Parsons: The First 18
“I think what the students have in common is that they each have an individual voice,” said Shelley Fox, the director of the new MFA Fashion Design and Society course at Parsons School of Design. The course is the first of its kind in New York. And on Saturday, at Made Fashion Week at Milk Studios, its first 18 graduates (hailing from 13 countries) sent the fruits of their labor down the catwalk. Donna Karan, who was a strong supporter of the course and instrumental in its inception, turned up to cheer on the grads. “Although I was a student at Parsons, I found myself hiring a lot of people from Louise Wilson at Central Saint Martins in London and I said, ‘Wait, how come we don’t have a graduate program in New York?’ ” said Karan. Wilson herself crossed the pond to attend the show. She shared the front row with the likes of Fern Mallis, Julie Gilhart, and Bill Cunningham—not a bad turnout for a student production.
The show opened with looks by Lucia Cuba. With a background in social psychology, the Peruvian designer created a sartorial expression of activism, commenting on women’s issues and politics in Lima. The clothes combined 1950s silhouettes with prints of women’s crotches or pictures of a young Alberto Fujimori (a dictator who has been jailed for human rights abuses). Paula Cheng’s collection of webbed, multitextural silver and gray knits was another standout (pictured).
Students explored concepts of deconstruction and reconstruction (like show-closer Talia Shuvalov’s sweatshirts embellished with vintage tees that she took apart and rewove, or Jun Juyeon Hong’s impeccable wool suiting that featured unexpected lines, layers, and cutouts) and minimalism (like Beckett Fogg’s embossed leather and chiffon collection, or Noriko Kikuchi’s ethereal white looks based on emptiness) and showed no fear when it came to color. Liverpool native Carly Ellis was particularly courageous in her sporty, techno looks. Backstage, the purple-haired designer explained that she was inspired by vivid tourist pictures she snapped in New York as well as fragmented Skype images and the geometric painting rituals of South Africa’s Ndebele tribe. Sinéad Lawlor’s tailored button-photo print collection, which featured smart suiting combined with knitting techniques and lace, was another colorful offering. Each of the collections was conceptually rich and, at times, complicated, but many of the designs seemed not only wearable but sellable, too.