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Art Institutes students showcase their designs at Lincoln Center (aw2014 NYFW)

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Can you imagine the thrill of hearing that your student collection will be shown at the tents in Lincoln enter? For the Art Institutes 12 fledgling designers from amazingly diverse backgrounds, Lincoln Center’s Theater became the center of the Universe one snowy evening in February. The audience was filled with family members and fashion insiders looking for the next big thing, and photographers stood at the ready to capture each look as it came down the runway. Since there are so many designers, I grouped the clothing into groups: Black, Color, Texture, and Shape- the biggest things that we deal with when evaluating and buying clothing.

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Black: These four designers translated fashion’s favorite go-to shade into iterations that were formal, structured, flowing, and edgy. Design team RG (Ryan Edmonds and German Madrigal) delivered a grey and black collection that featured this zippered vest over a ‘chopped’ hem skirt. Former union carpenter Michael Doyle’s sheer goth nymph creation is made of electrical tape treated cotton voile. Samuel Ciccione, who interned with Michael Kors and Anna Sui, created this mod charcoal suiting dress livened up with leather inserts and sleeves. Simone Young, a young mother from Jamaica has a solid hit with this long sleeved long pleated lightweight black jacket that floats over tailored slim pants. Black can easily be drab or boring, but the simplicity of each look seems fresh.

Color: Yellow can be tricky, but Puerto Rican native Luis Aponte handles the sunny shade with restraint and creates an adorably young drop-waisted dress, with white vest with swatched hem detail. Christopher Maracha takes the t-shirt and turns it around with a deep magenta tone and sharply delineated sheer short sleeves. No wonder he was featured in the 2009 Book of Gaga! The most color on the runway was in Joshuan Aponte’s collection, which was drenched in saturated neon brights. While the voluminous hot pink coat may be a bit much, the crystal embellished lace top and silver metallic skirt could stand on their own as an outfit or separates to dress up basics.

Texture: I love how texture can evoke a mood in a piece of clothing or outfit. Micheal Doyle works the Viking vibe with this dramatically created Viking gown made of French domestic latex treated lambskin and muskrat fur dress with organza underskirt. The fur on the skirt makes me think of frost on windows… It’s like the Polar Vortex in a dress. Rie Yamamoto loves to ‘merge vintage and modern aesthetics’, and the Art institute graduate works a sort of 60s edge into a leather and faux fur vest (that opens in the back!) over maroon leather peplum top and peg skirt. I could see this outfit on Veruschka with Diana Vreeland fluffing it up for David Baily to shoot it. Gustavo Alonso shows the a classic columnar guipire lace dress that flows in rippling, curve accentuating waves from shoulder to floor. Anna Charest’s ‘Honor’ collection has that homespun American feel. This brown wool fit and flare coat from her Civil War inspired collection makes me think of Army blankets, scratchy and warm. The loopy embroidery is straight out of the 1890s, the Cold Mountain era, when everything was homemade.

Shape: Former architect Lorena Cabrera brings her love of structure to this sculpturally draped tank dress. The black falling stacks at shoulder and hip play off of the directional striping in the fabric. Pretty, but austere. This buffalo plaid cape with flared skirt is pure Babe Paley. Over a turtleneck and gloves Lauren Barisic’s homage to the American Woman is straight out of a vintage Avedon photo. The shapes of the pieces will define the movements of the wearer, creating an overwhelmingly elegant and feminine image. I loved this puffer gone wrong by Joshuan Aponte. It is too, too much, very futuristic like a winter cot for superheroes or a coat painted by Salvador Dali. The drooping balloon-like layers make me think of his melting clocks.

*Runway photos courtesy of Deborah Hughes Inc. *audience photos by Faith Bowman shot with Fujifilm HS50EXR

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