Pratt Institute's senior class of fashion designers wowed industry professionals and press attendees with their stunning looks for women and men at the Pratt Institute Fashion Show on Thursday, April 26, 2012 at Center548 in Manhattan. Calvin Klein, who was on hand to present the Pratt Institute Fashion Industry Lifetime Achievement Award to industry pioneer Fern Mallis told Women's Wear Daily that the student designers were “gifted” and that he was very impressed with their “inventive, cohesive, and beautifully made” designs.

Post Fashion Show 2012

One outstanding graduating senior in Pratt's fashion design program, Kelsey Carleen Parkhouse, was recognized with the inaugural “Liz Claiborne Award – Concept to Product,” which is a $25,000 award funded by the Liz Claiborne & Art Ortenberg Foundation that will support the student's creative entrepreneurial activities and will help cover the costs of developing a collection to show during New York Fashion Week. Parkhouse's award-winning sportswear collection, which was inspired by American quilting and the Grand Canyon, expertly married the folksy and the sophisticated. Two graduating seniors, Meredith Lyon and Kate Wilkoff, were selected to compete in the annual Supima Design Competition, which will be held during New York Fashion Week. Lyon's sportswear collection was a cheeky, pop art take on anti-smoking propaganda that employed print and sheer fabrics, while Wilkoff's collection of eveningwear was soft, feminine, and flowing in dyed chiffons and satin.

Funding for the 2012 Pratt Fashion Show was awarded in part through a competitive grant presented to Pratt Institute by the Importer Support Program of the Cotton Board and managed by Cotton Incorporated.

The 2012 Pratt Fashion Show featured the best work by 17 graduating seniors from Pratt's Department of Fashion Design. The collections shown on the runway were pre-selected by a panel of industry experts and press and spanned several categories of fashion. One of the most prestigious colleges for art, design, and architecture in the world, Pratt Institute is home to the first fashion-design program in the United States. The department is chair be Jennifer Minniti, and is part of Pratt Institute School of Art and Design, which is led by Dean Concetta M. Stewart.

Pratt Institute held a glamorous cocktail benefit in honor of Mallis at PH-D Rooftop Lounge at Dream Downtown in Manhattan immediately following the show. The cocktail benefit was hosted by Pratt President Thomas F. Schutte.

The Pratt Institute fashion show and cocktail benefit have generated over $300,000 since 2011. Proceeds from ticket sales from both events benefit student scholarships and Pratt Institute's Department of Fashion Design.   

Fern Mallis, creator of New York Fashion Week, former executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and former senior vice president of IMG Fashion, was honored with the Pratt Institute Fashion Industry Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by Calvin Klein following a star-studded video salute to Mallis that featured designers Stan Herman, Betsey Johnson, Bibhu Mouapatra, Yeohlee Teng, Chris Benz, John Varvatos, Peter Som, Tracy Reese, Brandon Sun, Catherine Malandrino, Ralph Rucci, Norma Kamali, Phillip Bloch, Dennis Basso, Jeffrey Banks, and Issac Mizrahi; celebrity stylist Robert Verdi; Jane Hertzmark Hudis, president, Estee Lauder; Steven Kolb, CEO, CFDA; Alina Cho, anchor, CNN; Nicole Fischelis, vice president, fashion director, Macy's; and Terron Schaefer, vice president, Saks Fifth Avenue.

Special guests included Ivan Bart, senior vice president, IMG; Hamish Bowles, international editor at large, Vogue; Stan Herman, former president, Council of Fashion Designers of America; Cathy Horyn, fashion critic, The New York Times; Steven Kolb, CEO, Council of Fashion Designers of America; Ralph Pucci, president, Ralph Pucci International; Jason Sheftell, award-winning New York Daily News real estate columnist and television host; Stephanie Wolkoff, fashion director, Lincoln Center; and designers Jeffrey Banks, Dennis Basso, Maggie Norris, Brandon Sun, Vivenne Tam, and Yeohlee Teng.

Before bestowing the Pratt Institute Fashion Industry Lifetime Achievement Award on Mallis, Klein said: “Fern, as you know, has made an important contribution to the fashion industry, that few people could be capable of. You really have to be built for this kind of thing. A lesser person might have run from buildings screaming.” He went on to praise Fern for her steadfastness and good humor in her work. Klein continued: “Fern Mallis is just an incredibly lovable force of nature with a huge heart, and we owe her so much.”

Mallis held back tears after accepting the award from Klein, saying “Thank you, Calvin. Being acknowledged here tonight, and receiving this special award, is really more than I can really absorb. But having you here to present it to me is an honor that means more to me than you will ever know.” She thanked him for his friendship throughout the years, opening the doors to many of her career milestones.

She joked of Calvin: “Tonight you are the cherry on the sundae, which I swear I will stop eating,” and went on to thank her many friends and family, including her sister Stephanie, a Pratt alumna, for supporting her and for encouraging her future successes. She also advised the graduating fashion design students from Pratt of the following: “Remember my mantra. Be nice. At the end of the day people will choose to do business with the people that are nice. The ones they actually like.”

The show, including the award presentations, is available for viewing in its entirely via Pratt's YouTube site.   

Mallis is one of a long list of prestigious honorees celebrated by Pratt in recent years. Hamish Bowles, Vogue's European editor at large was honored last year following Catherine Malandrino in 2010, Ralph Rucci in 2009, Carmen Marc Valvo in 2008, Narciso Rodriguez in 2007, and Diane von Furstenberg in 2006.

Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The Program is designed and operated to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton.   

Photos from Left: Fern Mallis accepting her Pratt Institute Fashion Industry Lifetime Achievement Award from Calvin Klein, Kelsy Carleen Parkhouse (left) and model, Kate Wilkoff (right) and model, and Meredith Lyon (right) and model. All photos Courtesy of Patrick McMullan Company except image on left Courtesy Joshua Wong.

Amy Aronoff at 718-636-3554 or