HSFI Students Showcase their “Houses of Style”

Fashion design is alive and well and living on West 24th St! Last night The High School of Fashion Industries presented the 32nd Annual Scholarship & Fundraiser Fashion Show entitled “Houses of Style.” As stated in program notes, this year saw the largest group of graduating seniors from the fashion design department in recent history — eight Senior Fashion Design classes consisting of over 200 students which resulted in “the conception and creation of 8 individual design houses.”

Scholarship winners

These were: House of 50 Shades of Vintage, House of Seduisant, House of Mystique, House of A-Her, House of Variance, House of Afropunk, House of Dripping in Gold, House of Suigeneris, plus a group each of designs created with Kleinfeld and Swarovski mentors. There were a total of six scholarships awarded to promising design students.


After an hour-long cocktail reception, the large crowd of friends, family, and industry supporters /well-wishers (I spied Freddie Leiba there) were ushered into the large auditorium which, last year was stifling hot on a 90-degree night. Although last evening was significantly cooler, several presenters made mention of the $1.2 million in capital funds that had been used to remedy the air conditioning situation.

Daryl Blank Principal of the school

Next up: a very necessary new sound and video system (the reverb was extreme) according to Principal Daryl Blank who thanked the community for their support as well as the HSFI organizations and mentors who give their time literally so freely.

Nanette Lepore and Gail Brewer Manhattan Borough President

Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer spoke next about the value of this type of education. “This kind of learning works. You actually build something important.  New York is the fashion capital — it’s a unique ecosystem that you are part of. We’re the greatest city in the world and you are part of it. When they say the Garment Center should move to Brooklyn I say ‘no’ — the Garment Center should stay in Manhattan.” Brewer also introduced this year’s Visionary Award winner Nanette Lepore as “a friend to the School, the fashion industry, and all humankind. She is a leader, not just tonight but in general.”

Last year’s Visionary Award winner and board member Gary Wassner of Hilldun Corporation, did the actual honors — “like the Academy Awards, last year’s recipient gets to present the award to this year’s,” he quipped. “You people at this school are our future. You know it, we know it. You’re high school kids but to see your vision, creativity and technical ability is just heartwarming. Creativity is the lifeblood of our industry.” As for Lepore: “I have known Nanette for over 30 years — she’s known for her hard work on keeping her designs ‘Made in New York’. She’s the same person now, only better and more experienced,” he said as he opened what appeared to be a Tiffany’s box and presented her with an engraved hunk of crystal.

Lepore, who brought along her college-age daughter Violet and friends, had noticed my attire earlier — a bright green cotton duster coat (homegrown vintage) of hers from the recesses of my closet. “That’s my coat!” she had remarked from the Step and Repeat. “I just got rid of that one, now I want it,” she told me.  At the podium accepting her award she said “I wouldn’t be here if my parents hadn’t encouraged me,” while telling the students to “be really proud of yourselves and your creativity.”

Robert di Mauro

Lastly, Robert di Mauro, Lifestyle Commentator, and Advisory Board member spoke of the need to “build a bridge between the industry and the school,” citing industry partnership programs with groups such as International Center of Photography, The Underfashion Club, Simon Doonan, Kleinfelds, Glam4Good, Adidas, Barneys New York and Swarovski.  “The quality of work is getting better and better. During the Golden Needle judging last week I was just blown away by the quality of the work.”

And with that, on to the show which, of course, included student models. We were also entertained by a student who is perhaps a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, dressed in a form-fitting outfit and a black bob, he did a provocative dance eventually shedding his wig and ending up on the floor in a burst of rose petals and glory.

As for the fashion show, I was reminded of Project Runway judging which often advises the designers that they’ve got too many ideas going on at once.  The same could be said here but perhaps an editing eye comes later — better too many ideas, than none at all! Congratulations to the HSFI class of 2018’s future fashion designers!

– 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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