Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — “Beyond” was the apt theme at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s exhibition by its graduating accessories design program students. “Otherworldly” might have been just as descriptive, as the students’ inspiration ran the gamut from Seventies disco to space-age travel to Minnie Mouse.
“We wanted the students to think outside the box and experiment with shape, color and materials, yet still come up with things that could be manufactured and actually worn,” said Ellen Goldstein, chairwoman of the Accessories Design department at FIT.
And experiment they did. Texture was a prevailing theme, whether it came from traditional materials like leather, suede, cotton and nylon, or such unlikely sources as balsa wood, metal mesh and Astroturf. Leather was embroidered or appliqued, mesh was combined with reflective nylon, fluffy marabou adorned nose-bleed-high platforms. Everything was hand-crafted by the students.
Rather than specializing in one classification or another, most students offered several products, like handbags, shoes and gloves or belts. Goldstein said the variety of offerings reflected the department’s stress on “developing a collection point of view, rather than thinking of accessories as disparate elements. It’s important to develop the concept of brand building.”
Of the 40 students completing FIT’s one or two-year accessories design programs — the only ones in the U.S. — about 30 were chosen for the still-life exhibition, which will open to the public on Tuesday and run through May 25 in FIT’s Marvin Feldman Center.