Saturday, May 09, 2015

In the Market Report: Pratt Benefit Gala

"Pratt" Pack

Francisco Costa with Rose Byrne
(Photo: Fernando Conlon)

Francisco Costa, Calvin Klein Collection’s Women’s Creative Director for over two decades, was honored with the Pratt Fashion Visionary Award during the course of the school’s 2015 benefit gala on Thursday evening (the proceeds of which will go to benefit the Pratt scholarships fund as well as their Department of Fashion). Previous honorees have been Thom Browne, Fern Mallis, Hamish Bowles, and Ralph Rucci, Stephen Burrows, Byron Lars.


 Barry Schwartz and Calvin Klein back in the day

The highlight of the event, which also included a ticketed cocktail benefit (at the Dream Downtown in the Meatpacking District), was their runway show. The 116th in their history, it has launched the career of many designers, and was held at Center 548 on West 22nd Street. In attendance were Calvin Klein Inc. chairman and co-founder Barry Schwartz and wife Cheryl; Italo Zucchelli, men’s creative director of Calvin Klein Collection; fashion designers Bibhu Mohapatra, Gabi Asfour, and Yeohlee; philanthropist and Pratt trustee Kathryn Chenault; Fern Mallis; Stan Herman; InStyle’s Eric Wilson; Architectural Digest’s editor-in-chief Margaret Russell (who ‘accessorized’ her little black dress with a cast on her left foot).

There were welcoming remarks by Thomas F. Schutte, President of Pratt, and Linda DeFranco, Director, Product Trend Analysis, Cotton Incorporated (a lead sponsor for the event). The talented, beautiful and stylish actress Rose Byrne, was there to give Francisco his award. She told the audience that she’s been “fortunate” to wear his “understated, elegant designs” which "exemplify American fashion" (such as the modish, abbreviated leather dress from the designer’s fall 2015 collection which she had on for the occasion), and remarked that he dressed her for her first red carpet (the 2008 Emmy Awards). On a personal note, she praised him as being a “lovely man, kind and gentle”. For his part, Francisco hailed Pratt as an “incredible design school”. Most importantly, he observed, “It’s a wonderful night for the students.” “It’s all about “passion”. “If you have passion, drive, and work hard, you will succeed”. “There’s always room for talent”, he promised.


 Award Winning Claire McKinney's workwear inspired ensemble
(Runway photos: Fernando Colon)

Speaking of talent, 16 talented senior fashion design students were selected to show between 8 and 10 of their inventive creations during the course of the show, which was appropriately called ‘Laboratory’. Claire McKinney, whose work wear inspired designs are all about a “struggle between nostalgia for the past, and a desire to be innovative and fresh”, was announced as the recipient of the Liz Claiborne Concept to Product award, a $25,000 prize funded by the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation.


Kit Woo's trench made of a new neoprene fabric he created

For me personally, other highlights of the show were Kit Woo’s armor like outerwear, made of innovative non-traditional fabrics (he actually created a new neoprene textile called “Suitprene” which bonds suit fabric with foam and traditional lining fabric; Shani Starinsky’s 3D exploration into a “DIY armor”; Helena Eisenhart’s experiment with transparency, using different types of vinyl, nylon, plastic, mesh, organza, and satin to emphasize the idea behind the collection in a high gloss manner; Shaelyn Zhu’s sheer layered looks which are inspired by the way women look when they emerge fresh from the shower with water drops in the hair and on their bodies; Carolyn Kilcoyne Voyta’s inventive use of a light wash denim, an assortment of different striped shirting fabrics, and a custom dyed seersucker plaid cotton, all of  which were inspired by her days in summer camp as a camper and counselor.


Sophie Andes Gascon's ensemble made of found
and bartered materials

And there was Katya Reilly’s experimental and innovative use of textiles, which often involved heat to melt materials and then press them flat; Chantal Galipeau’s non-exclusive, genderless collection inspired by a trip she took to a tropical trailer park; Sophie Andes Gascon’s use of found and bartered materials including pieces of tape, plastic, string, old dresses, and kitchen rags (in 2014 she was awarded a scholarship from Cotton Incorporated to allow her to source materials and explore different ways to work with cotton).


Dress by Lauren Nahigian

Last, but not least, I was particularly moved by Lauren Nahigian, whose collection, titled “My mind is the enemy”, was inspired by her personal experience with mental illness (OCD, anxiety, and body dismorphia). Hence, the notions of over stimulation, discomfort, and exposure run throughout. As for her next steps; she hopes to get her fashion career off the ground working at a company in their design department, where she can continue to hone her skills doing hand work and embellishments.




- Marilyn Kirschner

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