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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Parsons Fashion Show 2015

parsons fashion show

You never leave Parsons. That's the tagline the school has promoted and the fact that I was here to support the fashion design class of 2015, well over a decade after my own Parsons fashion graduate show tells you it's true.  The format has changed, the venue has changed, but the spirit is the same.

Technically, this was the 'rehearsal' show in the afternoon. Alumni and press were able to enjoy the actual work of the fashion design graduates in sunlight without the paparazzi, clinking glasses and industry execs talking over themselves.

Unfortunately, I was not given a run of show or designer names during the runway, so if you are a designer, claim your work in the comments so we can recognize you!

parsons fashion 2015

The afternoon started with dean Simon Collins bringing out last year's designer of the year Simon Li to catch up on his accomplishments with only one year out of school (considerable). Of course the gala's honoree later that evening was prize alumni Marc Jacobs presented by Anna Wintour. Paper magazine's man about town Mickey Boardman made some off-color jokes to cut the nervous tension of the students in attendance, but unfortunately if flew over their heads, so he got right down to presenting portfolio awards.

As far as the trends I saw coming out of Parsons fashion design, it looked like a focus on texture was key. There was a lot of draped layering on this runway. I saw a lot of mixed fabric weights and textures. Instead of soft draping, there was a lot of sculpted, structured draped silhouettes. There was a lot of play in color or non-colors (creating shapes in white or contrasting black and white).

Congratulations newbies! I have a feeling all of the Parsons Fashion Design Show graduates are going to be okay.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dover Street Market - Arts Week Open House

comme des garcons

Dover Street Market is my favorite temple of avant-garde fashion. I love that it brings contemporary art and style to the Murray Hill neighborhood in New York, an otherwise unchic area of the city. Comme des Garcons' Rei Kawakubo has always been a pioneer of conceptual fashion. Dover Street Market completely refreshes their gallery/boutique to exhibit new artwork and merchandise for a totally new shopping experience every few months, which makes it one of NYC's most interesting retail destination.

great frog dover street market

Last Thursday's open house revealed installations by Craig Green, The Great Frog, and Undercover. The red sculptural pieces up top are from the Comme des Garcons section of the store. On the first floor, there was a big archway devoted to the Converse and Comme des Garcons collaboration featuring the red eyes motif.

For designers, there were luxury sections of fashion forward menswear from Thom Browne and Comme des Garcons again. For women, designers included Valentino, Simone Rocha, Prada, Miu Miu and Azzedine Alaia. Kids could pick from lots of fun (but VERY expensive) stuffed toys and accessories.

dover street market

Most fun are the 4F showroom and galleries where you can find the most artistic runway fashion, that may not be for the most practical consumer. The beauty of Dover Street Market is that such trivial details don't matter in the face of design. Happy shopping!
photos by Mariana Leung


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fashion Innovation at the 3D Print Design Show

3D print fashion

3D printing may be the hottest buzzword in design, but it still is not adopted into the fashion industry as a go-to medium. Maybe the technology is a little intimidating. Perhaps brands are still struggling to find a way to make it mass production friendly. Perhaps they still see it as a the machine that just makes plastic toys.

How fashion designers are using 3D Printing now:

The 3D Print Design Show demonstrated a range of products now on the market. Many of them applicable to current fashion needs. The dress above from Melinda Looi had crystal embedded plastic cells printed into a chain-mail like textile that was movable and wearable.

3d print wax

Jewelry was the first area of the fashion business that adopted 3D printed technology. NinjaFlex is a company that makes a flexible filament for a softer product. Remember jelly bracelets and jelly shoes? You can make much more intricate ones in custom designs like the necklace on the left.

Bridging old-school techniques and the new. Traditional wax casting of jewelry involved carving hand wax into the jewelry piece shape you needed before casting the precious metal. You could spend weeks on the wax model and have it destroyed in an instant. Well now, you could just 3D print the design in wax, adjust the style, design or shape and correct it in minutes.

3d shoes

Shoes have been the other category adopting 3D printing in innovative ways. You could print the entire shoe of course, but many designers are using this technology to partial elements of the shoe for the more fashion forward aspects of the design, while using more traditional materials like wood and leather. This is a great way for independent brands to create some very avant-garde concepts without the expense of high minimums at a regular footwear factory.

So are you ready to take on the next frontier of fashion? 3D Printing is coming up with new materials, new capabilities and becoming more affordable for designers every day. These designs represent what is currently on the market, What's coming down the pipeline is more spectacular still...


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Havaianas Does Summer 2015

New York has finally hit beach weather. Brazilian brand Havaianas got summer style fans ready to hit the sand. While the Dream Hotel in NYC's Meatpacking District is a long way from the ocean, hidden on their second floor is a tiny pool and beach club, with sand, cabanas and fresh coconuts to fulfill all of your needs.

