Monday, May 04, 2009

Tomorrow’s Designers on the Runway:
FIT on the Catwalk

FIT Runway (All photos by: Lorenzo Ciniglio)

On Monday, April 27th, The Fashion Institute of Technology presented not one, but two showings of the designs of their top graduating students. FIT on the Catwalk, their annual runway event, took place at the school’s John E. Reeves Great Hall. Those attending the evening presentation were invited to sample various chocolate treats at a reception prior to the show. While waiters passed trays of brownies and chocolate hearts, the names of the winning student designers in the competition for awards from Cotton Inc. were announced. Five students received $1,000 each in prize money for the best use of cotton in a garment.

Cocktail Dress by Kristen Kells

Just before 8 o’clock the guests began streaming into the adjoining venue for the runway presentation. They included such fashion luminaries as Zang Toi and Patricia Field, who were also serving as two of the judges determining other awards given to students for their designs. It was a standing room only crowd, which was impressive given the fact that this was the second showing of the student collections.

Lingerie by Breanna Nussbickel

One never knows exactly what to expect of a student designer fashion show, but this one proved to be surprisingly delightful. No less than 113 garments were presented on the catwalk. They included creative representations in the categories of sportswear, special occasion, knitwear, intimate apparel, children’s wear, and fashion-forward menswear designed for Fall 2009. Students were mentored and critiqued in their final semester by industry professionals Dennis Basso, Nicole Miller, Alexander Wang, Rickie Freeman, Wenlan Chia, Jerry Dellova, Deborah Marquit, Carolina Zapf, Tim Hamilton, and Italo Zucchelli. The influence of these designers was apparent in a number of garments presented.

Knit wedding gown by Josue Diaz III

While some of the pieces were predictably over the top, many were fresh takes on classic looks, like the perfect little black cocktail dress by Kristen Kells. The lingerie offerings were elegant, finely detailed, and long on sex appeal. Josue Diaz III managed to craft powder blue cotton knit into a wedding gown that was at once unusual and utterly charming (it garnered him the Cotton Inc. award). What did not work quite so well was the menswear, which was presented for the first time in this year’s shows. All too often these looks appeared boxy and somewhat ill fitting. This was also the first year that the models were accessorized with creations by FIT Accessories Design students.

Design by Sylwia Siedlecka

Ultimately the night belonged to a charismatic group of children who modeled the children’s wear with considerable aplomb. They stole the show, walking the catwalk in styles that ranged from hoodies and jeans to a multi-tone chiffon party dress with matching gloves.

- Rhonda Erb


Friday, May 16, 2008

FIT On the Catwalk 2008
(All photos by John Pringle )

"Fit On the Catwalk", which regroups the creations of the senior students of the Fashion Institute of Technology, was a presentation of different and varied talents with one thing in common: the school that taught them.

Starting with an opening party laced with chocolate, the runway show was preceded with a speech by Colette Wong, Chairperson, followed by Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President of the FIT. After having been reminded of the excellence in education provided by the school, the runway show finally started.

Danielle Breitenbach's winning brown velveteen coat & dress

It was an incredible flourish of flair and genius all together. First were shown the Sporstwear collection created by 26 designers, then followed the Knitwear collection, Childrenwear (13 designers), Special Occasion (26 designers) and Intimate Apparel.

Ruveyde Oder's winning expresso aviator pant with matching bustier & jacket

From a beautiful cream colored perforated leather dress with a textured cream colored coat, to a "in-your-face-and-it's-beautiful" design of a magenta trapeze motorcycle jacket with color blocked tunic dress and skinny jeans, the sportswear collection deserved the long applause it received from guests.

The two industry critics were Anna Sui and Dennis Basso. They selected as winners Ruveyde Oder won with an amazing Expresso aviator pant with matching bustier and jacket, the result of an elaborate work on leather and the body movements. It was my favorite as well.

Kelsy Zimba is the other industry winner with a fur coat with rope detailing, texture black leather skirt and black crepe pleated blouse

The Knitwear collection regrouped 25 designers whose creations are a magnificent combination of beauty, practicality and finely thought out detailing. All the fabrics for the knitwear designs were hand or machine knit by the students. A wine merino hand knit coat with haze trim was simply smashing. A brown ombre knit dress with fringe and back detail was amazing.

The result was a succession of beautiful and elegant designs. They each had fine details, some of them unexpected, very often details not seen elsewhere before.

