Parsons School of Design opened the Graduate Exhibition for the MFA program in Fashion Design and Society Wednesday, showcasing a preview of the graduates’ final thesis collections at Industry City in Brooklyn.
While not all the collections were entirely complete–the final fashion show is not until September–the designers created installations to put their in-progress work on display, including finished garments, fabric swatches and videos of their creation processes.
This year’s students dealt with more than the stresses of creation–less than two months before the exhibition, a blaze in the basement of the main building forced hundreds of Parsons classes to be relocated.
“The fire in our building on West 13th street started a chain reaction,” said Joel Towers, Dean of Parsons School of Design. “It ultimately led to Fashion Design and Society moving out here (to Brooklyn) with the great support of Industry City.”
Despite the fire–and the fact that many of the design classes were placed on hold for nearly a month–the students bounced back with a tenacity shown in the collections presented.
While some took inspiration from their personal relationships and others opted to design organically, the clothes on display ranged from high fashion to highly experimental.
Rui Zhou (@dandelion_1994), the designer behind the installation entitled “Close Up,” created her collection of unconventional knitwear with her family in mind.
“The inspiration comes from my family relationship, me, my mom and my older sister,” said Zhou. “We live together very closely but we still have so many differences between each of us. I just wanted to explain the gap between the people.”
“Why it’s “Close Up” is because it is until you get close up you can see the detail,” Zhou said of the textiles she hand-wove for her sheer bodysuits. “You can see that my fabric has so many holes, but when you leave far away, you can’t see the detail, you just think, oh it’s regular fabric. I really wanted to express the relationships and tension between people.”
Zhou used Swarovski pearls joined together for much of her strap detailing and was able to manipulate fabric to appear as wire. The outcome of her attention to detail is an ethereal aesthetic–equal parts romantic Victorian and modern Japanese Wabi-Sabi.
In contrast to Zhou’s mental and emotional connection to her pieces, womenswear designer Max Cui (@overlapping_max) based his designs for “Daydreamer’s Daydream” on a comic he drew, matching each frame to an emotion like “fear”, “relief” or “struggle.” Most of these patterns are clusters of people or characters demonstrating the feelings he had when creating the initial comic. Cui then screen-printed his hand drawn patterns onto various types of fabric, including thick quilted cotton and completely sheer mesh.
“I can’t really explain it,” Cui said of his process. “A lot of people think it’s weird, but it’s just how my brain works. I didn’t even know this comic would be the inspiration for my designs.”
Cui’s out-of-the-box fabrics were fashioned into pieces ranging from technically-constructed jackets to delicate sheer turtlenecks, proving that even bold prints can be as versatile as neutrals.
In addition to the clothing selections from the burgeoning designers, a special fragrance project in collaboration with the Robertet group entitled “Synesthesia as Methodology” was also presented. Besides holding the title as the oldest fragrance creation company in the world, Robertet group has created scents for luxury brands like Gucci, Dior, and Chloé–and now has brought a sense of scent to the seventh generation of the Fashion Design and Society program.
The designers were given mystery scents made by Robertet Group and created “visual narratives to communicate their olfactory experience with the scent,” during a two-week-long intensive workshop. Through drawing, photography and experimental media, students gave visual stories to previously invisible scents.
The 15 graduates of the 2018 MFA program in Fashion Design and Society are due to display their completed thesis collections at a runway show in September. Until then, the current exhibition is open until June 10th.
“Close Up” designed by Rui Zhou (photos courtesy of Zrona.com and @dandelion_1994)
“Daydreamer’s Daydream” designed by Max Cui