Every chic destination I have found ventured near a beach has stocked the gigantic range of these colorful flip flop shoes. South Beach, the Hamptons, Santa Monica, Venice Beach... They make them in every color, print, metallic finish or texture imaginable. You can upgrade them with jewels, you'll find your favorite pop culture icons on them, children and men all have an endless selection to choose from as well.

I challenged a PR rep to actually name how many actual styles were offered if she could. She admitted that it was somewhere around 400-600 styles, but beyond that, she was embarrassed to say she couldn't pin down. The company produces so many looks on a constant basis, that it was impossible to keep track.

My fellow New Yorkers and I were treated to pedicures to coordinate with a pair of summer-ready Havaianas. It was fun watching a bunch of wound up writers awkwardly learn to relax into the beach mentality. As you can see, people could not let go of their laptops and phones, even for a moment.

The appeal of Havaianas over other companies making flip flops is their sense of fun and Brazilian pride. They proudly manufacture in their own country with a commitment to sustainability.  They are major supporters of several organizations like the Ecological Institute and Conservation International.

I love how Havaianas has turned casual beach footwear into a fashion statement for all tastes. They even have a bridal collection for those walking down the aisle in the sand. Thank you Havaianas for being the first brand to give me a taste of summer this year!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pratt Fashion 2015 - Laboratory

sophie andes cascon

Congratulations to Pratt's fashion design class of 2015. Last Thursday, designer Sophie Andes Gascon took home the Cotton Inc. award and Claire McKinney won top honors from the senior class' prestigious Liz Claiborne award. Actress Rose Byrne attended the event to present Calvin Klein's design director Francisco Costa with the Visionary Award.

Pratt fashion design graduates executed experiments in the laboratory of style

The theme for this year was "Laboratory". You could see this interpreted in each of the student collections. There were exercises in fabric manipulations or treatments from designers like Giovanna Flores and Shani Starinski. Avant-garde materials and surface embellishments were used by designers like Lauren Nahigian and Chantal Galipeau. Creators tested different draping techniques and pushed the boundaries of clothing silhouettes as seen in the collections of Landry Low and Katya Reily.

pratt fashion design show

Liz Claiborne winner Claire McKinney's collection was a study of denim. Perhaps a response to all of the surface treated skinny jeans dominating the industry in recent years, her group were filled with big, easy silhouettes. Some were boxy, more masculine or loose and comfortable. Accessories and unique garments showcased the interior construction details as exterior design elements.

While FIT's graduate show showcases the Future of Fashion in terms of the designers, The Pratt Fashion Show 2015 approach was to show it through the clothing execution itself. Both design philosophies show a lot of promise. Good luck graduates!
Photos courtesy of Pratt Institute

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Ralph Pucci: Art of the Mannequin

How often do you think about the mannequin? Ralph Pucci is an accomplished product designer who frequently collaborates with the top fashion designers like Diane Von Furstenburg, Ruben Toledo, Christy Turlington, Anna Sui...

Is a mannequin just a big doll where you hang clothes on like a coat hanger? Or is a mannequin the embodiment of our perceptions of the ideal body in our time period, changing cultural trends, our Pygmalion? This current exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC examined the work of Ralph Pucci who elevated the work of creating a mannequin into an art form.

Most retail store forms are ordered from the same catalog across the continent. They don't reflect the time period or personality of the brand they are being used for to sell clothing. The Anna Sui mannequins have wide eyed doll heads that echo the vintage collectibles she gathered from flea markets and decorate her store. Kenny Scharf's "swirly" mannequins a reflection of recurring characters in his paintings. Supermodel Christy Turlington's seated mannequin was molded after her own face in great detail to capture a naturalistic vibe to complement her yoga brand. A collaboration with Ruben Toledo resulted in a stylish plus-sized mannequin to serve the growing strength of full figured fashion trendsetters.

The creative process included modelling the shapes from clay, then casting a fibre-glass finished product. Pucci began using this craft as a design and art medium after inheriting his parent's mannequin business in the 1970s.

There were mannequins that barely even represented the human form. There were mannequins that were in dramatic motion poses, even a handstand. No one said a mannequin should only stand stiffly. Is it about making a tool to display a commercial product? Or is a mannequin a method of giving a visual soul to a commercial product? This was a fashion museum exhibit equivalent of "The Emperor Has No Clothes". Just like great style lets one look beyond the clothes to see the person, this retrospective forces you to see the creative work underneath the fashion.

The Ralph Pucci: The Art of the Mannequin exhibit runs until August 30th, 2015.
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