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Pratt Fashion Student’s Work On View

Katharine Gahagan from Bayville is one of the chosen few fashion students at Pratt Institute lucky enough to show her design talent in an exhibition taking place this week. The exhibition, “Organic Matter: Woven Artwear by Pratt Fashion,” is dedicated to the unexpected possibilities of knitwear design by Pratt students at Ralph Pucci International’s Gallery Nine in Manhattan.

Fashion students at Pratt Institute were challenged to re-think the form, function, and design of knitwear as fine art for this innovative exhibition, which is free and open to the public.

“My class was sitting and watching him; I actually saw Ralph Pucci stop and look at my piece and take a picture. It was very exciting,” says Gahagan, who is starting the spring semester of her sophomore year at Pratt.

The Portledge School graduate says she has been interested in art her entire life and her love of  fashion began around age 9 or 10.  In high school, she took summer classes at Pratt, an experience that she says made her realize “this is what I want to do”  in addition to helping her develop her art skills. She says that, while the application process to art schools is more involved since a portfolio is required, she even enjoyed the process.

Her piece —a Victorian-inspired black mohair, white cotton lace apron dress—is inspired by the yarn, and she went off on the design based on the yarn used.

“Most people think of big chunky sweaters when they think about knitwear, but that’s not my style,” says Gahagan, who has a particular love for Victorian and romantic style clothing, with an interest in evening wear and bridal wear.

“I like looking at the little details of a garment that make up the whole piece,” says Gahagan. “All of the aspects that really exemplify the fine hand work and details of the garment.”

 She describes her work as delicate and elegant while still considered knitwear.

Pucci, a Pratt Institute Trustee renowned for his high-end mannequin, lighting, furniture, and sculpture company, partnered with Pratt and worked closely with Fashion Chair Jennifer Minniti and Assistant Professor Susan Cianciolo to select top projects. The students worked exclusively with neutral-colored yarn to complement Ralph Pucci’s classic MANNEQUIN collection in matte grey.

Of the more than 90 projects considered for the exhibition, 27 works will be on view in “Organic Matter,” and each design illustrates a forward-thinking approach to knitwear. The partnership of Pratt and Ralph Pucci provides a rare opportunity for students to create works of art that will be on display in a commercial gallery.

Among the many diverse works featured in Organic Matter are: a knit corset and crocheted mesh shrug dipped in beeswax; a large-gauge knit tee of panty hose, and knit skirt with leather suspenders;  a crocheted coat featuring a stuffed-dog doll collar, and a caged sphere head piece and skirt with a crocheted bodysuit. The yarns for the student projects were donated by Lion Brand Yarn.

“I’m excited to see it all put together...there are a lot of beautiful pieces,” says Gahagan.

Students at Pratt regularly have their work on display, though it is mostly within the school setting. Being a part of an exhibition like this is not something everyone gets to partake in.

“It’s still hitting me; it feels exciting and surreal...I’m realizing everything that comes along with this," says Gahagan. "It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to have my name out there and meet people, since having connections is so important in this industry. I’m starting to become aware of everything that could open up for me.”

The exhibition runs through Jan. 28; gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Gallery Nine, 44 West 18th Street, New York.