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Guide to the Parsons School of Design fashion critic direction audio recordings, 1994-1995, undated

Collection Overview

Repository

Parsons Institutional Collections

Collection Identifier

PC.07.02.01

Creator - Speaker

Adri, 1934-2006

Creator - Speaker

Badgley, Mark, 1961-

Creator - Speaker

Banks, Jeffrey

Creator - Speaker

Brooks, Donald, 1928-

Creator - Speaker

Capraro, Albert, 1943-

Creator - Speaker

Dell'Olio, Louis, 1948-

Creator - Speaker

Essex, Marie L., -2001

Creator - Speaker

Henderson, Gordon

Creator - Speaker

Herman, Stan

Creator - Speaker

Howe, Robin

Creator - Speaker

Kors, Michael

Creator - Speaker

Mischka, James, 1960-

Creator - Speaker

Mizrahi, Isaac

Creator - Speaker

Neuville, Charlotte

Creator

New School (New York, N.Y.). New School Archives and Special Collections.

Creator - Speaker

Nichanian, Véronique

Creator

Parsons School of Design.

Creator - Speaker

Reese, Tracy, 1964-

Creator - Speaker

Restivo, Mary Ann, 1940-2015

Creator - Speaker

Rizzo, Frank S.

Creator - Speaker

Robinson, Patrick, 1966-

Creator - Speaker

Sachs, Gloria, 1927-2012

Title

Parsons School of Design fashion critic direction audio recordings, 1994-1995, undated

Extent

15 audiocassettes: 08:13:38 duration

Language of Materials note

All recordings are in English, except for the Véronique Nichanian critic session, which is in English and in French.

Summary

A collection of approximately thirty discrete audiorecordings documenting designer critic sessions in the Fashion Design Department of Parsons School of Design. In each recording, professional fashion designers introduce themselves and their project concepts to fashion design students, who then selected the "designer critic" with whom they would like to work in their last year at Parsons. Designer critics include Parsons School of Design alumni, such as Adri, Jeffrey Banks, Donald Brooks, Louis Dell'Olio, Isaac Mizrahi, Charlotte Neuville, and Tracy Reese, as well as frequent visitors Stan Herman and Gloria Sachs. The recordings also capture the voices of longtime faculty members Frank Rizzo and Marie Essex. The recordings were made during the fall semesters of 1994 and 1995, and average eighteen minutes in duration each, resulting in a total of over eight hours of audio.

Preferred Citation note

Critic session with [critic name], [date], Parsons School of Design fashion critic direction audio recordings, PC.07.02.01, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

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Historical Note

The Fashion Design Department (now, School of Fashion) of Parsons School of Design supported an annual program in which student designers were matched with established fashion designers to produce designs for the annual fashion show, held in May. Documentation exists indicating that this program dates back to the late 1940s. The established designers were referred to as "visiting critics" or "designer critics." Each designer critic selected one student to receive an award at the fashion show in the designer's name, e.g. "the Donald Brooks Award." In 1994, it appears that the department leadership altered the arrangement to allow students to select the designer critic with whom they would like to work.

Frank Rizzo, whose voice can be heard in a number of recordings, served as chair of the Fashion Design Department from 1982 until 1996. He began attending Parsons School of Design in 1955 after military service during the Korean War, during which he studied textile design in Japan. He graduated from the Fashion Design Department in 1958. After a decade of professional designing at labels such as Jablow, Hannah Troy, and Ceil Chapman, Rizzo founded his own boutique in Midtown Manhattan in 1960. In 1966, Rizzo returned to Parsons as a member of the Fashion Design Department, and in 1982 was promoted to chairman following the retirement of Ann Keagy. Rizzo died in 2016.

Marie Essex, who can also be heard in the recordings, began teaching at Parsons in 1970, and became Chair of the Fashion Design Department following Frank Rizzo's retirement. A 1958 graduate of Parsons School of Design and New York University through the schools' affiliation, Essex also studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She worked as a professional fashion illustrator before becoming a full-time faculty member. Essex died in 2001.

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Scope and Contents note

The audio recordings comprising this collection were created over the course of two consecutive fall semesters at Parsons School of Design. The recordings consist of established fashion designers -- many Parsons School of Design alumni -- introducing themselves to groups of Fashion Design seniors and proposing projects, known as "concepts," to the students as part of Parsons' “Critic Direction” program. The students then ask questions about the projects in order to select the "designer critic" with whom they would like to work. In addition to designers and students, Fashion Design Department Chair Frank Rizzo and professor Marie Essex can be heard in the recordings, often in the role of moderator. It is likely that the sessions occurred in the former Parsons Fashion Education Center, located at 560 Seventh Avenue in New York's Garment District.

