The following names read like an all-star fashion week schedule: Tom Ford, Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Jack McCollough, and Lazaro Hernandez. Of course, there was a time when these designers didn’t induce the kind of gatecrashing or frenzies that they do now. These were all students at Parsons School of Design, spending their wonder years studying, racking up accolades (Jacobs), or quitting altogether (Alexander Wang).
All the more reason why the Parsons’ MFA showcase is like a proverbial crystal ball, offering a glimpse into the future. The MFA Fashion Design and Society program is newish, but unlike any other in that it acts as a hotbed for conscious fashion designers. Given that the fashion industry is the second highest polluter (second to oil) and retail models of yore are near extinction, the future stands to benefit from those with fresh ideas—both on a creative and systematic level.
“What we’re producing on the MFA is important for the industry because otherwise it’s the same old,” said course director Shelley Fox before Sunday’s graduate show. “What the industry gets here is the unexpected.”
On the runway, there was no shortage of the unexpected. The graduate collections spanned from wildly whimsical lace to pretty polyurethane to trompe l’œil knitwear to gender-defying menswear. Caroline Hu’s spectacular, ornamental gowns were an exclamation of beauty and emotion. There was Neil Grotzinger, whose heavily beaded leotards cast their male wearers in a feminine light. Two other collections featured mundane objects like plastic bags and unwanted clothes—allegorical references to physical and emotional baggage, or maybe, in another sense, an indication of this generation’s anti-chic tendencies.