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Parsons School of Design School of Fashion records

 Record Group
Identifier: PC-02-02-02


These records contain student work, publicity materials, photographs, and audiovisual material from the Parsons School of Design School of Fashion's undergraduate and graduate programs, primarily the BFA Fashion Design program. To a lesser extent, the AAS Fashion Design and MFA Fashion Design and Society programs are also documented.


  • circa 1980-2020



27.2 Cubic Feet (14 boxes, 21 oversize boxes, 4 oversize folders)

73.26 Gigabytes (10,783 files files migrated from 154 optical discs and 6 flash drives (72.67GB), 1 archived website (.588GB))

7 VHS Cassettes (4 VHS-C, 2 VHS, 1 Panasonic HG TC-30)

1 betacam

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Parsons School of Design School of Fashion records contain student work, publicity materials, photographs, and audiovisual material documenting its undergraduate and graduate programs, primarily the BFA Fashion Design program (approximately 90% of this collection). To a lesser extent, the AAS Fashion Design and MFA Fashion Design and Society programs are also documented. The MA Fashion Studies program, which is situated in the School of Art and Design History and Theory, a different school from the School of Fashion, is not documented here.

Series I. General includes flyers and posters for School of Fashion events, a recording of a lecture series, Parsons Festival Five Sixty 7th exhibition lookbooks, and photographs of student work that cannot be associated with a specific degree program.

Series II. AAS Fashion Design includes midseason preview and line debuts invitations, programs, event photographs, postcards, and a serial magazine published by the program.

Series III. BFA Fashion Design is the largest series. It contains general material that documents the program, such as photographs of classes, of students working, and graduations; photographs and recordings of visiting fashion critics participating in the designer critic program; and documentation of competitions in partnership with fashion design companies such as LVMH. It also contains documentation of the annual fashion shows, primarily through slides and photographs, as well as through press releases, invitations and programs. Notably, thirteen fashion designer dolls featured in the 1996 annual fashion show are part of this series.

The BFA Fashion Design series also includes a significant amount of student work, in both analog and born-digital formats. The analog work contains student designs for companies such as Banana Republic, Gap and Shoe Polytechnic; final portfolios; assignments and notes from Fashion History Culture and Society and Fashion Materiality classes; linebooks and lookbooks; and sketchbooks and sketches, including by fashion designer Tracy Reese (‘84). The born-digital material consists primarily of Integrated Studio classes group projects, typically comprised of fashion sketches, concept designs, and brand designs. These files include digital design drawings, videos, portfolios, as well as photographs of students working on projects, and photographs of their projects in analog form.

Series IV. MFA Fashion Design and Society consists of press and publicity material, and programs and flyers documenting thesis shows, commencements and other exhibitions. It also includes videos of the program’s fashion runway shows, which showcase students’ fashion designs at New York Fashion Week. Lastly, it includes serials associated with the program and with its former director, Shelley Fox, including The First Magazine, Phase 2, Phase 3

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Some files that contain student grades are restricted for a period of time in accordance with The New School Archives’ confidentiality policy. Please contact for appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Historical Note

Originally named the Chase School of Art, Parsons School of Design was founded in 1896 by American Impressionist painter William Merritt Chase with a focus on the fine arts. Two years after its founding, the school changed its name to the New York School of Art. The school offered courses in fashion design, then called "costume design," as early as 1904. In 1907, Frank Alvah Parsons became an administrator at the school and made design an important part of the educational mission. The same year, he introduced the first full professional department in fashion design, under the name “costume design,” though the department changed its name several times in the coming decades. In 1954, the department was divided to form the Fashion Design Department and the Fashion Illustration Department.

The School of Fashion was created by consolidating the different fashion programs into one school in 2008. The deans of the school since its founding have been Simon Collins (2008-2014), Burak Cakmak (2015-2020) and as of 2022 Ben Barry (2021-). The School of Fashion places an emphasis on understanding the entirety of the design process, from the initial concept to the final product and its marketing. The curriculum seeks to educate students on the fundamentals of good design, as well as to develop essential skills specific to fashion design, such as model drawing and pattern drafting, which are applied to real-life design problems. Students also research the historical purposes and implementations of fashion design, study business practices, and investigate the commercial impact on the profession. As of 2022, Parsons School of Design's School of Fashion offers the following degrees: AAS in Fashion Design, and in Fashion Marketing and Communication, BFA in Fashion Design, MFA in Fashion Design and Society, and in Textiles, and MPS in Fashion Management, and in Fashion Management Online. The Fashion Management Online MPS program appears to be the first fully online program at Parsons School of Design as of 2022.

