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May 1, 2009 4:44 PM

Eye, Fashion

Honorable Mention

A look from Rachel Cohen of Parsons The New School For Design. There was some serious star power at Wednesday night's Parsons The New School for Design Fashion Benefit. And I'm not referring to the gaggle of celebrities (Eva...

A look from Rachel Cohen of Parsons The New School For Design.

There was some serious star power at Wednesday night's Parsons The New School for Design Fashion Benefit. And I'm not referring to the gaggle of celebrities (Eva Mendes, Russell Simmons), media and retail heavyweights (Anna Wintour, Linda Fargo) and A-list designers (Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan) who showed up to honor Calvin Klein's Francisco Costa and Tom Murry. Rather, the main attraction was the school's 2009 fashion design graduates, who sent out some impressive collections. There was everything from easy-chic, draped separates to piles of origami knits. Julia Blum and Robert Fitzsimmons tied for the coveted title, Women's Designer of the Year. Blum's provocative lineup, a theatrical take on innerwear, featured a shocking teddy that highlighted female erogenous zones. Almost her polar opposite, Fitzsimmons showed a relatively conservative collection, which included a flirty fuchsia dress ready to hit the sales floor.

A look from Junghwa Lee of FIT.

But all the students presented some very promising ideas. Jennifer Rubin's ombré silks, for example, were stunning -- as was Jon Pagels' elegant purple gown with silver cylinder weights. But it was Rachel Cohen's cool collection of fluid separates that stood out as the most realistic of the student creations. Her dropped-crotch, papersack-waist trousers with a deconstructed blouse was a great sporty look and spot-on for today's casual sensibility. Anna Zwick perhaps took a more risky approach, but kept her finger on the industry's pulse. She blurred the lines in separates by layering strips and scraps of fabric, creating all manners of complex, cozy silhouettes fit for an artsy, downtown girl. Was that a scarf or a collar? Were those boots or leg warmers? Who cares...it was all stylish.

-- What do you think of the student designs from Parsons and FIT? Comment below. ---

Earlier in the week, and just a few blocks away, things were just as chic at the Fashion Institute of Technology's annual end-of-the-year show. Knitwear proved its strongest category, with a great color-blocked shrug by Kaylee Frazier and the coziest of hand-knit wool coats by Jacqueline Carley. Other standouts included Kayla Coveney's screen-printed bubble bustier dress worn over a jumpsuit, Junghwa Lee's ombré cotton dresses accented with magnets (for a witty DIY origami-pleat effect) and Sara Dobrinski's feathered fit-and-flare frock. Punk rock, boudoir chic and Space Age style -- the students hit all those familiar fashion notes as well, including the outré avant-garde, best seen in Alyssa Wood's bold-shouldered spaghetti macramé throw tossed over a tribal-print bodysuit.

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