Saturday, May 02, 2015

In the Market Report: I’ve Seen the "Future"


Critic Award Winner Luis Peralta with a model wearing  his design
(Photos by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for FIT)

Who will follow in the footsteps of celebrated FIT alumni Calvin Klein, Francisco Costa, and Ralph Rucci? The answer may lie in the Future of Fashion runway show that was held on Thursday evening in the John E. Reeves Great Hall on the FIT campus. Welcoming remarks were made by FIT President Joyce Brown who proudly told the guests that this year, the acclaimed design school is not only marking its 70th anniversary, but was named 6th in the world. She also reminded everyone that they do offer other degrees, but quickly pointed out that fashion is still their “signature”, their “calling card”.


Nicole Richie with Francisco Costa 

The end of year runway show, hosted by Nicole Richie, was supported by a $2 million multi-year gift from Calvin Klein through the Calvin Klein Family Foundation and Calvin Klein Inc. Francisco Costa, head of design for Calvin Klein, was seated in the front row, and he was featured in a pre-show video, which put the spotlight on the talented graduates and their innovative designs (it included snippets of one young knitwear designer, Shane M.P Thompson, who amazingly knits with his own hands!)


FIT students

The professionally produced show featured 77 looks created by 90 of FIT’s top graduating Fashion Design students. They were whittled down from a class of 160 students by a group of judges that included Bryan Boy, blogger; Annie Georgia Greenberg, senior style editor of Refinery29; Anne Keane, fashion director at Lucky; Maria Marrero, group content chief of Meredith Hispanic Media, publisher of Siempre Mujer and Ser Padres magazines; Lilliana Vasquez, founder of CheapChicas.com and author of “The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style,” and Colleen Sherin, vice president, fashion director of women’s ready-to-wear at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Critic Award Winner Lisaneyla Almonte with a model
wearing her design

Included were 5 categories (fashion design specializations offered at FIT): knitwear, sportswear, intimate apparel, special occasion, and children’s wear. This year’s fashion critics gave a special Critic Award citation to a student in their group. They were Reem Acra (special occasion), Jason Mahler and Annalise Frank from American Eagle Outfitters (knitwear), Victoria Bartlett (sportswear), Morgan Curtis (intimate apparel), Tess Giberson (knitwear), Azede Jean-Pierre (sportswear), Phillip Lim (sportswear), and Nicholas and Christopher Kunz from Nicholas K (sportswear).

People's Choice Winning dress by Caroline Vagnone

Winners were Sofia Menasse (for her black cashmere/wool and silver fur samurai jacket, crème transparent striped tunic, black pants); Jose Camacho (for his gray wool drop shoulder coat with hand embroidery); Luis Peralta (for his blackish green sculptural top over pant with navy nylon short jacket); Esmeralda Fyhr (for her beige black bustier with alencon lace, fan lacing, and double helix bone channeling with panty); and Lisaneyla Almonte (for her silver cut gold chain evening gown). There was an award for Best Use of Cotton in Knitwear (Zenna Zhang) and Best Use of Color (Shannon King). New this year was, a People’s Choice Award, which went to Caroline Vagnone (who created a dress featuring a net bodice of handmade French knots and beading with a feathered skirt).


A model wearing a knitwear ensemble by Shane M.P. Thompson

For me show highlights were the outerwear, the knitwear, and the crowd pleasing children’s wear segment, complete with pint sized models (with larger than life attitude). And my personal favorites were ensembles by Sofia Menasse and Luis Peralta; Shane M.P Thompson’s cream cotton blend arm knit turtleneck, cotton monofilament dress, and white slip dress; a camel coat by Suzy Kim; Caroline Vagnone and Lisaneyla Almonte’s dresses (so I suppose you can say I pretty much agreed with the critics).


Roslyn Harte

But while the show was a celebration of the young and upcoming talents (the ‘new generation’ if you will), as it turns out, the real highlight for me was getting to sit next to a diminutive 91 year old force of nature, Roslyn Harte. As President of Lances Harte, Inc., whose offices are at 136 Madison Avenue, she has celebrated 61+ years in the intimate apparel industry, has received 3 lifetime achievement awards, and is a dedicated mentor. She is still working, still involved, and loves every minute of it.



This inspiring woman’s career began when she graduated from high school in Brooklyn, in 1941. She landed a job at Vogue Magazine where she worked until 1946. She subsequently answered an ad in WWD and came into the intimate apparel industry as a designer of Lady Duff Trousseau Lingerie. She then started her own contract studio in April, 1954 under the name Roslyn Harte Lingerie Originals. She has also designed costumes for award winning shows and movies (including “The Pajama Game”). A lifetime member of The Underfashion Club (www.underfashionclub.org) she is very involved in the Intimate Apparel Square Club HUG Awards (www.thehugaward.org) which benefit pediatrics at RUSK NYU Medical Center. In addition, she mentors students from the High School of Fashion Industries; hires and helps entry level designers from FIT.

“Nobody can come near a Brooklyn girl. I still kick ass and that’s why I’m still here” she has said. (And boy-oh-boy can she ‘kick ass’. When Nicole Richie made her short introduction, she referred to a cue card the entire time. Roslyn turned to me and said, “She couldn’t have done that by memory? When I’m asked to speak, I get up and you can’t shut me up!”).

But it’s obvious that the real reason she is still here is that she is passionate, has remained active and involved, and keeps moving. When she handed me her business card, I noted her email address and said I would email her. But she told me she is never really on the computer because she never sits down. She and Stan Herman (another intimate apparel veteran and legend), meet for lunch periodically (he likes to tell her that she’s the only person older than he is). AMAZING!




- Marilyn Kirschner

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