Designer critic introductions vary depending on the approach of the designer. Some critics provide extensive biographical information, while others immediately start to describe their concept or theme for the year's project. Some concepts are open-ended, while others restrict students to designing for specific seasons, color palettes, apparel categories (e.g., evening wear, menswear), and/or creating new designs inspired by earlier fashion designers' work. Some critics focus on technical advice, such as how to create certain silhouettes, or how certain fabrics can be used. Others explain what sets their projects apart and why students might benefit from working with them. Many of the recordings include question and answer sessions in which students and professors ask the designer critics to elaborate on their ideas, or seek general career and design advice.

The designer critic program created an opportunity for students to learn from and create garments under the guidance of successful fashion designers. Students worked with these designers to conceptualize, design, and produce an outfit throughout the semester. The culmination of the program was a fashion runway show featuring the students' work, with the work available for sale at the event. With three exceptions, each recording has been matched to a collection identified in the printed fashion show programs (available in the New School Archives).The recordings indicate that designer critics worked with students throughout all phases of the design process (e.g., looking at design sketches, fabric choices, and the construction process). It is unclear from the recordings how often the designer critics and their group of students actually met. However, it is evident that some of the recordings were made on the same day in the same classroom, giving the impression that designer critic presentations often happened in quick succession over the course of several days or a week. Not every designer critic who participated in the program is captured in a recording.

Recordings are an average of eighteen minutes in duration, with some lasting no more than five minutes and others spanning a half hour. The microphone or the recorder placement appears to have been next to the designer critic. Student voices are often faint or inaudible, although the microphone does pick up student conversations during a few critic sessions. None of the students are identified by name. Sound quality is inconsistent between recordings. Some are clear, while others exhibit considerable static. No audio clean up has been performed on these recordings, nor have transcripts been commissioned.

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Organization and Arrangement

Recordings are organized by year and within each year are arranged alphabetically by critic.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Parsons Institutional Collections - January 22, 2015

66 5th Avenue
lobby
New York, New York
212.229.5942
archivist@newschool.edu

Preferred Citation note

Critic session with [critic name], [date], Parsons School of Design fashion critic direction audio recordings, PC.07.02.01, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Researchers must use digital access copies. Access to audiocassettes is restricted for reasons of preservation.

Use Restrictions

To publish all or part of any recording from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The immediate source of acquisition is presently unknown.

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Related Materials

The Parsons School of Design Fashion Design Department records (pre-2008 accessions) (PC.02.02.01) contain programs and other materials documenting the annual fashion show, which were employed in the identification of these recordings. Additionally, "Award Boards" from the 1996 fashion show, representing the culmination of the Fall 1995 critic sessions, are also in this record group. Award Boards for the 1995 fashion show have not been located.

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Genre(s)

  • Audiocassettes.

Occupation(s)

  • Fashion designers.

Subject(s)

  • Fashion design.
  • Fashion -- Vocational guidance.
  • Men's clothing industry.
  • Women's clothing industry.

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Other Finding Aids note

For item-level description and sound files from the Parsons School of Design fashion critic direction audio recordings, see The New School Archives Digital Collections at http://digitalarchives.library.newschool.edu/index.php/Detail/collections/PC070201.

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Collection Inventory

Unidentified critic sessions 

The recordings in this series could not be identified. Please contact the New School Archives and Special Collections if you have information regarding the identity of the speaker or the approximate date of the recording.

Box Cassette
Critic session with unidentified designer, 1990s   00:04:28 duration

This audio recording appears to be the concluding moments of a critic session in which an unidentified critic instructs students to base their designs on color fashion plates from 1920s fashion magazines encountered during research. Students complain that they are not allowed to photocopy rare materials in the library and a discussion ensues as to where they can find and photocopy images. Most of the recording consists of students working in groups with occasional commentary from the designer critic. This may be fashion designer Jennifer George discussing her "Bon Ton" project in 1993.

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Critic session with unidentified designer, 1990s   00:09:16 duration

In this audio recording, which starts after the critic session is underway, an unidentified critic, who sounds like Parsons School of Design alumnus and fashion designer Albert Capraro, discusses a project to produce "light" and "breezy" clothing for an evening inspired by a place. He discusses how he travels to the Greek islands and Morocco every year. He shares an anecdote about teaching in California, possibly a reference to the Otis Institute of Art, which was once a Parsons affiliate, and shares his thoughts about the value of teamwork and competition among students. This may be part of Capraro's 1994 critic session.

