The Parsons Benefit and Fashion Show is widely recognized as a professional launch pad for seniors poised to become the fashion world’s next big thing. But for those searching for talent at its roots, a smaller show each March gives the industry a first glimpse at New York’s youngest and most promising up-and-coming designers, while Parsons students get to demonstrate some school spirit.
On Sunday, March 6, freshmen and sophomores at Parsons got the spotlight at Fusion, the annual showdown between Parsons and the Fashion Institute of Technology. For the competition, 15 young fashion designers selected from each school created five outfits to walk the runway. The collections wowed a panel of distinguished industry judges, including Victoria’s Secret designer Todd Thomas, Teen Vogue editor and Parsons alumna Mary Kate Steinmiller, Paper editor-at-large Peter Davis, stylist David Yassky, and designer and Project Runway alumnus Daniel Feld.
James Ramey, a Parsons graduate, founded Fusion 11 years ago from his dorm room at Loeb Hall. I thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a fashion show between the best two fashion schools in the whole world,, Ramey told the packed crowd at the Parsons Fashion Auditorium. The students whose work strutted down the Fusion runway were in great company; some of Parsons’ hottest young alumni have shown their first looks at Fusion, including Chris Benz ’04, Ramey’s former roommate.
The collections highlighted each school’s diverse talents, with work spanning womenswear, menswear, sportswear, and accessories. The sold-out crowd especially appreciated a bit of showmanship and cheered for quirky pieces like the antler headgear by FIT’s Edwin Mohney and the metallic studded Fear Collection by Parsons’ Leonid Batekhin.
At the conclusion of the weekend’s final show on Sunday, awards were given to the best two designers from each school. Victoria Hayes was named Best Parsons Designer for her womenswear collection It’s Not a Competition Girls, and Megan Speilman was named Honorable Mention Best Parsons Designer for her color-saturated womenswear collection Montana on My Mind. In a hard-fought battle, FIT came away with the top prize. But for Parsons students, Fusion is less about the competition and more about the opportunity to showcase their skills. And, besides, there is always next year.
To learn more about fusion, visit www.fusionfashionshow.com.