Parson’s BFA Fashion Runway Show 2024

A Feast for the Eyes and Consciousness for the Soul

–Zara Korutz

Is fashion art? The answer to this last-century philosophical debate is evidenced in the Parson’s BFA class of 2024. The student runway show was held on May 20, 2024, at the Hall des Lumières in lower Manhattan, New York. As the show title “Synergies” suggests, the fashion presented on the catwalk was an artistic cooperative of the students’ intense efforts folded into a celebration of their academic success of “becoming” a fashion designer.

Models graced the runway in over 200 fashion garments with varying interpretive aesthetics that ranged in sensibility from architectural, futuristic, and camp to the surreal. The fashion was a cacophony of designs, yet harmoniously, the collection celebrated diversity, breaking social norms using innovative technology and authentic cultural-based storytelling. 

Critically, fashion is a visual language of communication that gives signals and helps us interpret the world. Personally, fashion can be a lifeline to hope and healing through personal expression of style, giving power to self-identity. Environmentally, fashion has the power to either destroy or preserve through innovation and consciousness of design practices. 

Upon closer examination, we see that the Parsons BFA Fashion Design class of 2024 is a community of change agents. Perhaps we should listen more intently to what the next generation of fashion designers has to say by uplifting their voices to lead us forward with clarity of values, changing old toxic practices that grip humanity and the planet. 

The world needs more of this type of fashion, I mean art. 

This show uniquely showcased one-look-per-student to allow more students the opportunity to have their work on the runway. Photos by Marsha Lebedev Bernstein, courtesy Parsons

It wouldn’t be a No Kill Mag fashion show review if we didn’t highlight a few of the sustainable fashion designers featured on the runway. Below are three Parsons BFA 2024 graduates who incorporate socially conscious design practices making a positive environmental impact through their various use of technology, upcycling, and zero-waste principles. 

Agustina DominGuez

Latin American Fashion Designer Agustina Dominguez created brand Dagustina, which questions how we reduce production waste in the fashion industry by using zero-waste patternmaking technology and end-to-end circular modular design. By marrying zero-waste principles with Clo 3D patternmaking software, Dagustina creates a new aesthetic with an open-sourcing methodology, shifting the fashion waste paradigm with size-inclusive design. 

Ash Swiatek

Fashion Designer Ash Swiatek has an unorthodox and deliberate artistic process, finding inspiration from often overlooked objects, prioritizing a zero-waste approach to design, upcycling materials from countless sustainable sources, and giving old items new life. Swiatek’s “Townhall” graduate collection touches on sports, gender, violence, and patriotism by beautifying physical scraps of iconic American stereotypes and forcing them to coexist. Symbols of patriarchy abandon the rigid construct of gender, balancing perfectly between delicacy and power. Rather than solely idolizing or criticizing American culture, Swiatek seeks to spark nuanced dialogue around topics that are too often polarized and disregarded.

Conor O’Driscoll

Fashion Designer Conor O’Driscoll has a modern take on the subculture of gay cruising in New York City. Focusing on the fleeting gaze that sparks connection, O’Driscoll’s collection aims to recreate intimacy with references to Mapplethorpe, Wojnarowicz, and Warhol. The garments have shock value that draws attention to the details in construction and materiality as well as textile manipulation. The use of intimate prints sheds light on the collection’s playfulness and directness. Utilizing cruising style sourcing of textiles and garments through websites and apps like Craigslist, exchanges become interactions that make up the collection’s research and demonstrate dedication toward the concept. Rooted in menswear, the collection extends to a genderless form via traditional menswear tailoring techniques and dressmaking.

Parson’s BFA 2024 Runway Show displays the work of fashion graduates from five different pathways: collection, fashion product, materiality, systems and society, and phygital—lead by Program Director Marie Genevieve Cry. The BFA Fashion Design Team includes Associate Director of Partnerships and Culture Mariana Vidal-Escabi, Associate Director of Curriculum John Bauernfeid, Dean of the School of Fashion Ben Barry, Associate Dean of the School of Fashion Fiona Diffenbacher, Interim Executive Dean of the Parsons School of Design Yvonne Watson, Associate Director of Operations of the School of Fashion Catherine Cacho-Leary, and Program Administrator Charlie Moss. 

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Zara Korutz is a New York City based adjunct professor, host of Unbiased Label podcast, and Fashion Studies PhD Candidate at Massey University, New Zealand. She earned an MA in Fashion Critical Studies (with Distinction, 2020) from Central Saint Martins, London, U.K. Zara researches Virgil Abloh as the prototype of a new art-centered fashion designer looking at streetstyle as a reaction against mainstream society as it pertains to intersectional concepts of masculinities.

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