New School News

Proenza Schouler, Bonnie Brooks Honored at 2013 Parsons Benefit

A look from Proenza Schouler’s graduating collection in 2002. Photo by Dan Lecca.

On May 22, Parsons alumni Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez will have come full circle when they return to the stage that began their career—the Parsons Fashion Benefit. In 2002, McCollough and Hernandez were named Designers of the Year at this annual event, now in its 65th year. The honor helped launch their careers and successful fashion label, Proenza Schouler, when their collection was purchased off the runway by Barneys New York. At this year’s benefit, McCollough and Hernandez will be celebrated for their significant contributions to the field, along with industry stalwart Bonnie Brooks, president of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

“Bonnie sets an example for our students of a fashion industry leader who has risen to the top of her field, revitalizing major retailers from North America to Asia. Her deep commitment to design and creativity reflect the core values of our school,” said Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers. “Jack and Lazaro’s ability to transform their thesis collection into one of today’s most successful fashion labels is an unparalleled success story. It demonstrates the keen design talent and entrepreneurial instincts we strive to foster in our curriculum.”

In the short decade since Proenza Schouler was founded, McCollough and Hernandez have gone on to widespread critical and commercial success. The designers were twice recognized with one of the industry’s highest honors, the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award (in 2007 and 2011), and also were awarded the inaugural CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Award in 2004. Proenza Schouler is now sold in more than 100 of the most exclusive retail outlets worldwide, including Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Harvey Nichols, Colette, and Joyce.

As President of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Brooks oversees Lord & Taylor in the United States and The Bay in Canada, two of North America’s most important department stores. She has spent her career building high-end retail names across the world and previously spearheaded the turnaround and revitalization of Asia’s Lane Crawford in her role as president of the Lane Crawford Joyce Group. In this position, Brooks brought many of the world’s leading brands into Greater China and Southeast Asia. Since joining the Hudson’s Bay Company, Ms. Brooks has collectively raised more than $17 million for charitable organizations. Monocle magazine has recognized her as one of the top 25 retailers in the world; and Fast Company has named her one of the world’s 100 Most Creative People in Business.

Said McCollough and Hernandez: “Parsons gave us our start in the industry, and to be able to help future designers is incredibly important to us. We are particularly excited to be honored with Bonnie, who has been such a support to us in our career, as well as to a number of young designers.”

The Parsons Fashion Benefit raises funds for scholarships at Parsons. Past honorees include alumni Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, and Reed Krakoff, as well as Francisco Costa and Diane von Furstenberg. The highlight of the event is the runway show of top collections by graduating students in the BFA Fashion Design program at Parsons and the announcement of the Designers of the Year. In addition to McCollough and Hernandez, the list of past Designers of the Year includes Marc Jacobs and Michelle Ochs of Cushnie et Ochs.

Both the Fashion Benefit and a noon presentation of the Fashion Runway Show, hosted by Parsons alumnus Patrick Robinson, will be livestreamed on May 22, and can be viewed respectively on the Parsons Festival and Parsons Benefit websites.

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