The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) held its annual “Future of Fashion” runway show to reward the most talented graduating fashion designers on Thursday, May 9, 2019, with the red carpet beginning at 6 PM. The show is funded by a $2 million multi-year gift from FIT alumnus Calvin Klein as well as Brother International Corporation. FIT is a revered institution that has seen fashion giants Dennis Basso, Ralph Rucci, and Norma Kamali graduate from its halls; unfortunately, none of them attended since they were too busy tending to their multi-million dollar companies.
In fact, even though Thom Browne was listed on the program, he was a no-show. The only renowned designer to attend was Dai-Yi Chow from Public School-an unfortunate occurrence for the students who revere these icons. Ken Downing, who recently stepped down from Neiman Marcus to pursue a job with mall operators Triple Five Group, was also front row and center nurturing the graduating students and giving them pivotal encouragement. The expertise these young students possess was jaw dropping with the great designs of those that did not win the competition gracing the lobby.
President Joyce Brown began the evening by noting that FIT contained more than 50-degree programs in design and business while acknowledging it was most well known in the world of fashion design having just been named the number one Fashion College by “CEO World”-a British publication that surveyed 142,000 people in 32 countries.
She then thanked industry critics Christine Blaine, Thom Browne, Jaci Carley, Dao-Yi Chow, Rubin Singer and others for critiquing the students in an effort to move them forward as well as judges Laird Persson, Ken Downing, Kesha McLeod, Emilia Petrarca, and Erin Walsh for choosing the garments that were featured in the runway presentation. In the film that was shown Ken Downing remarked that he was looking for designs that he had never seen before and that made the hair stand up on his neck. While my hair never left my neck, there were certainly some unique touches in the show, including a fanny pack with faces printed on it and a multi-pocketed vest.
While winners were selected in knitwear, sportswear, intimate apparel, special occasion, and children’s wear, this year FIT introduced a new athletic-street style category. I am sick of the athleisure wear trend that has been ubiquitous in the world of fashion for the past couple of years. The film said that people wanted to go straight from the boardroom to the dance floor; however, unless you are a professional skateboarder, I am not sure what boardroom would welcome a cut-off shirt and sneakers – but so much for formalities.
As the show began, I was immpressed by the level of professionalism of the students as each garment was perfectly fitted to the model’s body with drapings and intricate detailing that were way beyond their years. Every look enveloped the model’s body seamlessly unlike other premier fashion shows where there are a couple of ill-fitting ensembles. The children’s wear was equally flawless as the young models strutted their stuff better than most adults I have seen-including Kendall Jenner.
I have to take issue with sending scantily clad women in lingerie out right after a five-year-old boy exits the stage. I am unsure as to why lingerie needs to be included in the same show as children’s wear especially in the age of #MeToo. Moreover, including a trans to wear the funky designs of Adrian Diaz was great – I just wish he would have shaved his legs.
My favorite looks were that of Jia Chen Si who showed a silk-floral gown with a sexy slit and the multi-layered dress of Hannah McHarris both of whom won in their respective categories. The evening concluded with enthusiastic applause and the gifting of a massive Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookie-undoubtedly Downing still has some influence at the retail giant.