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Thanks to partner Veuve Cliquot, this unprecedented year still ended in
style for the cohort of Parsons MFA Fashion Design and Society program. In
a virtual celebration which included musical acts from the College of
Performing Arts, words of encouragement and inspiration from NYC luminaries
such as Donna Karan and Sarah Jessica Parker, and Louis Vuitton artistic
director Virgil Abloh, the event also served as a fundraising reimagining
of May’s Parsons Benefit which had to be cancelled due to Covid. Due to
instability brought on by the pandemic, The New School is projecting an
additional 22 million dollars in financial need for students in the 2020-21
academic year, beyond the 110 million dollars typically awarded.
The event culminated with the premiere of the MFA Fashion Design and
Society Designer Showcase featuring the work of ten designers: Chi Yu Han,
Jessica Guzman, Kaiwen Shi, Karen Heshi, Lily Xu, Quinzi Gao, Samantha
D’Iorio, Sarah Lim, Shuxuan Li, and Zhuoran Li. The presentation, in lieu
of the program’s annual New York Fashion Week runway show and exhibition,
interlaced behind-the-scenes footage of their process work with the
students’ completed creations to form a visual diary while introducing us
to the designers themselves as they spoke about their inspirations,
explained techniques and described the overarching goals behind their
If ever design and society have collided, it is this year and the
featured collections reflect what program director, Shelley Fox, describes
as “ten different designers, with ten different points of view, on ten
And the journeys of these emergent visionaries, whose creativity
FashionUnited spotlights a sampling of below, are only just beginning.
Fox’s advice to them as they walk into more uncertainty than perhaps any
other group in the program’s history? “If the space doesn’t exist for them,
they should make it exist.”
Parsons MFA Fashion design and society 2020 spotlight
Taiwanese Chi Yu Han’s collection is inspired by the endless creative
freedom of New York City and the experience of coming out. Through clothing
the designer explores occupying the space in-between genders and the
concepts of femininity and masculinity in more traditional societies.
Jessica Guzman’s experimental knitwear is about programing chance into
the technical repetition of creating stitches, rejecting exact replication
in favor of spontaneity and evolution.
Through her childlike love of handcrafts and the animated comics of
Henry Darger, Kaiwen Shi aims to create a sanctuary for people who want a
respite from the intensity of contemporary life, through her use of bright
colors, shiny threads, wire beading, weaving, embroidery, and tufting.
Lily Xu explores cultural melancholia and the feeling of longing in
unconventional knitwear techniques, print and paint, as she reinterprets
her grandfather’s old photographs.
Zhuoran Li reimagines her own body as an assemblage of geometric shapes
in knit creating both an artist’s canvas and a second skin.
Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk
for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion
Photos provided by Parsons: Header image of work by Kaiwen Shi; other
photos of work from top by Chi Yu Han, Jessica Guzman, Kaiwen Shi, Lily Xu
and Zhuoran Li.