The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in fashion design has been offered at Parsons School of Design since the 1975/76 academic year. Today it is typically a two-year degree for people who are changing careers, and are interested in practical training in the fashion industry. The core curriculum focuses on research, fashion history, design thinking, and construction techniques, but students learn to use industry software and can specialize in different areas of fashion design. During the years covered by the collection, the chair of the AAS program was Pamela Trought Klein (1999-2009), and it appears that Tamara Albu was the program director for Fashion Studies (Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing) within the AAS program from approximately 2004 until at least 2012. As of 2022 James Butler is the program director.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree has been available to all Parsons students through a cooperative arrangement with New York University as early as the 1954/55 academic year. Parsons School of Design started to offer its own BFA degrees in the 1969/70 academic year. Today, the foundational year that introduces students to design concepts, various skills and critical research and writing practices is followed by specialization in one of the four pathways--Collection, Materiality, Fashion Product, or Systems and Society--to help them create their own approach to fashion. In recent decades students have been participating in collaborations with partners such as LVMH, Kering, Saks Fifth Avenue, Louis Vuitton, Swarovski, COACH, Luxottica, Gap, and Banana Republic. During the years covered in this collection Timothy M. Gunn was the first chair (2003-2007), followed by Steven Faerm as director (2007-2011). Fiona Dieffenbacher was the director 2012-2017, and in the 2017/18 academic year was co-director with Brendan McCarthy. As of 2022 Marie Genevieve Cyr is the program director. During the years covered by the collection, especially the 2000s, most BFA and AAS classes were held at 560 Seventh Avenue in New York City.

The Fashion Department, and later the School of Fashion has organized an annual fashion show since the mid-1920s. The earliest fashion show invitation held by the archives, from 1948, indicates that it was the 24th annual fashion show. However, Parsons School of Design announced the 70th fashion benefit and show in 2018, which suggests that the first fashion show was in 1948. The discrepancy may be due to the annual fashion show not initially having a fundraising aspect to it; 1948 may have been the first year that the annual fashion show was a benefit, as well. The name of the event changed several times throughout the years, from Annual Fashion Show (1948-1971), to Student and Alumni Fashion Show (1973), Annual Fashion Critics Awards Show (1973-1981), Fashion Critics Awards Show (1982-1993), Fashion Critics Awards Benefit (1994-2001), Benefit and Fashion Show (2002-2007), Fashion Benefit Show (2008-2014/2015?), to Parsons Benefit as of 2021.

The MFA Fashion Design and Society program was initiated in 2010 by Parsons alumna Donna Karan. The interdisciplinary, studio-based program prepares emerging fashion designers to meet the challenges of the international design industry, to become innovative entrepreneurs, and educators. A unique program at its founding, it helps students “develop an understanding of the global, ecological, and business contexts of their work.” Shelley Fox was the founder and director of the program, with Assistant Program Director Joffrey Moolhuizen until about 2020. As of 2022 Soojin Kang and John Bauernfeind are the interim co-directors. Shelley Fox is also the editor of Phase 2 magazine, and both Phase 2 and Phase III are connected to the senior show.


The New School Marketing and Communication. “Simon Collins Announces Plans to Step Down As Dean of Parsons School of Fashion in December, 2014.” Accessed August 24, 2022.

“Parsons School of Design, 1975-1976.” Parsons School of Design Course Catalog Collection. 1960-2002. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

Parsons School of Design. “Fashion Design (AAS).” Accessed August 24, 2022.

“Parsons School of Design Undergraduate Course Descriptions Fall 2000: BFA, BBA, AAS.” New School course description collection. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Parsons School of Design. “Fashion Design BFA.” Acessed August 24, 2022.

Parsons School of Design. “Fashion Design and Society.” Accessed August 24, 2022.

New School News. “Parsons MFA Fashion Design and Society Showcases Innovation at NYFW Show.” Accessed August 24, 2022.


Arranged alphabetically by subject in 4 series: 1. General; 2. AAS Fashion Design; 3. BFA Fashion Design; 4. MFA Fashion Design and Society. Within 2 subseries, Annual fashion shows, and Fashion runway show videos, materials are arranged chronologically; otherwise, all materials within series and sub-series are arranged alphabetically.

Custodial History

Many of the older records in this collection, particularly those dating from the 1980s-1990s in the BFA Series, were stored in the Archives Room of the School of Fashion's building at 560 Seventh Avenue in New York City's Garment Center. Archivist Jenny Swadosh and fashion librarian Rachel Cassiman identified materials stored in the room for transfer to Archives and Special Collections in summer 2013, after The New School announced it would be selling the building and the School of Fashion would be moving administrative offices to Parsons School of Design's Greenwich Village campus. It is unknown who collected the materials stored in the Archives Room.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Records transferred from the School of Fashion to The New School Archives in multiple accessions, predominantly throughout 2013 and 2014 as the School of Fashion prepared to move from 560 Seventh Avenue to 66 Fifth Avenue.

BFA line sheets transferred from School of Fashion in two accessions in 2019.

MFA Design and Society records transferred in two accessions, one in 2014 and one in 2021.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds other records documenting the School of Fashion: the records of the Fashion Design Department (PC-02-02-01), whose content chronologically overlaps with this collection, but for the most part documents earlier decades; the audiovisual recordings of the Fashion Design Department (PC-07-02-05) which mainly document the annual scholarship benefit and runway show; and fashion critic direction audio recordings (PC-07-02-01), consisting of fashion designer critic sessions in the Fashion Design Department.

The New School Web Archives Collection (NS-10-01-01) also contains a digital version of articles related to Parsons School of Design in the fashion periodical 1 Granary.

Guide to the Parsons School of Design School of Fashion records
Agnes Szanyi and New School Archives and Special Collections staff
December 23, 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description