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  • Leyla Neri

  • Program Director

    Fashion Design (BFA), Fashion Design and the Arts (MFA)

    Since the beginning of her academic pathway, Leyla Neri, director of the BFA Fashion Design and the new MFA Fashion Design and the Arts programs at Parsons Paris, has focused her efforts on building bridges between fashion design, art practices, and social science.

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    Neri has advocated for this interdisciplinary philosophy throughout her professional life as a designer, artist, researcher, author, and educator. She holds a PhD in anthropology, an MFA in fashion design, a BFA in product design, and was initially trained in architecture.

    She began her creative practice as a fashion designer, costume designer, and set designer in Italy and Switzerland and then went on to serve as the head of the product design department and director of the fashion design program at HEAD, the Geneva School of Art and Design. She was also the founding director of the Master in Luxury Management program at the Geneva School of Business Administration. 

    In 2016, she joined the faculty of Parsons Paris after running strategic projects with UNESCO and leading ethnographic fieldwork around the world.

    To better prepare them for the collaborative environment of a real fashion company, Neri brings together students of various Parsons Paris programs to work on projects that emphasize environmental sustainability and cultural diversity. She cites the example of BFA Fashion Design and BBA Strategic Design and Management students who recently collaborated with the historical brands Borbonese and Cerruti to see how collections are put together, from design to production to marketing. “It is a live experience; the students interact with the designers and managers of the maisons, seeing how teams work, exchanging and engaging with them, and then bringing back that learning into their projects.”

    Neri’s experience as a designer working throughout Europe has taught her that Paris is the ideal place for students interested in connecting with not only the most legendary luxury maisons but also with cutting-edge contemporary niche brands. “The students are trained within the European fashion and art worlds,” she explains. “Creative collaborations with local artisans are also core to our fashion design program and made possible by the city’s incredible heritage.” These collaborative initiatives are always based on a commitment to environmental and social values. In a recent project with Lesage — Paris’ premier embroidery house for haute couture — students were challenged to source reused, recyclable, or organic materials to replace the traditional sequins and plastic beads. The project culminated in the creation of unique sustainable pieces exhibited at Carrousel du Louvre.

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