One of fashion’s curiosities is how closely it follows Newton’s Third Law, the way in which a single force sets course in a season and produces an equal and opposite reaction from those around it. On the same night as the Parsons Fashion Benefit and student runway show, a band of 31 designers from the Parsons B.F.A. fashion design program took to the industrial stretch of the West Side highway to present their collections under the guise of Le Salon des Refusés. Theirs was not so much a “scandalous affront to taste” like the Dejeuner sur l’herbe that Édouard Manet notoriously exhibited at the original salon in France. Nor was it a rejection of establishment by the rejected, so to speak. No, within the smutty black rooms of the Westway nightclub, theirs could be best described as an opportunity to recapitulate and decode the Parsons experience.
Was it at all surprising that the models took to the catwalk—converted from a raised stripper platform—in rapid quick fire? Perhaps. But this is the class of 2015; this cohort knows how to send messages at Snapchat speed. They like solving puzzles, studying fiberglass and hoarding High Street buys in their New York apartments. Like Adelle Caparanga’s dresses covered in tagging barbs and receipts, which said more about America’s over-consumption of goods than she intended to. Then there was Michael Freels, who opened the show with tops made of woven jersey and leather in his reinterpretation of youth codes. When combined with piecemeal pants, the trailing strips of unwanted fabric compounded the visual appeal.
The vision offered by other graduates, such as Doris Bohyun Lee, delved deeper with elaborate leather piping, and with a slightly melancholic feel that recalled a time of personal anxiety. “I wanted to capture that moment when you can’t breathe,” Lee said. And yet, the of-the-moment looks still maintained a freedom of movement, as indicative a comment of life’s journey and how suffering always comes to an end.
Words by Sophia Gonzalez
Photography by Joshua Woods
Designs header image: Terri Dieu