This Week's Wow: Parson's Gala Provides a Glimpse at Fashion's Future

Parsons Runway Show 2014
Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty

In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come.

The Moment: "I just ran into one of my old professors," said Jason Wu at the end of a gala benefit for Parsons the New School for Design on Wednesday night. "I had to say thank you for not kicking me out for being late to class."

My, how things have changed in the decade since Wu's undergraduate days at New York's leading design school, which moved this year from the Seventh Avenue building made famous by Project Runway to a fantastic new University Center campus on Fifth Avenue. The building, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, includes a high-tech auditorium that can transform in shape and size depending on the event, in this case a runway show for graduating fashion design students of the class of 2014.

"Students no longer have to share space with sample sales," Wu said.

The new venue afforded guests a far better view of the seniors’ work, which has elevated in quality and innovation considerably in recent years to the point that the classic Project Runway putdown—“it looks like student work"—can now be considered a compliment. Donna Karan and Anna Sui, both Parsons alums, said they were blown away by the show. The creativity was phenomenal, a change that Simon Collins, the dean of fashion at Parsons, attributed not so much to the building as the curriculum. "They are better," he said, "because they are free."

Why It's a Wow: Fashion insiders pay close attention to the Parsons show, which has been known to include overnight sensations like Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, as well as a wealth of talented designers who go on to work for major brands. It also offers a rare glimpse into the future of style, and judging by this year's collections, fashion is headed in a direction of big volumes, nomadic style, collage-like construction and a strong interest in geometry. Several of the collections included stiff panels that were affixed in complicated ways to coats and dresses, and some looked as flat as sandwich boards. (The great thing about being a student designer is that you don’t have to worry so much about clothes being commercial.)

And a shout out here to the students named by Parsons as designers of the year at the event: Victoria Hayes for women's wear, Simon Li for men's, and Ashley Yoon Chang for children's.

Learn More: Expect more big things from Parsons students in the future. Hugo Boss, which was honored at the gala along with its women's wear artistic director Wu, announced a new $250,000 gift for scholarships to empower more young people interested in careers in fashion design.

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