Written by Vicky Bateman, student in Parsons Fashion Publishing Class.
With a hint of spring in the air, Parsons The New School for Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) held the 16th Fusion fashion show at Parson’s Tishman Auditorium this past Sunday. The annual fashion design competition, whose notable past participants have included famous fashion designers such as Prabal Gurung, Alexander Wang, and Chris Benz, pits the best first and second year design students from each school against each other.
Participants are judged by notable figures in the fashion industry. Five-time judge Mary Kate Steinmiller, former Teen Vogue editor and now freelance stylist and consultant, has a long history with Fusion and even modeled in the show herself when she was a freshman at Parsons. Steinmiller said in an interview that, “The talent has gotten a lot better. With the new auditorium it makes it that much more of a show.” In offering words of advice, Steinmiller pointed out that future fashioners should pay attention to the quality of their fabrics.
Both Steinmiller and first-time judge, James Worthington DeMolet, senior Fashion Editor for both Seventeen and Cosmopolitan magazines, really enjoyed the winner of Parsons’s best designer Annie Meng’s whimsical Emoji collection titled, ‘Pop Culture’. Steinmiller said it made her, “Smile and laugh,” while DeMolet enthused, “I felt like it was timely so it felt modern. It was also kind of playful and unexpected. I thought that a lot of collections were taking themselves very seriously.”
Speaking excitedly to the crowd, James Ramey, creator of Fusion, announced that for the first time ever, third year students will now be eligible to participate in upcoming competitions. “I think it’s major,” he said when asked about this turn of events. “You know at FIT we’ve always allowed fifth semesters and this is the first year we’re allowing Parsons juniors and I hope we have a very big turnout because it is a very big deal.”
Fusion participants were selected this past October and were able to purchase fabrics from Mood Fabrics and trims from M & J Trimming at a discount. Makeup for the event was done by Make-up Designory makeup school students.
Second year Parsons participant, Kekoa Iskandar, 20, from Jakarta Indonesia, whose punk-inspired menswear collection titled ‘Boy’ earned him an honorable mention, also competed last year. He felt more pressure to succeed this time around because this was the second time he’s competed, but admitted to feeling more confident. “I learned to be prepared, I learned how to manage my time better and to experiment as well as stick to your strengths, get to know your aesthetic and really own it then branch off,” he said.
Haley Elizabeth Byfield, 20, an FIT junior from Orlando, Florida, ending up winning the coveted best designer award with her amazing knit designs. Most impressive was a red crop top sweater with massive shoulders paired with a multicolored knit skirt that made the crowd go wild.
Regardless of who wins best design school, Fusion is about more than just competition. “This year I have noticed a lot of true friendships being formed,” said James Ramey, “That’s a special aspect of Fusion.”