FIT’s Fashion Design MFA Class of 2023 presented UNI / VERSAL, a runway show featuring their graduate collections, at Spring Studios during New York Fashion Week on Tuesday, September 12. The show debuted 112 looks, with 14 students each presenting an eight-look collection developed prior to their graduation, which took place in May. Check out the runway show on the UNI / VERSAL website, fitnyc.edu/universal.
Representing four continents, the designers featured in UNI / VERSAL were as follows: Morgan Cardwell, Vasundhra Dhamija, Kaylie Haueisen, Youna Jin, Kuai Li, Yitong Lui, Anthony Oyer, Lilach Porges, Catherine Ziyue Tang, Xinyue Maggie Tao, Valeria Watson, Tom Zhendong Wen, Deborah Won, and Luna Zining Ye.
Together, the designers developed an artist/creative statement in support of their work:
We believe that what sets our class apart is the diversity we represent in our various backgrounds, styles, and concepts. Yet despite this breadth, we support each other as a unified body. When naming our collective show, we wanted to find a title that represented this symbiosis of people and passions. We decided that the theme UNI/VERSAL (“uni,” derived from the Latin word “unus” meaning “one,” and “versal,” an archaic term for “entire” or “whole”) best represents our individuality as well as our cohesiveness. Each of us has a unique creative universe that brings inspiration to all of us. Each collection that you see today is derived from these spaces of self-exploration.
Individually, they expressed wholly different approaches to their creativity:
Chinese-born, New York–based Zining Ye, is a designer who strives to create a fashion language that juxtaposes chaos with tranquility and maximalism with restraint. Form and textile manipulation are central to her work. Traditional silhouettes are fused with architectonic textiles, and neutral palettes combine with rigid volumes to create collections that are quietly striking. Throughout her studies, Ye found a balance between traditional Asian culture and modern expression.
“My collection, Fancy Inside, seeks to represent the friction of internal and external worlds by playing with the juxtaposition of fluidity and rigidity in form and textile and mixing traditional Eastern crafts with modern materials,” Ye said.
Lilach Porges is an Israeli fashion designer with an academic background in architecture. She uses parametric design methods to create textiles and garments. Porges—one of whose looks opened the runway show with the model on a hoverboard—wishes to combine fashion with technology and to research more sustainable production methods to create the fashion of the future. Her work focuses on developing innovative methods for 3D printed garments with robotic arms, exploring architectonic shapes with the ambition to bring the worlds of science, engineering, and fashion together to empower women.
“I aim to reduce the labor in making garments by printing them with robotic arms from sustainable materials,” Porges said. “Reducing [the number of] sweatshops in the fashion industry through technology that allows for better work conditions and making garments that can be easily recycled to reduce the amount of fabric waste … are my most precious goals.”
Youna Jin, of Seoul, South Korea believes that garments as a material to convey meaning can inspire people. “I don’t intend to make my garments mass-produced,” she said. “I would rather make them piece by piece. I believe this way of thinking also contributes to more sustainability in fashion.”
“Throughout their two years in the program, these talented 2023 graduates have been guided by a gifted and experienced faculty of creatives and industry professionals that includes award-winning fashion designer and threeASFOUR co-founder Gabi Asfour, among others,” said Cathleen Sheehan, chair of FIT’s Fashion Design MFA program. “We’ve all been impressed by their collaborative spirit and commitment as students and look forward to the positive impact they’ll make as emerging fashion designers.”