In the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, the pavement between West 13 Street, Fifth Avenue, and University Place was transformed into a runway on Saturday, May 18.
The Parsons Festival is an annual event at The New School, and this year, the design school’s community wanted to display student work on a catwalk for the public to view.
Parsons School of Design held its first street fashion show beginning at 2:00 p.m. It highlighted the creations of over 250 student designers within the BFA and AAS fashion design programs. The show featured multiple senior thesis projects with politically-conscious themes and experimental mediums along with women’s wear and men’s wear clothing designs.
From ivory flowing gowns to bright red leather jackets, the various designs from students showcased their abilities to sew, embroider, and utilize multiple patterns and textiles.
One notable runway model was Tiff Piko, a 22-year-old Parsons student who is running for mayor in her hometown of Lancaster, Ohio this November. Her senior thesis project focused on the process behind her campaign. At the show, she wore a yellow pantsuit and carried a sign that read, “Of the 1,412 mayors, only 295 are female.”
Models continued to present many different types of garments with fringe, lace trims, satin, mesh, and sequins along with unconventional materials. The runway show ended at 2:30 p.m. The New School’s University Center then opened its doors to the public for interactive exhibitions and installations of student work.
The Parsons Open House began on the Fifth Floor, where Parsons seniors Ammagrace Chang and Jose Luis Cabrera Roa spoke about their thesis projects and the meanings behind them. “I’m a fashion design major and wanted to see how I could incorporate fashion with other mediums,” said Chang, “I love talking with other people, so I figured why not make my thesis something that allows me to do that?”
Chang’s thesis project was a five-episode-long talk show, “In Bed With Ammagrace,” in which she interviewed subjects on her bed. She designed custom pajamas for each of her guests to wear in their respective episodes. For her exhibit on Saturday, Chang displayed her bed along with names of subjects on a whiteboard.“The inspiration for this project was based on my guests. Every garment I made was based on the pajamas they already owned,” Chang said. The five episodes will premiere on Chang’s website on May 28.
“The big question I asked each of my guests was, ‘what do you care about?’ My five first guests were the people I care about most, that I met at Parsons,” Chang said, “This project was a way to commemorate my time at Parsons, do my thesis and have a lot of fun with it.”
Fellow Parsons senior and fashion design major, Jose Luis Cabrera Roa, designed a thesis that aimed to create change in his native Dominican Republic and beyond.
“My collection is about domestic violence in the Dominican Republic. I’m focusing on children because when we talk about domestic violence, we often focus on men and women. Children are often disregarded and are silenced witnesses of the topic. For my project, I created a circular system that works with my brand.”
As the creative director of luxury brand ROA New York, Roa produced clothing in a system with multiple steps. He donated his creations to organizations such as Maestro Cares, which builds homes and safe spaces for impoverished children in Latin America.
“The first stage of the system is the production of my clothing brand. In the second stage, scraps and leftover clothing from the production are delivered to organizations like Maestro Cares Foundation, which has thirteen different orphanages throughout Latin America, and our organization, Sons of Violence,” Roa said.
On Saturday, models wearing Roa’s designs posed within his exhibit. He made traditional Latin sugar pins resembling roses, which he gave to viewers. “What I’m making now is an edible sugar pin. They represent the innocence of children. The tier in it has aluminum, which represents their suffering. The pins symbolize children of domestic violence,” Roa said.
On the fourth floor, more student exhibits were open to the public. In the school’s cafeteria and on its third floor, complimentary snacks and drinks were served. Senior BFA student Josefina Muñoz set up her exhibit on the second floor, which attracted viewers from the public and Parsons community.
Muñoz, a Colombian fashion designer, was profiled in the May 2019 issue of Vogue Mexico. She focused her thesis project on globalization within the fashion industry while advocating for global justice. Muñoz gained inspiration for her exhibit while working in Colombia and Mexico. Her goal was to redefine items that are classified as ‘luxury,’ and who they are accessible to.
“This project deals with the origins of social boundaries that are linked to the consumption of luxury goods. They divide us more than they unite us. Luxury relies on the exclusivity of its products, so I was very interested in how certain populations that are not intended to have products in the first place could have them. In this market in Mexico, they have hybrids of brands like Nike shoes with Adidas soles in them, and other combinations of things that are not usually brands that would collaborate,” Muñoz said.
“I wanted to create similar hybrids. I used original brands the same way they do in knockoff markets by generating unusual collaborations,” she said of her designs.
Muñoz incorporated elements of Colombian culture into her project and paid homage to its traditions and cuisine. “I wanted to look at universal cultural activities, and eating has as much heritage as fashion. In Colombia, we eat fried chicken with gloves. I thought this was universal, but I know now it’s not. I made ‘luxury’ plastic gloves to eat chicken with. The ultimate idea is to gather people together, and to generate luxury from a place of inclusion instead of exclusion,” she said.
Her exhibit featured the logos of well-renowned brand names, such as Chanel, Fendi, Prada, and Gucci placed onto plastic gloves, bags, and pieces of clothing. “My idea is to be an open source, and to allow a lot of people to participate in luxury by taking its definition into the hands of the user, and not the other way around,” she said about her project’s message, “It’s infiltrating a lot of different markets and scenarios, and not being complacent with the social, economic, and political systems, but rather, reshaping the definitions of what luxury is from our perspective as users.” A glove-making station was open to viewers and traditional Colombian chicken was served.
As the event continued on Saturday afternoon, each floor within The New School building was bustling with artists, designers, and creators. Whether from the Bachelor’s or Master’s programs, each student exhibit showcased innovative thinking, ingenuity, and talents of emerging artists within the world of fashion design.