experimental 'workwear' for imaginary professions at parsons school of design

International designers offer whimsical critique of the fashionization of work clothes

Workwear/Abiti da Lavoro
on view at The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center's Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, 2 West 13th St., The New School

Opening Reception: Thursday, February 4, 6-8 p.m.
On View: Friday, February 5 through Monday, April 18

Mella Jaarsma's The Senses Cheat You is on view in the exhibition Workwear/Abiti da Lavoro at Parsons School of Design.


NEW YORK, February 2, 2016—The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (SJDC) at The
New School’s Parsons School of Design presents Workwear/Abiti da Lavoro, an exhibition of experimental garments—“work clothes” made for imaginary professions—dedicated to revolutionary Italian fashion designer Elio Fiorucci (1935-2015).

Produced by Fondazione La Triennale di Milano in collaboration with Parsons School of Design, the exhibition features garments by 39 international designers, including revolutionary Italian fashion designer Elio Fiorucci, who imagine “workwear” for hypothetical professions—a whimsical critique on the fashionization of work clothes.

“Today’s designers, including the 39 in this exhibition, work amid epochal changes—the decline of the great masters and of the small factories of fine Italian design and the rise of giant global entities and the fragmentation of traditional centers of industry,” said Italian designer Alessandro Guerriero, curator of Workwear/Abiti da Lavoro. “Though many jobs have disappeared, the garments associated with them have not. What we are experiencing now is the elevation of workwear to high fashion. This irony is explored by designers through new visions of workwear: clothes that aren’t for bakers, carpenters and tailors, but for professions such as email eraser, a butterfly engineer, or the one who looks for a needle in a haystack.”

Workwear/Abiti da Lavoro is the brainchild of Guerriero, who originally created the exhibition to support Arkadia Onlus, an educational organization that works with young people with disabilities. Twelve designers in the exhibition provided sketches of imaginary work clothes, which were then sewed by the young people of Arkadia Onlus.

“This sly and playful exhibition takes labor as its laboratory, proposing new jobs and new garments to inhabit,” said Radhika Subramaniam, Director/Chief Curator of the SJDC.  “The critique it wears so lightly has much to say to our work as educators of future designers.”

The designers in the exhibition include Nathalie Du Pasquier, Elio Fiorucci, Mella Jaarsma, Guda Koster, Toshiyuki Kita, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Issey Miyake, Angela Missoni, Faye Toogood, Vivienne Westwood, Erwin Wurm, and Parsons faculty members, Otto von Busch and Allan Wexler, among others.

The New York edition of Workwear/Abiti da Lavoro was designed by Manuel Miranda Practice and created with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The Italian Cultural Institute in New York. Curatorial support was provided by Associazione Tam Tam.

The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (SJDC) is an award-winning campus center for Parsons The New School for Design that combines learning and public spaces with exhibition galleries to provide an important new downtown destination for art and design programming. The mission of the Center is to generate an active dialogue on the role of innovative art and design in responding to the contemporary world. Its programming encourages an interdisciplinary examination of possibility and process, linking the university to local and global debates. The center is named in honor of its primary benefactor, New School Trustee and Parsons Board of Governors Member Sheila C. Johnson. The design by Rice+Lipka Architects is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects. For more information, visit the SJDC’s website.

Parsons School of Design is one of the leading institutions for art and design education in the world. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of art and design disciplines. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century. For more information, visit Parsons website.

La Triennale di Milano is an international cultural institution with over 90 years of history behind it (it was established in Monza in 1923) that stages exhibitions, conferences and events on art, design, architecture, fashion, cinema, communication and society. It organizes exhibitions devoted to contemporary art, to nationally and internationally acclaimed architects and designers, to the great fashion designers who have changed tastes and customs, to social themes. It is a laboratory of ideas that speaks not just to enthusiasts, students and professionals, but also to the public of the future, children and teenagers, through experimental and interactive activities focused on the culture of design. It is involved in an intense dialogue with the rest of the world on the themes of Italian culture and Italian products. For more information, visit La Triennale di Milano’s website.







79 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10003


Media Contacts:

Scott Gargan,
The New School
212-229-5667 x 3794
[email protected]

Bookmark and Share