“The Language of Fashion” Spells It Out On Madison Avenue

While I often marvel at the great mentoring opportunities for design students here in the Big Apple I’m usually thinking of fashion students. Last night I attended a unique event at 601 Madison Avenue (the raw space which used to house Emporio Armani), to promote a fashion week themed installation entitled “The Language of Fashion,” along Madison Avenue (between 61th to 79th Streets) of 8 ft. tall statues featuring student’s fashion illustrations (on view now through September 18). The twist? The finalists are 2nd year graphic design students from the School of Visual Arts, marking the school’s first creative partnership with the fashion industry.

Linda Fargo & Bjorn Wallander

The evening also featured a fashion show where these looks took clothing form and walked the runway under the curatorial tutelage of none other than BG’s Linda Fargo (in a fabulous ruffled Junya Watanabe satin moto jacket). Judges and mentors included Altuzarra, Rosie Assoulin, Francisco Costa, Jennifer Csengody, Delpozo, Alber Elbaz, Erdem, Geoff Howell, Naeem Khan, Minika Ko, Michael Kors, Ayanat Ksenbai, Humberto Leon, Carol Lim, Phillip Lim, Adam Lippes, Proenza Schouler, Jonathan Simkhai, Isabel and Ruben Toledo and Jason Wu. How’s that for a power list?

Countess Lu Ann de Lesseps

The project came about as an assignment created by BFA Design faculty member Olga Mezhibovskaya in which she asked her students to create textile designs employing only typography and to create paper dress models from their designs. The designs were then presented to SVA instructors Chris Austopchuk and Yelena Deyneko of “Spirit & Flesh” Magazine who came up with the idea to take them next level — to fully realized dresses.

Paper prototype

They collaborated with Fargo who organized some of the above mentioned top designers as mentors to help make the transformation from typography graphic to wearable fashions. Chair of BFA Advertising and BFA Design departments Richard Wilde was instrumental in expanding SVA’s role in the public art exhibition. The event was sponsored by the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, Spirit & Flesh, Silk Music, Mood Designer Fabrics, Warren-Tricomi, Epson, and others.

Host Petra Nemcova

Supermodel/Entrepreneur Petra Nemcova who served as MC in a midriff baring top enabling one to count her ribs, and President of the Madison Avenue BID Matt Bauer was there in support.

Notable attendees besides the students and their parents included the whole shebang of press photographers that you normally see at the “legit” fashion shows including the infamous Richard Renda, and guests such as John Mahdessian; LuAnn de Lesseps (still wearing her ginormous diamond engagement ring despite breakup rumors) were among the many usual suspects that one sees at these things – but don’t always know the names.

Student designer Jasmine Lee design mentored
by Linda Fargo

Those that spoke had this to say –when you could hear them over an extremely boisterous/rude crowd and a faulty mic. Richard Wilde spoke of the collaborative element of the project saying “When we come together we can create more than we can alone.” Linda Fargo pointed out that “the U.S. gets behind young talent,” (they don’t say “Made in America” for nothing!) and expressed her hopes that this event “may spark something for someone here” and inspire their “dreams to come true.”

Yelena Deyneko, Patricia Fox aka Purely Patricia

Yelena Deyneko (wearing a yellow graphic “Punk” dress and large graphic mismatched punctuation earrings — a question mark and an exclamation point) reminded us that  “this is not a fashion school, it’s a design school,” further bolstering the students ability to do so much outside of the graphic box. She echoed the spirit of the evening: “So many people and ideas came together, otherwise we would not be standing here tonight.” Incidentally, it was adorable to watch her expressions during the show — as the fashions came down the runway she looked like a proud stage mother.

Student designer Soobin Oh mentored by
Adam Lippes

Speaking of the runway show, there were several designs that I would like to steal (although a few did not sufficiently cover the models breasts, to the delight/shock of a few attendees who aren’t as jaded as we fashion folk — yawn). You could see the influence of the individual design mentors who stayed true to their silhouette design esthetic, while the student’s use of color and type graphics lent a fun, kicky youthful flair.

Student designer Minase Yamada mentored by
Proenza Schouler

My award for most fave/most wearable probably would go to the Proenza Schouler strapless sharp edged peplum top and pencil skirt, but there were many strong contenders among the 22 looks. As a writer, I left feeling inspired to try a graphic designed statement outfit — instead of cultural appropriation. I’ll probably be accused of “typecasting.”

Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

The Gilt City Warehouse Sale Hits Brooklyn

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Gilt City Warehouse Sale: Brooklyn Edition, 233 37th Street, Ground Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11232

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Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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