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July 30 2014

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Pratt Honors the Past and the Present

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Pratt

“We all started here,” related designer Byron Lars of his experience studying at the Pratt Institute. “Up all night, working tirelessly on your collection—your first collection—the first one that anybody in the industry will actually view. It’s a really big thing.” Lars and the legendary Stephen Burrows were honored by Pratt in a ceremony just before the annual Pratt student fashion show yesterday at Center548 in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood.

“To be awarded for [something that I feel is a privilege every day]—it’s like, that feels really wrong!” exclaimed Lars upon receiving his Fashion Visionary Award from longtime friend and fan Angela Bassett. (“Uptown they call it swag. Downtown, struts. But up the way where I’m from, they say, ‘I’m feelin’ myself,’” said Bassett of what it means to wear Lars’ colorful creations.)

Burrows thanked his muse, Pat Cleveland (who danced down the runway to present him with his Lifetime Achievement Award), for inspiration for his game-changing designs. “What inspired me to even want to do this? What I thought of first was my mother’s black patent-leather pumps—and, of course, my meeting with Pat Cleveland,” recalled Burrows. As a student fresh out of Pratt, “I didn’t see a need for a lining. I didn’t even want underwear. That was a little risqué at the time, but it was fantastic,” he said. “It’s all about freedom.”

For the students last night as well, there was a sense of uninhibited creativity on the runway. Sixties space-age-style wares, monochromatic sculptural separates, deconstructed sweaters dripping in cakey off-white paint, and pastel color-blocked, candy-sweet knit crop tops represented just a few of the twenty-one student collections on view. “[The landscape of fashion] has always been mercurial by nature, but now…social media and online sales have changed everything we do,” said Lars. “It’s just about being sensitive to the opportunities that are presented—the real opportunities.”

“You never know what you’re going to see,” added Burrows just before the show, “but hopefully it’s something innovative and new and exciting.”

Photo: Fernando ColonĀ 

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