Once upon a time designers were secretive with fellow designers, now they share their knowledge freely. Just this week Marc Jacobs joined Kim Jones on the runway to celebrate the results of their successful collaboration on the Fendi show presented during NYFW. Jean Paul Gaultier has welcomed in Olivier Rousteing and luxury outerwear brand Moncler has ushered in a roster of designers to augment its creative point of view.
Now the practice of sharing the spotlight has extended to schools. Right up until Covid hit, fashion programs were pitted against each other in endless rankings lists led by the most high profile of them all, the Business of Fashion Global Fashion School Rankings. Fast forward a mere couple of years, and not only did Ohio’s Kent State University stage its inaugural show during this New York Fashion Week but it shared the runway with students’ collections from IFA Paris in a joint creative partnership.Co-hosted by Ann Walter, Director NYC Fashion, Kent State University, and Jean-Baptiste Andreani, CEO of IFA Paris who both worked tirelessly for months, it was a first-of-its-kind event. Their shared purpose was to increase alumni engagement as well as elevate recognition for the two leading fashion schools which have much in common. IFA Paris is proud to offer an innovative pedagogical strategy aimed at keeping alive the French fashion heritage, but with campuses in Shanghai and Istanbul it also recognizes the importance of uniting dynamic cultures. Kent State University, located in the mid west but with study away campuses in NYC, Florence and Hong Kong is a venerable American institution that also understands the global nature of the modern fashion industry. Its NYC study away location is in the heart of Manhattan’s famous garment district which allows students to participate in internships, and engage with industry professionals, the marketplace and culture in a relevant up-to-the-minute way.
Top international fashion schools unite in NYFW runway debut
In the spacious second floor of Madison Square’s NeueHouse 10 students presented their collections on the runway. Sprinkled through the presentation were the eye-catching beaded and fringed face masks from multidisciplinary artist Jase King which expressed the post-pandemic joy of international togetherness. IFA grad Manon Marasse created streetwear shapes in billowing shirting stripes and a fire engine red hoodie and sweatpant combo featuring fluid curved edges. If lingerie swapped places with office attire, the result would be the collection from KSU’s Mase Makuch whose lace underpinnings worn over crisp white cotton staples upended traditional gender roles. Head-to-toe chunky knit looks in thirst quenching orange, clashing apple and Kelly green by IFA’s Alycia-Rae Dewit were delightfully vibrant.Encapsulating the event’s spirit of global citizenship, the final three outfits were created by the brand No Nation Fashion. Originating from Bosnia and Herzegovina, utilizing the skills of migrants who had been hosted in temporary reception centers in combination with the creativity of Bosnian designers, the brand’s mission is to celebrate the meeting of cultures and promote the inclusion of migrants through fashion. The initiative is powered by IOM, the UN Agency for Migration whose Chief of Mission/Representative, Laura Lungarotti, was present to give closing remarks.
The show spoke to a larger narrative in these divided times, that we are stronger together. So forget school rankings and let’s open our ranks to welcome more collaborations between fashion programs. We have much to learn from each other.