"Putting this graduating show together for me 13 years ago was probably one of the hardest things I've done," said Laura Kim, who was presented with the 2017 Pratt Fashion Visionary Award alongside her design partner Fernando Garcia, at the school's annual student graduation show on Thursday night.
Kim and Garcia, who both run Monse while serving as co-creative directors for Oscar de la Renta, were given the honor by stylist and close friend Kate Young. The three met during the designers' early days working for the legendary fashion house. "With the launch of their own line, Monse, and having finally taken the reigns at Oscar, they have proven that they are a power duo whose creativity knows no bounds," said Young during her presentation speech.
Kim, who graduated from Pratt in 2004, shared some of her own industry tips and anecdotes for the 14 selected students presenting their final collections to an audience of faculty, alumni, fellow colleagues and fashion professionals. "We both came to New York with a big dream and very little knowledge in fashion," said Kim of her and Garcia's start in the business. "We knocked on everyone's door in fashion; people we had never met before. We found them on Linkedin, Google, asking for advice and support."
"You have to work really hard, pay your dues and I recommend everybody to work for another company, so that you can learn from them and the mistakes that they make," added Garcia, who studied architecture at Notre Dame. "I think that's the best advice anyone could've given me when I was working up to start a company and work at Oscar, too."
The persistence and hard work has certainly paid off. In addition to running Oscar de la Renta, Monse has become a red carpet and fashion editor favorite and is also up for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent at the 2017 CFDA Awards in June.
After the students showcased their creative designs on the runway, Chair of the Pratt Fashion Department Jennifer Minniti offered two select graduates with coveted opportunities to kickstart their fashion careers. Lyudmila (Mila) Sullivan was awarded with the chance to represent her alma mater by presenting her Hollywood Glamour-inspired work at the Graduate Fashion Week in London, while Jessie Sodetz was chosen to show her collection at the showroom of Ralph Pucci during New York Fashion week in September.
If they take Kim and Garcia's advice to heart, too, then they're already off to a great start.
See the best looks from each graduate from the 2017 Pratt Fashion Show in the gallery below.