3 posts tagged "Parsons the New School for Design"
“Most people today think of Perry Ellis as a brand,” said menswear designer Jeffrey Banks, the co-author (with Doria De La Chapelle and Erica Lennard) of the new Rizzoli monograph, Perry Ellis: An American Original , of his late friend and colleague. “They don’t realize there was a real person named Perry Ellis. And that he was such an incredible influencer—he never followed other designers. He did what he believed in.”
The book, which will launch this evening alongside a one-night-only exhibition of Ellis’ finest designs at Parsons The New School For Design, traces the sportswear enthusiast’s all-too-short career (he died at age 46) with an aim to change that. A forward by former Perry Ellis designer Marc Jacobs (“When we talk to Marc, the one designer he ever idealized and wanted to be like and loved his clothes more than anyone was Perry Ellis,” recalled Banks) and never-before-published photographs from Lennard, who was Ellis’ campaign photographer, accompany Banks’ narrative.
The pieces on view at the show (a sneak peek of which debuts here) are a celebration of Ellis’ singular ability to push the aesthetic boundaries of sportswear classics. A hand-knit sweater emblazoned with a P for Perry (from Ellis’ first collection in which Princeton University cheerleaders danced down the runway) brings to life the moment the designer brought hand-knits into the high-fashion lexicon; a mohair dress and matching cape (“Perry always had amusing touches that were not silly, but fun,” remembered Banks) sits alongside a rich cashmere tunic in a graphic print inspired by French cubist artist Sonia Delaunay. Elsewhere, an oatmeal tweed jacket with Ellis’ signature dimple sleeves and an all-red suit for men (“It takes a gutsy man to wear a raspberry red tweed suit,” said Banks with a laugh) are on display. Each element of the show illustrates Ellis’ take on traditional, all-American sentiments—loosened up and ever-so-slightly irreverent.
“There was no compromise in his vision,” said Banks. Lennard continued, “He really had his own path. He was, to me, the only American designer of his time who was completely original. The other designers were looking at Europe. He had his own vocabulary.”
Yesterday evening, 92nd Street Y hosted the latest installment of its ongoing Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis series. This time around, British journalist and International Herald Tribune fashion editor Suzy Menkes was in the hot seat, and the tone of her and Mallis’ conversation was appropriately outspoken. “Most designers can’t sleep after she sees their shows,” said Mallis. “She dares to say what she really feels and that is very rare.” Menkes more than illustrated this “rare” quality while opening up about her criticism of the Met’s Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition (“It didn’t have enough of the sense of anger and freedom and drama that was punk”), her early fashion memories (“I made my own fashion newspaper at age 5—my mom still has it—with a page devoted to this glamorous person: me”), and her misadventures (sneaking into one of Karl Lagerfeld’s Chloé shows by pretending to be a cleaner with a mop).
Offering a detailed reflection on Menkes’ forty-some-year career, the Q&A took the audience through the highs and lows of the journalist’s life and work. It even touched upon Menkes’ personal tragedies, like the death of her husband (“My life is divided into before David and after David”). “I didn’t set out to be a pioneer [for female journalists],” explained Menkes. “I didn’t feel ambitious. I just wanted to have kids and a family, and I had my work, and I didn’t want to give it up.”
The conversation also examined some of Menkes’ more controversial stories and opinions. Of her much-buzzed-about T magazine article, “The Circus of Fashion,” she offered, “[The reaction] was surprising, because I’m so not condemning of blogging or any kind of social media.” Her feelings on John Galliano, who, it was announced today, will not be teaching a master class at Parsons, were discussed, too. “I would never say that I love Hitler, in any shape or form, ever,” she said. “But that is not to say that someone with such brilliant talent shouldn’t be given a second chance.”
“If we’re presenting this project for a bunch of 30- to 80-year-olds, I’m not going to go crazy and show some sort of Thierry Mugler suit,” said Gabi Asfour at Parsons The New School for Design. “What we’re proposing is an update on the orchestra’s classical wardrobe.”
Asfour was referring to a yearlong project between Parsons and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, in which the latter’s musical director Marin Alsop challenged students to reimagine the future of symphonic showcasing. Asfour—who, in addition to teaching, runs his own label, Threeasfour—oversaw the initiative’s fashion and design development in collaboration with Sabine Seymour, the director of the Fashionable Technology Lab at Parsons.
“We have three performances, starting with projection mappings on a pianist,” he said. Asfour and his student team have created a diaphanous ivory gown (“You’d better have white stockings on show day!” Asfour told the performer), on which animations of waves and wiggling digi-worms dance in tandem with the performer’s keystrokes. The second act applies sensory technology directly in the clothing. Two percussionists will wear reflective-sleeved oxfords, embedded with transmitters that generate projections based on rhythm. Asfour and co. also streamlined traditional orchestra garb. For instance, there’s a repurposed men’s Halston jacket with mesh vent insets, and a bow tie grafted from cutaway shirt fabric.
Eco-friendly practices—like using repurposed materials—were a focus, too. “It’s really trying to look at fashion from a different perspective, one that doesn’t have as many limits,” said graduating senior and student project manager Renee Sunden. “And we try to push the sustainability standpoint.” Music to our ears (and eyes), indeed.
The Future of Orchestral Garments will be presented on Sunday, May 5 at The New School’s Arnhold Hall, 55 W. 13th St. It’s free to the public but requires advance registration.