"If someone is raising a glass to Francisco Costa and I am in the same city, I will be there," said Ariel Foxman, editorial director of InStyle and StyleWatch, after Pratt Institute's annual fashion show on Thursday night. He admitted he doesn't attend as many student designer fashion shows as he would like. "Pratt is known for showcasing and nurturing the next guard and you definitely saw that here tonight," he said.
Pratt awarded Costa, creative director of womenswear for Calvin Klein Collection, its Visionary Award before models hit the runway for an audience of about 400, including Costa supporters like actress Rose Byrne — who introduced him to the podium — and Pratt faculty, benefactors and students. At the cocktail party after the show, Costa posed for pictures with students but tried not to draw too much attention to himself. "It's not for me — it's for the students, for the support that we can give," he said.
It's part and parcel of the designer's even-keeled temperament, which Byrne mentioned in her introduction on stage. So how does Costa keep his cool despite the intense scrutiny that comes with his job? "You just go on about your business," he said. "It's a lot of pressure but there's a level of acceptance. I learned that along the way, to just accept yourself, don’t try to be anybody else but you. There's an ease to it once you realize that." It probably doesn't hurt that he's a workaholic, too. When asked about the advice he wish he had received when he moved to New York from Brazil in 1985 — without speaking a word of English — he replied laughing, "I could have worked harder."
One Pratt student, Claire McKinney, will be starting off her design career with a serious boost: Thursday night she received the “Liz Claiborne Award – Concept to Product," a $25,000 fund from the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation. After the runway show, McKinney looked shocked. "It's always been a thought in the back of my mind to create my own line," she said. "There's a lot of freedom with that amount of money to build something myself from the ground up."
Designer Yeohlee Teng said she voted for McKinney to receive the prize and thought that all the student work was the best she had seen at Pratt in four years. Fellow designer Stan Herman said McKinney's designs, which featured a lot of deconstruction and oversized silhouettes, reminded him of Teng's work. "This is their time to play games, to show off, to say what they want to say," said Herman. "The show was full of spirit. It perhaps needed a little less spirit and a little more control but it's what students should be, they are never going to have a chance to do this again."
We picked the top 10 looks from the 2015 Pratt Institute Fashion show below.