Top Looks From Parsons Senior Fashion Show

Donna Karan, Fern Mallis, Reed Krakoff and Chris Benz turned out to support the rigorous design program =.

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Runway looks from the senior graduating class at Parsons.
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Parsons' annual senior thesis show at Chelsea Piers (which gave special recognition to grads Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs) offers attendees a look at top-notch student work, as well as a sneak-preview of new techniques, technologies and trends. Giuliana Raggiani's wild childrenswear collection included machine knits with blue alien motifs, neon stripes and sporty details.
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For this look, Raggiani layered a quirky woven poncho with a pair of slouchy leggings for a modern-meets-folksy vibe.
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Emily Hudson's cozy knits and wearable materials gave her kids collection a warm, snuggly appeal (not to mention the adorable pint-sized models, who deserved a prize for navigating the long, figure eight-shaped catwalk).
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Another of Emily Hudson's extra-cute models sporting a knit green bow-tie, overalls and patchwork dungarees in mustard yellow.
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Experimental textures and fabric treatments are always a special highlight of the student collections. Designer Nina Na Ni added softness to her rigidly modern silhouettes with touches of white wool and angora.
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Likewise, Janelle Abbott's outrageous knit creations featured thick fringe details and pastel silks with a splattered-paint effect.
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We were particularly intrigued by Abbott's mixed-media dress, which included dip-dye ombre details along the skirt.
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Menswear designer Cid Leif--who we profiled last year for her elegant womenswear creations, showed a sleek mens collection inspired by the Industrial Age.
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"I wanted to design something that would pay tribute to the working class in America who powered up the industry of machines," Leif told us. "I believe a lot of people can identify with that history." Here, a plain white T-shirt embellished with 3-D castings of pipes and car gears.
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We followed the talented Christine Hamer through weeks of agonizing preparation before the thesis show. Luckily, her hard work paid off, and the finished looks -- which incorporated splashes of metallic with bleached denim separates -- stood out on the catwalk.
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Donna Karan, who introduced a new fashion scholarship at the benefit that evening, told us that work ethic is what sets Parsons students apart in the workplace. "I was a Parsons student, and let me tell you, it's not easy. Sleeping is not a discussion. It's push, push, push." Hamer's unique bleached treatments, for example, took several dyeing experiments to get exactly right.
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Innovative menswear looks were a special highlight of the thesis show. Andrea Tsao's rugged military-style jacket and shorts were actually rendered from a print depicting a (decidedly non-military) pastoral scene.
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Likewise, Tsao used a luxe baroque floral for these tough-looking cargo shorts.
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25-year-old Christy Jeehyun Lee took home the prize for Designer of the Year in menswear for a quirky-chic collection inspired by the unlikeliest of creatures. "The rooster is the dandy of the barnyard," Savenok explains of her collection, which included Fair Isle-style knits bearing a red rooster motif and oversized luggage. "He struts about with confidence and virility; master of his domain and flock."
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Lee used a feather-like jacquard motif to lend luxury to her rooster theme. Here, the material appears on a tough motorcycle jacket layered over a woven red sweater.
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Danielle Frankel's elaborate evening looks elicited gasps from the audience. Laser cut silks and rippling layers created an ethereal, fairytale-like effect.
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Frankel's dramatic dresses were as beautiful and they were technically complex. Here, a more futuristic look with gravity-defying poufs of material.
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Asked what her advice to new fashion grads might be, Fern Mallis said that "you have to be open to try different things. You can learn just as much at a bad job as a great job." Here, a violet overcoat with hot pink ribbon embellishments by Hyun Woo Kim.
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Kim used the same super-bright shade on a pair of slouchy trousers, which were paired with a tough motorcycle jacket with zip-away panels at the shoulders.
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We were especially keen on Jacques Zhang's super-sophisticated ensembles. This sculpted dove gray suit features an unusual blazer with wing-like panels at the sides and a perfect pair of cropped trousers.
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Zhang was also handy in the eveningwear category. This sexy silk cocktail dress features a cut-out bustier and intricate fringe details on the shoulders.
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South Korea native Jin Kay took the Designer of the Year prize in womenswear for his collection of sleek, all-black ready-to-wear. Inspired by the book, "In Praise of Shadows," Kay contrasted lightness -- represented in transparent fabrics like organza and chiffon -- against darkness, for which he worked with heavier materials like wool and synthetic leather.
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Kay's intricately draped top was inspired by "that moment when the light is on the top of an object and when it creates four shadows in different directions."
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Rachel Chiu's sporty menswear collection included cool digital prints (like this organic-looking green pattern) and sell-able separates.
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Chiu also offered a fashion-forward take on more athletic looks, like this collarless gray parka, which was finished with a practical drawstring waist.
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Sophia Aguinaga juxtaposed organic-looking lines like the blue swirls on a graphic button-down against more high-tech textures like PVC printed wool and padded ripstop nylon.
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Karan advises graduates "to work in retail first. You may be a great designer, but you've got to know who you're selling to." And speaking of selling, we couldn't help feeling that Sophia Aguinaga's draped-lapel jacket has terrific retail potential.
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"What I really appreciate about this program is that it doesn't crush the exuberance of its students," Reed Krakoff told us. Tanni Xu, who was nominated for womenswear designer of the year, offered a decidedly "exuberant" collection of mixed-prints and wild layering techniques. Here, a pair of ruffled silk trousers worn with a kilt-like plaid skirt and several patterned jackets.
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Ying Shi June Lin proposed tailored wardrobe essentials with innovative design details, like the sweeping curve on this cream-colored overcoat.
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June's more experimental work included a belted coat-dress with cape sleeves worn over a navy silk dress with a high-collar leather neckline.
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