Fashion Institute of Technology presented its class of 2022 MFA design students this week in a runway show in the school’s Pomerantz Center. Collectively entitled “Unbound” the work of the 13 graduates was each introduced by a short video created by the student which captured the mood behind their thesis collection. Then models wearing 5 of those looks took to the stage in the Center’s Katie Murphy Amphitheatre.
In her opening remarks, FIT president, Dr Joyce Brown, addressed the students, praising their strength of character as she said of the show: "More than anything, it captures your own unbounded energy, resilience, and great creative spirit." For the class of 2022, much of their time at the school had been a hybrid of remote and in-person teaching. Said Brown, "Despite the challenges of the pandemic, you persisted and tonight we are very proud to showcase the inaugural collections of your careers."
Some standout collections from FIT MFA
Opening the show Xiaolin Wu fused Western and Eastern equestrian culture in a collection entitled "Gallop" which celebrated the practical details of equestrian wear throughout history in order to arrive at new possibilities in silhouette, fabric and decoration. Durable khaki lampshade forms and pretty blue draping proved satisfying contrasts on the runway.
The designs of Wenwen Lei, from Chengdu, China, combined Eastern elements with Western silhouettes and were inspired by the mountains, birds, and animals of her hometown. Combining Chinese ink painting with heritage craft making techniques of wool tasseling, pleating, bubble embroidery, and patchwork, she created intriguing statements of bold geometric motifs and, of particular note, a richly gathered skirt that appeared to levitate around the lower body. Said Lei, “I created this collection with the intention of giving new blood to millennia-old civilizations."
Bethany Plymale, who was accompanied by her mother onstage to receive her applause, created an all-black collection of feminine details on soft silhouettes entitled "Reflection" that conveyed a startling romance. Celebrating the dynamic yet often problematic relationship between mother and daughter, Plymale explored what she describes as “a tainted idea of beauty” touching upon how the patriarchy leaks into family life, and how women can subject other women to the male gaze. Her aim through her thesis: “Breaking the cycle of generational shame.”Focusing on systematic gender inequality, Beijing-born Shine He Sang presented a lively collection despite tackling such serious topics as gendercide in parts of Asia. Technicolor fabrics, and playful silhouettes that evoked cartoon animation were accessorized with jauntily placed 3D printed hardware. Hand painting, and pleating were on display and beading aided by sponsor Swarovski.
A part of the State University of New York, FIT draws on its Manhattan location for collaborations with members of the New York fashion industry, and its extensive alumni network include household names who’ve launched their own businesses such as Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Reem Acra, Brian Atwood, Norma Kamali, Nanette Lepore, as well as creatives who have rejuvenated established houses like Daniel Roseberry, Artistic Director of Schiaparelli in Paris. Time will tell which path the 13 graduates of the class of 2022 will choose.