FIT’s The Future of Fashion is a Big Draw

Having never attended FIT’s Future of Fashion annual end-of-year show, this year featuring the work of 77 graduating Fashion Design students, I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the words “sensational” and “innovative” actually did “apply here” (as well as “graduated”, Ha) and were not just being bandied about in a press release.

Dr. Joyce Brown, president of Fit
Photo: Laurel Marcus

The evening began with an introduction and welcome from Dr. Joyce F. Brown, president of FIT, who thanked everyone involved; it truly takes a village (and a lot of great sponsors and mentors) to put on a production of this magnitude. Notable attendees included Calvin Klein (who sponsored the event), Francisco Costa, Shaun Ross, Stacey Bendet, Dennis Basso, Elie Tahari, Stefano Tonchi, Ken Downing, Maggie Norris, several of which are FIT alumni.

Leandra Medine
Photo: Laurel Marcus

After a brief video showcasing FIT and our great city which serves as inspiration for the student designers, host Leandra Medine, the founder of Man Repeller delivered her host/ stand-up routine from the middle of the raised catwalk. Mentioning that she felt like Carrie Bradshaw when she became fashion road-kill, Leandra added that if she fell it would be worse than Carrie’s spill because she wasn’t wearing any underwear. In her concluding remarks after the fashion show, she addressed Mr. Costa specifically saying that she was only kidding and of course she was wearing underwear.  Must be an “inside” joke? LOL

Calvin Klein
Photo: Laurel Marcus

If you’ve ever seen Leandra’s segment of Webby award winning “The Future of Fashion with Alexa Chung in New York” for British Vogue, you would know that she’s usually completely inappropriate and this is actually mild compared to how she replies to the question of how she came up with her blog name (FYI, her segment is at the 50 minute mark) See video

Design by Samantha Simione
Photo courtesy of FIT and Getty Images

The main event otherwise known as the fashion show began with models in Intimate Apparel “getting in formation” and looking fierce with a little help from Beyonce’s song. Next came the biggest category which was sportswear with some really interesting deconstructed looks and some that referenced K-Pop, a popular celebrity look (think Gwen Stefani or Rihanna) these days. Then came Knitwear, some of it oversized and reminiscent of Vetements or Comme des Garcons but with each designer’s own spin.

Designer Kualing Ko
Photo: FIT & Getty Images

Childrenswear always steals the show and these kids were exceptional in their little rocker chic looks, toting Prince or David Bowie lunch boxes. Finally the Special Occasion looks closed out the show to the tune of Prince’s “Erotic City.” I’m wondering which of those musical choices is responsible for getting the audio portion of the show’s live stream shut down but with all of the current Prince estate turmoil I wouldn’t be surprised if this one did it. You can watch it here without the soundtrack See video

Dennis Basso
Photo: Laurel Marcus

The 2016 Critics (mentors for the students throughout the semester) included: Stacey Bendet, Alice + Olivia); Dushane Noble; Narciso Rodriguez; Dennis Basso; Lisa DiNapoli, Tommy Kids; Jennifer Zuccarini, Fleur du Mal; Maggie Norris, Maggie Norris Couture; Annalise Frank & Jason Mahler, American Eagle Outfitters; Oskar Metsavaht, OSKLEN; Ahluwalia Sachin, Sachin and Babi; and Gabi Asfour, ThreeAsFour.

Ken Downing & Joyce F. Brown
Photo: Laurel Marcus

The 2016 judges, who determined which garments made it on the coveted runway, included: Annie Georgina Greenberg, Refinery 29; Lilliana Vazquez, TODAY contributor; Nicole Phelps, Vogue Runway; David Thielebeule, WSJ Magazine Style Director; Jessica Torres, Deputy Editor of Siempre Mujer; and Ken Downing, Fashion director and SVP of Neiman Marcus.

Emily Jung
Photo: FIT & Getty Images

There were nine Critic Award-winning students: Rosemary Paone of Staten Island (Sportswear), Alexis Chung of Seoul, South Korea (Knitwear), Jualing “Queena” Ko of Taiwan (Childrenswear), Cemille Simsek of Istanbul, Turkey (Childrenswear), Emily Jung of South Korea & Queens (Sportswear), Namibia Viera Martinez of San Juan, P.R. (Sportswear), Samju Seo of Busan, South Korea (Knitwear), Stephanie Ali of Commack, NY (Intimates), and Jenny Seo of Carmel, Indiana (Special Occasion).

Design by Katie Hyunking Sung
Photo: FIT & Getty Images

What amazes me is that these students are truly getting a heads-up in the design field by virtue of receiving mentoring by some of the best of the best, which should serve as an advantage over many other design schools particularly those not located in NYC. Unfortunately, in this tough retail climate it’s not enough to have great ideas, talent, originality and an ability to execute great looks — fledgling designers must also be innately familiar with the business end of the apparel trade.

Stacey Bendet & Francisco Costa
Photo: FIT & Getty Images

Often creative people are not so finely attuned to these issues so, at the very least, they need to make sure they enlist the help of someone who is– a lesson I have learned from attending several seminars at Susan Scafidi’s Fashion Law Institute at another venerable institution of learning, Fordham University. BTW, Susan is also featured in the aforementioned Alexa Chung video at the 40 minute mark.

– 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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