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Menswear critic session with unidentified designer, 1990s   00:04:44 duration

This audio recording appears to be the concluding moments of a critic session in which an unidentified critic discusses a project to create a "real wardrobe," that goes from day to evening, and that is at least in part "urban." He explains why he chooses some fabrics over others in his professional practice. This appears to be a menswear direction.

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Fall 1994 critic sessions 

Box Cassette
Critic session with Adri, 1994   00:12:19 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer and Parsons School of Design alumna Adri discusses her project with students. There are no specific prompts, and the conversation is open-ended. Adri speaks about directions in contemporary fashion design, including adrogyny, and the overemphasis placed on the runway. There is extensive discussion about fabrics and color. The recording commences while Adri's talk is already underway. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Clothes as Modern Art."

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Critic session with Jeffrey Banks, 1994 Oct   00:23:53 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer and Parsons School of Design alumnus Jeffrey Banks discusses with students the details of a group project called "Camel Country." Students working under Banks' direction will create sportswear using three colors: camel, whiskey, and/or palomino. A question and answer session follows Banks' project description, during which students ask Banks and their instructors, possibly Marie Essex and Frank Rizzo, about the project. Students then proceed to work in groups before reconvening to discuss the outcomes of group work with Banks. The recorder is running for the duration of the class. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Camel Country."

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Critic session with Albert Capraro, 1994   00:13:41 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer and Parsons School of Design alumnus Albert Capraro introduces his project based on painting and flowers. Although the recording begins while the critic direction is already underway, Capraro, professors Frank Rizzo and Marie Essex, and students appear to be discussing how students could use a computer laboratory to produce their own fabrics. Capraro asks the students to remain unstructured and not to get caught up in detail. He suggests that students paint directly on fabric. Students then ask questions about the project. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "A Painted Garden."

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Critic session with Louis Dell'Olio, 1994 Oct 12   00:23:14 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer and Parsons School of Design alumnus Louis Dell'Olio discusses two ideas for student projects, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Homage to Gernreich," and asks for feedback from students about which project they would like to do. Following a question and answer session in which the voice of a professor, possibly Marie Essex, is heard, they select, "Homage to Rudi Gernreich." In the course of the session, Dell'Olio relates information about Rudi Gernreich, and introduces a book about the designer. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Remembering Rudi."

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Critic session with Stan Herman, 1994 Oct   00:22:28 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer Stan Herman provides a detailed personal biography, explaining why and how he started in the fashion industry and traces the successes and failures of his career on Seventh Avenue. He inquires about the lives of the students in the class. Herman proposes that his project, "The Shape of the Nineties," will focus on silhouettes and shapes. The sound quality of this recording is poor. This recording may have been made on October 11, 1994. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Shape of Things to Come."

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Critic session with Robin Howe, 1994 Sep 13   00:19:22 duration

In this audio recording, Parsons School of Design alumna and fashion designer Robin Howe discusses ideas for a student project based on "a jacket theme" with a black and white color palette. The sound quality of this recording is poor, with abundant static in the background. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Color Spiked Black."

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Critic session with Michael Kors, 1994 Oct 11   00:17:33 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer Michael Kors outlines his ideas for a student project that will result in modern workwear for a "cool" woman -- a female boss -- using bias cut fabric in black and white to reflect the reality of which colors urban dwellers wear to work. Students then ask questions about the project. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Bias in Black & White."

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Critic session with Isaac Mizrahi, 1994 Oct 6   00:17:43 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer and Parsons School of Design alumnus Isaac Mizrahi introduces his student project, a glossy, "glitzy," colorful women's workwear ensemble exhibiting sportswear elements and an autumn feel. He emphasizes employing fabrics that students may not purchase through traditional sources, such as a tablecloth. Mizrahi and the instructors, probably Marie Essex and Frank Rizzo, converse about how the students should present their ideas to Mizrahi. Students then ask questions about the project. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "One Great Piece You Must Have."

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Critic session with Mary Ann Restivo, 1994 Sep 12 or 13   00:16:41 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer Mary Ann Restivo describes a student project using "soft naked wools" in navy, white, and pastel. Students then ask questions about the project. The sound quality of this recording is muffled, with significant background static. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "A Menswear Influence."

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Fall 1995 critic sessions 

Box Cassette
Critic session with Adri, 1995 Sep 12   00:27:58

In this audio recording, fashion designer and Parsons School of Design alumna Adri describes her project, titled, "Circa 2000: New Designers Sign in." She stresses her philosophy of "non-seasonal thinking" and discusses the state of the fashion industry, as well as where she thinks it will be in five years. Students then ask questions about her project. A voice, probably that of Frank Rizzo, mentions that he and Adri were friends when they were students. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Circa 2000 New Designers Sign In."

