I had a mini flashback to New York Fashion Week on Thursday evening walking into Spring Studios for Pratt Institute's 2016 student fashion show — the school's 117th to date. In addition to the sleek venue, the front row was peppered with a few industry bigwigs, including Fern Mallis and Simon Doonan, there to present former head curator of the Costume Institute Harold Koda (who gave a great speech — more on that later) with the Pratt Fashion Award for Lifetime Achievement. Koda sat next to his successor Andrew Bolton and designer Thom Browne (Bolton's partner).
Koda wasn't the only honoree that night: Graduating senior Jihyun Kim was awarded the school's annual “Liz Claiborne Award – Concept to Product," a $25,000 fund from the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation to support the production of her collection.
Kim was one of 18 graduating seniors chosen, with the input of a jury panel of industry insiders (myself included), to show their collections. Browsing their designs on racks a few weeks ago, I was impressed by their talent and creativity, but the runway show took it to another level, allowing the audience to fully take in each designer's vision. Student shows are an opportunity for designers to go balls to the wall with creativity without the pressure and restraint of critical or commercial success, and they did that. There were plenty of new ideas, mixed in which some that (arguably, and unsurprisingly) recalled recent designs by Gucci, Rick Owens and event Vetements. As with any runway show, professional or otherwise, some looks resonated more than others. Browse the gallery below for a few that really stood out.