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Café Forgot spotlights the Class of 2020 in new book ‘Ceremony’

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The just-launched tome features work by ten students from NY’s Pratt Institute

Thanks to the small matter of a pandemic sweeping the entire globe, the last year has seen students have to adapt in ways we never thought possible. With classrooms replaced with makeshift home studios in which they were forced to complete final collections, 2020 hasn’t been easy for those in fashion education – or any other sector for that matter. The fact they didn’t get to show their final collections via runway showcase was the icing on the cake. 

In place of IRL shows, the Class of 2020 sought alternative ways of showcasing their talent, doing so through short films, online events, and more. With initiatives such as 1 Granary’s Designers To Hire project aiming to get young grads’ work seen – and score them jobs in the process – across the Atlantic, New York-based school the Pratt Institute has teamed up with concept store Café Forgot in an attempt to shine a light on its emerging talent. 

With Pratt’s fashion program having already forged strong collaborative bonds with Café Forgot, the project began as a natural conversation between the uni’s fashion professor Gina Gregorio and Café Forgot co-founder Vita Haas, and takes the form of a new book entitled Ceremony. “We wanted to create a book because we thought it would be less of an ephemeral object; a really good container for a deeper engagement with the student work,” Haas explains. “It’s a permanent object that can be turned to again and again. A book feels like a piece of art unto itself.” 

Due to isolation and COVID rules, the process of creating the book was all done remotely. The first step saw Haas and Gregorio looking through portfolios and selecting ten students to feature. “We wanted to make sure to include a diverse group of designers. People with different materials, silhouettes, conceptual frameworks, perspectives to show the breadth of the Pratt Fashion graduates’ points of view,” Haas says.

In the end, the students selected included Xinzi Cui, who made a collection inspired by her grandfather and his experience with Alzheimer’s Disease. With the intention to bring light to the illness in a playful way, Cui’s collection includes garments which symbolise the inability for someone with Alzheimer’s to distinguish functions – such as her lapel coat made with a sock tie.

Elsewhere, Jasmine Thomas combined her experiences with her own personal insecurities and her father’s profession in construction to create architectural garments. Viewing clothing as a means of scaffolding, Thomas’ collection features a series of utilitarian silhouettes and cut-outs, providing only temporary structure – which aims to mirror the limitations of insecurity. Students such as Corie Borgerhoff and Noelani Ramos tapped into identity politics, with both exploring their heritage and background through design.

“We wanted to highlight the different modes of thinking and ways of working that these designers were engaged in. Some were really personal and some had a strong narrative tone, like Jasmine Thomas,” explains Emily Mader, Assistant Chair of Pratt Fashion. As well as featuring images from their portfolios, Ceremony also includes interviews with each graduate, conducted by selected Café Forgot designers, many of whom also previously attended Pratt. 

With the state of the world ever-changing and fashion still gripped by uncertainty, there is no way of telling whether 2021’s fashion graduates will also have to find different ways to adapt. “When the pandemic hit, we had to cancel all of our important end of year events, so this was an opportunity to present the work of our graduates in a collaborative and meaningful way,” Jennifer Minniti, Chair of Pratt Fashion explained, discussing the possibility of keeping the same model of sharing graduate collections. “The future is still a little unknown, but we will rely on, and to continue to build upon, these types of relationships and collaborative projects to promote the work of our graduates.”

Check it out in the gallery above.