New School News

Pharrell accepts his Parsons Table Award during the 2019 Parsons Benefit
Pharrell accepts his Parsons Table Award during the 2019 Parsons Benefit

Creativity, Sustainability, and Technology Celebrated at the 71st Annual Parsons Benefit

Michael Preysman, Founder and CEO of Everlane, launched the brand nearly 8 years ago with a single t-shirt, and has since expanded into sustainable denim, sneakers, and more. Preysman was the inaugural recipient of the Frank Alvah Parsons Award at this year’s Parsons Benefit, where he was celebrated for his brand’s commitment to radical transparency, sustainability, and more.

During his acceptance speech, Preysman noted that he is often asked how he is able to justify creating products while also pushing for sustainability initiatives that will improve the planet.

“We choose to change the industry from the inside out by participating in it,” he said. “We can create processes and systems that other companies, individuals, and students can use to improve our planet for the future”

The annual fundraising event, now in its 71st year, raised more than $3.6 million for scholarships for students throughout The New School. Singer, songwriter, artist, and designer Pharrell Williams, Julie Wainwright, Founder and CEO of The RealReal, and Katrina Lake, Founder and CEO of Stitch Fix were all honored with the Parsons Table Award during the evening.

“It was an honor to celebrate Pharrell, Julie, Katrina, and Michael, who are all leaders in their fields, and have empowered young designers and artists through their incredible work,” said Joel Towers, Executive Dean of Parsons School of Design.

The program featured remarks from each of the honorees and their presenters. KAWS, the internationally acclaimed artist and designer, presented Pharrell with his award.

“Thank you, Parsons and The New School, for recognizing me tonight,” said Pharrell. “I’m standing here in awe of these students and the world they are designing for us. I look around and really feel the future they are creating. I am inspired by the optimism and potential in the room.”

The evening also featured a performance by Linda Briceño, a recent graduate of The New School’s College of Performing Arts, and the first woman to win Producer of the Year at the Latin Grammys.

Linda Briceño performs during the 2019 Parsons Benefit

Following a runway show featuring fashion collections by graduating students, Burak Cakmak, Dean of the School of Fashion, announced the 2019 Designer of the Year awards in the categories below. This year’s recipients are:

  • Social Innovation: Jose Luis Cabrera and Natalia Riedel
  • Future Textiles: Andrew Davis
  • Creative Systems: Yayi Chen and Veronica Lee

There were unique installations at this year’s Parsons Benefit, including a circular display of alumni work. Pieces from Anna Sui, Tracy Reese, Alexander Wang, Norman Norell, and more were on view. Additionally, MFA Fine Arts students exhibited select pieces during the cocktail hour, which included an immersive painting experience with a student.


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