10 weeks ago an electrical fire in Parsons School of Design’s W 13th St location caused the displacement
of the entire MFA Fashion Design & Society department. Within a week, the program director, Shelley Fox, and
associate director, Joff Moolhuizen, had rehoused the program inside Brooklyn’s Industry City. For the show must
always go on. Indeed despite the extraordinary upheaval, 15 MFA students are exhibiting sketchbooks, textiles,
portfolios, and a selection of completed garments from their final collection for 3 days this week as a taster of
what’s to come on September’s runway.
The exhibition’s opening reception is inaugurated by Kay Unger, proud Parsons alum, and the Chair of the board of
governors of Parsons School of Design, dressed head-to-toe in the collection of current student, Annaliese Griffith-Jones,
complete with embellished knee socks and bangles. Andrew Kimball, CEO of Industry City expresses his excitement at having the
Parsons students under his roof, causing some speculation that this might become the MFA program’s longterm home. Fox and Moolhuizen
each exchange words of admiration and gratitude towards each other for the support they’ve received during the unprecedented
pressures of recent months.
The students however seem to have made the most of the new spacious location––vast, canvas-white,
and dotted with cylindrical pillars––by draping printed fabric and framed textiles from the ceiling, unfurling
artwork on the floor and establishing little mise en scenes, to capture the mood of their collections.
Each student’s work was distinct from the next, and while this exhibit is only a halfway house on the road to the
fashion show they’ll reach in just 3 months, there are already a few standouts.
Max Cui makes fantastically surreal and twisted black and white drawings which he has transferred into comic book format,
then oil paintings, before unwinding them onto fabric via screen-printing, infused with color, and puffed with quilting.
How all this will look when it reaches its full 3D splendor on the runway, one can only anticipate. Amy Crookes’s
clothes have the naive urgency of children’s squiggly crayon drawings that have been breathed life into,
and Rui Zhou’s satellites of fine knit which swirl around the body are mesmerizing.
The exhibit runs from June 7th-10th at Industry City, Brooklyn.
Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.