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 ...
Hailing from across the pond, Hannah Jenkinson showed a collection of minimalist wares, inspired by the clothes of the Amish, Mennonites, and nuns, with a hint of sportswear, for her thesis project. Some looks were crafted from rubber or repurposed vintage pieces, others feature intricate hand-embroidered, which took up to eight days to complete. Also worth noting: the sheer sheer pencil skirts, which are also showing up on the runway in Paris.
1. How old are you and where are you from?
I am 29 and come from a little village in the North of England called Grindleford. Its in the Hope Valley, Derbyshire.
2. You just showed your MFA collection. Tell me a bit about you and your design process in general.
My background is in Knitwear, so my work usually comes back to that in some way. I use a lot of hand crafts - Embroidery, Cross Stitch, Crotchet, Applique. I love using techniques that are so familiar to us as a culture. They have a slightly home-spun and comforting feel to them. and then combining it with modern sportswear and a clean silhouette just totally made sense to me. I believe in really learning a craft or technique, and then you can begin to play and combine it with unexpected materials. My process is definitely one of total enjoyment, having loads of fun playing with cool fabrics and techniques. I developed a huge amount of samples through the course of the collection. I am always trying out little ideas, and seeing what certain yarns do.
3. Do you feel like you're becoming a brand? How are you different from other young designers/design brands?
I don't feel like I am becoming a brand, because I am just following what feels right in the moment. I don't have a big 'Brand' idea to aim for. However I would love to have a real control over my own process and time, and I think you probably have to do your own thing to really be able to work in your own way. I think you need a huge support network in place to start to think as a brand.
I am probably different to others because of my skills and background. And I don't mind spending 8 days embroidering a sweater!
4. What have you learned so far about the business of fashion?
I worked in London as a Knitwear designer for a few years before going back to study at Parsons, so I have seen a bit of the industry. I love that it is such a mix of creativity and business. Nothing is better than the feeling of knowing an idea has to be realized, and then getting it done and seeing it in reality.
5. What is your dream job?
Being a knitwear designer, either for myself, or for another designer that I appreciate. Working with good people who I resonate with is incredibly important. I really want to get using the new knitwear technology that is being developed at the moment. I think it is so exciting for the future of clothing design, as well as manufacture. The technology is amazing, that can create fabric structures that haven't ever been envisioned with the standard production methods. I would love to work with someone who appreciates development, and has the time and money to really go deep into the process, and the machine, and see what can be achieved in a way that is only just being touched upon.
6. What fashion designers do you admire/look up to?
7. What are you obsessed with right now? What makes you happy?
Green juices and possibilities for the future. :)