Elle Fashion Next Spring 2012: Strong Students

Remember that City episode where Bergdorf's Linda Fargo sort of rips apart Whitney Port's clothing line? Well, in the realm of things that might be awkward, the two now sit on the very same judging panel. Along with Chris Benz, Iman, Joe Zee, and a dozen other industry insiders, they're part of Elle Fashion Next, a pretty cool program that (like GenArt) helps open doors for emerging fashion designers. In addition to connecting promising design students with industry mentors, Elle Fashion Next selects a handful of students to show at Lincoln Center during fashion week, and awards the two most outstanding finalists with individual $25,000 grants.
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Remember that City episode where Bergdorf's Linda Fargo sort of rips apart Whitney Port's clothing line? Well, in the realm of things that might be awkward, the two now sit on the very same judging panel. Along with Chris Benz, Iman, Joe Zee, and a dozen other industry insiders, they're part of Elle Fashion Next, a pretty cool program that (like GenArt) helps open doors for emerging fashion designers. In addition to connecting promising design students with industry mentors, Elle Fashion Next selects a handful of students to show at Lincoln Center during fashion week, and awards the two most outstanding finalists with individual $25,000 grants.
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Remember that City episode where Bergdorf's Linda Fargo sort of rips apart Whitney Port's clothing line? Well, in the realm of things that might be awkward, the two now sit on the very same judging panel. Along with Chris Benz, Iman, Joe Zee, and a dozen other industry insiders, they're part of Elle Fashion Next, a pretty cool program that (like GenArt) helps open doors for emerging fashion designers.

In addition to connecting promising design students with industry mentors, Elle Fashion Next selects a handful of students to show at Lincoln Center during fashion week, and awards the two most outstanding finalists with individual $25,000 grants.

Last year, the chosen school was RISD; this year, it's SCAD. With hefty corporate sponsorship by Maybelline, there was nothing amateur or overtly “student” about last night’s show, which was polished, professional, and boasted an impressive draw of editors and buyers (in addition to the amazing panelists).

But there were also some inevitable drawbacks to the presentation platform. Each student presented only two looks, which probably just scratches the surface of their complete collections. And in effort to keep the show cohesive and the delivery seamless, the event became a bit too uniform. Similarly styled models (flatironed hair, minimal makeup) walked against a bare set, clomping down the runway to a DJ'ed mush of vague electropop. Sure, changing the makeup, set, and music for each student would be impossible (although Project Runway manages it)—but perhaps some variation in the ambiance would help the audience get a deeper feel for each student’s work.

Yet we’ll bet the SCAD students, who cheered each other on throughout the show, didn’t really care. Showing at Lincoln Center to such an impressive audience is an incredible opportunity, no matter what compromises need to be made to help the show get off without a glitch. And who knows--maybe we’ll be seeing winners Faith Thornburg (Elle Design Award winner) and Lindsey Hopkins (Maybelline New York Design Achievement winner)--as well as their classmates--in the Fashionista 15 before long.

Click through to see some of the student looks and notable attendees.

*Photos: Billy Farrell Agency