Parsons The New School of Design needs no introduction. It ranks as the number one fashion school in America, having produced a slew of household names — Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan and Alexander Wang to name a few. Each year, a handful of distinguished students are blessed with the opportunity to showcase their MFA thesis collection at NYFW. With a total of 11 designers, there was no end to the string of creative talent being shown down the runway.
Like an abstract Bryce Hudson painting, designer Pengji Cai’s contemporary use of acetate in Crayola-like colors was eye-grabbing and thought-provoking. Heavy, boxy shapes broke up the models’ silhouettes into the most intriguing shards and fragments.
Acclaimed for her rope-coiling technique, Katherine Mavridis used a smaller gauge of rope that appeared similar to yarn. The result was warm, cozy and blanket-like — unraveling rather than binding. Her work exposed the pure and delicate female form lying underneath her designs.
Land and Sea:
Using plastic with traditional textiles, Tianfang Jing extends the conventional definition of fabric to encompass unorthodox materials. Often rendered in shades of blue, the plastic appeared like ocean waves rolling along a golden coast.
An explosion of floral motifs, Sisi Liu took a D.I.Y. maximalist’s approach to her collection. Starting with a base of scanned flower prints, Liu topped it with ribbon and yarn embroidery as well as felting techniques. Her end product was cute, quirky and reminiscent of old decoupage.
Keeping Warm, But Staying Cool:
Varpu Rapelli’s slick collection destroys the idea that knitwear has to be frumpy and shapeless. Body-conscious and almost athletic looking, many of her pieces had designs oriented along a horizontal plane, a direct reference to Rapelli’s inspiration: the works of ab-ex artist, Mark Rothko.
Anything & Everything:
Playful and nonsensical, Ryohei Kawanishi’s literal appropriation of banal, everyday objects into fashion makes quite the statement. Addressing cultural materialism and the fast-paced nature of fashion, a shower-curtain gown and backpack mini dress were only a few of Kawanishi’s creations that exhibited an introspective self-awareness.
Keeping it Classy:
Shih Hsun Lee’s traditional menswear is evocative of cigars, leather armchairs and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Using an applique technique, Lee adds dimension and texture to his simple silhouettes with layers of panels stitched atop the flat surface. Not only does it result in a raised visual-effect, but it also lends a burly sense of bulk and volume to his garments.
Trash or Treasure:
It isn’t difficult to see Liya Liu’s inspiration in her avant-garde collection. Taking a cue from the city’s garbage bags found all along the streets, she skillfully manipulates the plastic into a dynamic textile that catches the light and highlights the body. Liu creates beautiful pieces of art that are masqueraded as waste, denying the value of external appearances.
The New Knits:
Knits are always seen as either a sweater or cardigan, so it’s really uplifting to see Diletta Cancellato using them in a new and novel way. Taking advantage of their weight, Cancellato fashions rounded bell-sleeve forms on thick outerwear. The salmon-hued skirt even replicates the appearance of pleats with a ribbed texture.
Mayako Kano’s fascination with historical aesthetics comes alive with floral and damask prints. Her shapes are feminine and ladylike, incorporating movement and light with airy fabrics like chiffon. She brings together the old and the new by combining gorgeous lace and vivid colors with the obscurity of translucent layering.
Weaving Stripes with Straps:
Long Xu’s deft hand creates intricate and swoon-worthy displays of weaving. Borrowing from African, Japanese and South-Asian techniques, his palette includes both sugary pastels and somber neutrals. The forms of his column dresses only serve to emphasize the graphic linearity of his striking collection.