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Gala for the Graduates

NEW YORK — Cocktails by the river, an over-the-top student fashion show and a huge turnout energized the annual Parsons School of Design benefit Monday night at the Chelsea Piers. <BR><BR>The black-tie event drew 750 guests, including Donna...

NEW YORK — Cocktails by the river, an over-the-top student fashion show and a huge turnout energized the annual Parsons School of Design benefit Monday night at the Chelsea Piers.

The black-tie event drew 750 guests, including Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenberg, Kenneth Cole, Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, Dana Buchman, Jack McCollough, Lazaro Hernandez, Larry Leeds, Fern Mallis, Howard Socol, Simon Doonan, Arnold Aronson, R. Brad Martin, Steve Sadove, Andrew Jennings, Ron Frasch, Terron Schaefer and Marvin Traub, among others. It raised more than $1.8 million for Parsons scholarships and programs. The honoree was Saks Fifth Avenue’s chairman and chief executive officer Fred Wilson.

The fashion show encompassed special projects with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in which some of the graduating seniors chose to design using materials not derived from animals. Others did utilize furs, but there was no pie-throwing, paint-splattering or incidents of that sort. There were also special fashion projects displayed on the runway that were done in conjunction with Saks and Piaggio USA and Piaggio’s Vespa scooter.

Generally, however, the graduating student fashions on the runway ranged from the futuristic to the tribalistic, with lots of billowy layering, long boots, ornate headdresses and lacy and meshy tops baring a lot of skin.

“We celebrate the many design talents in the audience along with the new graduates,” Wilson said. “Saks loves creativity and ‘the heartbeat’ of creativity are the designers,” he added.

Parsons is a division of New School University.

This story first appeared in the May 16, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.