The 2016 “Class” Act

The late great Geoffrey Beene famously argued that it’s not what is “new” that matters, but what is “good”. Of course, that doesn’t preclude the possibility that something can be both.Such was the case yesterday afternoon, when the top collections from The New School’s Parsons School of Design, class of 2016, were spotlighted at a runway show held at Pier 60.

Design by Xingyuan Xu

I suppose you could say it was a dress rehearsal for the show which was repeated again last evening during the course of the 68th annual Parsons Benefit; a collaboration between Parsons School of Design and the College of Performing Arts. Hosted by Andy Cohen, honorees were Beth Rudin DeWoody (BA Liberal Arts’75), Arianna Huffington, Donna Karan (BFA Fashion design ’87), and Sarah Jessica Parker. Funds raised will go to support scholarships to The New School for students unable to attend the university.

Design  by Song Deoyoon

Joel Tower and Burak Camak, Parsons New School’s Executive Dean and Dean of Fashion, respectively, were on hand to make their welcoming remarks. Mr. Tower asked the faculty and new graduates who were seated in the audience to stand and called them (and “the staff across the university”), “an amazing group of people”.

Ya Jun Lin puffer jacket

He also acknowledged that this is the first time the runway show would combine Parsons College of Performing Arts and its Fashion School. He went on to say this would be our “first look” at the show that has launched the careers of many iconic designers including Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez. The Dean echoed the sentiment that it’s been an “amazing year”.

The fast paced show began with fashion designer, performance artist and opera singer Alejandra Burguete (whose vision of luxury mixes creativity and sustainability) and included the designs of approximately 28 students (there were three to 5 pieces shown per each).

Design by Sarah Kate Belcher

Among the standouts: the work of 2016 Solstiss Award Winner Sarah Kate Belcher (her thesis collection, Free/Form was sponsored by Solstiss Lace and Kayrock Screenprinting); Natasha Kumar’s humane, ecologically sound, deconstructed designs; Xingyuan Xu’s geometric, color blocked 3D Orientalism;

Design by Natasha Kumar

Angela Luna’s distinctive outerwear (she is in the process of creating an accessible, humanitarian fashion brand); Han Wen’s mix of the cross cultural and the highly experimental, with couture like construction; Ya Jun Lin’s focus on the graphic and sculptural; Sijun Guo’s three dimensional sculpted shapes;

Design by Nicola Romagnoli

Nicola Romagnoli’s high tech, futuristic designs. They would have been right at home at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute exhibition, “Manus x Machina”: Fashion in an Age of Technology, and could have easily been worn by some of the attendees of the recent Met Gala.

Design by Jackson Wiederhoeft

The show’s finale fittingly showcased New York based fashion designer Jackson Wiederhoeft. I was not at all surprised to learn that he has apprenticed in both fashion design and costume design and always seeks to imbue his clothes with serious “star quality”. For him, it’s not about age, look, or gender, but “attitude”. This was quite apparent in his debut collection, “The Dollies”, for which he cast a variety of models, drag queens, and club kids.

Thom Browne looking on as Jackson Wiederhoeft designs
come down the runway

And I was hardly surprised to learn that following graduation, where he was one of twelve Womenswear Designer of the Year finalists, he will begin working for Thom Browne, assisting the Design Development Team for both the men’s and women’s collections. Like a proud papa, Thom was taking it all in from a ringside seat.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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