was still on my color hunt I went back home to Dublin for Christmas and found large jam buckets of color coordinated buttons my Dad had received a few years previous from the seamstress who retired from the psychiatric hospital he had worked in. So I then began photographing these mounds of buttons she had been collecting for years in the hospital, and thankfully she had them color coordinated so I saw a variety of greens, blues, pinks, golds and oranges just from the button piles. I then developed prints from these photographs and started working them on the stand to build my shapes.
We say: You know, when we’re not wearing the aforementioned black we love color -and preferably bold, brassy, in-your-face color because we don’t believe in half measures. In that way this collection fit the bill. What’s great is the unexpected print along with the variation of scale and tone while keeping the looks monochromatic. And can we talk about the silhouettes? Other designers known for their use of color are also known for cutting clothes that look appropriate only for prom queens or cheerleaders. This collection? Beautifully tailored. Completely wearable.
I was very interested in exploring the intersection between design and technology. Inspired by the QR code, I translated my website address into a code and brought this as a tool for my design development, such as color blocking and pattern cutting in my knitwear collection.
We say: Color blocking. Major Trend. Will it continue? If it continues in this manner we hope so. There is such ease and movement to these garments that we can see them being worn for “every day” wear for gallery girls in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Some nicely unexpected color combinations as well: acidic lemon-line with poppy red, deep purple with a chalky pale blue accented with a stroke of orange.
reFold / the collection serves as a precarious externalization of consumer culture and presents ideas of accumulation and materiality. I am interested in how consumables, however excessive, may become part of human condition and necessity. Repetitive accumulation and repetitive consumption stimulates ones need to consume many different ‘types’ of products with the same basic function. The collection explores the re-consumption of basic elements of dress such as the tee shirt, jean & sweater. Repeating the cycle of consumption through sourcing, fabrication and make of the garments, I aim to redirect the position of these basic items into a luxury market. Each tee shirt and sweater has been developed through a process of deconstruction, where vintage tee shirts have been knitted and woven together before reconstructed into a new variation of the item. For each tee shirt parts of 5‐7 vintage tee shirts have been utilized in the reconstruction.
We say: Okay this is conceptually pretty cool and we see the translation in the actual collection. There is a tomboy feel to these clothes that come from their oversized nature as well as the gray color palette and ribbed hems. The subtle stripes in the garments and the layering are really nice but we wonder if you’re not as tiny as Mary Kate and Ashley if you can get away with wearing pieces with this much volume…
This is the end of our 3 part review, We hope you enjoyed it and be sure to read parts 1 and 2! And check out UP|Coming for profiles of some of these designers as well as other new NYC based designers.