Up-and-Comers Take NYFW

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it now that NYFW is in full swing, I love to see young budding talent. The fresh ideas that fashion design students and recent graduates bring forward in their quest to make inroads into this fickle and crazy industry are often what keeps things interesting. On Thursday night I attended “Diversiform,” a showcase of fashions from 18 recent Pratt Institute fashion graduates featuring fashions from their 2018 thesis collections displayed at the Ralph Pucci showroom on West 18th Street.  That’s a lot of eighteen, a lucky number known as chai in the Jewish religion — in honor of the upcoming holidays, I thought I’d make mention.

Pucci is a Pratt Institute trustee as well as head of the furniture, lighting, floor covering, fine art, upholstery fabrics, and mannequin headquarters. This is the fourth-annual such event during NYFW; however, it had a new twist — instead of highlighting just one solo up-and-coming designer as in the past, this year they featured one design from each of those chosen as a “best of the class” exhibition. It runs until next Thursday, September 13 (gallery hours are 9 am to 5:30 p.m.).

The installation is a striking combination of fashion and furnishings placed strategically and synergistically enhancing the other. I was blown away by the creativity, technical skill and imagination that these young designers displayed. There were several garments that I would love to have in my closet — indeed it was hard to resist the urge to try them on. The theme of the 2018 runway show Diversiform indicates the diversity of the student work with each designer’s unique and robust point of view. Many items had that unique handcrafted look whether they were embellished, appliqued, woven, or just styled with an eye for quality and detail.

“The students’ work may only be a seed at this moment, but I feel it’s my responsibility to see it grow and nourish it,” said Pucci. “I think you will see many new and inspiring ideas from this talented group of Pratt graduates.”

The party was well attended by students and their families, artists and of course, fashion industry peeps. I happened to meet none other than new Pratt President Frances Bronet, the first woman to hold that position when we bonded over our EOTD (Earring of the Day) choices. “Do you think I could wear this to a gala?” she asked me indicating a lovely sculptural patent leather or vinyl creation. “I don’t want to be too hot.”

Students exhibiting include: Ki Jeong Choi, Samantha Debardelaben, Shelby Grochowski, Rachel Lee,Taliah Leslie, Anderson Osmun,Emily Ridings,Liv Ryan, Jessica Stahl, Amy Sullivan,Haley Switlekowski, Victoria Tom, Ryu Tomita, Perri Vaaler, Jeremy Wood, Ha Jin Kim, Qian Wu, Jiayue Ge (Hazel). Also, Stahl, Leslie, and Lee have been selected to present their collections at Pucci in December at his annual mannequin debut so kudos to the trio.

Subin Hahn & models
Photo: Fred J. DeVito

For my second act of the evening, I kept the theme of young talent going as I headed to PHD at the Dream Downtown.  At this point in my dubious career covering NYFW, my mantra is “wow me, thrill me, make me write bad checks” hence I attended a “gender fluid wear” fashion show of Korean designer Subin Hahn. Hahn, a recent graduate of Parsons School of Design has gained professional experience interning for Zac Posen, Marchesa, and recently Calvin Klein,

Photo by Micheline Michaelina

Hahn is launching his own brand of designs embracing “traditionally feminine elements which challenge traditional men’s and unisex fashion aesthetics aiming to provide equality in current fashion industry, while embracing his or her own ambiguity and fluidity.” He has won several awards while at Parsons from Hugo Boss, Swarovski, and Shoe Polytechnic — I can certainly see why he won for the latter two as his use of crystals and his eye-catching butterfly-winged shoe designs are on point!

Subin Hahn NYFW Spring 2019 Show
Photo by Micheline Michaelina

The clothing contains many theatrical elements: kaleidoscopic figures on shiny white satin, an overabundance of ruffles, gold Kabuki makeup — the total effect called to mind David Bowie as Pierrot the Clown, yet there were some interesting elements and certainly plenty of drama. One big-shouldered, cinched waist, bell-bottomed Cavalli-esque pantsuit is something that I would totally step out in.

Photo: Fred J. DeVito

The styling of the models was successfully androgynous — it was difficult if not impossible to tell homme from femme (unless they were shirtless). In fact, just as a male model was about to walk the makeshift runway (this was in the middle of the rooftop nightclub, mind you!) the designer must have noticed something he didn’t like,  stripping the poor chap down to his skivvies in view of half of the audience before redressing him in the pec-baring, crystal embellished, ruffled gown. Just another evening out at NYFW, folks!

Official Shoe.
Photo by Fred J. DeVito

Stay tuned for more from Subin Hahn as he is currently at work on the launch of a major runway show for February’s NYFW.

– Laurel Marcus

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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