Risa Kambe's winning sweater & cashmere flared dress

The two industry critics in this category were Michelle Antonelli and Jerry Dellova. They chose Risa Kambe was selected as one of the two winners by the industry critics and by The Cotton Student Sponsorship Program Winner with a multi grey cotton and alpaca oversized sweater with grey cashmere flared dress, a beautiful construction in itself.

Yoojin Lee winning black montana bubble dress

Yoojin Lee won as well with a splendid merino weave detail black montana bubble dress with jersey turtleneck and leg warmers. The punch of bold colors had to make this design a winner.

Annie Nicholas winning plaid skirt with cropped plum jacket

The Childrenswear collection received a welcome applause with the angel-like faces of beautiful little girls who were dressed with trendy, edgy, colorful, - even sumptuous - designs. The collection a well deserved resounding success with its audience. From delicate, flowered and pleated dresses to sharp pants and jackets, nothing was not cute. The Industry Critic was Ms. Nancy Sommers and the winners are Annie Nicholas with a purple plaid skirt with red taffeta pleats and cropped plum jacket with red ruffle shell.

Sarah Boardman's winning cape & dress

Sarah Boardman is The Cotton Student Sponsorship Program Winner with a red wool cape with mushroom dots, ruffled dress with multiple prints. That one outfit was absolutely adorable, everyone in the audience seemed to have loved it as much as i did.

Misin Kim's winning white cotton gown covered with voile roses

The Special Occasion collection was a whirlwind of lavish display of fabrics, veils and long trains that oozed glamour and opulence. Baby doll dress or pleated gown, the creations stood out with the same unique and brilliantly designed evening wear. Very well tailored dark satin tuxedo-like jacket and pants were a counterpoint to a gorgeous gunmetal crinkled organza corseted gown. As for the strapless white cotton gown covered with cotton voile roses, it is a magnificent gown. It also is the winner of The Cotton Student Sponsorship Program , designed by Misin Kim.

Anna Rasinskaya's winning strapless lame dress

The industry critics were Arnold Scaasi and Angel Sanchez. As winners, they selected Annie Rasinskaya's design of a strapless lame dress with back peplum, cording detail and Swarosky crystals.

Lisa Le's winning blanc chiffon swirl dress

Lisa H. Le with a blanc chiffon swirl dress with hand painted ombre satin ruffles and Swarosky crystals is the other winner. That dress is simply amazing, intricate construction and right placement of the ruffles make for a magnificent gown. It got all my vote as well, what is not to like?

Kaitlin Wilbur's winning black corset & long robe

In Intimate Apparel, 15 designers came with luxurious outfits nonetheless. Sheer fabrics and intricate work made for a superb and sensuous parade of lingerie. An ecru embroidered corset with black Chantilly lace was as beautiful as was a lavender hand pleated corset.

The industry critic was Tina Wilson and the winner she selected is Kaitlin Wilbur with a black corset with beaded cream heart embroidery, panty and matching long robe.

Jennifer Ostrosky's winning robe with lace bra & high waisted panty

The Cotton Student Sponsorship Program chose Jennifer Ostrosky with her design of a mauve crinkle chiffon robe with black Chantilly lace bra and high waisted panty. It is a very beautiful outfit most women would enjoy wearing, not to mention that the high waisted panty make it accessible to many, quite a difference from the thongs and other skimpy panties seen nowadays.

It must have been very hard for the critics of each category to decide on a winner. For the most part every design was the result of talent, craftmanship and imagination. Some designs were better left forgotten in my opinion but then again, not everyone is a Ralph Rucci or Norma Kamali.

The runway show was the result of talent and skill very well combined. Congratulations to the students and the school. Among these students are the next great fashion designers, ready to bloom and expand their creative flow. We can only wish them all the best in their emerging new life.

-Muriel Geny-Triffaut


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gilding the ‘Lilly’

One well dressed woman who I can guarantee will NEVER (repeat, NEVER) cover her trademark newly highlighted bob with a hat is Anna Wintour. But she is apparently in the minority, as hats are continuing to take off as a major accessory. And it’s been a banner year for hats.

