Rhode Island School of Design showcases their design talent in New York City

By Kenneth Richard | The Impressionist

Design talent is a gift that will only keep on giving if properly nurtured and in many cases, the first step to cultivating that talent lies in our educational institutions. The Rhode Island School of Design is one such learning center, with a powerful reputation for molding talent via emphasizing liberal arts while encouraging a hands-on approach to fashion design.

This season, RISD is taking the show on the road to give the New York fashion flock a chance to see what that hands-on approach can do. Tonight the works of 18 senior collections will be showcased at ‘RISD Backstudio’ at Highline Stages in New York City with all of the students present. The event follows their recent annual graduate runway show, which was held at the Providence Performing Arts Center on May 8th.

In celebration of the event, The Impression spoke with RISD President, Rosanne Somerson, about what makes RISD’s program so unique. We also checked in with three of the graduating talents, Chaz Aracil, Gina Park, and Noah Berch, to listen to what inspires them, what they admire, and how they are looking forward to impacting the industry.

Rosanne Somerson RISD

Rosanne, congratulations on graduating another successful class of RISD fashion design graduates. Can you tell us a bit about RISD‘s fashion design program and what sets it apart from others?
Our students complement design with a Fine Arts perspective. We are committed to what we call “critical making” – working with real materials in real scale, combining the intelligence of the hands with conceptual development.

Our curriculum is diverse – focusing on learning things like traditional tailoring skills as well as highly experimental work with new materials and technologies. We also demonstrate unique expertise in knitwear, to a very high level of sophistication. Through our relationships, our students are connected with industry as well, working in a wide range of internships where they are regularly sought after because of their strong conceptual and making abilities.

How has the program changed over the years?
We’ve increased the students’ exploration of new technologies, new materials, and the emphasis on developing their own contemporary professional vision.
So you are bringing the students’ work to the Big Apple for the first time. What would you like the New York fashion design industry to know about RISD?
RISD is the place where the future is being invented now. Our students graduate ready to go – to make important contributions to taking the world of fashion forward.

Chaz Aracil

Chaz Aracil RISD
What inspired you to go into fashion?

Ever since I was little I would make clothing for dolls and used to dress my friends up all the time as ridiculous characters, but I would say when I was in high school applying to RISD, I realized I wanted to study fashion. I had been practicing as a fine artist since I was around 5 years old, and also considered studying either painting, film, or sculpture/architecture. But since I have such a deep love for clothing I thought, why not use my other creative interests and project them upon a body.

What three fashion houses do you admire?
My favorite designers in fashion are Thierry Mugler, Iris van Herpen, and Alexander McQueen, but I am currently interested in designers of different fields like material engineering and biologists. In terms of fashion, these are my favorite designers due to their innovative collections that radiate fine art as a wearable spectacle. I admire their drive, passion, execution and taste in haute couture fashion. They are not just fashion designers – they are fine artists.

What mark do you hope to leave in the industry?
I am truly aiming to change the industry, to leave my imprint upon the world of art design. Not just to have a famous brand, but to change the way we think and process art and design methods. I would love to leave a huge impact on the industry, to open their eyes upon abstracting the norm and seeing the possibilities of new ideas and old merging into something original. Through showcasing my art, I would value the experience of helping people become more open-minded.

About the collection.
A tailored women’s collection inspired by systems seen in nature. Through textures, colors and forms, fine art lives on the female body. The collection incorporates digital printing of my photography and painting as well as 3D printing and other technical-based modes of creating textiles.Chaz Aracil RISD designs

Gina Park

Gina Park RISD
What inspired you to go into fashion?
I started sketching during my early high school days, but mostly kept them to myself. I’ve always known I wanted to go into design, but I started seriously thinking about what exact direction that meant as I was finishing up high school. The fear of never taking the opportunity to further explore fashion was what pushed me to pursue it. I knew if I wanted it badly enough, everything would follow.

What three fashion houses do you admire?
I admire Mumbai-based brand Miuniku by sisters Nikita and Tina Sutradhar, Japanese label Anrealage by Kunihiko Morinaga, and Milan-based brand Off-White by Virgil Abloh. All of these labels are still quite young, but what I respect most about these designers is that they take inspiration from what many overlook in life and present it in a unique light. I think they are creating new perspectives in fashion and deserve the attention of other young designers.

What mark do you hope to leave in the industry?
I hope to leave even the slightest mark of bringing artistic integrity back into the industry. These days, fashion moves so quickly that many designers often rely on trends to keep up. We should be able to look beyond time and design according to our own standards, not anyone else’s. I think designers always have something to say and there are people who listen.

About the collection.
My collection embodies the experience of living a subconscious version of reality.Gina Park RISD designs

 Noah BerchNoah Berch RISD

What inspired you to go into fashion?
I don’t recall a particular moment that influenced or inspired my decision to pursue fashion; however, I found myself particularly excited by it throughout my last couple of years in high school. I recall waking up in the morning and looking through The Sartorialist street-style blog when planning out my outfits for the day. As I continued to research and follow blogs, my interest and fascination grew. I guess you could say that street-style and watching how individuals expressed themselves through clothing was what fascinated and inspired me.

What three fashion houses do you admire?
Currently and constantly I am admiring Rosie Assoulin, Chloé, and of course, J.Crew.

What mark do you hope to leave in the industry?
I want the individuals who wear my clothing to feel like they are their best selves when wearing them. I hope that as a designer, I can inspire individuals and remind them that they have the opportunity every day to express their best selves with the decisions they make when getting up in the morning and picking out an outfit. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to dressing yourself, that’s where individualism and unique perspectives are brought into focus.

About the collection.
My concept focuses on the women’s roles in the 1960s, a time where change and transitions were being made inside and outside the home. I’m interested in the juxtaposition between the ideas of conforming to society’s suggested lifestyles and the consequent rebellion that occurred when these women attempted to uphold such rules and regulations in the 1960s. Playing with traditional silhouettes, I hope to transform classic into modern, while still maintaining a cohesive concept.Noah Berch RISD designs