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Critic session with Mark Badgley and James Mischka, 1995 Oct 20   00:04:39 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designers and Parsons School of Design alumni Mark Badgley and James Mischka describe their project, "And the Winner Is…" They ask students to design gowns for a glamorous actress attending the Academy Awards, who has been nominated for an Oscar. There is no color direction but the critics insist that the colors must look good on television. The designers describe who they've dressed and how they approach dressing stars for award shows, and what works for television. Students then ask questions about the project. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "A Night at the Oscars."

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Critic session with Jeffrey Banks, 1995 Oct 18   00:08:37 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer and Parsons School of Design alumnus Jeffrey Banks describes his project for creating "seasonless dress" and menswear that can be worn nine months out of the year. Banks discusses seasonal dressing and the need to break with conventional wisdom on seasonal fabrics and apparel. The design prompt is that a man receives a telephone call from his boss, telling him that he must go to Europe the following day. Students are asked to design an outfit that would look great anywhere. Students then ask questions about the project. The recording cuts out in the middle of Banks' presentation. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Ready to Where?"

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Critic session with Donald Brooks, 1995 Oct 12   00:19:41 duration

In this audio recording, Parsons School of Design alumnus and faculty member Donald Brooks outlines a theatrical costume project. Each year, Brooks chooses a different theme for students to address in costume that will serve as the fashion show finale. He describes previous themes, such as vegetables, flowers, and "hookers." As Parsons School of Design was celebrating its centenary in 1996, this year's design prompt is to create ten pieces for each decade of the school's hundred year existence. Brooks explains the differences between the costume and fashion design industries, and students ask questions about the project. The microphone captures a student discussion at the conclusion of the recording. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Centennial Decades in Red."

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Critic session with Albert Capraro, 1995 Sep 8   00:19:53 duration

In this audio recording, Parsons School of Design alumnus and fashion designer Albert Capraro describes his prompt to create a "taffeta fantasy": "It will be a sea of taffeta confections, beautiful romantic candy box kind of dresses" in shades of pink. He mentions Dior, Givenchy, Sophie Gimbel, Elizabeth Taylor, and Audrey Hepburn. Fashion Design Department chair Frank Rizzo suggests that students seek inspiration in photographs of Sophie Gimbel dresses donated to Parsons by Saks Fifth Avenue. The students ask questions about the project. While the sound quality is clear, there is a humming noise in the background throughout the recording. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Pink Taffeta Evening Fantasy."

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Critic session with Louis Dell'Olio, 1995 Oct 12   00:11:39 duration

In this audio recording, Parsons School of Design alumnus and fashion designer Louis Dell'Olio discusses his concept "Surprise" for a student project. Each garment must surprise the fashion show's audience in some way by confounding expectations. Students ask questions about the project. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "More than meets the eye."

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Critic session with Gordon Henderson, 1995 Sep 13   00:08:31 duration

In this audio recording, Parsons School of Design alumnus and fashion designer Gordon Henderson discusses his project, which he organizes as a lottery. Students write down a time and a place on a slip of paper, place the slips in a bowl, then draw at random. Whatever time and place is drawn, students must use as their inspiration. Henderson answers a student's question on whether they should design for a specific client. He suggests that the design should be internally motivated and urges the students to design for themselves. Henderson is mostly audible, and there is static and background noise throughout the recording. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "A Time and Place in NYC."

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Critic session with Stan Herman, 1995 Sep 12   00:31:03 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer Stan Herman starts by taking a poll of where students come from. He then relates the historical background of the New York fashion industry in the 1950s and 1960s, his apprenticeships and career, gender disparities between men and women, his time on Broadway, the Mafia, and various other topics. He provides an open-ended prompt for student designers, which he calls, "A New York Sense of Style." The designs should communicate that New York is the world's fashion capital. Students then ask questions about the project. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "A New York Kind of Style."

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Critic session with Robin Howe, 1995 Oct 18   00:09:06 duration

In this audio recording, Parsons School of Design alumna and fashion designer Robin Howe describes a student project, "Coordinated Sportswear," for which students are to use a limited color story with "slightly ethnic," "slightly desert-y" prints. She discusses how fashion designers are inspired, and turn those inspirations into reality. She provides background on how designers start assembling colors and fabrics together, and encourages students to make their own fabrics. Students then ask questions about the project. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Coordination 101."

