Kent State University and IFA Paris (International Academy of Fashion) teamed up again to share the runway and present an edit of their respective students’ collections during New York Fashion Week. The show which spotlit the creativity of 20 designers across 40 looks was staged at Lightbox NYC, an intimate yet hi-tech space known for producing the next generation of experiential events, wrapping the audience in 360-degree projections of Parisian and New York City streets and landmarks.
Both schools have campuses around the world: KSU’s sprawling main residence is in Ohio but operates facilities in NYC and Florence, while IFA has locations in Shanghai and Istanbul. But the reality is it takes a village to stage a student runway during NYFW and other organizational partners this season included the New York Film Academy and the Garment District Alliance.Ann Mariko Walter, Director NYC Fashion at KSU, told FashionUnited, "Last year was a collaboration, and very successful, but it was kind of daunting. We don't have the infrastructure and the resources in NYC to make it happen because obviously all that's in Ohio, but it was important for us to have a presence, a visibility in New York, the fashion capital of the US. It felt like the only way we could do it was through this opportunity with IFA. We both had similar goals but different strengths. We have the NYC relationships and the the New York know-how and they had that global network and a prestigious brand. Because it went so well last year, we wanted to continue in the spirt of collaboration because it makes the event stronger than either of us could achieve on our own."
IFA’s emphasis on French heritage and craft were exhibited in predominantly eveningwear pieces featuring deft draping, delicate laces and impressive beading while KSU’s style leaned more towards dynamic daytime knits and layered separates reworked with interesting proportions. Joseph Miglio’s khaki and wheat-hued capes, shrunken knits and and ballooning pants worn with streetwear bonnets created an admirably focused aesthetic and Esther Luo’s machine knit body-hugging dress with graphic motif worn with clomping boots was primed for Manhattan’s gritty streets.The show was bookended by a red, black and white palette with an opening look by Mariam Abdelmaajeed that was a dazzling interpretation of the human body sans skin, muscles and bone mapped out in finite detail with bugle beds in a Studio 54-ready iteration. Students from both schools brought the show to a final dramatic crescendo the sequence starting with Yaëlle Le Goff’s stretchy semi-sheer knit midi dress reminiscent of Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic 90s output while new takes on the perennial puffa jacket from KSU’s Farah Shahrour was emblazoned with text and bold red panelling. The closing looks from Hawa Sisay Midekssa made a sweeping statement on intergenerational Ethiopian heritage in red quilted ballroom skirts and highly constructed bodices with inflated sleeves marked with ghostly patterns.
Supima Design Competition NYFW runway
The 16th annual Supima Design Competition runway show took place beneath the restored Neo-Renaissance ceiling of the Prince George Ballroom, a Manhattan landmark built in 1904. The intricate craftsmanship overhead reflected the diverse techniques that the student competitors from leading US fashion schools employed to personalize and elevate the yardage of Supima cotton they were supplied with back in May.
Kent State University had a student representative on this NYFW runway also. Wendy Weng, joined the seven other designers from institutions across the country: Amber Kuia of Academy of Art University; Carla Pierini of Drexel University; Alexandra Ziemba of Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising; Hee Jin Hwang of Fashion Institute of Technology; Tianze Wu of Parsons School of Design; Sahara Clemons of Rhode Island School of Design; and Mariana Espinosa of School of the The Art Institute of Chicago.
As in years previous, the students’ mentor was established presence on the NYFW runway who will show his spring collection on Wednesday, Bibhu Mohapatra. Supima also drafted in Jeremy Scott, recently free of his director duties at Moschino, to host the event and the 25-person jury, many of whom were in the front row, consisted of high-profile names such as Avril Graham, Fashion and Beauty Director at Harpers Bazaar; Danya Issawi, fashion writer at The Cut; Fern Mallis, Fashion week founder and industry consultant; designer Jonathan Cohen; and Mahoro Seward, Senior Fashion Features Editor at i-D Magazine. Their task was to judge the designers’ 5-piece collections for originality, execution, and the ability to showcase Supima, America’s luxury cotton, in shirting, knit jersey, denim, velveteen and twill. Their goal, the awarding of a 10,000 dollar cash prize to the winning designer.Ziemba’s collection opened the show in dramatic fashion with a flared peplum dress with exaggerated pointed collar in cotton shirting, followed by looks which featured eruptions of ruffles and back bustles. Hwang’s bold red dress with Minnie Mouse polka dots was playful and the distressed-effect charcoal tones of Wu’s Victoriana style dresses inflected with fresh turquoise and white florals were intriguing. But the winner was Drexel’s Carla Pierini who took inspiration from the Venezuelan migrant experience to create her zero-waste indigo and white collection.