FREE FORM FASHION: Uninhibited creativity was on full display at the Parsons MFA show Tuesday afternoon and Donna Karan, Sergio Hudson and Julia Fox were among those taking it all in.
The group show at Spring Studios featured such unexpected accents as a human body-like form attached to a cartoonishly oversize ensemble from a student known simply as Asato, a pair of Alexandra Petina pants with a boot attached to one leg, reminiscent of the contemporary artist Charles Ray, or Liu Liu sweeping separates and oversize bonnets that borrowed from “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Inclusivity was also played up, thanks to the assortment of models of varying ages, sizes, races and genders.
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Before the lights went down, Parsons alum Karan explained that she had started the school’s MFA program. “As a designer, I was always using people from Parsons and I felt that they needed one more year [or two of studies.] I had gone to Parsons and said, ‘Well, why don’t we have a graduate program the same way that they do in London?’ So we started the program.”
Gearing up to host a few Ukrainian designers at Urban Zen downtown on Wednesday, Karan enthused about the exhibition currently on display there titled, “Scartime, Emanuel Gargano.” Dividing her time between the Hamptons and New York City requires a different energy for each environment, she said.
After the show, designer Sergio Hudson said the show reminded him of the freedom that comes with being in college. “You can be so creative at that time and free without worrying about what has to sell and what doesn’t have to sell. It’s a freeing thing to see and delightful to see,” Hudson said.
Another front row-er, Julia Fox, also gave the show high marks. “This was just spectacular. I love to see what the kids are doing. This is the future of fashion. Who wouldn’t want to come? I think more people should be trying to get in here to see what the kids are doing. They’re innovators. There is a lot of raw talent here today,” said Fox, who was wearing an acrylic skeletal-like bustier from the MFA student designer that kicked off Tuesday’s show. (Karan liked Fox’s look so much that she had Fox pose for a post-show photo.)
At work on a 12-chapter memoir, the 32-year-old Fox said she is also busy raising her son, Valentino. The 18-month-old took his first runway spin at Elena Velez’s show Saturday. Fox said the model who closed the show is her best friend, so she picked him up. “I think he loved it. That was a cool experience for him to have,” she said.
Fashion in general seems to be headed in “a really good direction with where we are politically. I feel like I even saw some ‘Handsmaid’s Tale’ [inspiration] on the runway today, which immediately just felt very emotional with Roe v. Wade [being overturned] and everything else. That’s just one of the things. Women are under attack right now,” Fox said.
Uncertain if she will get involved politically by supporting specific candidates, Fox said, “I don’t know. We have to see who is running and what’s going to happen. Everything just seems so uncertain.”
Parsons dean of fashion Ben Barry described the students’ work as inspired and informed by their experiences from the global pandemic. After spending their first year as MFA students online, they experienced personal issues and “illuminating issues in the world,” he said. “That’s evident in the production practices and by the processes that garments are made. There is a deep focus on craft, hand-making, sustainability, fabric reuse and the ways that fabrics and textiles are created,” Barry said.
In addition, the work relays stories about social justice, climate justice and healing from the global pandemic. “The plurality of the collections speak to the diversity of the students and the concepts. Many of them have drawn from their own cultures and backgrounds in ways that circumvent traditional production practices, notions of gender and materials,” said Barry, adding that one student even developed thread from garbage bags.
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