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Parsons MFA fashion show reveals the value of craft

By Jackie Mallon

Sep 9, 2018


Parsons is accustomed to steering the course of fashion––its Masters program was the first in the U.S. when it enrolled Generation 1 in 2010––and Generation 7’s group showcased in Friday’s show whose front row included Donna Karan, donor of the initial endowment to help spearhead the program, did not disappoint. From the preview event held in Industry City in June which introduced us to the 15 designers’ work through installations emphasizing their craft and depth of concept, the collections have advanced beyond recognition.

But each one of these designers now faces the daunting task of finding their place in an industry which at the top is controlled by conglomerates and at the bottom is glutted with cheap product, so Kota Okuda’s playful examination of materialism was refreshingly on the money––unfurling dollar bills swallow up one model, another is trapped inside a giant money clip. These Alices must swell or shrink to navigate a Wall Street Wonderland with a Walmart rabbit hole.

But opportunity for wonderment abounds in Rui Zhou super-fine yarn creations, like wearable dreamcatchers. Or Max Cui’s “Daydreamer’s Dream” collection which had ripened since June’s peek into the sketchbooks from which his fantastical drawings emerged, now blooming with red and emerald, or weaving round columns of misty organza.

70s or bust

Annaliese Griffith-Jones indulges in a satisfying bout of marmalade-tinted “Armchair Nostalgia” reworking retro wallpaper prints, outsize tile patterns, and plush silicone-coated cushions while, in an exuberant parade of disco queen satin flares, wrestlers’ robes, and platform boots, Floyd Hogan’s menswear is Staying Alive on steroids.

Utilizing traditional Korean knotting methods and a playschool color palette, Jimin Kim aims to strip streetwear and hip hop of its misogynous overtones, while Limeng Ye’s streetstyle eye celebrates the everyday smartphone-snatched human layers over the individualistic fashion peacock through hyper-realist photographic and trompe-l’oeil prints.

Wonders of textiles

Saya Zalel’s rich textile exploration originates from the chaos and control she identifies in the Kazak culture of her birth, while Shie Liu works with fine rubber tubing, sequins, perspex, and molded plexiglass to form mesmerizing provocations to our notions of eveningwear.

Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.

Photos by Monica Feudi