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Graduating With Style
By Daniel Altiere   FOXNews
PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — While graduates across the country donned drab caps and gowns for long, drawn-out ceremonies, students at the Rhode Island School of Design are fashioning haute couture and putting on glitzy runway shows for their peers and their profs.

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William Tolan/Fox News
Hillary Day goes over last-minute details with one of the fitters

Collection Ninety Nine introduced an array of young design students that will soon be fighting for seats in the fashion court now held by the likes of Tom Ford, Helmut Lang or Miuccia Prada (three individuals who perhaps represent the most vital, influential fashion kingdoms in the world).

One graduating senior showing on Saturday has already curried some favor from this fickle establishment. Hillary Day, one of RISD’s better-known design students, has interned for two New York-based designers: Vera Wang and Dana Buchman. And some say her style and artistic philosophy reflect the New York design movement helmed in part by women like Donna Karan.

"What's important to me," she says, "Is it has to be really beautiful but really comfortable."

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William Tolan/Fox News
Day's silk velvet ensemble entitled Kismet

Her designs carry the same casual elegance that made Donna Karan the pre-eminent designer for the early '90s — she made women feel comfortable without sacrificing style. And her rise coincided perfectly with the ascent of the well-heeled professional woman.

Perhaps Day can take similar advantage of the cultural shift that’s occurring right now with the burgeoning Internet profession — the relaxing of America’s workplace.

"To me, modernity is being able to wear it anywhere," she says.

A New Day

At first glance, Day’s designs seem casual and comfortable, but a closer look reveals fabrics more luxurious than your average ready-to-wear. Ankle-length black silk; brown silk/velvet coats with Druid collars. Her styles hang and flow in an informal way, but they’re cut for an above-average engagement.

"It's very fine fabric, but you still feel comfortable sitting down in it."

Exactly. The tailoring is smart and formal, but the overall look doesn’t carry that stiff, unapproachable feeling endemic to so much high fashion.

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William Tolan/Fox News
 

"Eye candy of the runways is fascinating — and it's wonderful artistic fodder," Day says. "It's always inspirational and that's what it's supposed to be." Day suggests most haute couture is made more to inspire than to attire, the way some cars are suited more for polishing and admiring than actual driving.

But despite her principles of comfort — or perhaps because of them — there’s also something somewhat Babylonian about "Kismet," one of her outfits. There’s a regal quality to it that stands out from today’s sporty survival wear that's trickled down from Prada and Lang.

Right now, she's just concentrating on finding a job and continuing her education outside of school. Which is probably for the best — in the beginning, a designer's tastes for her own wardrobe can rarely be fulfilled by a young designer's budget.

Speaking of which: If she could wear anything, what would it be? "Jil Sander during the day and Vera Wang at night." Hopefully, someday she'll slip into Hillary Day for when she wants to look really good.