Lights, camera flickers, models…this is not an average night for a college student. Yet for Pratt Institute undergraduate designers Elle Quesada, Fiona Cole, Brittany Lovegrove, Jun Young Woo, and Michaela Folcik, this is just the start of many star-studded evenings.
The inaugural ’47 Redesign Runway Show challenge, partnered with Pratt Institute’s “Deconstruct/Reconstruct” course, embodies the power of self-expression with up-and-coming college fashion designers. Sports lifestyle brand ’47 hosted the semester-long challenge among a class of fifty students, out of which the final five were selected to present their micro-collections at National Sawdust in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The runway show was judged by superstar singer and Alexander Wang model Aluna Francis of AlunaGeorge, emerging high-end menswear brand Rochambeau founders Josh Cooper and Lawrence Chandler, and Pratt Institute faculty members. The winner of the show would have their designs on display at the ’47 flagship store in Boston, Massachusetts. The top three students of the competition will also receive scholarships from ’47.
Each of the five students featured in the runway show designed collections based on deadstock ’47 pieces. The result was an avant-garde sporty streetwear that mixed lounge and derelict aesthetics.
“The goal is to bring a unique and original vision to our licensed sportswear,” said ’47 co-owner Steven D’Angelo. The original ’47 pieces were obscured by raw hems, oversized asymmetrical styles, and a mixture of fabrics.
The designers of the show were inspired in a variety of different ways by the ’47 articles of clothing.
Los Angeles native Elle Quesada had a youthful streetwear approach, creating a micro-collection of three outfits that easily could be sold at Urban Outfitters. Her first look was an oversized turtleneck with accentuated layers of other garments covered in large raw stitching; her second a sweatshirt-material mini-skirt with a sleek cutout top, patched cardigan, and choker; and her final look a bralette fashioned of spandex workout shorts underneath a flowy patterned jumpsuit. All three of Quesada’s models donned athletic socks with their outfits.
Designer Fiona Cole from Vermont featured on a more formal, darker aesthetic. It was easy to see her looks walking the runway at the next NY Fashion Week. The incorporation of drawstrings from the original ’47 pieces added a refreshing edge to black and blue-grey chic industrial looks. Her collection featured a sweatshirt dress complete with cutouts along the collarbone and drawstrings used as fringe; an Anthropologie-esque draping top with overlapping black strips of other garments was paired with cutout drawstring pants that put the term sportswear into a whole other category; and finally a bathing suit-like one-piece with strappy t-back underneath a bomber jacket.
Utah-based Brittany Lovegrove had a more arts-and-crafts approach to the collection, using a variety of patchworks to emphasize the recycled ’47 garments used. Her flared cargo pants with small buttons and colorful details were a standout. Lovegrove was said to be inspired by cheerleaders, and her goth athletic approach to a cheering uniform was equally as revealing as sporty retro.
Finalist Michaela Folcik instead emphasized the recycling process of the ’47 Redesign challenge. Folcik said she hopes to pursue sustainable clothing production in the future. This New Hampshire-born designer had the most sophisticated looks, taking a more autumn approach. Her ingenious work with various textures mimicked the look of tweed; the matching top and skirt, along with a sleekly-patterned black crop top, made for a drool-worthy suit with hints of cobalt. That same tweed pattern was used on trousers that had a short sleeve crop top, and the finale piece was a voluminous black mini-dress with the cobalt tweed twinges as well. Each of her looks were paired with understated black sneakers. Folcik’s collection looked like an ensemble that Tim Gunn would approve of.
Finally, the only international contestant, Jun Young Woo from South Korea, presented her collection. Woo was the only designer to present menswear. The three male models that strutted her creations wore either long shorts or a satang-like skirt. The loungewear element was key to her micro-collection as each outfit visibly borrowed from sweatshirts and other cushioned garments. Woo stated that her main inspiration was the concept of armor and protection. That idea, juxtaposed with her cushion-like effect of layering, made for an interesting show.
Josh Cooper of Rochambeau admired all of the students’ raw talent and purity of design. “Clothes must sell, so it’s nice to see younger designers produce work that is not influenced by the business side of fashion,” Cooper said.
’47 founder D’Angelo was proud of how the ’47 styles influenced a younger generation of fashion designers. “At ’47, we always encourage creativity through self expression and personal style,” D’Angelo said. “The ’47 Redesign program is an exciting opportunity for us to see how ’47’s silhouettes can inspire someone’s unique vision.”
In the end, Woo was deemed the winner. The judges cited her silhouettes as being the main reason why she was selected. “Knowing that these collections were not going to retail, all of the judges agreed that the student who really took a risk should be rewarded most,” judge and Rochambeau’s Cooper said.
The whirlwind evening was complete with DJ spinning and a cocktail reception.
Go and see Woo’s looks on display at that ’47 flagship store in Boston!