While my colleagues were off on an excursion to Neverland (aka Kanye West’s YEEZY Season 4 presentation on Randall’s Island), I decided to check out some garms crafted by the designers of tomorrow at Parsons’ MFA SS17 show.

Every year, Parsons, one of the world’s most prestigious design schools, offers its MFA graduates the opportunity to showcase their thesis collections during New York Fashion Week. The event, which always manages to draw a sizable crowd of seasoned fashion editors and writers, serves as a golden opportunity for burgeoning designers to flex their create chops and impress the ever-fickle fashion community with hopes that they’ll endorse their work. Think of it as the America’s Got Talent of fashion.

Fashion Week can be a pretty repetitive affair. Faced with unremitting competition, an erratic consumer market and arduous seasonal work schedules, designers sometimes resort to “playing it safe,” resulting in one long season of trend mimicry.

Fashion student presentations, on the other hand, are a different ballgame. Unlike designers who’ve already achieved commercial success, design students are usually able to create in an environment that enables raw talent and visceral concepts to really flourish and progress (I went to film school, so I can definitely attest to this).

The result for such unhinged creativity in a fashion show is usually a series of trial and errors (as with any designer first cutting their teeth in the industry), but if there’s one thing that defines student presentations, it’s that they’re usually, if not always, a dazzling sartorial spectacle.

Due to time constraints, I was only able to shoot the collections from my seat, which actually worked out fine in the end. Here are some of the show’s highlights.

Gender Fluidity Was Ever Present

Whether it’s A$AP Rocky and Young Thug endorsing Gucci womenswear or Jaden Smith posing in a dress for Louis Vuitton’s SS16 campaign, the line between gender norms when it comes to clothing has been blurred more than ever. So for several MFA grads, gender-bending was a no-brainer. Guys in sheer, multi-colored suits strutting in stilettos? Check. Guys in platforms heels? Check. Women styled in double-breasted, boxy suit jackets that looked like they were picked from your great-grandfather’s (RIP) wardrobe that hasn’t been opened since 1987? Check, check.

There Was Nipple Freeing a Plenty

If there’s one hashtag that could be applied to Insta-shots from the show, #FreeTheNipple would’ve been a pretty big one. Whether they were veiled by sheer fabric or out in plain sight, them chest eyes were sure feeling the breeze down that catwalk. 

The Spirit of Margiela Was Alive & Well

Martin Margiela, who himself studied design at the illustrious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, is an inspiration to every young designer, that goes without question, but the Parsons grads displayed a particularly salient homage to the enigmatic fashion radical with several designs that incorporated trademark features affiliated with the Belgian house.

Face-obscuring masks, which have long been a trope in Margiela presentations (you also might recall the ones the brand designed for Kanye’s 2013-2014 Yeezus tour), entombed models faces left and right, while deconstruction, perhaps the most famous Margiela sartorial trait, seeped throughout several of the students’ collections  – from tattered jumpers to misplaced pockets to shirts and jeans sewn together using a swath of varied fabrics.

The Sportswear Was Next-Level

One of the show’s buzziest talents, Jahnkoy, went absolutely HAM with their range of whimsically wacky sportswear creations. Iconic brand logos were repurposed, sleeves featured ornate beaded details, tassels and feathers hung from headbands, tank tops and joggers. National pride (or rather global unification) seemed to be a principal theme throughout, with various flags (USA and Jamaica being the most prominent, probably a jest at this year’s Olympics) emblazoned on everything from tracksuits to capes.

Just in case you were wondering, here’s the full list of MFA graduates who showcased this season:

Gahee Lim
Mook Attakanwong
Xiang Gao
Snow Xue Gao
Kozaburo Akasaka
Jessie Shroyer
Purple Mountain
Anna-Marie Gruber
Ran Bi
Alex Huang
Bjorg Skarphedinsdottir
Queenie Qinghe Cao
Jahnkoy

Be sure to follow SS17 to stay au courant with all of this season’s Fashion Week happenings. 

Words by Nico Amarca
Fashion Editor, North America
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