Pratt Institute returned with its annual Pratt Shows: Fashion on Wednesday night at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, New York.
The event kicked off with opening remarks from the Brooklyn school’s president Frances Bronet. “Tonight is a prime example of the creativity and hard work that our students are known for throughout the art and design world at large,” Bronet said, adding that Pratt Institute’s fashion program is the oldest in the country.
“We are so proud to have a room of noteworthy fashion experts here tonight, and it is our distinct privilege to honor the phenomenal journalist Robin Givhan, recognizing the thoughtful criticism, her expert eye and celebrations of diverse voices and perspectives in fashion design,” Bronet said, introducing Teri Agins to present Givhan, The Washington Post’s senior critic-at-large and Pulitzer Prize winner, with Pratt’s Fashion Visionary Award for her groundbreaking fashion criticism and work across the arts, race and politics.
“Thank you Pratt. I want to accept it on behalf of all the journalists that the fashion industry welcomes, knowing that sometimes the stories will be critical or skeptical or tough. I thank you for that generosity and graciousness,” Givhan said during her acceptance speech. “To every student embarking on a career or to the fashion industry, my wish for you is that you find satisfaction, joy and meaning, and that you can pay your bills. I also hope that you make the industry more inclusive, more sustainable, and that you continue to graciously welcome journalists.”
Just before the Pratt Shows: Fashion’s runway portion kicked off, Jennifer Minniti, chair of the department of Fashion and inaugural Jane B. Nord professor of fashion design announced designer Byron Lars as her successor. His appointment will begin at the beginning of the fall 2023 semester. Minniti also noted the launch of the school’s new MFA in Fashion Collection + Communication for 2024.
Titled “Assemblage,” Pratt’s 122nd annual, hourlong runway show featured works from select graduating seniors of the the Department of Fashion 2023: Shuming Gu, Aimee Schmale, Camille Bavera, Kristin Guo, Mackenzie O’Mara, Justin Cavone, Xinran Zhao, Zoë Crane, Mekinsa Emi Frith, Annie McWilliams, Phoenix Mei, Cameron Bourne, Jo Lu, Dominique Fiorino, Mingyi Teresa Wu, Heather Ortiz, Yue Wu, Pelling Helen Wu, Eden You, Yichen Lu and Haozhe Wang.
The collections were made up of both ready-to-wear and accessories. Styles ranged from voluminous (a la Lu) to club-kid (from Frith) to conceptual tailoring, bold knitwear (as in a strong assortment of colorful, graphic numbers from Ortiz) and ethereal, fluid designs with bumping soundtracks to match. Furthermore, creative works were noted by Pratt to address “wide-ranging themes, material investigations and personal narratives — from sustainability to gender neutrality and nonconformity.”
“I was really impressed with all the textiles — they were telling me how they dye them, do the knitting, all of that. I thought the upcycled pieces were really impressive; the show also made me rethink trousers,” Givhan said post-show.
“To me, [the award is] a reminder or kind of a validation that the industry respects thoughtful criticism, and it welcomes it. I think there’s such a generosity in giving me an award for doing that; I think that’s an element of the stature of the students and faculty here,” she said.
Immediately following the show, Lu was named winner of the Christopher Hunte “On Point’ Award for her conceptual lineup.
“I was really surprised to win,” Lu said post-show. “It was a year of hard work; I got a lot of support from my professors and everyone I’ve been working with for the last four years. My collection is called ‘Melting Away,’ and is about me coming from a very cold place and experiencing the melting of snow and ice — the poetic process. I tried to create a lot of soft structures with foam and collapsing structures with mesh and soft fabrics. I was really focusing on textures and softness; the layering of colors was a reference to the interplay of light and the process of melting.”