After four years of nervous breakdowns, crying over frayed lamé, and fighting peers over tiny scraps of fabric, the graduating class of Parsons 2013 BFA program showcased their designs at the school’s annual fashion show. The two-hour event consisted of 48 really good student designers from all over the world who actually have a shot at becoming famous and making items that retail at prices normal people can’t afford. In fact there were so many talented newcomers this year and every collection was so annoyingly cool it was a serious pain in the ass for us to pick our favorites. So to the ones who actually made our list, congratulations! May your future financial backers' bank accounts be plentiful and you never have to embarrass yourselves by competing on Project Runway!
Dain Jung, 27
Seoul, South Korea
One of the most daunting tasks fashion designers are faced with is the hellish process of piecing together all of their insane ideas and weirdo outfits into a singular collection with a theme that people will understand and hopefully relate to. Dain Jung did the best job of this drawing inspiration from a more somber place by referencing his youth and the times he spent in hospitals with his sick mother. At first glance it seems like any ol’ menswear collection in white and pale washed-out hues—but up close it’s an epic translation of hospital workwear into fashion with its snap closures, leather shoe covers, and mittens(?). Although it’s rare that collections as strong a concept as this one ever cross over into society, I hope that this one makes it. Hospitals fucking suck and being seen by a doctor dressed as well as one of these guys would definitely put my mind at ease, even if I were just told I was dying.
Isabel Simpson, 22
I see what you did here, Isabel. You thought you’d put Lil B’s head on top of some Hindu gods and screen print that shit on some mesh T-shirt dresses and all white Timbos, and I—Wilbert “the Broke God”—would start foaming at the mouth and nerd-jaculating right in the front row of Parsons’s fashion show for graduating students… Well, you were totally correct. Thank you, Isabel, for blowing my mind, I would definitely let you fuck my bitch.
When it comes down to it, this collection just makes good sense. After seeing 90s-era sporty-girl gear adorned with nirvanic images of the rapper who famously looks like J. K. Rowling, the only question I had was why it took so long for this to come into existence. I hope I’ll be able to get my hands on my own Swami B gear sometime soon.
Patrick McCabe, 22
Despite the disgusting and somehow acceptable trend today where guys don’t shower for a week/dress like total slobs, after viewing Patrick’s McCabe’s five-piece collection, it seems all hope is not yet lost and the Southern gentleman of yesteryear might not actually be dead. The looks he presented, which were inspired by Sir Noel Coward’s most famous quote, “Why am I always expected to wear a dressing gown, smoke cigarettes in a long holder, and say ‘Darling, how wonderful’?” can only be described as a breath of fresh spring morning air. He successfully constructed a classy, yet contemporary collection complete with formal slippers, smoking jackets, vested suits, and laser-cut accessories that could make the crustiest Tompkins Square punk look like Clark Gable and possibly get him laid.
My grandfathers on both sides were serious players. They slayed Nazis in World War II, were impeccable womanizers, and carried themselves with an air of elegance that I think men have lost over the generations. I’ve spent my young adult life trying to live up to their legacy of swag. So, it was easy for me to relate to Paul Kim and his collection, which was inspired by his recently deceased Korean grandad who was a self-taught painter. What’s cool about his collection is that it’s not a bunch of costumes from a period piece. He mixes his own love of LA streetwear with elements of his grandad to come up with something that feels nostalgic and new and surprisingly wearable. I’m sure if he had lived to see the young designer’s collection, his grandpa would’ve been pretty proud.
Seoul, South Korea
I could never be a fashion designer due to the amount of harsh criticism, disappointment, and ego shattering failure that also tends to go along with the job. Harim Jung most likely will never have to worry about this kind of trauma because not only did she give her collection the best title of all collections that have ever been assembled, “Time Traveller (Identity and Ethos)," her work is clean, modern, and will most likely be sold in high concept, higher-price tag stores that look more like museums than clothing ateliers. Like Maison Martin Margiela and Raf Simons, her pieces are not dissimilar from the types of fashions the human race will be forced to wear after the world has ended and we’re all peasants in a dystopian society. At least we’ll all look really goddamn good, even though we’ll be murdering eachother in a gnarly state of nature.
Payton Franzen, 21
I’m not an outdoorsy kind of dude. I don’t like fresh air or sunshine or green grass or birds or any of that shit. I like highways and stereos and Sodastream and 4tube. But even though I’m not one to get down in the wilderness, I wouldn’t mind women mistakenly thinking I could hunt and kill my dinner like a modern day Natty Bumppo. Payton Franzen’s collection is the perfect gear to create that farce. Inspired by Olympia National Park in Washington State, it boasts heavy-duty fabrics like GORE-TEX and fleece utilized in an elegant fashion that reminds me a bit of Patrik Ervell, who also shares a love for high-tech materials. Even though I may only know how to pitch a tent, I’d feel like a real nature boy in Payton’s gear.
