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Friday, December 13, 2013

You Never Leave Parsons: 560 Parsons Farewell Party

mariana leung parsons
parsons fashion design
parsons goodbye party
It's the end of an era on 7th avenue. My alma mater of Parsons School of Design is bidding farewell to their campus at 560 7th avenue and moving downtown. I spent my junior and senior years in this building, draping, drawing, sewing... I made some of my best friends (who still are) within these walls.

Current fashion dean Simon Collins hosted a goodbye party to the space last night on the second floor. To the rest of the world, the second floor of the Parsons School of Design Fashion building is home to the Project Runway fashion shows (and judgement).  In my junior year, it served as the venue for my fashion show too.

On my first day in the fashion department, each student had the opportunity for a one-on-one meet and greet with then department head Stan Herman (now a beloved fashion figure on QVC). I had psyched myself up to present myself as professional and sophisticated, only to have Mr. Herman pinch my cheeks and tell me how adorable I was. I was crushed.  Of course, that made me push harder for the next few years.

My favorite teachers were Steven Broadway in illustration and Maria Laveris in draping.  I was lucky enough to partake in Steven's drawing sessions recently, glad to see he is still inspiring the fabulous in young artists.

isaac mizrahi parsonsStandout moments in my Parsons experience, also turned out to be historical fashion industry ones. The school recruited a few of us to assist former alumni Isaac Mizrahi in dressing his fashion show which ended up as the documentary "Unzipped". One of the first behind-the-scenes reality-style movies that preceded Project Runway by a decade. Of course, the man mentoring the designers, Tim Gunn was at Parsons too but was not yet a part of the fashion department.

In my first semester in the fashion department, I also had the opportunity to volunteer for the CFDA at the first Bryant Park fashion shows when it was called 7th on 6th. A bunch of students were invited to Gianni Versace's first fashion show at New York Fashion Week, which ultimately turned out to be  rare and tragic as he was murdered a few seasons later.

For my senior fashion show, I had two mentors, Tracy Reese and Louis Dell'Olio.  I created a big, dimensional origami bridal dress (long before Galliano and Dior). I also made a tailored jacket/tulle ballgown ensemble that represented both the bride AND the groom (with marriage equality progress, I would like to think this was heralding good things to come). A newly single Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson was Tommy Hilfiger's date and sat in the front row.

I don't know how I will feel walking into that building on the corner of 40th street and knowing it is no longer my former home. With the "Garment Center" rapidly disappearing, the departure of my former school feels like the end of an era.

Did you go to Parsons? What were your favorite memories?

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