Every year the Underfashion Club in New York City hosts its annual Femmy Gala, honoring notable members of the intimate apparel industry and the significant contributions they’ve achieved throughout the years. These members include designers, manufacturers, and corporations, all sharing the same passion and dedication to the industry. And just like the Emmys allow the titans of TV to celebrate for a night, the Femmys also give many of the big players in the lingerie industry the chance to eat, drink, and mingle the night away with fellow intimates enthusiasts and devotees.
The ceremony’s host for this year was actress and reality TV star Vivica A. Fox. Rather than focus on Ms. Fox’s wardrobe malfunction, which has repeatedly been reported on this past week, my attention was set on the provocative student work displayed during the gala. Each year, six intimate apparel students from the Fashion Institute of Technology are selected to participate in a design contest for the Femmys. The winner is presented at the ceremony with a scholorship and a sponsored trip to Paris. Scholarships are also awarded to the second- and third-place designers. I personally hold this contest dear to my heart, as I too am a graduate from the intimate apparel department at FIT, and have a deep-founded respect for all the hard work and dedication that goes into each and every garment.
For 2015, the design students translated popular Broadway musicals into cutting-edge lingerie. While all six students had impressive designs on display, the top honor went to senior design student Samantha Burns, whose three-piece lingerie set wowed onlookers with intricate details like hand laser-cut leather and delicate lace. The craftsmanship in her submission was exceptional, and the details were both elaborate and intricate.
After reveling over these fresh new lingerie looks, I had a chance to speak individually to each of the designers behind the garments and learn about their inspiration and design process. Each was passionate about her work and eager to join the industry following graduation. Here, I have highlighted each of the six final designs to honor the amount of detail, love, and talent that went into each and every piece on display. In my opinion each student did a phenomenal job, and I believe all will have bright futures in the lingerie industry.
1st place: Samantha Burns
Samantha Burns’s three-piece set garnered the most accolades with her winning combination of leather, mesh, lace, elastic, and beading. The delicate lace bra was accented by a hand laser-cut leather shrug with attached open chiffon gown. The dramatic gown was trimmed in appliqued lace and beadwork, which highlighted the high-waist brief underneath. That itself was a feat, with an elaborate medley of mesh, elastic, ribbon, and metal. It was an exciting mix of components that still managed to look cohesive, and showed off the hard work that went into the garment’s construction.
2nd place: Jezebel Torres Ortiz
Jezebel Torres Ortiz’s second-place design was equally exciting, offering a whole new take on the cage trend. Taking her inspiration from the musical Chicago, the long line bra featured multiple layers of mesh and lace, while the high-waist brief contrasted strappy elastic and hardware with rhinestone-trimmed lace applique. The chiffon robe draped over the set was also adorned with rhinestones, and was a glamorous addition to the edgy yet feminine design.
3rd place: Consuelo Garcia
Unfortunately my photo of Consuelo Garcia’s final submission doesn’t do it nearly enough justice. The dusty rose-colored set consisted of a long line bra with petal-shaped lace and graduated pink rhinestones. The gown-length skirt repeated the floral lace on top, flaring into a full, voluminous hem adorned with scattered handmade flowers. The rhinestones on the brief underneath sparkled through the skirt, evoking the femininity and elegance of Billie Holiday, who inspired this look.
Stephanie Schwarz’s designs for the evening were influenced by the musical Cabaret, with a decorative fringe skirt skimming the ankles and showing a glimpse of the thigh-high stockings underneath. The metallic jacquard corset added an ornamental sheen, while the show-stopping harness pulled the look together. This piece featured a stand-alone yolk at the top in hand laser-cut leather, which joined to a belt at the waist and extended down into garter straps at the sides for a bondage-inspired addition to the cinematic look.
Kate Tobin also looked to Chicago the musical for her inspiration and came up with this set, utilizing beaded ruby-red lace and sheer, luxurious chiffon. The long line bra played with sheer and opaque with a scattering of ruby jewels down the front. The high-waist briefs featured strappy detailing at the sides and sheer panels while the delicate, sparkly lace framed the mid-length chiffon robe. The deep red accent helped this set stand out among a sea of black, and leant the design a more dramatic and seductive charm.
The three-piece set from Hilary Baxter was unique with its deep mauve color and, and its high contrast of sumptuous velvet and delicate chiffon. Elaborate beadwork and a satin trim also adorned the long line bra and the top of the skirt. Yards of sheer fabric then flowed to the floor, where it met an ostrich-feather trim – a sophisticated, glamorous feature.
What do you think of the FIT students’ designs? Do you find their work as impressive as I did?