Parsons Paris

Student Profiles

  • Caroline Lo '16

    IMG - Paris - Caroline Lo

    Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree in fashion studies?

    I decided to pursue a graduate degree in fashion studies at Parsons for numerous reasons. While I’ve always had a keen interest in fashion and it has always been a goal of mine to obtain my graduate degree, I never knew it was possible to study fashion outside of design or in the realm of academia. Originally, after completing my undergraduate degree in history and political science, I thought about going into law and worked in the compliance department at an investment management company and at a law firm. However, after discovering that was not necessarily what I wanted to be doing professionally, I had to go back to the drawing board and think about what I was really passionate about and what inspired me. As a result, when I found out about the MA Fashion Studies program at Parsons, I knew I had to apply. The program is truly interdisciplinary in its approach and has allowed me to combine my varying interests in fashion, history, research, and writing in order to look at fashion and the body in an academic way and through a variety of lenses.

    Why did you decide to study at Parsons Paris?

    I decided to spend a semester at Parsons Paris because being in Paris was crucial to conducting my thesis research. I wrote my thesis on the yé-yé girls of 1960s French popular music and analyzed how their portrayal in the French teen magazines Salut les Copains and Mademoiselle Age Tendre reflected larger issues of agency, gender roles, and consumerism in France at the time. However, all my primary sources were located at the Bibliothèque Nationale Française so I needed to be in Paris in order to complete my thesis research.

    What was it like working on your thesis?

    Working on my thesis has been both the most rewarding and the most difficult experience of my academic career so far. It was extremely rewarding to research a topic that I am so passionate about, to explore the subject from a new and original perspective, and to be given the opportunity to write a research paper on it. However, when you become that attached to a project, it can be hard not to over-analyze or doubt yourself. As I am sure anyone else who has ever gone through this process knows, there can be a great deal of anxiety around trying to do your topic justice by writing a well-researched, highly analytical and strongly supported research paper that hopefully makes a positive contribution to your field of study. However, I was very lucky that I had a wonderful thesis advisor (Dr. Marco Pecorari) whom I learned a lot from and who constantly pushed me to do my best. And of course, having the unconditional support of friends and family also helps. Overall, I would say the thesis process is extremely rewarding and enriching and I am glad to have had the experience of researching and writing the majority of my thesis here in Paris.

    How did living and studying in Paris affect your experience?

    Living and studying in Paris affected my experience in a positive way because as aforementioned, it was imperative for me to be in Paris to conduct my research. Of course, the fact that Paris has such a rich history when it comes to fashion and is such a lovely city didn’t hurt.

    Did you have any internship experience?

    I interned for a small fashion company in Toronto (my hometown) called Alice + Whittles last summer. They make sustainable rubber footwear and ensure that the entire process, from the sourcing of raw materials to the delivery of the final product, is done in the most ethical way possible while still providing a well-designed and well-made product. I was lucky that I was able to intern for them as they were starting out, since it meant that I got to do everything from research to marketing and even assisted with a photo shoot.

    How would you describe your experience at Parsons Paris?

    My experience at Parsons Paris has been great. While it is very different from Parsons in New York, I really enjoyed being in a more intimate environment and the classes I was able to take here. And of course, being able to work on my thesis here has been very rewarding. However, I did encounter certain challenges, primarily with gaining access to a variety of resources. New York is truly the city that never sleeps, and I grew quite accustomed to the various libraries I had access to there. Thus, having such a small library at Parsons Paris proved to be quite challenging, since it meant I had to try and find secondary sources at libraries throughout Paris (which have very limited hours) or order my books off Amazon – but other than that my experience at Parsons Paris was wonderful.

    What does studying fashion in Paris mean to you?

    I’m not really sure how to answer this question, since I think being in Paris means many different things to different people. Many individuals consider Paris thefashion city, and I would say that is true when it comes to haute couture. There’s nothing quite like being in a city that has such a rich history when it comes to fashion, art, and design and where there are so many wonderful sources of inspiration. So I guess what studying fashion in Paris means to me was the amazing opportunity to be at the heart of so many of the things I have spent the last two years learning about. Being able to see and experience them for myself rather than simply reading about them in books or journal articles allowed me to connect with and understand the things I was studying in a more personal way. For example, after having read a great deal of Foucault through the MA Fashion Studies program, I found it a little surreal to come across rue Foucault in person. And I couldn’t help but smile when I saw that yé-yé singers Johnny Hallyday and Eddy Mitchell were still performing at the Olympia. The access to primary sources in Paris, especially in relation to fashion, is astounding and very exciting for a researcher, and I think that was really what being in Paris meant to me – getting back to the roots of what inspired me to pursue my master’s in fashion studies in the first place.