Dear Shaded Readers,

Parson’s MFA Show initiated a hopeful season for New York. As students know best, a class of 12 designers projected personal desires, life experiences, and cultural concepts into their thesis collections. And yet, despite tireless contributions offered to the development of their study, student impact is often overlooked. In the world of fashion, blasé comments criticize a New York Fashion Week that has lost touch. Parson’s runway tells another story. It’s showcase welcomed space for a skillful group of student designers charged with loud expression and confident brand identity. Not to be mistaken for crafty, the MFA Fashion Design & Society Program prides itself on a curriculum that trains a diverse student body to understand fashion’s global footprint.


A polished curriculum presented a glossy runway, overwhelmed with glamour, risqué and edge. Graduate Aideen Gaynor sent 1940’s silhouettes down her runway. A conservative full-length skirt and jacket pair, and a classic men’s two-piece suit were looks devised from the inspiration of family heirlooms. An outfit formed by the fabric of outdoor seating cushion, a trench coat sourced pattern inspiration from a Lucky 7 lotto ticket and a Pats at Punaluu Resort Pass influenced the print of a floral coffee-colored suit. Relics of her family history orchestrated the concept behind the collection. The premiere of Gaynor’s brand, Bugs Garson included timeless pieces remastered. The designer experimented with modern printmaking using a personal touch – materializing her grandparent’s love story. The romanticism of fashion rekindled through this collection.



Designer Ji Min Lee explored themes of sexuality and eroticism to design a series of reconstructed suits inspired by the male physique. The end result allowed for new eyes on the profile of the classic menswear design. Interjections of feminine touches – beaded lacing on sheer bodysuits that covered the skin of cut-out shapes on the silhouette offered a dichotomy of feminine and masculine vibe. Lee’s work furthers the conversation of gender fluidity in fashion.


New definitions have always been a fashionable interest. Fellow designer Hualei Yu built a thesis on rethinking the cultural definitions to fashion terminology by relation to stock objects. The idea of a paper coffee cup became the pattern for the cups of a bralette. This simplicity of thought expanded into the analogy of cultural dialogue – how a jacket represents a garment, and similarly defines sleeve of an album cover. Musical inspiration carried along the runway. Yu designed outfits patterned by album art such as “Meet the Beatles,” and “Dark Side of the Moon,” while recreating looks from Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” and the image of  Yoko Ono laying in bed, from the cover of ” Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions.” Titling the collection, “Misunderstanding,” the designer points reference to complexity of the English language. Hualei Yu recreations mystify traditional fashion beliefs.

As if a kindered spirit of experimentation, Ciccone Youth’s ‘ Into the Groovey’ played as the collections proceeded. In fashion, progression will advance as design technique is explored through human experience, a palpable connection. Nostalgia, dreams, and expression – lest not forget the gold that comes from achieving the American Dream. New York Fashion Week is good for honoring the pursuit of new designers, and Parson is no exception. An exhibition at Chelsea Art Towers remains on preview through September 11th, a testament that the young, emerging designer carries the future of fashion. Through the duration of New York Fashion Week, shift through the collections as they hang in the center of the gallery space. Visual vignettes surround to enlighten the experience.

Valerie McPhail

Valerie McPhail is a New York-based writer on things of style and artistic expression. She has a portfolio of writing for both fashion and art publications. Although she enjoys covering fashion news and supporting new designers, her favorite subject to explore is the experience of fashion and how life is communicated through clothing. She believes there is a lot to be said about this.