A Brief History of Fashion Design at Parsons from 1950

Throughout the history of the Parsons fashion department from 1950-present there have been many important events that have helped shape the fashion department into the prestigious program that it is today. We have compiled a timeline of what we see as the most important events in the history of fashion at Parsons.

1950-52- Senior Thesis Curriculum: Undergraduate fashion show including student designers, with judges Jo Copeland, Claire McCardell, Mark Mooring, and Joset Walker. It included a “fantasy fashion” assignment and a panel discussion.

1952- The Parsons School of Design Alumni Association was incorporated in 1952 and continued until Parsons School of Design merged with the New School for Social Research.

1958-59 Claire McCardell Scholarships Fund founded.

1966- Frank Rizzo starts teaching at Parsons, while holding a full-time design position.

1968- Fashion alumni picnic at Ann Keagy’s home (June 1968).

1970- Parsons School of Design merges with the New School for Social Research.

1979- The Parsons Fashion program moved to the iconic David M. Schwartz Fashion Education Center, with close proximity to the Garment District (560 building located on 40th Street and 7th ave).

1981- Ann Keagy’s last year as Chair of the Fashion department.

1982- Frank Rizzo named Chair of the department.

2000- Tim Gunn is promoted to Chair of Fashion, Parsons School of Design.

2000- Senior Thesis: Parsons’ Fashion Critics Awards Show begins as “a presentation of the student’ best work, created under the guidance of New York’s top fashion industry professionals.”

2000- First Fusion Fashion Show, a fashion show for freshmen and sophomore competing against designers at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

2004- The first season of “Project Runway” is filmed at Parsons.

2005- Parsons is renamed Parsons the New School for Design.

2007- Tim Gunn leaves Parsons, remains host of “Project Runway.”

2012- Parsons MFA Fashion Design program enrolls its first students.

2013- Parsons Paris re-opens.

January 2014- Parsons Fashion moves to the new University Center at 63 5th Avenue, selling its building in the Garment District.

For more in the New School Archives, see the Parsons School of Design Fashion Design Department records.