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5 Parsons Fashion Design Graduates to Know

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What do Tom Ford, Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs have in common? Aside from assuming some of fashion’s highest thrones, they all attended Parsons School of Design, the world-class fashion university located in America’s style capital, New York City.

An incubator for industry-leading talent, the design school’s graduates are known to land in fashion’s stratosphere of success— in fact, the likes of Anna Sui, Steven Meisel, Isaac Mizrahi, Bill Blass, Maria Cornejo, Prabal Gurung and Emily Adams Bode can also call themselves notable alumni.

So, naturally, Parsons’ BFA runway shows are closely examined by industry insiders; and this year’s iteration was the school’s largest one yet. With 275 total graduates, the show featured a hefty 217 looks broken down into the university’s various pathways: collections, fashion product, materiality, systems and society, and phygital fashion. Overall, it was a strong reminder that this next generation of design talent has much to bring to the industry’s table.

Standouts included Qianyi Liu, whose nostalgic, doll-like designs are the result of experimental textile collaging, and Angie Zhang, a shapeshifter transforming traditional formalwear with clean concepts that prioritize wearability. Another one to watch is Diego McElroy’s brand Pretty Ballads, which exists as an “end-to-end modular clothing system” made entirely from zip-on, zip-off deadstock textiles. Jada Chen, meanwhile, references William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, while crafting fashion that juxtaposes brutalist architecture and delicate drapes. Skye Wilson, on the other hand, challenges binary style tropes with code-fusing silhouettes worn by anonymous models.

Below, Hypebeast chatted with the aforementioned graduates about their individual design codes, where they’re headed next and how they hope to see the industry evolve.

Qianyi Liu

Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?

Growing up in my hometown of Windsor, Canada, there was not much to do. I would entertain myself by people watching at the local Walmart and Costco. Seeing what people wear grocery shopping when there’s not an expectation for appearance is a very intimate feeling. I draw a lot of inspiration from people dressing comfortably to run errands. 

I especially love the older suburban baby boomer population, and I am also terrified about the concept of aging and dementia. The idea of living a life and reverting back to a childhood mental state. In my work I like to imagine a nostalgia for 1950s childhood that they would have experienced.

What are you looking to do after graduation?

After graduation I hope to find a job designing in the industry for the next few years. Eventually, my absolute dream would be to start an accessible medical wear brand for the aging population. I want to design for the hospital, hospice, and homecare environment.

How do you hope to see fashion evolve in the future?

I hope to see fashion evolve to new methods and materials that are sustainable at the molecular level. In my lifetime, I hope for a scientific discovery that changes the way fibers are woven and then detached to be recycled at home that matches the fast pace of the trend cycles. I hope for the production process to transfer from manufacturer to a home based consumer produced system. I hope to see less merchandise produced in the industry and more personality responsibilities taken on the consumer side.

Angie Zhang

Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?

My thesis is rooted in the personal desire to feel more at ease. I pondered, how can I make meaningful clothing for the average anxious person (me)? My inspiration is derived from the numerous people I see in passing as I navigate the city. Through my observations of how people move, what gestural tendencies they have, and what positions convey safety, I attempt to grasp moments of serenity.

What are you looking to do after graduation?

I still have so much to learn. I hope to work with industry professionals whom I respect and admire, gaining experience to develop a more well-rounded understanding of fashion.

How do you hope to see fashion evolve in the future?

I hope fashion evolves to become a sanctuary FOR the people. No more dressing women in purely ornamental attire, everyone should feel comfortable enough to frolic!

Jada Chen

Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?

I draw inspiration from my academic upbringing, merging visuals inspired by brutalist architecture, surreal films, and nature with abstract philosophical concepts. To create a fully immersive world, I start with the senses, finding sources and references that provoke each.

What are you looking to do after graduation?

After graduation, I am hoping to work for a brand that aligns with my ethos while continuing to build my brand on the side.

How do you hope to see fashion evolve in the future?

I hope to see a lower barrier of entry to emerging individual perspectives that promote innovation. I hope the generation of designers help push the fashion industry towards embracing thoughtful construction and creativity over attracting media and gimmick.

Diego McElroy

Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?

I draw inspiration from the mountains of clothing in landfills and the unconventional ways people wear clothes. I’m fascinated by layering, playing with garments, and the creative process of making clothes and prototypes. Seeing the excess of discarded clothing drives me to find innovative solutions to repurpose and redesign these materials, transforming waste into wearable art.

What are you looking to do after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to host a pop-up in New York City, followed by a brand activation and afterparty. I’ll also be taking my concept to San Juan, Puerto Rico, my hometown, for another party and pop-up. Additionally, I aim to work at a fashion house to further my learning and gain experience in the industry, constantly pushing my boundaries and honing my craft.

How do you hope to see fashion evolve in the future?

I hope to see future fashion designers working extensively with post-consumer garments. There’s already an overwhelming amount of clothing in existence, and we need innovative solutions to address this problem. Through design, we can change the future, making it about true creativity and functionality rather than mere decoration. It’s about rethinking how we approach fashion, ensuring it’s sustainable, inclusive, and transformative.

Skye Wilson

Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?

I mainly draw inspiration from my personal experiences and use fashion as a tool to comment on my perception of society and how I see the world around me. This collection specifically was heavily inspired by my younger self and navigating my way around societal expectations.

Since I can remember, clothing has always acted as a tool to visually express how I feel and/or how I want to feel. I want my designs to feel and act as a “second skin” to the wearer, empowering them to embody their most authentic selves…I tend to focus on wearability and functionality, while experimenting with different silhouettes and textiles, allowing me to pass my stories along through fashion.

What are you looking to do after graduation?

Post graduation, I am looking to work with a brand that aligns with my values as a designer.

How do you hope to see fashion evolve in the future?

I hope the future of fashion is much less consumerist and more individualistic, allowing for boundaries to be broken and expectations to be dropped. Truly letting the designer and the wearer have their moment of personal expression.

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