“Watching this show makes me think I could use a few more years in school,” said Reed Krakoff at the Parsons 2011 BFA fashion show. Krakoff, a Parsons alum and the executive creative director of Coach as well as his eponymous line, addressed the crowd of students, parents, press and faculty halfway through the show, saluting his teachers and spotlighting Parsons as the cradle of talent for the fashion industry. Krakoff’s comments were echoed in a video featuring some of the school’s other prominent alumni, including Prabal Gurung, Donna Karan, and Anna Sui.
The show reflected themes and interests as diverse as one could ever hope to find in a single showing: there were architectural, adventurous collections, like Paige Kettering’s South-Asian-inspired evening gowns, decorated using traditional wood block printing techniques; Karen Han had a toned down, fun and functional approach to children’s wear; Myrtle Quillamor’s ethereal tulle bodysuit was sexy and sophisticated with its hand-applique decorations in velvet and silk; Charlie Leibel offered sensible blouses and trousers for, as he put it, “any woman with silver hair"; Jeanne Tasma put forth a flowing, gorgeously draped evening gown; T. Young Wang looked back to Napoleonic Europe with blazers, shirting and shorts that recalled the Grande Armée.
If there was a single standout, it was Carmen Chen Wu, who last year won the $25,000 Geoffrey Beane Design Scholar Award from the CFDA. Wu’s girl—a flapper-gone-mad, traveling through Asia, and on her way discovering Buddhist monks’ garb—was imaginative and graceful; stunning in its maturity.
The talent on display at Pier 60, Chelsea Piers was really something to behold. And not just on the runway. While 35 kids from the program showed their stuff on the runway, many more had their work displayed in the adjoining rooms. From furs to feathers to menswear to children’s wear, the surging energy of youth working creatively was constantly reassured and controlled by the expert and industry-savvy guiding influence of Parsons.
While Krakoff is on Parson’s board of advisers, it was hard not to take designer at his word when he told the crowd, “They keep getting better every year.”
Check out some highlights from the show.