CFDA Award Spotlights Talent in MFA in Fashion Design Program

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As FIT’s MFA program in Fashion Design wrapped up its launch year in May, two of its students were among the five selected as finalists for the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s 2018 Geoffrey Beene Scholar Award. The award seeks to identify the most exemplary and innovative womenswear design student in a full time graduate program at a leading American college or university.

At the star-studded CFDA Fashion Awards held on June 4, designer Phillip Lim announced that FIT student, Kritika Manchanda, was the winner of the $25,000 scholarship. The selection committee recognized Manchanda’s “strong portfolio and presentation.” Fashion Design MFA student Eliza Fisher was also among the finalists.

Manchanda was born and raised in India. She graduated with honors from the University of Delhi in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and went on to work as a financial researcher at Standard and Poor. She soon realized her true calling was as a fashion designer, so she moved to New York after being accepted into the Fashion Design program at FIT, where she interned at Rachel Zoe, Marchesa, Ulla Johnson, and Prabal Gurung, was on the Dean’s List, and received her AAS degree magna cum laude. She then entered FIT’s MFA program in Fashion Design. “As a designer, I am intrigued by how clothing can reflect the social and cultural landscape of its time,” Manchanda said. “Through my design work, I want to challenge existing norms of the fashion industry and push the boundaries of what clothing is meant to look like.”

“Kritika’s exceptional work exemplifies the ways in which the School of Graduate Studies reaches across boundaries to connect creative ideas to broader cultural imperatives,” said Mary Davis, dean, School of Graduate Studies. “We’re delighted that the CFDA has recognized her designs, and Eliza’s, as visionary and deeply meaningful.”

The Geoffrey Beene Design Scholar Award challenges students to look beyond conventional design and industry approaches in order to advance the art form of fashion by investigating experimentation of process, material, and form. Applicants are asked to use the body as a three-dimensional canvas, to build an exploratory collection looking to the future of innovation, technology, and materiality in fashion design.

The members of the selection committee were designers Narciso Rodriguez and Yeolee Teng; Nathan Jenden, creative director of Diane von Furstenberg; Tom Hutton, president and CEO, Geoffrey Beene, LLC; and Sara Kozlowski, director of Education and Professional Development, CFDA.

Students accepted into the MFA program in Fashion Design arrive with an idea to explore—then embark on a personal journey of discovery that slows down the relentless pave of fashion to allow experimentation and reflection. Through a thesis process that makes this program like no other, students are given the freedom, time, and resources to explore within a structured, supportive, highly mentored environment. Students will leave with a viable body of work that reflects their design fluency as formidable makers and articulate influencers in the fashion industry.