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It’s graduation time, which for fashion schools means runway time. Last Wednesday night, the Fashion Institute of Technology held its Future of Fashion show, this year dedicated to Calvin Klein, who was sitting front and center alongside Carolina Herrera, Norma Kamali, Narciso Rodriguez, Tom Scott and Milly’s Michelle Smith — all of whom served as industry critics to this year’s grads (each designer mentored a class during the semester). Numerous winners were chosen in categories of children’s wear (Jinsol Kim), intimates (Nathalie Quirin), knitwear (Yaeji Son, Olga Bely), special occasion (Tatiana Baibabaeva) and sportswear (Juliette Bokyeong Kim, Hwayoung Jo Cho, Raphaela Marra, Burcu Gundogar and Michelle Hyeyaen Yoon). Among the highlights: Son’s simple cable and pointelle knit dress and Baibabaeva’s silk gauze gown with a peek of corset in the back.

This story first appeared in the May 9, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

So what can the coeds expect from the real world? “In the beginning, everything is a challenge,” said Herrera, postshow. “I cannot point to only one thing, but I think challenge is very good because then you do better.” Klein offered his own reality check for the students, noting that he wasn’t thrilled with his first job out of school at a coat and suit manufacturer on Seventh Avenue. “I didn’t stay long,” he said, “but it was a start. You have to begin somewhere.” And while Rodriguez was fairly Zen about the process — “I felt there were no real surprises; there were long hours in school and long hours in work” — Kamali added that, in many ways, alums today have it harder. “You don’t just have to be talented,” she remarked. “You have to be a good marketer, good at business, good at visual communications. It’s not just about ‘I like to design.’ ” Which may be why she was so tough on her students. “I was disappointed that more of them did not do that something extra with passion,” she said. “So I went back and told them that. There were some fabulous students that needed a kick.”

Consider her mission accomplished. A few of them, spurred by Kamali’s words, plan to revamp some of their looks and re-present them to the designer at a later date.


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