ICONS Award Winners Attend Harper’s Bazaar Event

Brandon Johnson, Kathleen Frey, and Sonne Bajwa pose with Olivia Perez at the Harper’s Bazaar ICONS event.

Three talented FIT students earned invitations to attend the celebrity-filled Harper’s Bazaar ICONS New York Fashion Week party on September 8 as a cumulation of the Infor/FIT Fashion Design ICONS Awards. Infor, a provider of cloud applications for fashion and retail, and Hearst Magazines partnered with FIT on a two-part student contest that explored the collaboration between designers and business teams, as well as how social media can be harnessed to make red carpet fashion more accessible and inclusive.  

Fashion Design student Brandon Johnson won the first part of the competition with his design of a black-and-white multi-piece evening ensemble inspired by his mother’s pearls. After being selected by a judging panel of four fashion industry experts, Johnson worked with evening wear and bridal designer Paula Varsalona to fabricate his design in her atelier. The finished garment was worn by social media influencer Olivia Perez, the founder and editor in chief of lifestyle blog Friend of a Friend, on the red carpet at the ICONS event.

While working on bringing the garment from sketch to reality, Johnson also collaborated with the FIT teams competing in the second part of the competition—taking a garment from red carpet to real closets. The task for the International Trade and Marketing students was creating a marketing strategy for the dress via e-commerce and 50 Macy’s retail stores with the goal of selling 1,000 dresses in three months. As Team RC.e (Red Carpet everyday), Kathleen Frey and Sonne Bajwa put together a cohesive multi-platform plan inspired by the versatility of the design, Perez’s social media influence, and Macy’s already existing retail strategy with a focus on how to drive engagement with the garments. Their winning presentation was evaluated with a several important points in mind: strategy, research quality, persuasiveness, presentation, and feasibility.

This year’s judges included fashion consultant Marigay McKee, jewelry designer Temple St. Clair, Macy’s fashion director Durand Guion, and Infor’s Chief Creative Officer Marc Scibelli.

Johnson found inspiration in the memory of his mother wearing pearl jewelry for special occasions when he was growing up in Gardner, Kansas.
At her studio in New York City, Paula Varsalona works with Brandon Johnson to fabricate his garment.
Brandon Johnson, Olivia Perez, Paula Varsalona.


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