April 16 2014

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15 posts tagged "Parsons"

Sophie Gimbel: Made to Measure for America


The couture shows will start in Paris on Monday. But next Tuesday, Parsons will bring the (vintage) haute stuff to New York with its latest exhibition, Sophie Gimbel: Fashioning American Couture. Curated by Beth Dincuff, the show explores the legacy of the late Mrs. Gimbel, a mid-century fashion fixture who designed for, ran, and oversaw the buying for Saks Fifth Avenue’s Salon Moderne—an elite shop within Saks that introduced American clients to couturiers like Chanel, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga and Mainbocher—from 1929 until it closed in 1969. Mrs. Gimbel (who was married to Adam Gimbel, the former president of Saks and the grandson of its founder) smartly showed her made-to-measure gowns during the Salon Moderne’s afternoon fashion shows, alongside looks by her French counterparts. Her clients were icons like Greta Garbo, Édith Piaf, actress Claudette Colbert, and the Duchess of Windsor. She even made Lady Bird Johnson’s suit for her husband’s 1965 inauguration. With that in mind, one has to wonder why most of us aren’t well acquainted with Mrs. Gimbel’s work. “I think that the idea of American made-to-measure, or American couture, has been overshadowed by American sportswear, which is obviously something we do very well,” says Dincuff.

Known for her ultra-feminine designs (think big big skirts, lots of tulle, and demure, romantic silhouettes), Gimbel hit her stride in the forties (a savvy businesswoman, she launched her ready-to-wear range in 1943). When journalists couldn’t travel to Paris during WWII, she was featured in Vogue‘s first September American fashion issue. She championed the sporty American body that was fashionable at the time, and rebelled against Dior’s post-war New Look. “She didn’t like the extremeness of it,” explains Dincuff. “She felt it was impractical.” Rather, she preferred that sartorial extravagances be beautiful and functional, like ornate buttons or luxe cardigans draped over strapless ball gowns. Continue Reading “Sophie Gimbel: Made to Measure for America” »

On Our Radar: Richard Braqo


There’s always been a stigma around Geminis—followers of astrology believe those born under the sign are moody, puzzling, and have dueling personalities. But 25-year-old Ghana-born, London-based shoe designer Richard Braqo (a Gemini himself) makes “the twins” work in his favor. Braqo (née Richard Kwame Brako) launched his line of severe, feminine shoes for Spring ’13. A Parsons graduate, he describes his buttery suede, lush velvet, and buffed nubuck heels and over-the-knee boots as “classic with a twist. They’re sexy, demure, and a little bit aggressive.” Case in point: his curvaceous booties embellished with sharp golden scales, or his pointy needle-heeled pumps pierced with a pearl-capped hat pin—pearl because it’s his birthstone. “The last collection was inspired by celestial DNA,” he says, noting that duality was a key element in his Spring wares. For instance, he fused a skinny stiletto with a menswear brogue to create strong velvet heels in rich colors like “vino” and “sapphire.”

With a background in womenswear, Braqo approaches his shoes (all of which are made in Italy) like he would a garment, often wrapping materials over unexpected metal accessories. (His Spring Coralle pumps feature an ankle bangle). The geometry of a woman’s legs is also a point of fascination for Braqo—one that he explored in his moody, ink-blot-inspired Spring film, which debuts below. The young designer, whose luxe kicks range from about $890 to $1,600, will show his second collection during London Fashion Week this February. He’s promising crocodile accents and diamanté details.

Richard Braqo is available at The Box Boutique and Wolf & Badger in London.

Parsons: The New Class


“As a designer, I am blown away,” said Donna Karan last night, after making the rounds at “The First Eighteen,” a showcase of work by the inaugural group of 18 students (ages 24 to 31) in Parsons’ graduate MFA program in fashion design and society. “The sophistication, the understanding, the ability to hold a collection together, it is so telling,” she explained. Karan, a Parsons alumna, was joined at the school by co-host Joanna Coles, Simon Collins, the dean of the School of Fashion, Shelley Fox, the mastermind behind the MFA program, and designers Victoria Bartlett, Chris Benz, and Gabi Asfour of threeasfour, in toasting the student designs, all of which had been year-long projects.

The work by Beckett Fogg and Sinead Lawlor, in particular, garnered especially positive reactions from the crowd. Fogg’s monochromatic black and white womenswear pieces were clean-cut, but finished with luxe embossed leather touches. Lawlor went a completely different route, showing a range of bright blue, red, and yellow womenswear separates done in an explosive button print that was bold, yet equally wearable (pictured). There were also a handful of students that went for a more avant-garde aesthetic, showing conceptual designs that, according to Collins, “should be shown at the Met right now” (referring to the recently opened Schiaparelli/Prada exhibit currently on display at the museum). By the end of the night, it was no secret that Karan, who has been focused on her Urban Zen project in Haiti, had acquired some favorites and perhaps some plans for those students’ futures. “There are three that I really love,” she said. “I would like to get their hands in Haiti, you have no idea.”

“The First Eighteen” is on view daily at 1359 Broadway, New York, through May 23.



“They’re Different Than We Were When I Was In Design School”


Last night, Reed Krakoff turned his Madison Avenue boutique into a mini exhibition space for Parsons The New School for Design’s most promising seniors and invited fashion world VIPs like Phillip Lim, Saks’ Ron Frasch, and Theory’s Andrew Rosen to examine their creations. “We have a saying; it’s ‘We don’t mess around,’ ” Parsons dean Simon Collins said as he gave Krakoff a tour of the students’ designs. You couldn’t find a person in the crowd who would dispute it. The workmanship was topnotch and you could believably picture Theresa Matthias’ tweed and neoprene bonded dress or Angelica Casaverde’s silk twill parka on a department store floor. Lingering over a taupe shift hand-embroidered with purple and peach beads by Kathy Sow (above), Krakoff, who will be honored at Parsons’ Fashion Benefit later this month, said, “They’re different than we were when I was in design school. No one has said something obvious like, ‘It’s about the seventies.’ They’re more intellectual.” No word on whether he snapped up any of the students for his own design studios.

Photo: Neil Rasmus /

Derek Lam’s Plan B?


Friday evening isn’t a time you’d usually find students milling about their school auditorium—at least not of their own volition. But for a chat between Parsons dean of fashion Simon Collins, J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons, and Derek Lam, fashion design majors happily packed the house. The two Parsons alums met as freshman on the first day of school as the incoming class of 1990. “You were so chic the first day of school. I’ll never forget it, you were wearing this handmade leather jacket. It was so annoying!” Lyons said with a laugh. The leather jacket, Lam took the opportunity to inform her, was Comme des Garçons.

Lyons, who confessed that she was “not a very confident girl” growing up in L.A., found her own path in the big city. (She also got a taste of the wider world. “I never met a gay man until I moved to New York,” she revealed.) Lyons eventually landed an internship with Donna Karan on Seventh Avenue before finding her way to J.Crew. And Lam, also a West Coast transplant (he grew up in San Francisco), took off with a brief stint at Geoffrey Beene and then an extended tenure at Michael Kors. Though after 20 years, could another move be on the horizon? “I would love to go back to school,” Lam told us after the discussion. “I actually studied writing before I went to Parsons, so I’d go back for journalism. Maybe I’ll be a fashion writer!” Sounds good to us—send those pitches our way.

Photo: Marty Heitner/Courtesy of Parsons