NEW YORK — Before the lights went down at Pratt Institute’s fashion show, students were given what every graduate hopes for — the potential for a promising career.

Stan Herman, president of the Council of Fashion Directors of America, told the budding designers in the packed Hammerstein Ballroom on Tuesday night, “Times have changed. Fashion is a global business. For the first time, there are more jobs out there, if you can find them. People want to be in this business; they don’t find themselves in it.”

Pratt, which in the Forties became the first U.S. school to offer a fashion design degree, honored the CFDA for its commitment to the industry. Herman urged students to seize the day.

“School is in your past now, fame is possibly in your future, but it’s the present that is most important — take advantage of it,” he said.

It was Pratt’s 106th annual show — sponsored by RadiciSpandex — and students weren’t afraid to stretch traditional design boundaries. Cher Erica Landman’s screen-printed scuba suit carried such cheeky messages as “It’s Not Love. It’s Bronzer.” And Paola Flores’ hooded cape and large ruffled bloomers looked like something suited for Sherwood Forest.

But there were also more salable creations such as Alec Stuart’s C.I.T. sportswear, which looked like something The Strokes might wear if that band went to summer camp. Laurel DeWitt, winner of a Renee Hunter eveningwear award, covered her pieces with metal body jewelry.

Another Renee Hunter eveningwear award winner, Lucia Almeida, concocted a peacock-feather dress with an elaborate train. Costume designers Erin Mosman, Xahra Gilbert and Divya Anantharaman also showed grandeur.

Others, such as Pacific Wilson, showed they have a sense of humor. His “Daughters of the Chief” collection featured four models — three women and one man.

As the hour-plus show wore on, it proved to be a bit much for some. Peter Arnold, executive director of the CFDA, ducked out at the halfway point. But “Project Runway” winner Jay McCarroll stayed until the end.

Most of the students were content to see their designs beneath the runway lights, and at the end of the show, they gladly took a bow. One overzealous grad did that twice. Seize the day.

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

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