New York – Outside the River Pavilion, the sun glimmers off the Hudson;
inside, Parsons student collections dazzle on a raised white runway. It is
the annual Fashion show. A rigorous judging system ensures that only a
select number of BFA students get to show three looks on this special
night. Many of the Class of 2015 will graduate and go on to successful
careers without having experienced the luster of this event attended by
industry heavyweights. (One of the highlights of the evening will be Anna
Wintour presenting Marc Jacobs, a Parsons alum, with an award for his
contributions to fashion.) The stakes are ever higher for the school as
just last month Parsons was named best school in the US for art and design,
and number two in the world, by the Quacquarelli Symonds World University

The show kicks off with an unabashed return to the traditionally feminine
world of domestic arts and crafts: patchwork, quilting, hand stitching,
braiding, but in colors anything but demure. Not for the homely wallflower
with nowhere to go at night, these clothes ooze personality and indeed the
enquiry, “Are you fabulous?” embroidered onto the cuff of Janet Kawai
Yeung’s oversized blazer deserves at the very least a finger snap or hair
flip in response.

Lea Germano’s quietly manic medley of pinks stride by and the small
scale prints recall those of your favorite pjs when it’s a “work from home
day” but the concept is finessed with elbow to wrist flared pleats, bold
jewelry from copper piping and heathered knits. All this coziness jars
joyfully with our venue, a glass and metal hangar-like section of the
Javits Center whose structure mimics the scaffolding that currently seems
to support most of this city. Carmen Gama’s sturdy outerwear in neon orange
and acid green epitomizes streetwear in that it’s inspired by the
construction workers behind the city’s incessant drilling.

The black and white geometry of Ethan Hon’s collection play tricks with the
intersecting lines of our interior. Model and location in perfect synch,
it’s a Steven Klein photoshoot waiting to happen.

But the most memorable color combination of the night is not so much a
combination as a commitment. A trio of turquoise oddities troop by,
acolytes of blue. They look purposeful and eerie and lyrical and I can’t
help but admire Shen Zhang’s focus; he must have been immersed in his own
Picasso-like Blue period, to sew piece after piece in this singular hue
without palette cleansing. It is a statement and very effective.

Generously layered tailoring ––sharp yet luxuriously oversize in the
collection of Yao Yu, a former architect––in fifty shades of grey for both
men and women, gently ushers in a series of dapper pastels for men.
Particularly noteworthy are former Thom Browne intern, Jooyoung Kim’s,
boating stripe blazers that recall Dick Van Dyke dancing with
penguins in Mary Poppins.

Flavors of the East celebrated in the Met’s summer exhibition, China:
Through the Looking Glass, are in evidence but, pleasingly, in menswear for
a change. Jon Max Goh’s mile-wide culottes and oriental floral-sprigged
jewel-toned kimono cuts, and Siying Qu’s origami-inspired backpacks that
fold like envelopes are perfectly in step.

Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is the inspiration for Xuan Zheng’s richly
embellished collection which is too faithful an homage to the style of
Miuccia Prada, but it leads us to Xuewei Wang’s tunic with transparent
panels that looks almost surgical especially when worn with double-paned
goggles clamped fast to the head and nifty flat purses that might contain
files of important findings fresh from the lab.

The concluding collection by Blair Moore, which has already won multiple
prizes including the Saga Fur award and Kerings design award, answers the
wardrobe needs of destination travellers. Her three models blanketed in
leather-accented ponchos riddled with pockets and compartments look like
overachieving jetsetters bound for glamour despite the uninhabitable
wasteland into which they have landed.

Blair is announced the winner of Womenswear Portfolio of the Year. Menswear
Portfolio of the Year goes to Michael Yip. The highly coveted titles of
Womenswear Designer of the Year is awarded to Lucy Jones who has developed
a system of clothing called Seated Design for the wheelchair-bound consumer
and Menswear Designer of the Year goes to two students, Sungho Kim and Jon
Max Goh.

The final words of the evening are from departing Dean of Fashion, Simon
Collins, who quotes Alber Elbaz: “‘Success is like a perfume. It’s
wonderful to smell but don’t drink it.’” Students, wise counsel. Now, go
drink something else. You’ve earned it.

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By contributing guest editor Jackie Mallon, who is on the teaching
faculty of several NYC fashion programmes and is the author of Silk for the
Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.