My Favorite Looks From The 2013 Parsons Senior Fashion Show

Looks from Kaye Applewaite, Yunxiang (Sharon) Zhou, Yoonsung Choi and Isabel Simpson-Kirsch’s collections at the Parsons’ 2013 Fashion Show.
Photo: Courtesy of Parsons

Yesterday afternoon, I zoomed over to Pier 60 all the way over on Manhattan’s westernmost edge in the swampy summer heat to catch Parsons’ 2013 Senior Fashion Show. It was well worth it, not only for the Lobster Roll that I scarfed afterwards at Chelsea Market or the champagne that I managed to cadge after the event but because it’s always super exciting to see what the fash-youngs have up their sleeves.

The excitement was palpable. It feels like graduation but without the stupendous relief. Sure, your parents are there and you’re stoked to see your friends but there’s still this high-pressure live performance to get through. Plus, the finalists have been announced from your class but not the winners so you can sense the competitive energy throughout the room (for the winners, here’s the official release). And, well, it’s fashion kids so you know that everyone was stunting in admirable outfits despite the truly prohibitive heat. Ensembles that you know they’ve been planning for several weeks at least.

The thing about a show like this is that it’s the distillation of two years of effort (fast track notwithstanding). The students spend hundreds of hours learning about technique, construction, and how best to narrate their vision and voice in a precise and appealing way. Without getting into the whole commerce vs. poetry thing, the most interesting aspect of watching a young designer at this point is that despite how early it is in their career, when a designer’s great, you can tell. The confidence is unmistakable and their message is complete. It really is that whole, “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action” Michelangelo thing. The seeming facility with with they retrieve the message from their brains and cajole fabric to behave in that manner can be breathtaking.

So here in no particular order are some of my favorite looks. Two of them did go on to win best menswear and womenswear so I feel validated in my selections (I really did pick them before they were announced, I was waiting on high res artwork!) but mostly I liked these because they were fun (in some cases funny, #THANKYOUBASEDGOD), interesting, fully-formed, clever and delightful. The music was notably spectacular. For all those interested, I’ve taken the liberty of adding the playlist (provided by the wonderful Kris Bones in collaboration with Simon Collins, the ever-charming dean of the school) at the bottom of this post.

Looks from Flora J. Lee’s collection at the Parsons’ 2013 Fashion Show.
Photo: Courtesy of Parsons

NAME: Flora J. Lee
AGE: 23
HOMETOWN: Seoul, South Korea

TECHNIQUES AND THEMES EXPLORED:My collection, Reminiscence, started with my obsession for collecting objects; fragments that are reminiscent of specific times and moments. For example, I like to stick flowers between pages of books and put them back onto my bookshelf. As time passes the flowers dry and I forget about them. Eventually finding them makes me realize I was subconsciously creating a time capsule.

“I wanted to bring my memories to my collection and decided to conceal my memories in my buttons, which led me to hand cast dried flowers into buttons. I digitally printed hand-dried flowers and drew a fine outline on top of the print. The color story of the collection unconsciously became the colors that appear most in my revisited moments of childhood: translucent white, gray, yellow and sky blue.”

Looks from Francine Frohlich’s collection at the Parsons’ 2013 Fashion Show.
Photo: Courtesy of Parsons

NAME: Francine Frohlich
AGE: 26
HOMETOWN: Montreal, Canada

TECHNIQUES AND THEMES EXPLORED: “The collection ’Lucid Dream’ is based on a vivid nightmare that I had. When I woke, I proceeded to represent the vivid scenes of the nightmare through drawing and collage, ultimately settling on the gothic cathedral from my dream as the main source of inspiration for treatments such as three-dimensional laser cutting, planar panel inserts and digital print developments.”

Looks from Isabel Simpson-Kirsch’s collection at the Parsons’ 2013 Fashion Show.
Photo: Courtesy of Parsons

NAME: Isabel Simpson-Kirsch
AGE: 22
HOMETOWN: Nashville, Tennessee

TECHNIQUES AND THEMES EXPLORED: “My collection, Based 2013, is inspired by the rapper Lil B the ’Basedgod.’ The prints I designed combine images of his face on the bodies of various Hindu gods. I did this because through his music, videos and book, Lil B has created an almost religious-like movement that imposes positivity, individuality, love, and living a life free of judgment, living this way is what Lil B and his fans call being ’based.’ I would like to work with Lil B and produce this collection and have a portion of the profits go to a charity or foundation of our choosing.” (Ed note: read this awesome interview with the designer on The Fader).

