The development of the new MFA Fashion Design and Society program has been a creative exercise in itself. As a directional and conceptual designer, I have always found that the "personal" is so important in defining identity. If there was ever a time to stake out a personal vision, defy market conventions, and rev up the creative engines, it is now. Innovation and thoughtfulness may be the only route for students, and I can’t think of a more critical time than now for all thinking to become international.
There is something unique about New York, and I came here specifically to launch a new MFA program, with the intention of facilitating an exchange of ideas between the School of Fashion and the traditional academic disciplines. Design education is in need of reform. If we are to maintain the spotlight on New York as a bright centre and a resource for innovative design, we must reprogram that next generation of talent right here. At the end of the day, I am trying to create "idea people"—better thinkers who are aware of the bigger picture.
I must first thank Parsons alumna Donna Karan, whose foresight and generosity were instrumental in the creation of this program, the first of its kind in the United States. I think the program reflects her innovative design sensibility, her business acumen, her adventurous spirit, and, perhaps most important, her deep interest in humanity.
Since its founding in 1896, Parsons has been a leading innovator in design education. That’s the reason Parsons is the perfect place for the MFA in Fashion Design and Society to live and to develop and advance the study of fashion. It is also important that Parsons is part of The New School, a university founded on the principles of intellectual freedom and civic engagement. Students in this program will find a studio-based learning environment within a larger social and critical context.
Since graduating from the MA Fashion program at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Shelley Fox has won international recognition for her experimental and innovative approach to womenswear. As a directional and conceptual designer, she is distinguished by her use of materials and manipulation of fabric, particularly her development of an unorthodox pattern-cutting technique. Constantly questioning convention, she has redefined the way clothes are worn from New York to London to Hong Kong.
Honors Shelley Fox has received include the Jerwood Fashion Prize, Peugeot Design Award for Textiles, Crafts Council Development Award, and Stanley Picker Fellowship for Design. In 2007, she was nominated for the Prince Philip Design Prize by the Arts Council England. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Design Museum, Barbican Art Gallery, Modemuseum, Crafts Council, Antwerp Landed 2001, and FIT in New York. Fox’s designs have also been shown in British Council exhibitions in Germany, France, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Denmark the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, and Japan. Learn more at www.shelleyfox.com.