Albright stars at 2022 NYFW – Albright College

Albright stars at 2022 NYFW

by Veloie Mastrocola ’23

This year,  fashion alumni and students hit the ground running at New York Fashion Week (NYFW).

The 2022 runway featured a variety of innovative designs, from bright, dazzling contemporary mashups to gothic ballroom gowns. This year’s designs sprung from the young, creative minds of eight Albright students and alumni — most of whom are still new to the professional world after having only graduated within the past five years.

“It’s pretty exciting,” says Olivia Connor ’18, from Baltimore, Md. “I’m sure a lot of us have been to New York before, but never in this way. So, it’s a really fun, new experience.”

Indeed, the event met and exceeded New York standards, not only in its prestige but also with its exhilarating energy. The venue featured numerous racks of carefully hung dresses, rows upon rows of stations for hair and makeup and countless workers — professional hires working elbow-to-elbow with Albright students — who shuffled throughout the multiple levels of the location during the preparatory stages leading up to the show.

Jonathan Otero ’20, a Lancaster, Pa. native, captures the hype of the moment with equal enthusiasm.
“We’re trying to stay calm right now because of the rush and everything — it doesn’t feel real,” he says.

And for current student Sarah Kim ’24, who is wrapping up her final semester at Albright, presenting her work at the New York Fashion Show epitomizes the type of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities available to Albrightians. “It’s probably an experience I won’t ever have again,” says Kim.

But NYFW was more than a career checkpoint for these young designers. Rather, it provided a significant boost after major challenges and setbacks of the pandemic.

Connor, for example, found herself feeling stagnant post-graduation. Between the emotional toll of the pandemic and the recent passing of her mother, Connor’s creative juices had run dry.

“It felt like I was lying dormant,” says Connor. “This is one of the first big projects I’ve worked on since graduation. I did some things locally back home, but this feels like the next big step.”

It was difficult for Connor to re-enter the fashion scene after her mother’s passing, which caused her to decline an invitation at Albright’s first showcase in New York the previous year. However, after she was presented with the opportunity again, Connor decided to take the plunge — and it couldn’t have turned out better.

“I gave it a shot this year, as I knew [my mother] would want me to push through and continue to strive for bigger and better things!” says Connor. “The journey for me was hard, but I’m proud to be able to say I did it.”

Likewise, presenting at NYFW was also pivotal for Otero, not only for his career but also for his personal aspirations. “This is everything we worked for in undergrad, just dreaming and hoping and wishing that one day we’re showing at New York Fashion Weekend — and we’re here. So, this is it.”
Otero in particular has big plans in the world of fashion. Currently, he works as a sewing floor coordinator at Stitch Fix, a company that prioritizes equity and sustainability in their designs. He manages a team of 27 seamstresses for Stitch Fix, ensuring a smooth production process from start to finish. He also has multiple side projects in progress, including a sweet 16 gown for his niece as well as a personal collection, which is scheduled to debut next fall under his own brand.

Meanwhile, Kim is finishing strong at Albright, where she has continued to nurture her passion for garment formation and theatrical costumes through the college’s customizable academic program, including an independent study course in tailoring. For Kim, the showcase at NYFW was akin to a live portfolio, accentuated with bright overhead lights and upbeat music.

“It’s really exciting to see the things that you’ve spent a large portion of your year creating as a final product, all together,” she says.

Although 2022 marks the second year Albright has presented at NYFW, it likely will not be the last. With a strong and ever-growing fashion department, Albright’s students are on track to tackle New York and beyond.

“Our professors at Albright are all so amazing, and they have a lot to give,” says Connor. “Take in as much as you can, ask questions, and be willing to learn and listen.”