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Critic session with Michael Kors, 1995 Oct 11   00:22:17 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer Michael Kors discusses a student project, "Black Tie with a Twist." The challenge is to make a casual outfit dressy and chic. He requires that the outfits must be separates (no dresses), use shades of gray that can "go to black", and employ traditional menswear fabrics, such as tweed and flannel. Students are encouraged to design for a young, contemporary Jacqueline Kennedy. Students then ask questions about the project. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Glamorous Gray."

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Critic session with Isaac Mizrahi, 1995 Oct 12   00:17:20 duration

In this audio recording, Parsons School of Design alumnus and fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi discusses his prompt for a student project that focuses on luxury, sophistication, and originality. The concept is to create "one very expensive thing." Mizrahi states that he was considering calling the project, "Geezer," because he is inspired by the clothes worn by older women, but settles on "Ah, Luxury." Mizrahi pre-emptively confesses to elitism, and adamantly objects to anything trendy or "young." He speaks extensively on the status of luxury, what it means to him, and wants students to question their understanding of the concept. Mizrahi praises a production of Robert Wilson's Alice at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Students then ask questions about the project. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Ah, Luxury!"

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Critic session with Charlotte Neuville, 1995 Oct 20   00:22:16 duration

In this audio recording, Parsons School of Design alumna and fashion designer Charlotte Neuville describes her project for students, which is based on a specific color theme, rather than a concept-based design theme. The color for this project is a "camel story," with "perssimony orange," brown, ivory, or teal. She asks students to focus on a daytime look. Students ask questions about the project. The audiocassette tape appears to have been split into two sections, and in the second section, Neuville talks with students about an Art Deco theme. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Deco Dolls."

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Critic session with Tracy Reese, 1995 Sep 8   00:14:10 duration

In this audio recording, Parsons School of Design alumna and fashion designer Tracy Reese discusses her project concept, "3-D Dresses." The dresses are to exhibit volume and shape, and should be modern and "architectural." Reese discusses different shapes, fabric types, and colors. Students then ask questions about the project while Reese shows them books for inspiration. Reese advises that she wants to see the students' research in their designs. While Reese's voice is audible, it is difficult to hear student voices. Background noise is present throughout the recording. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "3-D Dresses."

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Critic session with Mary Ann Restivo, 1995 Sep 6   00:11:45 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer Mary Ann Restivo discusses a student project based on the 1954 film, Sabrina. She argues for a "return to elegance," embodied by the original production, starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, not the 1995 re-make. Restivo explains that students should choose scenes from the film to inspire their designs. She also discusses how Hollywood influences fashion designers and visa versa. Restivo distributes images illustrating elegance. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Sabrina."

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Critic session with Patrick Robinson, 1995 Sep 11   00:14:19 duration

In this audio recording, Parsons School of Design alumnus and fashion designer Patrick Robinson discusses a project for students to create "suits in a new way," using pastels. Robinson speaks extensively about potential colors students could use. He encourages students to think broadly about what a jacket can look like and how it can behave when worn. Robinson shares his background, his process of designing a collection and how he finds inspiration, including looking at vintage clothing. Students then ask questions about the project. The sound quality of this recording is clear, although student voices are often inaudible. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Pastels of Spring."

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Critic session with Gloria Sachs, 1995 Sep 12   00:31:33 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer Sachs discusses her project concept, a collection of evening wear inspired by Indian handicrafts, but for an American clientele. She requests simple evening wear made fanstatic by embroidery, handpainting, and beads. Sachs discusses her experiences traveling in India, introduces books she has brought with her, and asks a colleague to explain images from India that they show to the students. The colleague, whose name sounds like Rajeed, explains the customs and clothing of India. It is mentioned that fabric samples brought to the critic session will be left onsite for the students to examine. Students then ask questions about the project. The sound quality is clear throughout the recording, although it is sometimes difficult to hear students' voices. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "The World of India."

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Critic session with Véronique Nichanian, 1995 Sep 7   00:33:29 duration

In this audio recording, fashion designer Véronique Nichanian of Hermès leads a menswear fashion direction. With the assistance of a translator, she asks the class to imagine the future of men's clothing, encouraging them to "break the rules," to play with new materials to make simple, modern clothes that are comfortable yet dressy, and to depart from the uniformity and conservatism of men's clothing. Students then ask questions. A discussion about how casual dress often leads to sloppiness ensues. Nichanian is mostly audible, but a constant background static noise makes discerning other voices difficult. In the fashion show program, this project is titled, "Menswear with an Edge."

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Collection Guide Last Updated: 12/17/2018

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