New School News

Parsons Honors Sheila C. Johnson And Donna Karan at 2012 Fashion Benefit

Last night, a bevy of boldface names from the worlds of fashion and society packed Chelsea Piers’ Pier 60 for the annual Parsons Fashion Benefit. This year, the event honored Parsons School of Design Board Chair, entrepreneur and philanthropist Sheila C. Johnson, and Parsons alumna and board member Donna Karan. The Fashion Benefit, now in its 64th year, raised nearly $1.4 million for scholarships and programs at Parsons, a global leader in art and design education with programs that span the disciplines. Past honorees include Parsons alumni Reed Krakoff and Marc Jacobs, as well as industry leaders Vera Wang, Francisco Costa, and Diane von Furstenberg.

Karan and Johnson have both made valuable contributions to the Parsons community. Johnson led the creation of an award-winning exhibition and public programming center, The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, which enables Parsons to connect its students and the general public to broader issues in the world of art and design. Karan has endowed a professorship to Parsons, which has enabled Parsons to develop an innovative new graduate program in Fashion Design and Society, where select designers are able to refine their craft while gaining a global understanding of the field.

“Sheila and Donna have set an example for our students as women who have risen to the top of their chosen fields and have shaped contemporary culture,, said Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers. They also share Parsons’ deep commitment to the future of design. Both have been active voices here at Parsons, and continue to lend insight and support to important new initiatives at the school.” At the event, Dean Towers also announced the creation of a pair of scholarships named for the honorees. The Donna Karan Fashion Design and Society Scholarship Fund will provide financial support to students pursuing the MFA in Fashion Design and Society, while the Sheila C. Johnson Design and Diversity Scholarship Fund will provide financial support for tuition, housing, and living expenses to exceptionally talented, but underserved students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue higher education.

Some of fashion’s most prestigious names came to support Parsons, including alumni Reed Krakoff, Peter Som, Chris Benz, Carlie Cushnie, Behnaz Sarafpour, Michelle Ochs, Lisa Mayock, Kay Unger, Ashleigh Verrier and faculty member Gabi Asfour. Parsons Executive Dean, Joel Towers, New School President David E. Van Zandt, and Simon Collins, dean of the School of Fashion, celebrated alongside the industry’s top influencers, including, Julie Gilhart, the CFDA’s Steven Kolb, Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, Fern Mallis, and Vogue’s Candy Pratts Price.

A highlight of the benefit was a runway show of the top thesis collections by graduating Parsons Fashion Design students. The Designers of the Year were announced at the event, and included Women’s Wear Designer of the Year Jin Kay, 25, from Seoul, South Korea; Menswear Designer of the Year Christy Jeehyun Lee, 25, from San Francisco; and Children’s Wear Designer of the Year Giuliana Raggiani, 22, from Boston.

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