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NEW YORK — With television shows such as “Project Runway” and “Fashion Star,” the concept of a jury critiquing an aspiring designer is all too familiar. On Tuesday, it became a real-life moment for 21 graduating seniors from Pratt Institute, who participated in the annual Juried Panel Review to pass the final stage and qualify to participate in the Pratt fashion show on April 25. “This is the critical moment,” said Jennifer Minniti, the school’s chair of fashion. Minniti noted that while there were 28 graduating students this year, just 21 had made it through to this stage, which took place at the light-filled, loft-like space of Canoe Studios in the Starrett Lehigh building.
The jury on hand was even divided into four panels, each made up of a group of industry specialists. One such panel included Hollye Jacobs, Meredith Melling Burke, Susan Cianciolo, Miguel Adrover and Marion Greenberg; another featured Stefano Tonchi and Daryl Kerrigan, and judges in the two other groups included Maria Cornejo and Lynn Yaeger.
Each panel reviewed the graduate collections of about five designers. Students explained their design inspirations, thought process and final product with up to 11 looks in total. Some were presented on two models, others on a rack. The judges were encouraged to ask questions and express constructive criticism.
Each judge filled out forms to critique the designer’s work and determine those who made it through to the fashion show.
Among the noteworthy design talent, Hannah Ross showed novel ways of quilting at the waist or sleeve, often with Japanese touches. Alleen Garboushian was inspired by her Armenian heritage, including the “The Color of Pomegranates,” a biopic of Armenian troubadour Sayat Nova. “It was rich with color, texture and embellishment, which I wanted to carry into my collection,” she elaborated. It resulted in striking religious patterns via prints the designer made on campus. A dress, for instance, was emblazoned with a visual of the Armenian pope; a graphic pattern, on closer inspection, revealed a repeated image of Jesus. When Adrover — who, along with Cornejo, was the most touchy-feely of the judges, constantly leaping from his chair to feel the hand of designs and the seaming details — asked Garboushian to put a top with shorts on one of the models, she dutifully complied. She made the cut to the final round, along with 16 of her classmates.