Pratt Institute plans to honor Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Robin Givhan during this spring’s Pratt Shows: Fashion.
Scheduled for May 10 at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, the event will salute Givhan, The Washington Post’s senior critic-at-large, by presenting her with Pratt’s Fashion Visionary Award. With work that encompasses politics, race and the arts, Givhan has been celebrated for her groundbreaking fashion criticism. That three-fold perspective appealed to Pratt.
“Honoring her now is important as fashion education is undergoing a transformation in response to, and in dialogue with, politics,” race and the arts, according to Jennifer Minniti, chair of Pratt Fashion and inaugural Jane B. Nord Professor of Fashion Design.
After launching her career at the Detroit Free Press, Givhan has also written for such outlets as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, The Daily Beast, Essence and New York magazine. She first joined The Washington Post in the mid-’90s and swiftly became an authoritative voice in the fashion industry with a wide-angled and connect-the-dots point of view. Last fall she was honored with the Editor Award from Harlem’s Fashion Row. Givhan’s also has written several books, including “The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History,” which was published by Flatiron Books in 2016.
Minniti described Givhan as “one of the foremost fashion writers and critics of our generation” whose insight into fashion as culture “reflects the ethos of the fashion department and our new MFA in Fashion Collection + Communication.”
For fall 2024, Pratt’s School of Design will be offering this new MFA, which is targeted at a wide range of creatives including designers, curators, performance artists, theorists and educators. The objective is to address the movement underfoot to redefine fashion not just in terms of production and conceptualization but also through social critique. Describing the new MFA as “a call to action,” Minniti said, “We had a lot of time, during the past three years, to reflect upon fashion practice and fashion education — and the urgent need for change.”
Designed to be “trans-disciplinary,” the two-year, 60-credit program is built “around dynamic elective pathways” that are meant to be an innovative new model “that will empower participants to tailor their graduate education to their own areas of focus, including photography, education, film, curation, and performance.”
Currently the Brooklyn-based Pratt Institute has about 4,300 undergraduate and graduate students studying art, design, architecture, information and digital innovation and liberal arts and sciences.
Under the new MFA program, students will embark on research, studio work and self-directed studies with input from Pratt Fashion faculty, scholars and industry peers. By doing so, the new MFA candidates will develop relationships with leaders in sustainability, human rights and social justice, and create partnerships with local and global organizations that are “transforming fashion systems,” Minniti said.
The launch of the MFA “brings renewed attention to the role of social critique in fashion — and Robin Givhan’s extensive body of work in this area is deserving of recognition now more than ever,” she said.
This spring’s event in Brooklyn will also feature the work of select Pratt seniors in the school’s 122nd annual show. Billed as “Assemblage,” the runway show will include eight to 15 looks from the featured collections. Accessories will also be in the mix. Inventiveness is a key part of the equation since the school’s fashion program blends illustration, photography, film, performance, visual studies and material culture.