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Fashion’s Biggest Names Attend Parsons’ First Ever MFA Graduation Exhibition

Donna Karan and Joanna Coles

Last night, Parsons The New School for Design celebrated its first MFA Fashion Design and Society graduate program, a highly selective program for talented emerging designers that was initiated through the support of alumna Donna Karan. At The Exhibition: The First Eighteen, students presented personal visual designs that included highly executed and innovative clothing, film, and other multimedia presentations. The opening reception was hosted by Donna Karan and Marie Claire's Editor in Chief, Joanna Coles, both of whom graciously took in each presentation while interacting with the respective designers.


Donna Karan poses with Joanna Coles; Donna chatting with one of the program's designers

In addition to getting a glimpse of the future of fashion, the evening was filled with appearances and highlights by some of the industry's biggest names and influences. The always super-stylish Zanna Roberts Rassi, took in the ground-breaking designs while chatting with enthusiastic guests. A cap-wearing Chris Benz also showed his support to the program, all while rocking different colored Converse sneakers on each foot. Other special guests included Marie Claire's Nina Garcia, fashion designer Kay Unger, Brazilian-born luxury handbag and accessories designer Carlos Falchi, as well as A-list stylist Anabel Tollman


Zanna Roberts Rassi; Chris Benz

While the whole program was a culmination of amazing talent, dedication, and inspiring creativity, I was immediately drawn to one of the exhibition's most colorful booths and designer Carly Ellis. Carly, a British designer, whose personality mirrors her positive and humorous approach to fashion design, was also one of the few students who caught Donna's undivided attention as she took in each collection. Carly's designs, which can only be described as mind-blowing digital prints manifested in luxurious streetwear styles, felt unique as well as right on the pulse of fashion. When I asked Carly what inspired the graphics behind her collection, she confessed that "meticulous candy displays," as well as the numerous "Skype sessions" with her family inspired the breakup behind the pixels as well as the highly pigmented palette. For more on Carly's evening-inspired sportswear, check out her interactive site


Other showcases that caught my eye included Kaoru Oshima, a Brooklyn-based knitwear designer who hails from Tokyo showcased a collection that was entirely inspired by movement. Kaoru explained that she used sheer fabric inserts to contrast the light knits, a combination that showed off transition and beautifully highlighted bodily movement.

Meanwhile, Sinead Lawlor, used buttons as a subject for a collection that felt utterly unique, fun, and gorgeous. 


The Exhibition: The First Eighteen is available to the public every day from 10 AM – 7 PM until May 23, 2012 at 1359 Broadway.