At Pratt, an Award for Thom Browne, and a Stage for New Talents
Little-known fact: Pratt Institute boasts America’s longest-running fashion-education program. With alums such as Betsey Johnson and Jeremy Scott, Pratt reps a unique vanguard in the world of design—and last night, at its 114th annual senior fashion show, some talented new names were added to its stable.
Pratt headlines its yearly runways with the bestowal of its Visionary Award—an accolade honoring fashion-world luminaries, who needn’t be directly linked to the school. Last night’s recipient? The singular Thom Browne. “It’s overwhelming,” Browne told Style.com, “when you get to do what you do, and have an important institution, with such a strong reputation in the world of design, recognize it, it’s…it’s humbling.” Presenting the award, Hamish Bowles teased his friend. Referring to Browne’s growth over the aughts, he said, “Thom became something of a performance piece himself, a one-man Gilbert & George, in his stiff, tailored buttoned-up suits with the odd proportions.” Expect to see the designer in exactly this silhouette at the Costume Institute’s upcoming Met Ball—though likely with a punk twist. “I’m going with Taylor Tomasi Hill,” Browne revealed with a smile.
After the ceremony, it was on to the show, where front-rowers, including Fern Mallis, Bill Cunningham, and Bibhu Mohapatra, were treated to a lineup heavy on digital prints, washed-out pastels, a lot of white, and ultra-long silhouettes. Two designers stood out in particular: Raya Kassisieh (above, left), with her sometimes soft, sometimes sharp Brave New World brides (“It’s kind of like nouveau Mugler,” whispered Patrick McMullan), and Madeline Gruen (above, right), with her indigo colonial toile prints and glittering embroideries that blended humor with notes of Alexander McQueen and Liberace. Gruen won the night’s other big prize—a $25,000 grant funded by the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation.