6 posts tagged "Parsons the New School for Design"
It takes a lot of balls to leave a gig at Calvin Klein Collection to start your own brand—especially when you’re a 25-year-old fresh out of grad school. But that’s precisely what Beckett Fogg, one half of new line Area, did. And if the innovative first collection that she and design partner Piotrek Panszczyk whipped up is any indication, she made the right move.
Fogg, a Kentucky native, and Panszczyk, a Polish-born 28-year-old who previously worked at Chloé, met at Parsons the New School for Design while pursuing their MFAs in fashion. “We started talking about teaming up a year before I graduated, but it was really just for LOLs,” offered Panszczyk. However, a pair of ribbon-trimmed shorts he stitched up, which, worn by Fogg, got rave reviews in the Hamptons, pushed the designers to make their pipe dream a reality. “Every single person was like, ‘I have to have them!’ So we thought, Maybe this is something we should actually consider doing,” recalled Fogg.
While their backgrounds differ drastically (Panszczyk is a die-hard fashion head, while Fogg studied architecture before heading to Parsons), the talents share a unique, unified vision. Inspired by fragments, transformation, and mind-boggling experiments with texture, their debut lineup expands upon unexpected techniques we saw in each of their graduate collections. For instance, while at Parsons, Fogg used a method of embossing that’s usually reserved for car interiors. Area employed it to bring new dimension to the sleeves of a metallic silver velvet tunic, the body of a handsome steel coat, and the skirt of a burgundy silk lamé slipdress. Meanwhile, the studied pleating Panszczyk featured in his graduate outing provided a sculptural edge to creased trousers and elegant coats.
Most interesting, however, is the pair’s obsession with textiles. The designers worked a heavy mohair—typically reserved for luxury upholstery—into an easy gray shift (above), which was made all the more special via organic patterns created by shaving. Another standout was their stonewashed velvet denim. “It didn’t exist,” said Panszczyk, pulling at a shearling-lined jacket, “so we just made it up!”
Walking me through their sundrenched, whitewashed Canal Street studio, Panszczyk in a frayed Jil Sander suit, Fogg in her own designs, the duo discussed their simultaneously cerebral, sexy, and commercial aesthetic. “We want to see people actually wearing our clothes,” said Fogg. “So I don’t think commercial needs to be a dirty word.” Panszczyk elaborated, explaining how a second-skin velvet jumpsuit (shown with leather chaps) or fluid shift could be sultry one moment and sophisticated the next. “Our work specifically focuses on manipulation. We like to take something and change it.”
As for why they named the brand Area, Fogg told me, “It’s clean, simple, and inclusive.” Never mind that the iconic nightclub was once housed mere blocks from their studio—a fact they didn’t learn until a few friends of a certain age clued them in. “It’s all about serendipity,” mused Panszczyk.
Back in September VFiles launched the raucous runway rave that is its user-generated fashion show. Last time around, the jam-packed affair afforded four emerging brands (chosen by the online community’s users and a panel of VFiles judges) the chance to present their Spring ’14 collections at New York fashion week. “We believe in the future of fashion,” VFiles founder Julie Anne Quay told us after the inaugural outing. “And the future of fashion is online.”
VFiles’ experiment continues for Fall ’14, and today, Style.com can exclusively reveal the three rising stars who’ve been voted into the sophomore show. First up is Melitta Baumeister. We initially met this German-born, New York-based talent last season when she opened the Parsons MFA runway with an impressive collection of sculptural white silicone looks. She’ll be joined by ASSK, a cerebral, Paris-based streetwear label by Australians Sarah Schofield and Agatha Kowalewski, and Hyein Seo, a South Korean womenswear designer who’s currently pursuing her master’s in fashion at the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. In addition to sending their Fall ’14 collections down the catwalk at Eyebeam Studios, the three lucky winners will be flown to New York pre-fashion week to receive mentoring from famed stylists Carlyne Cerf De Dudzeele and Mel Ottenberg. Check back in on February 5 to view our full coverage of the VFiles fashion show—and if it’s anything like last season’s, we’re in for a wild treat.
“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.”