Text, Vivian Kelly
Reported for In The Know, The Fashion List
The High School of Fashion Industries Show for Spring 2012 far exceeded our expectations. Upon arriving, we only knew that we would be watching a show featuring approximately 50 students’ final projects, and that Saks Fifth Avenue’s Terron Schaefer would be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Prior to the show, we had the opportunity to interview some of the evening’s notables and to find out more about this remarkable NYC high school. Board Member, Miriam Driot, directed us to Daryl Blank, the school’s principal for the past 16 years. Mr. Blank talked about how the school has been moving in a different direction since it was founded in 1926. At the time its intention was to train students to enter the workforce upon graduation. By 1941, thanks to funds from the WPA [Works Project Administration], the school was enlarged and opened its doors as the Central Needle Trades High School. The focus remained on a curriculum geared towards vocational training such as sewing and machine work, and to attaining jobs in New York’s Garment Center. Mr. Blank explained that the Garment Center’s closing down has resulted in more students studying there specifically to become fashion designers rather than back scenes players at fashion companies.
After speaking with Mr. Blank, we chatted with the evening’s honoree, Terron Schaefer, Saks Fifth Avenue’s EVP and Chief Creative Officer. Mr. Schaeffer clearly enjoys discovering and working with emerging talent, such as Haider Ackermann, an unknown whose designs he believed in enough to buy and feature on Saks’ selling floor. This is a bold move as retailers are typically hesitant to take chances on unknowns in uneasy economic times. Both Mr. Schaeffer and photographer Albert Watson stated that they were thrilled at the level of talent in this year’s graduating class. Mr. Watson introduced Mr. Schaefer just prior to the show, which started off with classic outerwear, reminiscent of Miuccia Prada’s early shows in the Nineties. Highlights included a YSL-like palazzo pant and top in vivid purple and teal and a going to the prom segment of pastel dresses, both short and long.
For evening, there was a stunning black gown with an unusual thunderbolt neckline and a tulle skirt that Advisory Board member, Audrey Smaltz ,whispered “could have been worn at the MET Ball last week”. The show’s Michael Jackson themed finale, which included outfits based on what MJ wore in his most famous videos had the crowd on their feet and applauding enthusiastically.
Based on what we saw at the Industry Show last Tuesday evening, the High School of Fashion Industries has more than fulfilled its mission: “to provide challenging, creative, and effective vocational, technical and academic training for New York City students”.