(NEW YORK) Last night seniors from the design program at Pratt Institute showed their final collections before a packed fashion crowd in Chelsea at Center548. Fashion industry professionals such as Fern Mallis, Julie Gilhart, Bibhu Mohapatra, Alina Cho, Hamish Bowles and Thom Browne sat front row to see the work of fashion’s next generation. Bowles presented the Pratt Visionary Award to Browne by congratulating him on all of his accomplishments and hard work. “Thom is so disciplined. It’s no wonder he has achieved so much,” said Bowles. “He still runs eight miles everyday and lives in an apartment that could be likened to a sleep deprivation tank.” Browne dressed in his iconic suit with a short grey jacket and cropped pants offered some words of wisdom to the students telling them to, “Always stay true to yourself. Always strive to be an individual. Always be confident in your skills and abilities.” He added that the students should expect criticism both good and bad. “Most people will either like it or they won’t, but let this inspire you that your are doing something right,” he said. “If somebody doesn’t like it then I think you are doing something right.”
The 114th annual fashion show kicked off with the 17 out of 28 seniors who were accepted into the show with everything from knitwear and evening wear focused collections to avant-garde and street style pieces that looked made for the floors of Opening Ceremony. Jennifer Minniti, the department of fashion chair, teared up as she watched the students present their collections. “It’s an emotional charge for me when I see beautiful clothes,” she said. “But also knowing the story from the very beginning and watching the students grow and be able to come out here and produce a great collection moves me to tears.”
Meanwhile, the students seemed relieved to have presented their collections. Post-show students, Simone Kurland and Lucy Trower said that the overall process of being judged throughout the year was much tougher than presenting their final collection. “You debut it and you’re done,” said Trower. “You don’t have to defend it anymore.” The students were involved in everything in the presentation process right down to the shoes. Working with store bought shoes Kurland said, “I really wanted a heeled bootie and I found a leopard pony hair bootie with a glittered heel and a glittered toe cap. They were absolutely hideous, but I covered them in grey leather and made them work.” As for their ideal jobs in the real world? Both without skipping a beat said, “Comme des Garçons and Martin Margiela.”
The winner of the evening’s “Liz Claiborne Award-Concept to Product” was Madeline Gruen, who presented an intricate collection of beaded gowns and suiting. How long did it take her to hand sew the elaborate beading? “Let’s just say I spent Friday and Saturday nights in all semester,” she explained. “Sam [O’brien] was my roommate and he was beading pants so we’d end up just sitting there beading and watching Grey’s Anatomy and Friday Night Lights.” Where does she hope to work post-graduation? “It’s all just such a shock to me, I haven’t even thought about anyone hiring me!” In the meantime, she has a good foot in the door with her first internship with Thom Browne already in the works.