New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Parsons MFA ‘We Dem Kids’ show breaks away from the expected

Parsons MFA students debuted their NYFW Spring/Summer 2024 designs at the Brooklyn Museum.

The Master of Fine Arts program at The New School’s Parsons School of Design presented its New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2024 collection “We Dem Kids” at the Brooklyn Museum on Sept. 11, featuring the designs of 15 fashion design graduate students.

Sean Slaughter speaks to the audience wearing a white buttoned shirt and a pair of black pants.
Sean Slaughter. (Samson Tu for WSN)

The show began with a spoken-word poem by Sean Slaughter. When Slaughter’s poignant writing finished echoing through the venue, capturing the essence of “Dem Kids,” the models began walking down the runway to music mixed by a live DJ and supported by a saxophone performance by Marvin Carter.

Marvin Carter plays a saxophone wearing a all-black suit.
Marvin Carter. (Samson Tu for WSN)

The show was ingeniously structured into three segments, each offering a profound glimpse into the minds of the graduating students. The first segment, “Heritage,” explored the cultural and historical roots of the designs being presented. The second segment, “2113,” looked into the future to envision a world a century ahead. The third segment, “Generational,” celebrated the passage of time and interconnectivity between different eras of history.

From left to right: a model wearing a silk earth-toned sprayed apron and a purple knitted shirt; a model wearing a neon green silk suit and headpiece; a model wearing a purple-and-white oversized jacket and a pair of blue slacks.
(Samson Tu for WSN)

What became evident was the students’ deep preoccupation with materials. They spent hours knitting, collaging and embroidering, reaffirming their commitment to rebuild society from the very threads that connect us. Experimental knits, bold collaged designs of unconventional materials, 3D-printed wearable cages and proportion-defying, inflatable outfits all challenged traditional notions.

From left to right: a model wearing a wooden box with an analog clock in the front and ruffled white-and-blue skirt; a model wearing a white knitted sweater and tie-dyed purple-and-white pants in a wheelchair; a model wearing a red chunky outfit.
(Samson Tu for WSN)

“It shows how this generation sees identity as something that is really meant to be taken out of context,” Tai Beauchamp, a TV personality and entrepreneur who has attended the Parsons MFA shows since the 2000s, said. “It’s so exciting to see that creativity.”

From left to right: a model wearing a yellow plaid blazer, a yellow t-shirt and a pair of gray slacks; a model wearing a white spiky headwear, a cream oversized geometric sweater and a pair of white silicon oversized knee-high chunky shoes.
(Samson Tu for WSN)

Designers Anna Roth, Chang Liu, Fabiola Soavelo, Hsiao-Han Kuo, Mel Corchando, Nan Jiang, Natsumi Aoki, Lorena Pipenco, Ren Haixi, Story, Siri, Sunny Ning, Yamil Arbaje, Ying Kong and Yu Gong showcased their own narratives through the works on the runway, providing the audience with a symphony of themes and stories.

 

The use of plaids and pleats lent themselves to an academic aesthetic, while the use of inflatables and 3D-printed designs created a theme of protection, and the use of thin knits hinted at the complexities of concealment and revelation. These graduate student designers created a collection of looks that don’t represent any specific gender norms, even taking a step away from traditional fashion.

From left to right: a model wearing a yellow-and-purple plaid knitted vest and a yellow patterned knitted tie; a model wearing a white and red-and-mint shirt and a skirt of the same color; a model wearing a purple jumpsuit.
(Samson Tu for WSN)

“What’s also very clear is that this is a genderless world that we’re living in,” Beauchamp said. “For someone like me, who grew up in the ‘90s and in the early 2000s, it’s revolutionary.”

The front and back view of a model wearing a light brown jacket with strings hanging down and a pair of flared blue pants.
(Samson Tu for WSN)

What set this collection apart was its departure from pieces easily envisioned on department store racks. At a time when commercialism dominates the fashion industry, these creations were exciting and inspiring. In a world that craves innovation and creativity, this collection, celebrating a new era, was a testament to the spirit of freedom and expression.

From left to right: a model wearing a sequin corset and a pair of black tights and arm sleeves; an adult wearing a red tracksuit and a child wearing white-and-pink t-shirt and oversized blue jeans; a model wearing a black crop top and black oversized work pants.
(Samson Tu for WSN)

“They are a prime example of fashion not holding on to the boundaries in the world right now,” Beauchamp said. “It’s also incredibly refreshing to be at a show where there are young people of all abilities of all aesthetics rocking the designs and moving forward with it.”

Contact Manasa Gudavalli at [email protected].

About the Contributors
Manasa Gudavalli, Editor-in-Chief
Manasa Gudavalli is a super senior studying a super strange combination of psychology, mathematics, journalism, and chemistry. When they are not editing the Washington Square News, they are probably reading Freud, watching college football, or developing film photos. You can find them on Instagram @manasa.gudavalli and @gudavalli.photography.
Samson Tu, Magazine Managing Editor
Samson Tu is finishing his B.A. degree in politics with a thesis on the state of civil society development in the People's Republic of China. Synthesizing his experience in journalism and training in politics, Samson is going to attend the NYU School of Law after his undergraduate to study intellectual property law. Samson attempts to make sense of Heidegger and Sartre or edits photographs on his 15-hour flight between New York and Taipei. He always prefers the flights to New York. Send an email to [email protected] for ideas about WSN's monthly magazine issues!
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