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.
Part one of three.
Society is a record of time, made up of layers of individual stories, conversations and moments of everyday life. It is from this that I take my inspiration. I choose to communicate visually, working in layers of information and transparency creating a dialogue. My work shows a changing view though a pathway of lost text with moments of opacity that reveal gaps of light. It relates to the quote from the Swedish artist Mamma Andersson: “To make a concentrated feeling for something, you have to reduce it to the few small things that can tell a story. Then you can make your own history.”
We say: Seriously?!? This is what scares us about MFA programs. The need to layer explanations and concepts onto the actual work. We don’t see the relationship other than the actual layering but luckily we don’t care. We’re loving: the metallic green, mixing of textures and the proportions. And can we discuss the coordinating platforms? NICE.
I began by taking aerial images on Google Earth, keeping the frame consistent but changing the time period and looking at the shots in sequence. I used these prints as inspiration for my fabric development. Using various embossing and fusing techniques, I merged layers of chiffon and leather to build up the resulting textures.
We say: While we see your concept the white piece feel a bit too blocky –perhaps too literal of a translation– for our tastes. The black pieces with the perforated leather though could definitely become “go to” pieces.
The process began by observing architecture in New York, which then led to line drawings that were used to inform garment construction, draping and graphic prints. Viewing a documentary on the Ndbele tribe of South Africa, a parallel emerged between my geometric line drawings and their tribal artwork. The tribal paintings represent pride and showmanship, qualities that resembled the meticulous displays of New York newsstands. These similarities formed the basis for my color, textile and graphic exploration. Collecting imagery from Skype video chats where moments became pixilated led to an obsession with the idea of viewing an image before it was complete, and the idea of a technological breakdown creating an accidental art form. Using screen grabs to capture the moment before the software has time to fully process images of newsstands; I created designs that united the original inspiration and the Ndebele tribe, enabling me to fuse seemingly different core influences.
We say: COLOR. colorcolorcolorcolor! We’re New York girls so we do love our black, but that being said we think this is a great use of color. And the slouchy silhouettes with structured shoulders are a nice juxtaposition. But what we really covet is the jacket with the hot pink sleeves!
The collection is entitled “La Défense Apologétique de mes Monstres,” which when translated means the Apologetic Defense of my Monsters. I have always been fascinated by the dynamics of relationships between people, and as a designer I am constantly re-‐assessing my own relationships in the pursuit of authenticity. This collection emerged from the observation of the constant non-‐verbal conversations that people engage in. I explored in depth, using both firsthand and theoretical research, the meanings behind the various different ways in which we reveal ourselves to others. The results of my investigation into the complexities of these relationships and conversations run as a thread throughout the collection and naturally expressed itself through the layering of textures, proportions and silhouette.
We say: Whatevs Claire. Your collection is pretty sick. It’s perfect for the urban girl in every way: that it’s primarily black is a given, but we think the use of volume and asymmetry is pretty brilliant too. We LOVE the black and white coat in the first image as well as the second look with the kimono like sleeves and side opening. Not huge fans of the black and white checked coat with the transparent white fabric over it but perhaps this reflects a not-so-great relationship?…
Elisa van Joolen
In this collection I explore the relationship between fashion and time, and its preoccupation with the newest thing. What has just been presented as fashionable or “in fashion,” will the next season become “out of fashion.” What is newness? I explore this by combining garments from this season, last season, and a few years ago as part of my collection; just like an average wardrobe that consists of a range of garments from different origins and times.
We say: Sporty. Deconstructed. This is definitely conceptual fashion yet still wearable. We won’t pretend to totally “get it” but it leaves us intrigued. The black sweatshirt in the second look has interesting geometry and if instead of gym shorts we had the white skirt in the third look we might’ve even attended our P.E. class.
This collection challenged me to address the most fundamental of elements of designing clothes, that of craft, technique and making. I combined pleating and quilting, overlapping multiple layers of chiffon to create new colors. The palette was inspired by the Japanese photographer Yamayochi, who lived on the summit of Mt. Fuji over a period of five years photographing the sunrise. The results of this effort are often spectacular: at times the photographs almost seem to show an alien world, full of brilliant yellows, searing oranges, and radiant blues. But this book is not just about showing beautiful scenery, which is far removed from our daily lives. By reaching a point as far away from the earth-‐-‐and as close to outer space as possible, Yamauchi asks the viewer to consider the fragility of their own existence.
We say: At first glance we see super girly Japanese schoolgirl aesthetic. But looking a bit longer we’re impressed by the pleating and the subtlety of color and shape –especially in the last look with the cape. Also think the headwear -earphones embellished with My Little Pony’s as well as other girly details could easily become a coveted cult favorite with the club kids.
Part 2 coming Wednesday