Parsons The New School for Design has a roster of famed students (some of whom didn't quite make it to graduation): Alexander Wang (who actually dropped out before graduation), Proenza Schouler, Jason Wu, Tom Ford, Peter Som, Marc Jacobs and the list goes on. Well, as of last year, the celebrated NYC school has offered a new program, the Master of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and Society, that has drawn enormous interest from the industry. In fact, according to Style.com, Céline, Nike, and Givenchy are already courting members of the class of 2013. Earlier this month, the graduating class (which consists of just 16 students) showed their collections and we caught up with them to talk about their brands, the business of fashion and what they are obsessed with right now ...
For her thesis collection, which she titled, Still, Anna Stephenson says her work “stems from the translation of a moment of unique complexity that no longer exists; a representation of a time passed rather than a representation of a fixed image.” Physically, this took the form of elegant yet carefree gray and white dresses, digital prints, and draped silk. A standout piece: the white sleeveless drop-waist frock with a beautifully draped skirt (below right).
1. How old are you and where are you from?
I am 24 and from London.
2. You just showed your MFA collection. Tell me a bit about you and your design process in general.
My new collection explores the frozen image. Using sculpture and photography to capture a moment in time and document it forever. Fashion is so fast moving that we barely have a moment to stop, look and learn from the beautiful clothes that are being made. My process involved me draping huge cuts of fabric across my studio walls. I would pin, slash and pull the fabrics until I was happy with how they looked. Some would take 5 seconds to create and others I would dance around and be tormented by for hours. It was a very physical process. When I was happy with a drape I would photograph it and send it to the digital printers. By the time that the fabric was printed and back in my studio, the original drape no longer existed. The fabric became a reference of a time passed. It looked 3D - you wanted to touch each crease, press them out, but couldn’t. You came to realize that it was a single flat piece of fabric, a perfectly ironed piece of silk born with a deeply entrenched history and heritage.
3. Do you feel like you're becoming a brand? How are you different from other young designers/design brands?
No I consider myself an artist not a brand. I’m changing as an artist, growing and adapting to the different environments and people I am with. I don’t know where I will be next or whom I will be working with. Branding is something I don’t quite understand; I speak through my clothing and hope that translates.
4. What have you learned so far about the business of fashion?
That hard work makes really good looking clothing.
5. What is your dream job?
To have a company with all my very talented pals.
6. What fashion designers do you admire/look up to?
Celine – What an unexpected but wonderful new collection.
7. What are you obsessed with right now?
Hand making my own books.