Among all the stars in the room at the 74th Annual Parsons Benefit to honor supermodel Naomi Campbell, such as Olivier Rousteing and Geoffroy Van Raemdonck, CEO of the Neiman Marcus Group, the graduate design majors shined the brightest. “I am honored to be recognized by Parsons for my contributions to the fashion industry and for my philanthropic work that has raised money and awareness for causes so close to my heart. Throughout my career, I have worn the designs of many Parsons graduates, and I’m so proud to receive this award from an institution celebrated for their bold and innovative approach to fashion,” said Campbell in her acceptance speech.
Throughout the end of May at Parsons, there is a slew of events that platform and celebrate the up-and-coming designers of the world, aka, soon-to-be alumni of the school. While the likes of Jodie Turner-Smith and Marc Jacobs we gathered in the heart of New York to celebrate the future of fashion, a pleasant surprise came up after each honoree was awarded — a fashion show. Each student got to show everyone in the room, who will most likely be wearing their work eventually, what they are made of. These students (and many design students throughout the country), and I can confidently say this, are my favorite part about the future of fashion. They are shaping what we need in fashion, and that is fun and innovation. They are taking old things and making them new again, something that Gen Z has a slight obsession with.
After speeches given by Rousteing, Jacobs, and Carolina Herrera, the fashion show began. Music radiated throughout the space, and out came models wearing original designs by Parsons graduates. If I felt an immense sense of pride in artists that I don’t even know, then I can only imagine how good they must’ve felt to have their work shown in this way. Most people who have never worked a fashion show don’t realize how much labor goes into the planning of one. These students poured heart and soul into their designs. Parsons’ emerging students include Celeste Nicole Haselrig, Ahmrii Johnson, Chiedza Kaseke, Kelisi Smith, Sherleen Motan, Hadassah Aristide, and Donna Nicole Carter.
Closing out the night with a show from designers hungry to show the world who they are and who they can be was the spark the fashion industry needed. To see designers of all backgrounds embrace and translate their cultures and experiences into clothing is always such a magical thing to witness. The benefit was an intersection of honoring established visionaries in fashion, business, design, and philanthropy that embody what Parsons stands for and much-needed growth and brilliant cultural shift in fashion. Rousteing reflected on the benefit saying, “Like everyone working in fashion, I’m very aware that Parsons takes very seriously its commitment to educate the creative leaders of today and tomorrow about the possibilities of melding great design with progressive advancements. And, as a Frenchman, I learned long ago about The New School’s connection with the École Libre des Hautes Études, the university in exile that was set up for Free France’s greatest thinkers during World War II. Knowing that inspiring history, how could I not feel incredibly honored to be recognized by Parsons and The New School for my decade of work at Balmain and my life-long commitment to working for true change in our industry?”
The night was truly one that was unforgettable and so inspiring to see. A school that truly nurtures and uplifts the next generation of fashion is one that, of course, would be one of the top fashion programs in the world. If you’re an aspiring fashion designer or just have an interest in the different aspects of the fashion industry or want to support these students in any way, take a look at these student’s work.