If you’re looking for the next big designer, look no further than Parsons School of Design’s MFA Graduate show. Shown at MILK Studios, it’s a test tube for what’s next in the world of fashion. Last week saw editors, designers, and supporters alike (Donna Karan and Fern Mallis to name a few) pack the rows to view what could be considered New York Fashion Week’s most exciting telescope into the future.
Showing everything from knitwear to menswear, sportswear to avant-garde ready-to-wear, the students bring couture methods and techniques to everything they do. For only being in its second graduating class, the MFA program already boasts designers from China, Germany, South Korea, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. From its inaugural 2012 class, graduates have gone on to work for Calvin Klein, Narciso Rodriguez, Opening Ceremony, Ralph Lauren and more.
“We created this two-year master’s program from what was initiated five years ago by Parsons alum, Donna Karan,” explained program dean, Simon Collins. “She wanted designers and creative directors who were trained in a ‘New York way’ – bringing together fashion design and several other disciplines, from business strategy to social sciences… What’s different about this program from many others out there, I think, is that our designers are very conceptual when they want to be but they’re also very aware that you have to make a living so we have industry experts in our classes daily so that when they get out onto the job, they’re not actually in the first day on the job.”
“The other difference we have is that we’re like a family, we have so much support that a student from this year’s graduating class is actually looking to set up business with a graduate from last year,” added program director Shelley Fox, who developed the curriculum.
Her advice to those looking to conquer the cutthroat fashion industry in the future? “Know that finishing a program like this is only just the beginning. Listen to people, but follow your gut feeling. And be nice to people… there are so many people in this industry that aren’t nice, so, knowing that going into this, you should consider you’ll by default eliminate yourself if you’re not kind. No one is an island. You need to be able to work with others. Understanding that you’ll always work as a team is something that will help you in the long run.”
We chated with three of the showing graduates about the challenges of crafting their collections, their futures, and more.
Watch the runway show here
Photos by Monica Feudi