Looks from Kaye Applewaite’s collection at the Parsons’ 2013 Fashion Show.
Photo: Courtesy of Parsons

NAME: Kaye Applewaite
AGE: 24
HOMETOWN: Barbados

TECHNIQUES AND THEMES EXPLORED: “’The Arc of Self’ is a collection that was driven by a search for identity. It is an individual critique of the process of design from an initial idea to the final garment. It started with the deconstruction of a hoodie and resulted in a five-piece collection that is a blueprint to the thought process. To live life and to experience its many ups and downs is how we discover who we are. Similarly, to know your aesthetic in design is to experience the many nuances of the process and to react and critic based on your individual choices.”

Looks from Myung Jin Ji’s collection at the Parsons’ 2013 Fashion Show.
Photo: Courtesy of Parsons

NAME: Myung Jin Ji
AGE: 22
HOMETOWN: Seoul, South Korea

TECHNIQUES AND THEMES EXPLORED: “My thesis collection is called Evolutio, coming from the english word evolution. My main idea started from a 2D grid based on X, Y points, where numbers are interconnected, going from the vertical to horizontal. I’ve experimented with different moldable materials, and the first one I used was buckram, which is used to mold the shape of hats, but then, I wasn’t getting the right volume and the right texture, so I then upgraded the materials to boning, elastic, felt, and matte vinyl.

“I let the materials lead the silhouette of my designs. The 2D grid was translated onto a 3D structure and then I played with scale, shape, and texture around the body. I then developed a technique where I combined all the materials together into one. Just as the 2D grid is based on X, Y points that consists of infinite number of points, so does the development and experimentation of this collection.”

Looks from Sophia Sung Suh’s collection at the Parsons’ 2013 Fashion Show.
Photo: Courtesy of Parsons

NAME: Sophia Sung Suh
AGE: Not provided
HOMETOWN: Seoul, South Korea

TECHNIQUES AND THEMES EXPLORED: Sophia’s thesis collection is called “The Invisible Boundary,” a women’s wear collection inspired by deep-sea bioluminescent creatures and their fin movement.

My collection conveys the excitement of excavating things that have not been discovered. It also creates a strange nostalgia for a place and a time one has never lived. This mood is expressed through silhouettes, colors, materials and craftsmanship. I have chosen hand-cross stitching as the main technique for fabricating my collection. It starts from punching one hole and the power of a single hole gradually getting stronger as I repeat the process. This traditional handcraftsmanship gives a breath of life to the deep sea creature.”

Looks from Yoonsun Choi’s collection at the Parsons’ 2013 Fashion Show.
Photo: Courtesy of Parsons

NAME: Yoonsun Choi
AGE: Not provided
HOMETOWN: Seoul, South Korea
TECHNIQUES AND THEMES EXPLORED: “Inspired by my own oriental painting, this collection represents a study in contrasts. I applied lessons learned over six years of training as a painter to the aesthetic of my garments, which juxtapose delicate prints on a sportswear collection, and combine ancient painting techniques and modern digital printing.

Floral prints complement the movement created by the oversized simple shapes of the garments. Fragile yet vibrant, flowers epitomize the contradictions found in nature, providing the perfect visual foundation to build my collection. Modern digital printing techniques enabled me to transfer painted images onto organza, organdy, chiffon, stretch fabric, jersey, cotton, and leather. Accents to the prints were hand painted on organza and organdy. The collection also pairs accessories associated with an active lifestyle, such as a skateboard and headphones, with elegant floral paintings.”

Looks from Yunxiang (Sharon) Zhou’s collection at the Parsons’ 2013 Fashion Show.
Photo: Courtesy of Parsons

Yunxiang (Sharon) Zhou
AGE: Not provided
HOMETOWN: Tai’An, China

TECHNIQUES AND THEMES EXPLORED: “My focus is to establish a utility in the garment that the wearer would find useful and efficient for everyday life and hence, never throw away. I also utilize textiles that age well, such as leather and denim. For my thesis collection, I began to explore vintage menswear—the classic leather jacket and military parka, for example—and found that in menswear, the utility of a garment always gave birth to a classic that never went out of style. Menswear enthusiasts hang on to their waxed Barbour jackets and old Levi jeans and they delight in the small details that were originally incorporated for utility.

“My thesis has been the result of this research. Based on the idea of worker’s garments and tools, I developed a collection of aprons that celebrate utility. I incorporated the long-established details of worker’s uniforms, from office workers, construction crews, hospital personnel, farmers, and those in the military—details that tell the story of their day-to-day labor. I am a strong believer that work is a person’s greatest source of pride; when we have honed our craft, we feel accomplished and valuable. My thesis is a celebration of work.”




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