To launch its new MFA in Fashion Design and Society, Parsons presents an evening with alumna Donna Karan, who helped to initiate this innovative new graduate program through her support. Karan discusses her work and career, and how it has helped shape this new program.
The conversation, moderated by Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, launches Workwear, an exhibition and programming series exploring the legacy of workwear in American fashion and its influence on contemporary constructions of New York as a fashion capital.
Shelley Fox is the Donna Karan Professor of Fashion Design and Director of the MFA Fashion Design and Society at Parsons School of Design. Fox is a conceptual designer known for her unorthodox pattern cutting and constant questioning of design conventions. Her experimental and innovative womenswear collections have appeared in exhibitions at such institutions as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Barbican Art Gallery, and the Crafts Council in London; the ModeMuseum in Antwerp; and the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
Fox has received a number of awards, including the Jerwood Fashion Prize (1999), the Peugeot Design Award for Textiles (1999), and the Stanley Picker Fellowship for Design (2006).
Donna Karan is an American fashion designer and the creator of the Donna Karan New York and DKNY clothing labels.
Karan began her career as an assistant designer with Anne Klein in the late 1960s, where she was eventually promoted to associate designer in 1971. When Anne Klein herself died in 1974, Takihyo Corporation of Japan became the new owner and Karan, together with her former classmate and friend Louis Dell'Ollio, became head designer of the house.
In 1984 Donna Karan left Anne Klein and, together with her then husband Mark Karan and Takihyo Corporation, she started her own business "to design modern clothes for modern people." She showed her first Donna Karan women's collection in 1985.
Valerie Steele (Ph.D., Yale University) is Director and Chief Curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT). She has curated more than 20 exhibitions in the past ten years, including Gothic: Dark Glamour; Love & War: The Weaponized Woman; The Corset: Fashioning the Body; London Fashion; and Femme Fatale: Fashion in Fin-de-Siecle Paris.
Editor-in-chief of Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture (Berg Publishers), which she founded in 1997, Dr. Steele is also the author of numerous books, including Gothic: Dark Glamour; The Corset: A Cultural History; Paris Fashion; Fifty Years of Fashion: New Look to Now; Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power; and Women of Fashion: 20th-Century Designers. She was editor-in-chief of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. Her latest book was Isabel Toledo: Fashion from the Inside Out, which she co-authored with Patricia Mears, in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name. She is currently working on a book and exhibition, Japan Fashion Now.