3 posts tagged "Pratt Institute"
“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.”
As a designer who has known both success and failure in the fashion industry, Miguel Adrover is the kind of mentor many students should hear from, and very few do. So when Adrover was in town from his native Majorca to speak at the Initiatives in Art and Culture’s fifteenth annual fashion conference, Extraordinary: Icons, Iconoclasm, and Innovation, the Pratt Institute’s Fashion Department Chair Jennifer Minniti took advantage of the opportunity and invited him to critique the school’s graduating class of designers. “Miguel has had an incredible influence on the culture of fashion,” explained Minniti. “There’s so much commentary in his work, and it’s critical for students to understand it, so that they can understand their own vision, the practice, and the future.”
Adrover’s name is not as familiar to young fashion students as it once was. He broke onto the scene in 2000, with a critically adored collection that comprised repurposed Burberry trenchcoats and Louis Vuitton bags—a comment on luxury logo mania and consumerism. He was an early proponent of sustainable fashion (many of his garments were made from recycled clothing) and pushed the envelope in terms of fashion as social commentary. But following two Middle Eastern-inspired collections in 2001 that received mixed reviews, and his failure to turn strong profits at retail, Adrover lost the backing of his investors, and closed his namesake house. He returned to Majorca and began designing small collections for the German eco-line Hessnatur that, while well received, failed to bring the designer back to the spotlight.
His experience, hard-won, is part of what’s not taught in fashion schools. “It’s important to teach the students how this business works,” he said. “Students have an illusion of how the industry is set up…It’s all about big corporations, but I think there are a lot of people looking for an alternative to that road—because it’s a big road with lots of glamour and bling-bling. And when you get to the end of it, you die.”
Despite a comeback show in 2012, Adrover has yet to relaunch his eponymous range. (It’s not out of the question though—the designer reasons that he still has a lot to say.) However, he knows how he’d present it. “If I were showing, I’d do it in a really small place. These big runway events, with all these celebrities in the front row, it’s like [houses] need to do it to get people to respect them. And the clothing is so uninteresting these days—it speaks so little to society,” he said. “To change that, it’s a matter of these young people here.”
He seemed heartened by the students’ work that was well constructed and well conceptualized. He praised handmade fabrics like plastic chainmail and rubber-embellished jersey, and stressed the importance of pristine finishings. “They’re very individual,” he said approvingly. “They stand up for their own thing and their own techniques. They want to be authentic and create their own statement. And that’s important because it hardly happens now.”
“You need to play the game,” he conceded. “I don’t want to say names, but you need to have the top people open the doors for you. It’s hard to create a business if you don’t have the support of a big company.”
“But,” he added, “it depends on your definition of ‘making it.’ You could make things by hand, have a little store, and be happy with that. There’s no need to be everywhere.”
“It was important for me to really open up,” said conceptual fashion designer Miguel Adrover at yesterday’s screening of Call It a Balance in the Unbalance—a documentary about the uncompromising talent’s meteoric rise and fall. The film—which made its U.S. premiere at the Pratt Institute last night—follows the career of the Majorcan-born talent, highlighting his now-legendary Lower East Side debut in 1999 and the conception of the many memorable pieces that followed (his infamous Burberry trench-turned-dress, a town coat hand-stitched from materials drawn from Quentin Crisp’s discarded mattress, and a pair of drooped trousers made from Adrover’s grandfather’s wardrobe all make cameos). “When you see a documentary of Marc Jacobs or Valentino [you never see them] wash their clothes,” Adrover told Style.com. “You saw my house. You saw my mom, my dad, my bathroom…you saw me pulling the clothes out of the washing machine,” he added.
The film details Adrover’s post-9/11 commercial descent and subsequent return to Majorca, and the designer’s friends and supporters, like Suzy Menkes and stylist Eric Daman, spoke candidly in on-screen interviews about his uncensored vision. Not surprisingly, so did Adrover. “I don’t give a shit about [money]; I don’t believe in Chanel; I don’t believe in Karl Lagerfeld; I don’t believe in Yves Saint Laurent; but I do believe you can change society,” he professed during a Q&A.
The screening comes on the heels of Adrover’s departure from organic German label Hessnatur after eight years as its creative director. What’s next for the outspoken rebel? “I have three shows already prepared,” said Adrover, whose designs will be featured in the Met’s upcoming Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition. “Anytime. You give me the money, I will make it happen. I don’t need a big stadium or a lot of lighting or things. I can do it right here.”