The Parsons MFA Graduate showcase is always a treat to watch. Generally set at the start of New York Fashion Week, it is fashion in its purest form. Unheeded by commercial pressures, the show presents each designer’s creative vision honestly and cohesively. The fifth class to matriculate from the school’s prestigious program, it’d be difficult to pick favorites from the following thirteen talent-laden designers.
Opening the show was Gahee Lim. An unusual take on bespoke tailoring, her line-up included a series of gauzy, rainbow colored suits on both men and women. The perfect embodiment of genderless fashion, Lim’s gossamer approach is deconstructed and certainly representative of its time. Mook Attakanwong focused primarily on exaggerated distressing and denim as the textile of choice for his graduate collection. Completely frayed beyond recognition, Attakanwong’s holed garments showcased the effects of time and beauty of imperfection. By comparison, Xiang Gao revealed silhouettes that were quieter and more conventional. Akin to television static, her pieces used splashes of color against grayscale mélange knits for tactful visual impact.
As if pulling from your dad’s closet, Snow Xue Gao’s graduate line-up included a lot of oversized menswear — padded sportsjackets, ties and shirt cuffs were all game. The latter half of her show saw different garments stitched together with slapdash-artistry. Kozaburo Akasaka’s boys were absolutely fabulous in their platform footwear. Experimenting with volume and proportion, frumpy turtlenecks were paired with high-waisted kick-flares, creating a delightfully skewed effect.
Toying with the idea of corporate icons, Jessie Shroyer featured images of Mickey Mouse and the McDonald’s arches amid her striped, knit dresses. Simultaneous transparent and occluded, Shroyer’s pieces were relatively subtle in their figure-hugging silhouettes. Purple Mountain, on the other hand, took a maximal approach and blended together patterns and textures. Visually inebriating, the florid use of color made Purple Mountain one of the more memorable designers at the Parson’s showcase.
Anna-Marie Gruber takes an athletic turn with fitted dresses fit for a high-fashion weekend at the tennis courts. Styled with sandals, her cool color choices are fresh and sporty. Taking menswear in a modular direction, Ran Bi showcased vertical zip trousers that emphasized their column-like shape. Using vinyl materials and asymmetric designs, Bi highlighted the design process rather than the end result. Fond of a softer aesthetic, Alex Huang brought fashion illustrations to life with his pieces constructed from layered tulle. Doodle-like in their irregular lines and splotches of color, his work was visually light-hearted while remaining technically complex.
Saturated in monchrome, Bjorg Skarphedinsdottir explored the technology behind knitwear in his graduate offerings. Framed by loose threads, his ravaged pieces felt melancholic if not woefully morose. Queenie Qinghe Cao followed with her garish and twee designs, turning the mood around in a fraction of a second. Initially thought to be constructed from foil Christmas garlands, her glitzy and sequined work induced the smiles of many. Finally closing the show was Maria Lavigina and her label Jahnkoy, who embodied a sports-tribal look. Integrating the world as a global village, Lavigina used national flags, feathers, beading and athletic motifs. Simplifying the world down to a common factor, the Russian designer underscored the groups of people who inhabit the world rather than political and national identities.