PHOTOS: Elle And RISD Kick Off Fashion Week

Did you write a senior thesis in college? If the answer is yes, then there’s a pretty big chance that after working slavishly for hundreds of hours, it faded into the academic ether never to be seen again — let alone published. But for 20 lucky RISD grads, their senior theses were shown at New York Fashion Week.

Today Elle hosted its first Fashion Next show in celebration of the magazine’s 25th anniversary. We were lucky enough to snag backstage passes and see what is undoubtedly the coolest student fashion show we’ve ever been too. We bumped into Elle fashion director Alexis Bryan Morgan, who told us why the magazine chose to team up with the school: “RISD is sort of like the Harvard of art schools, and we wanted to align ourselves with a very prestigious school. Also, we liked the fact that the school has fashion and art, so there is more of an art angle.”

After narrowing down a pool of nearly 100 fashion majors, 20 were selected for the show and eligible for one of four prizes. Bryan Morgan helped judge the competition, along with Joe Zee, Anne Slowey, Tommy Hilfiger, Nicole Miller and Derek Lam. Lam told us that even though his own show is in two days, the decision to be a part of Elle Fashion Next was a no-brainer. “Robbie Myers called and asked if I was interested,” he said. “I have the greatest repect for RISD — the work, the curriculum they put their students through. So it was easy, I said yes.”

The day’s top prize — a $25,000 award presented by Elle and RISD — went to David Yoo, whose sheer black tulle pants wowed the audience and closed the show. Caroline Hust won the Kate Spade New York Award, which entitles her to a $10,000 grant as well as a mentorship with Deborah Lloyd, while Jessica Castellano was presented the Maybelline New York Fashion Next Award for $25,000. The winner of the People’s Choice Award can be voted on here. (And be sure to check out our backstage slideshow below!)

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