Last night was a busy evening for the fashion world! Of course, we at MC tuned in to the Season 11 finale of Project Runway, but first, we made a pitstop at Parsons and Bloomingdale's' #bthenext event, held at the department store's flagship NYC location. Editors, shoppers, and major industry staples all mingled in celebration of the next generation of designers, the Parsons Scholars. Starting in tenth grade, these young students — all coming from inner city backgrounds — attend Parsons' classes each Saturday for two full summers and three full years, sending 95-percent of them to college at the program's end. We spoke to three of our favorite designers (who are also Parsons alums!) — Narciso Rodriguez, Tracy Reese, and Parke Lutter and Ronen Jehezkel of Parke & Ronen — about their support for the school, the program, and their absolute dream collaboration.
Tell me a little bit about your work with Parsons and why you're here at this event tonight!
Narcisco Rodrigez: I'm a great fan of Bloomingdale's and I'm a very loyal alumni of Parsons. I think what they do, what they've done, is amazing. They've educated some of the best American designers.
Tracy Reese: I'm a Parsons alumni, and I sell to Bloomingdale's, which is wonderful. It's an amazing program, to bring high school students into our field and to open their eyes to the industry. It's showing them that it's possible to succeed, even if you don't have a silver spoon in your mouth.
Parke Lutter: I went to Parsons, and I interned with Ronen when I was at Parsons. We started our own company since then. We're definitely here to support the event and to support Bloomingdale's and the great work they're doing here.
Ronen Jehezkel: I always supported Parsons. From my first day in America, I had Parke, a Parsons student, interning with me!
What is one thing that Parsons has given you as a designer on which you look back and use with absolutely every collection?
NR: It exposed me to so many things. It exposed me to my craft, which I'm forever grateful for. I got to train with some of the best, and have critics like Oscar de la Renta and Calvin Klein. As a student under Calvin Klein, my project was to make a coat, and then years later, I was hired at Calvin, by Calvin, to design coats for him. It came full circle!
TR: The ability to pull all-nighters! These things sort of still happen. It's the work ethic that was instilled in us at Parsons. We have to bring it to work everyday.
PL: For me, it's the best training you can have. The thing about Parsons compared to the other schools is that it really teaches you how to be a designer, whereas some of the other schools teach you to sketch or teach you the technical skills. But the curriculum at Parsons when I was there was how do you put a collection together, as well as all the technical stuff. It's the best training.
RJ: I went to a fashion school in Rome, so having a part of Parsons in working with Parke gave me everything that I didn't have without going to school there. And it's really amazing — I look at things in a completely different way than he does.
If you could collaborate with any designer, living or dead, who would it be?
NR: That's a tough one. I need to think about that. I can email you that answer!
TR: I've always loved Callot Soeurs. Their work is just so gorgeous, and I can spot it every time I see it in a museum or in a book.
RJ: I would stick to Valentino!