The Parsons School of Design held its yearly Fashion Graduate Exhibition from May 16th- May 18th at The New School’s University Center.
The Parsons Festival is an annual end of academic year event showcasing over 500 Bachelors of Fine Arts and Associate of Applied Sciences fashion student collections with interactive installations, special performances, galleries, workshops, and special events.
“The work exhibited here curated by the School of Fashion faculty represents not only a high level of craft and a diverse range of aesthetics but also a critical awareness to addressing today’s societal issues,” said Burak Cakmak, Dean of the Parsons School of Fashion, on what a degree from Parsons means in today’s fashion landscape.
“Now, more than ever, our fashion graduates are entering into an industry in the midst of change,” said Burak. “As the industry explores new ways to adapt to the demands of consumers, Parsons offers a new perspective on how to meet today’s challenges and tomorrow’s needs.”
Student exhibitions reflected these themes of societal awareness and shifts in consumer manufacturing, ranging from an interactive map on the history of Italian footwear entitled Two Decades of Shoes, inspired by footwear designer Salvatore Ferragamo, to clothing brand TUCKER which draws its look from one student’s relationship with the California lifestyle.
Through a number of mediums including print, video, sound, architecture, clothing and accessories, the now Parsons alumni used their personal experiences in the field of fashion to identify and fill the need for products and marketing techniques they see as lacking in the industry.
One such example was uniquely executed by 2018 Fashion Marketing student Sunmin Park, who created a sensory interactive exhibit entitled Empty Garden, envisioned as what might be a part of The Row’s Fall 2018 show. Park took the brand’s fall wardrobe as inspiration for her senior project, spatially visualizing “the relaxed minimalism and tensioned avant-garde feeling of the collection,” as described in the event program. The exhibit was comprised of a clear dome reminiscent of an igloo, covered by clear plastic and furnished with pillows, stones and green carpeting as if to look like a wooded and mossy area within.
To accompany the dome housed within one of the New School’s classrooms, Park also created her own signature scent, made from real moss. The scent was put into a diffuser within the room, and also sprayed within the confines of the dome that she had constructed herself by hand. Visitors were invited to enter the dome, sit or stand inside, and even take pictures of themselves standing within the exhibit. Standing near the dome was also a small table where Sunmin Park handed viewers free samples of the scent which transformed the exhibition from a classroom to an immersive experience in natural, minimalist fall fashion.
“The concept was born to show how space can feel both cold and warm; and how to create an extraordinary balance between the two senses… The typical connotations of a garden include warm, cozy and relaxed feelings,” explains the program introduction to Park’s project.
“In this exhibition, the concept is realized as a multi-sensory place of respite and comfort with moss and stone, soft music and a bespoke scent that maintains an avant-garde aesthetic.”
In an interview with The Knockturnal, Park explained “I made it all by myself, the idea and even the scent. It’s supposed to make you feel warm and cozy on the inside.” Park, who hopes to work fashion business lending her ideas and concepts to brands post-graduation, is one of many students who took an outside-the-box approach.
Other exhibits on display included works on activism through fashion, couture dress and gowns, shoes, and other artworks. Pieces were so plentiful that of over 500 pieces on display, only a select handful of students were available to explain their particular works to guests. The opening reception held on the evening of May 16th also highlighted New School exhibitions and project collaborations with renowned brands such as H&M, Hugo Boss, and Swarovski.
Open to the public, the three-day student exhibition filled three floors of the University’s student center and is also an end of year opportunity for graduates to present their work to friends, family, classmates, New School faculty, and potential employers within the fashion industry. On the 5th floor of the University Center, inaugural events and festivities included a photo booth and props sponsored by Swarovski, a step and repeat photo op from H&M, refreshments, and a candy bar decked out in the University’s signature red and white color scheme. Following undergraduate commencement, this year’s Fashion Graduate Exhibition is truly a testament to a new cohort of designers and innovators looking to revolutionize their industry.