On January 21, Pratt students, faculty, and friends gathered at Ralph Pucci’s Gallery Nine in Manhattan to celebrate the opening of Organic Matter: Woven Artwear by Pratt Fashion, an exhibition that challenged Fashion Department students to re-think the form, function, and design of knitwear as fine art.
This past fall, Ralph Pucci International, a high-end mannequin, lighting, furniture, and sculpture company, partnered with the Institute on a semester-long project in which Pratt fashion design sophomores and juniors created garments, sculptures, and installations to complement Pucci mannequins from yarns donated by Lion Brand Yarns. The 27 works on view in Organic Matter were selected from more than 90 projects considered for the exhibition, and each design illustrates a forward-thinking approach to knitwear.
Pratt Institute Trustee Ralph Pucci, president of Ralph Pucci International, worked closely with Fashion Chair Jennifer Minniti and Assistant Professor Susan Cianciolo to select top projects. The students worked exclusively with neutral-colored yarn to complement Ralph Pucci’s classic MANNEQUIN collection in matte grey.
Before the opening reception, a jury of esteemed members of the art, fashion and design industries reviewed the work and selected their top three outfits, with first place going to Margaret Burton (B.F.A. Fashion Design ’15), second to a collaboration between Sam Smith (B.F.A. Fashion Design ’16) and Meghan O'Sullivan (B.F.A. Fashion Design ’16), and third to Chantal Galipeau (B.F.A. Fashion Design ’15), all of whom were awarded Pucci mini-mannequins by Pratt Institute Trustee Ralph Pucci and President Thomas F. Schutte.
The partnership of Pratt and Ralph Pucci provides a rare opportunity for students to create works of art that will be on display in a commercial gallery.
The real-world experience “is a game changer for the students,” said Ciancolo. Not only were they challenged to create innovative designs for a commercial gallery space, but they also had to contend with competition. “The students made amazing work, but fewer than 30 pieces could be selected out of 90. That alone is a great dose of reality,” she said.
The chance to work with a client in a commercial gallery setting led students to think about their work in a new way. “It has been such an honor to compete for the opportunity to show at Gallery Nine. The entire experience taught me a lot about what it is like to create work with a space and with a brand and company in mind,” said Sophie Andes Gascon (B.F.A. Fashion Design ’15).
This collaboration follows the successful 2010 partnership Pratt + Paper & Ralph Pucci, in which students were challenged to dress Pucci’s Spring 2011 GIRL 2 mannequins in fashion designs made entirely of paper. The results were presented in an exhibition at Pucci’s Gallery Nine showroom in December 2010 and later in the display windows of Macy’s flagship Herald Square store.
In 2013, Ralph Pucci was elected to Pratt Institute’s Board of Trustees. Pucci’s appointment was effective October 11.
After ending its run at Gallery Nine on February 3, Organic Matter traveled to the display windows of Macy's Herald Square store for a special viewing during New York Fashion Week.
Text: Amy Aronoff, Marion Hammon
Images: Alex Weber