LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – An American fashion designer student stranded in France during the COVID-19 pandemic has stepped into the limelight in an unusual edition of Paris Fashion Week.

It all started when Denver native James Giltner, a 23-year-old fashion student at Institut Français de la Mode (IFM), picked up a hobby while in extended lockdown.

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“I was stuck in my apartment in Paris alone for months on end and all I did was knit. And all of these techniques that came out of this project were developed during that time,” he says.

Giltner calls his collection “Toxique, c’est chic,” billed as a tribute to the young “COVID generation” disrupted by the pandemic.

“No matter how chic we want to be, no matter how glamorous we are, we’re always going to have viruses running us one way or another.”

Giltner was among the 48 students of the new Master of Arts in Fashion Design program at Institut Français de la Mode to have their personal collections featured in the opening slot of the Fall/ Winter 2021/22 fashion week on March 1.

It was the first time IFM students were part of the official calendar of Paris Fashion Week and opened the Fall/ Winter 2021/22 fashion week with their graduate show.

“To be young and creative in a pandemic is difficult,” his teacher says, “but despite the crisis, students like James rose above it.”

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The 10-day event was streamed online because of the pandemic.