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Top of the Class: Inside Parsons’ PH² Exhibition

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If you’ve been following our coverage of the Parsons/Kering competition, you’re well aware that college graduation is nigh. But it’s not just Parsons’ BFA students who are presenting their final collections. Tomorrow, the second graduating class from the school’s MFA Fashion Design and Society program will unveil their wares at PH², an exhibition whose opening will be cohosted by Diane von Furstenberg. Yesterday, professor Shelley Fox and the best of the eighteen graduates gave Style.com a first look at their progressive work. “What impressed me was their persistence not to give up, to experiment, and to push themselves in a way they didn’t know they were capable of,” said Fox of the graduates, who will reveal their complete lineups during a show at New York fashion week in September. This year, Fox put a particular emphasis on pushing the students to create their own fabrics. “That’s one way you can really define yourself and set yourself apart from other designers,” she said.

Several of the grads took this to the extreme, like knitwear designer Hannah Jenkinson (above, left). Hailing from the UK, the 29-year-old pulled inspiration from the minimal clothes of the Amish, Mennonites, and nuns, as well as athletic wear. “But really,” she notes, “the collection was driven by technique and process; by [exploring] the boundaries of what makes something knitwear.” Take, for instance, her transparent jumper, in which she trapped strands of white yarn between two layers of fusing material. Other looks were crafted from rubber or repurposed vintage pieces. Chunky laces—like the ones seen on her sheer track pants or feminine skirts, were painstakingly hand-embroidered. “Some of [the pieces] took eight days.”

Melitta Baumeister, a 27-year-old German designer, took a new-wave approach to fabrication (above, right). She would finish a fabric garment, make a mold, and then recast it in silicone or foam. The result was classic clothing—like a white oxford shirt, a bomber, or a lace dress—reinvented in what felt like rubber. The collection, she explained, has to do with “controlling the uncontrollable, materializing liquid, and preserving a moment of movement in the garment.” The digital age affected her designs as well. “Now, with things like Instagram, capturing an image of a moment or a memory is almost more important than the memory itself.” Continue Reading “Top of the Class: Inside Parsons’ PH² Exhibition” »