It’s that time of year again where New York’s fashion schools peacock their graduating class before industry heavyweights, and last night, Parsons—the former educational stomping ground for Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler—celebrated its seniors with a benefit dinner. Hosted by Donna Karan, the event was part runway show, part opportunity for students to rub elbows with their soon-to-be fellow alum.
“It’s really breathtaking to know that they’ve come out of their way to see what we’ve been doing for the past four years,” Giana Sacco, one of the award-winning students, said of the night’s high-profile attendees. But it sounds like the more seasoned designers have been paying attention all along. ”For me, Parsons is a connection of dots—to see how everyone has evolved and how this place has allowed them to express themselves over the past few years,” Karan told ELLE. And nearby, Narciso Rodriguez was in agreement, “I’m a Parsons alum and you have to give back, you have to support the arts and all the talented young people here.”
The school is particularly good at spearheading industry-wide evolution, not only by training and encouraging its students, but also by pushing the envelope technology-wise. Pointing to a monitor, Simon Collins, the school’s dean of fashion, proudly explained, “If you look at that video display, that is our lookbook—it’s sort of something out of Harry Potter. Everyone creates a lookbook but not like that, not an active lookbook. We feel like we actually enable people to pioneer new aspects of the industry.” And he was right, on the screen was a detailed video of student’s work that would be distributed to the school’s legion of editorial allies—and it was surely a welcome departure from the paperweight collection guides currently in circulation.
Between courses the lights dimmed and the techno pined on and a procession of student theses paraded throughout the room, each one expressing a new idea, shape, or form. In that moment it was easy to tell why parsons has become a mill for talent—they really do demand the best.