With spring temperatures hitting 90-something degrees earlier that day, sunburns were as plentiful as the de rigueur short black cocktail dresses many women wore to the 10th annual Otis/Parsons Critics Award Fashion Show on Saturday night. More than $525,000 was raised for the design school’s scholarship program, while guests were treated to dinner, dancing, a solid show of student designs and a silent auction.
“When I hired my first assistant from Otis/Parsons, I thought it was just a coincidence,” said the evening’s honoree, Guess? designer Georges Marciano. “But now all 10 of my assistants are Otis/Parsons graduates. That’s no coincidence. I think Otis/Parsons is the best design school in the United States.”
After a worshipful tribute to Marciano’s world of denim, sportswear, eye wear, footwear, swimwear, children’s wear, watches and the introduction of the new Guess? fragrance, the student show began.
Throughout the academic year, established designers work with the school’s fashion department director, Rosemary Brantley, and the students on specific design directions. Each designer then awards a Silver Thimble Award for outstanding achievement. Georges Marciano chose Erich Archuleta and Aaron Paule for their black denim men’s wear; Judy Knapp, of Nordstrom’s Brass Plum department, selected Tiffen Dove for her black velvet pants and skirts mixed with white lace-trimmed blouses; Christina Johnson, of Olga’s Christina, awarded her Thimble to Adrienne Grande and Connie Kolupa for their lingerie; Gary Nickerson, of La Blanca Swimwear, chose Dorene Williams for her chartreuse sequined bikini. And that was just the junior class.
Designer critics for the senior class included Isaac Mizrahi, whose Thimble went to Adrienne Wait for her blue and green sportswear separates in taffeta and satin; Henry Duarte, of Sqwear, who chose Alice Boner for her colorful interpretation of men’s wear; Carole Little, who honored Shelly Boies for her flared, fake-fur jacket lined in red; Richard Tyler and Lisa Trafficante, of Richard Tyler, who singled out Leticia Banuelos for her tailored blue coat with a trompe l’oeil jacket; David Hayes, who selected Scott Williams for his long black velvet gown with white satin collar and cuffs; and Bob Mackie, who closed the show with a Beaton-esque finale of Truman Capote’s 1966 formal Black and White Ball, and who awarded Paula T. Corley, also the school’s designer of the year, his Silver Thimble.
Meanwhile, in the silent auction bidding was fast and furious. Barbara Lazaroff, restaurateur and wife of chef Wolfgang Puck, was holding back.
“People see my name and they immediately start bidding against me. I’ve spent thousands here,” Lazaroff said. “A lot of my honeymoon clothes were designed by Otis/Parsons students.”
This year, students proved their prowess at following the direction of established designers as well as their ability to select fabrics and execute designs with astute workmanship. If this is the future, let it begin.