“You will not sleep for four weeks. If you love fashion design, it will be the best four weeks of your life,” read an ominous yet exciting email from my Fashion Design Concepts teacher a few days before classes began. This summer, I took two classes in Fashion Design at the Parsons New School of Design.
Parsons is part of the New School University in New York City. While Parsons offers degrees in various types of art and design like fine arts and architecture, the school is best known for its Fashion Design program, which boasts alumni like Narciso Rodriguez, Jason Wu, Marc Jacobs and more.
You’ve heard the clichés about people coming to New York City and falling in love with it, never wanting to return to whatever small town they came from. I must admit that that’s what happened to me. As much as I love California, I can’t wait to go back to New York, either to Parsons for a graduate or associate’s degree or just to start working in some aspect of the fashion industry. I’ve had a taste of the classic storyline of people moving to New York to make it big and ending up lower on cash than ever before. In my case, after spending hundreds on art supplies and a considerable amount on clothes and shoes at what is the only Topshop in the country, I was so close to broke that one night’s dinner was a delicious bottle of lemonade. Very nutritious, I know.
During my time in New York, I dealt with both the harsh realities and the surreal experiences of life as a fashion student. From our first “croquis” or, fashion sketches, to our classes final exhibition, we had more knowledge of merchandising, a better understanding of fabric and construction and a greater appreciation for what makes clothing luxurious. I gained a whole new appreciation for clothing and learned what made designer clothing so special and so covetable.
For instance, our first day of class in Concepts consisted of a field trip to Barneys New York –“Disneyland for fashion people,” according to my teacher. Inside the store, I gravitated towards the Rodarte rack and immediately recognized a shredded ribcage-esque leather top that The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O wore on a recent cover of Nylon.
After the first day, we began to learn the process of how a garment starts from an abstract idea and ends up in the pages of magazines, on the runways and in the hands of consumers.
While the class didn’t focus on garment construction, we still spent two days learning the basics of draping on dress forms. We even had a pretend Project Runway contest, complete with the teacher’s assistants acting as fake judges, in which we each presented a garment we had made over the course of a few days. Surprisingly, I won the contest with a black dress made of three black t-shirts. My prize was a tiny toy mannequin with fabric and trimmings for a kid to create his or her very first haute couture.
My experience taught me that fashion design reflects changing times and the evolution of the individual designer. Despite sleepless nights, lack of food and abundance of stress, I truly loved my time at Parsons and can’t wait to return. To me, one summer in the city was definitely not enough.
Filed Under: Features