From Marc Jacobs to Alexander Wang, star alumni of New York’s Parsons design school have long made inroads in Paris. But now the faculty is going a step further, opening a full-fledged branch in the world capital of fashion.
Many of the industry’s most sought-after names learned the ropes at Parsons The New School for Design, from Tom Ford to Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, Jacobs and Wang, the latter newly named at the house of Balenciaga.
Joel Towers, Executive Dean of Parsons, says the school learned how to use New York city as a “laboratory”, and hopes to achieve the same in Paris, picked as a European hub of art, craft and heritage.
Paris is destined to become one of a network of teaching hubs, with Parsons programmes in the pipeline for Mumbai, Shanghai, and Latin America, allowing an international student corps to draw on the resources of each.
“We are not just running after where the money is — we are not going to Qatar and Abu Dhabi,” said Tim Marshall, Provost of the New School university to which Parsons belongs.
“These are global cities, cities that make sense as a comparative set.”
“It’s also about the movement of ideas,” added Towers.
The century-old New York school first set up shop in Paris in 1921, but ties with its French offshoot dwindled over time to little more than a licensing deal, now expired.
“We want a much more embedded school, integrated into the local culture, that is drawing on the real design talent here,” explained Marshall.
“We are all trying to find the right balance between heritage and innovation, and between local and global,” added Renaud Dutreil, a former French government minister and member of the Parsons board.