Today we’re thrilled to welcome Samantha Brunson to the pages of MDK. Samantha is a keen observer of knitwear on the runway, and we look forward to seeing high fashion knits through her eyes. Meanwhile, let’s tag along with Samantha to view some recent student work at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
—Kay and Ann
Hello, I’m Samantha Brunson and I’m a knitter, crocheter, and yarn-obsessed elderly millennial. I run a knitting and crafting community in New York City called *Bobble* Club House. I’m still in my first year of running Bobble, but I’ve been a knitter for close to ten years. Before this I worked in the fashion industry running my own knitwear business, where I got the chance to help craft knitwear for designer runway shows.
To say that I’m intensely focused on fashion is an understatement. Every time I begin to become a little jaded by the fashion industry, something pulls me back in like a moth to a flame. The most recent flame was the recent end-of-year student fashion exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
I stumbled into it. I had no idea that anyone can walk in off the street and see the student exhibit. I was trying to go to one of their fashion exhibits, which are free by the way—I highly recommend going the next time you are in New York. I made friends with the security guard who unintentionally sparked my new favorite field trip. I’m definitely going back next year!
I walked into the room and right off the bat I saw this knitted outfit by Ivy He. As I am a true advocate for the return of the fanny pack, this instantly became my favorite look of the day. The attention to detail that went into this outfit brought a smile to my face that didn’t leave until I left the show. The top was hand knit using lattice stitch with a bobble stitch on the sleeve. The shorts were hand loomed and the fanny pack was hand crocheted. There wasn’t any information on the glove ribbing, but it appeared to be a hand made 1×1 rib. Maybe I’ll find a way to work a single knitted boxing glove into my everyday wardrobe.
Coral Avgi (who wisely attached her instagram handle @coco_coral to her mannequin) created the macramé dress and purse set, using blue silk rattail cording and Swarovski crystals. Coral was one of the few students I noticed hovering by her work making connections with her cards in hand. So basically she’s ten steps ahead of where I was when I graduated. I think we are going to see big things from her in the future.
In the center of the room was a podium where the award-winning garments stood on display. I don’t know how the judges picked between this group of talented makers. But one of the ones that stood out to me was from Jesse Doherty. I could look at this for hours. It wasn’t until later that I remembered how little time these student have to make their collections. Plus they are doing this on top of all of their other school work. Jesse Doherty was the Critic Award Winner in the knitwear category. If you look closely you can see that in addition to about five different crochet techniques, the dress also has beadwork.
I saw many people walking right past this next one, by Tilbe Tuna Mert, without realizing the amount of time and patience that goes into something like this. Going down the sides of her silk blouse (a material which is already a challenge to work with) was pristine, white, handmade lace! Lace work is always a show stopper for me and this time was no different. Her information card was printed in all caps, a completely appropriate reaction to have to this work.
All of this was before I even made my way over to the dedicated knitwear section. Having to pick out my favorites from this area is an impossible choice. The great thing about student shows is that they don’t have to worry about “how is this going to do in a retail market,” “what are the current trends in the industry,” and “how will someone wear this in real life.”They are just making what makes them happy and expressing themselves.
One of the cleanest and most polished looks was from Thanh Lam. The coral coat was hand-knit with cables and a herringbone stitch. There was also something really special happening with the double breasted lapel. On the outside it’s a 2×2 rib and on the inside it’s a herringbone stitch. The body suit underneath is a hand-loomed spiky stitch using short-row technique and a 1×1 rib. The mustard sweater that’s covered with cables is from the same student.
The student who made me the happiest was Aldrian Diaz. My inner 90s child was over the moon when I saw these looks. In two garments they referenced Rugrats, Bratz dolls, scrunchies (woven into the pink sweater), over the top and yet somehow familiar prints, and sticky hands. The look with the pink sweater was another Critic Award Winner in the Knitwear category.
There’s a real sense of freedom in all of these garments. The students have years ahead of them to make more practical pieces. This is about having fun with yarn work. I think it’s clear that they all did that. I can’t wait to see what all of these newbies are going to do after this! But for now they should probably take a few days to catch up on the months of sleepless nights they just endured to get to this point. I think they’ve earned it.