NEW YORK — In the midst of what is shaping up to be a banner year, Thom Browne was honored Thursday night with this year’s Pratt Fashion Visionary Award.
First Lady Michelle Obama wore a Thom Browne ensemble for Inauguration Day and the designer staged his first full-fledged women’s runway show earlier this year. But Thursday’s honor, which Hamish Bowles presented, was right up there with the year’s achievements, according to Browne.
“Believe me, it is an honor, especially coming from an institution like Pratt that looks at design as very conceptually based. That is something I can relate to,” he said with a laugh. “Their approach to making clothes is very involved too. They do such really important work for American designers.”
Browne got started in 2001 with five suits that he sold by appointment only, with ready-to-wear being added to the mix in 2003. As a nod to the designer’s signature look, Pratt president Thomas F. Schutte chose not to wear socks with his suit Thursday night.
The audience at the Center548 space was lined with other supporters of Browne’s including Andrew Morton, Harold Koda, Miki Higasa, Julie Gilhart, Alina Cho, Yeohlee Teng, and Bibhu Mohapatra.
Through a pre-show video they got a sampling of the fashion department’s new collaborative classes where concept-led, craft-based expression and interdisciplinary partnerships are encouraged. After the award presentation, guests settled in for what wound up being a lengthy fashion show. Seventeen students each showed their designs on a circular runway with futuristic colorful lights. Once the hour-long performance wound down, Jennifer Minniti, chair of Pratt’s Department of Fashion, presented the Liz Claiborne Concept to Product award to Madeline Gruen, who closed the runway show. She picked up a $25,000 stipend and a year’s residency at the Pratt incubator.
Before guests headed over to a cocktail party at The Top of The Standard, Browne said he had two personal favorites in the show — Gruen and Simone Kurland, both of whom are his interns.