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Paper can be pretty mundane, but for Pratt Institute and Ralph Pucci International, it’s an artistic medium.


In an unusual collaboration, Pratt students have draped, dressed and otherwise adorned Pucci’s new “Girl 2” collection of abstract, featureless mannequins, in paper. It’s a clean, modern and surreal display, devoid of color — white paper on white mannequins in Pucci’s white Gallery Nine showroom at 44 West 18th Street. 


The presentation called Pratt + Paper & Ralph Pucci, will be celebrated today with an opening party, and ties into the industry’s Visual Market Week, Dec. 6-10. On Jan. 10, the show hits Broadway, in Macy’s windows.


“Every student had a different way of manipulating paper,” said Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, chair of the department of fashion design at Pratt Institute. “They curled it or folded it, or braided it or wrinkled it — sometimes so much it became like soft fabric.” One student, Dara Rosen, laser cut the paper into small circles and wove them together like knitted fabric, and from that draped a sheath dress, Pailes-Friedman said. “The students were really able to abstract the surface and create texture. ”


Originally, 50 students from four different disciplines at Pratt — interior, industrial and fashion design and fine arts —were challenged to create designs and sculptures in paper. “Paper is a common denominator for all art and design,” Pailes-Friedman noted.


From that field, about half were selected for the Pucci exhibit, intermingling the mannequins with four sculptures as well as a mural by one of the students, and a panel of judges this week selected what they thought were the best three creations overall. The judges were interior designer Vicente Wolf; Anna Sui; Linda Fargo of  Bergdorf Goodman; furniture designer Jens Risom; Macy’s Nicole Fischelis; fashion agent Greg Mills, and photographer Deborah Turbeville. The winners received 12-inch miniature mannequins in gold, silver and bronze leaf created by Pucci sculptor Michael Evert. For the paper on mannequin forms, first place went to Dana Otto; second place, Meredith Lyon and Beatrice Weiland, and third Place, Thom Forsyth.


The winning paper sculpture design was by Su Ting Chen and Samantha Johnson.


Ralph Pucci and Thomas Schutte, president, Pratt Institute, after running into each other at an event, decided to collaborate on a project. Pucci knew he didn’t want to stage a more typical show with student fashions for the mannequins, and left it to Pailes-Friedman to come up with a concept. “I remember I wanted to make it interdisciplinary with four departments, but I thought, how could I teach people to sew? I just couldn’t teach everybody, but they all know how to use paper,” she said. “Each department head did a master class about what could be done with paper.”


“The kids picked up on what Pucci is all about, and also created in their own voice,” said Ralph Pucci. “They all have a fresh, innocent perspective. I hope they keep that spirit as they go forward in life and business.”

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