First there was Miuccia Prada reviving the turban with her spring/summer 2007 collection which was shown last October. Who would have thought? To this day, whenever I see a turban, I can’t help but think of the late great Carrie Donovan, who I had the pleasure of working with when I was at Harper’s Bazaar and who made the chic turban a signature accessory, along with her Halston wardrobe and Elsa Peretti cuffs. She knew what many smart, well dressed, fashionable, women are beginning to learn: hats can be an indespensible and integral part of a woman’s wardrobe. They not only serve a purpose and a function, but can be great looking and statement making to boot. Just think about it: you don’t have to worry about having that Bad Hair Day, and you don’t have to be a slave to your hair colorist. How modern is that?

And notwithstanding the trend towards global warming, hats, which undisputedly serve the practical use of keeping you warm (since you lose most of your body heat from your head) were the surprise star accessories on the runways at the recent round of international showings for fall/winter 2007. Some collections were notable for their headgear and others were ‘saved’ by the addition of whimsical and wonderful hats. British star milliners Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones provided the hats for Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs respectively, hats were abundant on the runway of Proenza Shouler, and at Isabel Toledo’s launch for Anne Klein, the witty, eccentrically knitted hats added a welcome punch of individuality and whimsy. Coincidentally, in a case of life imitating art (or visa versa), because of the positively frigid weather during the entire 8 days of New York Fashion Week, hats also stood out as the surprise accessory on show goers, who showed up in eye catching hand knitted hats (many with whimsical pom poms), and especially, fur hats (the bigger and taller the better).

So, with this in mind, I would say this couldn’t be a more fortuitous time for The Museum at FIT to launch a brand new exhibit “Lilly Dache: Glamour at the Drop of a Hat”. Curated by Pamela Roskin and Kristen Shirts, it runs through April 21 and highlights the extraordinary designs of the late French born Dache who was a true rags to riches story, rising from a hat sales girl at Macys’ to the “foremost celebrity hat designer in the US during the 30’s and 40’s”. It illustrates her wit, humor, and personality, chronicling her work from the 30’s through the 6o’s and includes non hat designs, photographs, magazine covers, and famous quotes (“More than anything else, I wanted to be beautiful”, “If one did not have dreams, life would not be worth living”, “In this so-big and beautiful American, women can do anything”).

Among the selection of hats that caught me eye since they would undoubtedly look as good today as they did decades ago: a tall yellow felt hat with violet grosgrain ribbon band and bow (1937), a silk jersey ‘Coiffure Hat’ made from feathers, grosgrain, ribbons (1959), which according to the museum, illustrated her sense of humor since it was meant to ‘mimic’ hair at a time when the emphasis was more on hairstyles and the trend was going away from hats; and of course, the timely turbans (the gold velvet turban draped into a large bow at front, 1940; the pale green raffia turban, 1944, and the chic and sporty black wool jersey knit turban cap, 1945. Oh, I can just see Carrie Donovan smiling now.

Oh, by the way, if you check out Ebay, you will routinely find Lilly Dache hats offered at great prices. thought I’d mention that since I love finding a good bargain. And these days, good bargains (like good men) are hard to find.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

New Exhibition at The Museum at F.I.T.

Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness

A retrospective of the work of the acclaimed fashion designer Ralph Rucci will be on view January 12 through April 14 at The Museum at FIT. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Rucci was the first recipient of the Couture Council's Artistry of Fashion Award. Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of his career in fashion. It includes approximately 100 of his garments – including some suspended from the ceiling.

The first American to show officially during Paris couture since Mainbocher in the 1930s, Rucci also designs ready-to-wear which features extraordinary dressmaking techniques and luxury textiles. The title of this exhibition comes from an article by Suzy Menkes, in which Rucci said, "The whole idea is to take the structure, completely tailored with all the propriety of a suit, but make it weightless."

Patricia Mears, deputy director of the Museum at FIT, said, "Ralph has a profound knowledge of fashion history and he is a true connoisseur of fine art from around the world. Our goal is to present the many facets of his creativity."

Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness has been organized at The Museum at FIT by Patricia Mears, together with Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator; and Fred Dennis, associate curator. Accompanying the exhibition will be a full color catalogue, published by Yale University Press, with more than 150 images and essays by Valerie Steele, Patricia Mears, and Clare Sauro, assistant curator of accessories. This exhibition is supported by The Couture Council of the Museum at FIT.
Opening Night Reception
Thursday, January 11, 2007: 7PM-9PM
Seventh Avenue at 27 Street.
RSVP Required: 212-217-5958

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