Yunxhiang Sharon Zhou
The most memorable collections are the ones that contain hauntingly curious garments that no one in his or her right mind could actually ever wear anywhere. This is probably why a number of Yunxhiang Sharon Zhou’s outfits ended up finding their way into my complicated, sleeping-pill-induced hallucinogenic “What the fuck does that mean?!” kind of dreams last night. Perhaps it was the unusually long pinstripe jacket and bowler hat, or the brown leather smock, or even the white-and-gray-apron look, which she paired with trippy pinhole glasses and arm-length, straight-jacket gloves that caused me to break out in a cold sweat—I can’t be sure. I’m still kind of reeling. But no matter what it was about her presentation that caused me to interpret her vintage-workwear collection as the uniforms in an insane asylum from another dimension, I’m definitely feeling her vibe. Thankfully she was the recipient of the Designer of the Year award in menswear, so I look forward to seeing more of her indecipherable symbolic-dream-inducing work next season.
Sophia Sung Suh
The sea is kind of creepy, when you really think about it. We know as much about what lies in the watery depths of the oceans as we do about deep space. But we take what happens in the water for granted, because its proximity gives us a false sense of familiarity. The fact that way down, deep in the water, it’s so dark that mysterious creatures have evolved to withstand immense pressure and create their own light evokes a natural feeling of wonder. It makes perfect sense, then, that Sophia would find inspiration in these bioluminescent creatures, which have never been seen by the naked eye of man. Like those creatures, her designs had a rarified, elusive quality—something mysterious I have never quite seen before. Her lustrous rust-colored jackets, angular-soled shoes, and the fin-like sleeves all made it clear that Sophia’s waters run deep.
Josh Lafoya, 21
Taos, New Mexico
There is quite possibly no better combination of cultural obsessions in this world than Chicanos and celebrities. Now that I’ve seen this marriage of fashion favorites courtesy of Josh Lafoya I can’t help but wonder why no one else has ever had this brilliant idea before? I’m not saying that donning attire featuring Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, or Lady Gaga is a good idea, on any other occasion it’s abso-fucking-lutely not. But those celebs depicted as holy Santos with halos over their heads, side by side with sexy Cholas, huge guns, and sweet cars… holy shit my head just exploded! Yes, you may place that across my naked chest and with pleasure.
Being part of a man cult that worships satanic witches wouldn’t be so bad, especially if all the witch ladies wore the long, flowy wares of Dina Tarrab. I can see myself getting in on all the rituals, fetching obscure potion ingredients, and fighting in life or death tournaments against other dudes for the honor of being ceremoniously sacrificed to a drapey, black fashion goddess named Witch Hazel, or something. I was kind of bummed when I read Dina’s press materials because there was no mention of blood sacrifice or deadly nightshade. Apparently the collection is called “Holy Squares” and has something to do with quadrilaterals. This of course means nothing to my carnal imagination, or my desire to hang out with some elegantly dressed succubi in the woods.
Myung Jin Ji, 22
I didn’t get a chance to meet Myung Jin Li; I’m sure she is a very lovely person. But I can’t shake this feeling that she was that one girl in school who, whenever she raised her hand, everyone around her rolled their eyes and went “Ughhhhhhh…” That’s not a bad thing, just an assumption I made by staring at her designs for a good ten minutes while also trying to wrap my head around the summary Parsons released explaining her collection. For starters, her thesis is called "Evolutio." All of the designs started on a 2D grid based on X, Y points, then something about buckram, upgrading materials, boning, matte vinyl, and natural shapes… then something else about 3D structures coming out from a 2D grid, infinite number of points, and yadda, yadda, yadda. All she really had to say was “I think H. R. Giger is cool,” but I appreciate the lengths to which she went to clearly help us understand how her 15 to 20 percent functioning superbrain works.
Thi Wan, 21
Thi Wan’s “Border” collection is on some weird shit. But I like it, because it would serve as the perfect wardrobe for this interstellar action-adventure skin flick I’m working on called Skeet Wars, which would star me as a well-endowed hero named “Longo Dickrissian.” Longo always wears all white, and uses a power called “the Pork” to dick-down co-stars like Princess Layus and C-3P Ho, while fighting an evil empire who is vying to turn the galaxy into a place of immense sexual repression. Basically the movie is like Star Wars, Superfly, and Black Butt Jungle all in one. It will be an instant classic. Thi, if you are reading this, get at me about doing costume design. What better way to start off your budding fashion career then doing wardrobe for my intergalactic exploitation porno?
Sandy Liang, 21
Queens, New York
Sandy Liang is nothing short of awesome. She’s a New York native, and although pretty damn young, she’s accomplished a lot for 21-year-old by interning for Opening Ceremony, Richard Chai, Jason Wu, 3.1 Philip Lim, and getting her BFA collection sponsored by Swarovski and Saga Furs. The hard work she’s put in at Parsons, instead of wasting her tuition by sitting around on friends’ couches getting high and giving people shitty stick-and-poke tattoos, is visible in her designs. Not that I know the complexities involved with sewing anything other than a button back onto a shirt, but I’m sure that dyeing a fur coat to look like Bambi sucks a big one and is really easy to fuck up. All “hard things I’ll never be able to do” aside though—her designs are tight and I want all of it.
Photos courtesy of Parsons
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