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Spring Studios recently hosted the 2022 graduates of the MFA Fashion Design and Society program with a runway show that featured the work of 15 designers who represent the next generation of American fashion, with collections that explored gender and the body, creative reuse and sustainability, and speculative futures and worldmaking. The presentation also included graduates of the MFA Textiles program, which featured 4 designers whose work highlighted and examined issues related to culture and identity, sustainability and material innovation, and decolonization.
The show was put on in partnership with IMG, and produced by Beyond8 Productions and Creative Director Dario Calmese. Hair was provided by Gary Baker and UNITE Haircare, and make-up by Claire Perez. Publicity support was provided by The Hinton Group.
“I am thrilled to have celebrated the thesis collections of MFA Fashion Design and Society Generation 11 and selected final work from MFA Textiles Generation 3 at New York Fashion Week,” said Ben Barry, Dean of Fashion at Parsons. “On display was wild creativity, a plurality of aesthetic possibilities and a deep grounding in designing from narrative and with making practices that heal and transform the world – all exemplifying the teaching and learning happening across our programs in the School of Fashion and at Parsons.”
WeiRan’s work blends digital techniques and hand craftsmanship to reinvent regular objects in the world of fashion design. She aims to create a new visual language through digital manipulation and textile experiment, constructing new visual elements and blurring the boundaries between physical and virtual worlds through fashion.
With her thesis collection, Eva Heugenhauser aims to critically consider the concepts of time and value, and therefore suggest an abstract and innovative understanding of a sustainable design approach by developing her own ephemeral textile combined with a focus on a strong passion for tailoring and pattern making.
In her masters collection, Marlene Haase researched the social and historical context of cotton garments. In her collection she worked with original fast fashion garments which entered the U.S. market illegally and reengineered them regarding to her value system. With her collection she intends to open up a discussion on the value and labor of the most popular clothing items: Denim Jeans, Trench Coats and Jersey Sweaters.
According to Lilas Ferdi, “I have always collected fabrics, scraps and pieces of clothes in order to rework them together as a final canvas. This collection isn’t it, neither will be any future one, but it will rather show through a ‘system’ engaging designers, makers and costumers altogether for us to understand clothes, and how they move in accordance to our bodies and lives.”
Zhiqing Zhang (Qing), aka Princess of Chinatown, is a multi-disciplinary artist and fashion designer. Born and raised in southern China, Qing’s upbringing has a huge impact on their work. Qing’s artistic creation integrates multiple fields, including clothing, makeup, styling, film, performance and more, while most of Qing’s works focus on exploring gender, sexuality, self-expression, body image, identity, and LGBTQ community culture.
Ying Feng’s thesis collection is a reflection on a society that is deeply rooted in patriarchy. From advocating for sex work to celebrating girlhood, Ying showcases these themes through a range of crafting techniques such as crochet, beading, embroidery, and working with upcycled garments. Ying has a background in visual communication design and enjoys working with multimedia such as video and book. She is also the founder of Club Innocent.
“Since I grew up in different districts of China, different culture and identities building and transforming cause me gender confusion from a men-trained background as a girl,” says Tao Li. Thus, as a fashion designer, it is important to reflect the past-present-future thinking to indicate my trauma emotionally and directly through fashion as an art therapy. Expose my insecurity to make me feel secure.”
“After entering Parsons, I want to expand the definition of connection with the audience, and maintain the concept straightforward because I hope that the final product can use itself to explain the idea so that people can understand and enjoy it,” says Meng Ling Chung. “Therefore, in my recent works, I want to use playfulness as a bridge to allow clothing and people to interact to create memories. This intention is the same as our DIY works when we were young; even if it is not perfect, it will still be preserved. As a designer, I think I am creating a mechanism that allows people to change the form of clothing with their own ideas and simple operations. I create a form and the audience brings them to life.”
Sarah Hawes‘ MFA Thesis work does not fall into the typical scope of a fashion collection. Her work is founded on her anxieties around the future consequences and implications of the current relationship between science, technology, and humans. Her project stemmed from ethnographic research and her personal discomfort from living in a generation where there is world chaos at all times in every single direction. She started her research by capturing the DNA and lived reality of undocumented and unnoticed everyday moments in everyday life and incorporated its essence with her own experience to create a community approach to design.
In spite of fashion collections, Anna Zhang’s work also includes textiles, installation art, painting, and films. She enjoys exploring the relationship between human bodies and the environment through different art forms. She believes cloth is just a commodity, only when it has interaction with bodies can it truly become a powerful work. Textile is the key language of Anna’s fashion work. She is proficient in various textile technologies, such as knitting, printing, dyeing, embroidery, etc. She always tell her stories by exploring the creative and sustainable material.
Alexandra Petina is a Russian designer. After receiving her BA in Moscow, she traveled to London to study at Central Saint Martins and chose New York as a final destination of her academic experience. She has a multidisciplinary approach to fashion, as an image making in a body scale and appreciates the variety of tools and multimedia aspects of fashion design.
Xiaomo Chen is a knitwear designer from Taiwan, specializing in computer programming/knitting. “My research starts from the study of ‘Post-Human’ and focuses on ‘situated knowledge’, which means different perspectives would cause different definitions. The term is used most frequently in perspectives arising from social constructionism, radical feminism, and postmodernism to emphasize their view that absolute, universal knowledge is impossible.”
According to Ruiyu Zheng, “For my project, I would like to integrate the Chinese traditional skill and furniture into fashion in a new way. I hope my collection is about going back to a level of craftsmen, every piece is with unique texture and has emotional content. In the process of combining furniture elements and garment structure, I found the collections’ silhouette to express my story. And I hope that my story could let fashion, as a human connection, get closer to how to apply craft, which is a very kind of an emotional craft through objects.
As a fashion designer, Liu Liu sees fashion design as a tool to respond in a variety of ways to the notion of authentic self. Her works relate to exploring the intimate relationship between emotion and garments and the conformist phenomena of dressing and defining clothing through gender neutral fashion. She hopes her work can change people’s stereotypical thinking.
Asato Kitamura’s parents believed in a religion called Nichiren-Shoshu in Japan. He grew up surrounded by beautiful things such as religious sculptures. However, his parents’ relationship was feeble, and there was always a dissonance in his house. His imagination was born in an environment where dissonance, made by negative emotions of humans and prayer to God were always mixed. In graduate school, he devoted himself to Freud’s and Nietzsche’s philosophies, interweaving his own experience and exploring the affirmation of trauma and the value of imperfections. For him, Fashion is a ritual that sublimates the pain of life into elegance.
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