Fusion Fashion Show 2013: FIT vs. Parsons
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
Thus said the legendary Coco Chanel. Although I can’t call myself the savviest navigator of the fashion world, after having attended the 14th annual Fusion Fashion show, I can at least agree with ol’ CC’s first sentence. There, I saw models sporting anything and everything from neck braces, chains, masks, capes, twigs, geta, nets, crucifixes, pants, no pants and enough fabric for a set of bed sheets in addition to “dresses.”
So what is the Fusion Fashion show? Quite a big deal, apparently. At least for the students of Parsons The New School for Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Founded by James Ramey in 1999, Fusion Fashion is a yearly, open-to-the-public competition between the two best fashion schools in the country (yup, you guessed it – Parsons and FIT) during which 15 designers from each school compete for cash and bragging rights before a board of esteemed fashionistas. A “Best Designer” is chosen from each school, and then one of the schools is chosen as the overall winner. FIT reigned as champion for 2013.
For more information, visit: fusionfashionshow.wordpress.com
Here were this year’s judges: Mary Kate Steinmiller, senior fashion market editor at Teen Vogue (who modeled at Fusion Fashion approximately ten years ago), Todd Thomas, designer for Victoria’s Secret, Anne Slowey, fashion news director at Elle Magazine and Peter Davis, editor-in-chief of Scene Magazine. Names that could make even a fashion neophyte tremble in his Crocs.
“It’s my hope tonight that you guys are going to see the next big talent, and there’s a good likelihood that you will,” said James Ramey, who opened the event with welcoming remarks. He continued: “What’s so exciting about this show is that 18- and 19-year-old freshmen and sophomores students, who have dreamed about this probably their whole lives, are finally getting to showcase a collection that they’re proud of. That’s why it’s important for us to hear you. If you like something, make some noise.”
According to Ramey, designers such as Cynthia Rowley, Prabal Gurung, Chris Benz and Alexander Wang and “a lot of people” from Project Runway have participated, if not debuted, at past Fusion Fashion shows.
Assistant Director of Fusion Fashion Mariel Gurrieri explained that the competition was sponsored by Maybelline New York, Mood Designer Fabrics and M&J Trimming, which generously offered $1,500, $1,000 worth of fabric and a $500 gift card to the Best Designer of the winning school, respectively. Now there’s incentive to compete! The companies Maybelline and Elle also provided a photo opportunity, a makeup session and a vending machine of free eye shadow and lipstick for all the guests, which added an element of fun to the event.
After an additional series of announcements and remarks of gratitude from Parsons Coordinator Samuel Joseph Donovan and FIT coordinator Danielle Ridarick, the designs of Julien Archer, Fusion Fashion’s Best Designer in 2012, were featured by toweringly slender models treading up and down the runway to trance-like music.
The theme of Archer’s pieces seemed to encompass all that was a rebellion of convenience, cleanliness and color. Most of the clothes, which involved folds upon folds of fabric with little shape, were in some way untucked, wrinkled and on the verge of falling off the models’ narrow shoulders. Billowy dresses that were sparse in embellishment were paired with hefty, masculine rubber boots, as if to convey the idea of a tousled walk home after a one-night-stand.
I was initially underwhelmed by Archer’s work (keep in mind that this is coming from a girl who wears leggings and tank tops to work), but it had a memorable place on the spectrum of themes covered by the portfolios of the 30 competing designers that followed. In other words, the entire show was all but underwhelming – it was a fearless, out-of-the-box exploration of fashion’s boundaries (or lack thereof) that opened my eyes to the intricacies of conceptualizing, defining and actualizing the ever-shifting nuances of style. I would feel safe wearing only two – at most three – of the outfits from the 140 or so that I saw, but if cutting-edge fashion is supposed to grate against the edge of what is acceptable and familiar, I guess the designers did their job.
Each designer was allowed to showcase four or five pieces that expanded on a certain theme (each of which are included in the pictures below, together with the designers’ names). The models, many of whom are students at Parsons or FIT, exhibited their outfits with aloof confidence, even when the clothing that was borderline absurd. I give them props just for walking in dizzyingly high heels. In any case, the show in its entirety – including the invigorating runway music playlist, the practiced light job and the organized set up of the room – was enlivening, eye-opening and entertaining. It’s not everyday you can check “attending fashion show” off your bucket list!
They say a picture is worth a thousands words, so now I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Photos courtesy of Ryan Duffin Photo.
Next: Designs from Parsons!