By Della Hasselle
SOHO — Thousands of dollars worth of designer material was torn, knotted and stitched to create conceptual art during a fashion competition and live art show at SoHo's Louis Vuitton store Tuesday.
Six teams of four students from Parsons The New School for Design created multi-functional blankets designed with travel in mind for the competition, which sought to merge the artistic and corporate worlds of fashion.
Armed with scissors, sewing machines, fabric dye and sketchbooks, two of the teams made their creations while people shopped in the Greene Street store Tuesday. All 24 students had one day to complete a blanket made from designs conceptualized in just a week.
"What we teach is that it's one thing to come up with a brilliant idea, but it doesn't count if you can't execute it," Simon Collins, dean of the school of fashion at Parsons, said at the store Tuesday, as students frantically sewed and knotted fabric.
"The biggest challenge is going beyond what is expected," he said.
The teams, each equipped with designer samples from past seasons, created blankets with designs that incorporated notions of time travel, parachuting, around-the-world trips and Manhattan landscapes. The teams "Ties That Bind," "NOEUD," "Via," "Time Travel," "Odyssey" and "Born To Fly" were named after students individual designs.
Winners will be chosen based on their execution and design concept by judges including stylist and fashion designer Patricia Field, Style.com executive editor Nicole Phelps and Geoffroy van Raemdonck, senior vice president of Louis Vuitton in North America.
The winners will receive a free trip to Paris to visit the Louis Vuitton workshop and museum.
The best part of the competition was also the worst part, students said.
"It's hard to cut up all the nice clothes," said Hanh Lam, while working from Parsons on Tuesday. "But to see them up close and how they're made is amazing."
The material also provided a welcome new medium for Lam.
"It's amazing," she said. "The leather I was cutting — it's so soft, it tears like tissue paper."
Fashion designers looking on at the store took a moment to admire the audacity of the project.
"They are absolutely going for it in a free-spirited way," said Patrick Grant, creative director of the London-based fashion label E. Tautz. "It's a simple idea...yet transformative."
Fashion designer Keanan Duffty said the students should savor the moment.
"They should enjoy it before they get a job, and all their hopes and dreams are crushed when they realize that what they have to do in fashion is actually quite boring," he joked.
"I just hope someone makes a Snuggie."
The winners will be announced on Wednesday.