Parsons has given us an exclusive first look at this year's Designer of the Year candidates in women's wear--and considering that past winners have included Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler, you'll definitely want to get a sneak peek at these designs.
There are 13 graduating students in total up for the coveted prize, some of whom were also nominated for Kering's "Empowering Imagination" award (that prizewinner has been announced--more on that later!). These students have come from incredibly diverse backgrounds to study and intern with some of the industry's best designers, work reflected in these final collections.
We wanted to get the backstory on some of these designers--like 28-year-old Joseph Singh. Singh originally studied biology before making the switch to accounting and marketing, and then finally fashion, citing none other than pop group the Spice Girls as part of the inspiration for his switch.
"I was amazed how the Spice Girls were a group but at the same time they were five individual styles," he explained "This is what lead me to research more about fashion and how you can express yourself through your own style."
Jasmine Plantin, another nominated student, interned for Proenza Schouler before entering Parsons. "I think [that] is where I learned the importance of teamwork," she told us.
"They were really my first introduction to the industry," she continued. "The office was still quite small so the departments were closely intertwined. The openness and strong communication between everyone, from design to marketing, left a lasting impression."
Nominee Renea Lariviere also interned for the Proenza Schouler duo just before starting at Parsons--"I still want to see their senior collection!" she said. But that wasn't her only internship; Lariviere also worked with Mary Katrantzou, whose influence is easy to spot.
"As I sat at a table for looooong hours beading the day away, I began to notice the delicious prints and how they make life much brighter, how exciting print can be if you dare to use it," she told us of Katrantzou's influence on her work.
As for that Kering "Empowering Imagination" award, student Harim Jung won for her women's wear collection. "I was grateful enough to make it as a finalist, and to be selected and awarded it is such an honor and a pleasant surprise," she said of winning alongside Yunxiang Zhou. The duo, who have already been profiled on Style.com, will have the opportunity to intern with one of Kering's luxury brands, as well as displaying their collection in the windows at Barneys New York.
"It was so surreal and exciting that we could look up our collection on Style.com, and we are looking forward to this great opportunity to experience one of the leading brands in fashion," Jung told us.
And what do these students hope to do once they've graduated? While many spoke of plans like starting their own lines or landing jobs at established fashion houses, student Maisie Schloss probably expressed the hopes of all her classmates best.
"[I want] to get a real, paying job!" she said simply. "While I love the freedom that comes with doing schoolwork for myself, I'm excited to do real-life work that I will be able to see actually get produced."
Get your sneak preview of the Parsons Designer of the Year nominees here: