Finishing First Year from Miami with Farah Ritter Vasquez, FD ’23
During these challenging weeks, Parsons Paris faculty and students are adjusting testing their adaptability.
Here we’re checking in with Farah, currently in sunny Miami, on how her Spring semester as a 1st year Fashion Design major is rolling along.
Hi Farah. Your timezone is 6 hours earlier than Paris. Do you have 4am classes? How fun is that for your family?
I did have 4am classes at the beginning of this whole transition! Thankfully the whole unpleasantness fell solely upon me and did not affect my family 🙂 The teachers have been super accommodating though, so the earliest I’m waking up nowadays is a healthy 6:30am.
How are online classes different from the in-school environment?
The classes are essentially the same in most regards, with the different setting sometimes making the interactions with my teachers much easier. The interactions with the students are a lot more difficult though, at least for me.
The relationships I’ve made still feel really new, so apart from a few friends who I message on the daily, I feel weird reaching out to my classmates. During class you tend to be able to see all the students on Zoom calls (unless they have their cameras off), but this is still unsettling. They’re probably not looking at you but they could be, so I become pretty self conscious of my tics and facial expressions, something I’m way less worried about in class where I can see where everyone is facing. It’s really uncanny.
“Integrated Studio” and “Seminar” usually involve “making” projects. Are you able to source the materials you need in Miami?
Thankfully, I have both plenty of materials lying around on hand as well as an Amazon Prime account to get anything else that I might need. I think the unique challenge I’m encountering due to the circumstances is more one of creativity.
My project for both seminar and studio is based around the Quai Branly Museum, and the way it displays non-western cultures. Due to the physical distance as well our state of isolation from quarantine though, it’s really difficult for me to think about the space, much less imagine how one could change it to better represent the other.
Are you working on any group projects this half of the semester?
Before heading back to Miami due to COVID, all the projects we worked on for “Space and Materiality” were group projects, which allowed us to interact creatively with a lot of classmates on really open-ended projects. I ended up making a paper cape with Qianqi. We had a lot of fun weaving the paper together to create a singular shape.
The second part of the semester — thankfully, in the current context — is devoted entirely to your own personal project. But I do miss working in groups.
“Wearable Spaces” is new this semester. How are you enjoying it?
“Wearable Spaces” is really great! It’s a studio based class geared towards projects that make us think critically about our space and how we interact with it.
As an aspiring costume designer, the name of the class in itself made a lot of sense to me, and the research component of the projects has helped me in thinking about my work in a different way. Getting the chance to work with upperclassmen also forces me to step up my game and not restrict myself solely to a first year identity.
Speaking of wearable spaces, in January you were able to intern at the final Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show. How did he use his space for his grand finale?
The Jean Paul Gaultier show was, as one can imagine, absolutely breathtaking. After a bit of confusion in the process of getting in, the other dressers and I were ushered into a space of yellow light and everything you’ve ever dreamed of.
The best I can describe the experience is probably as present time nostalgia – one of those memories that is felt, as it happens, in the glow of times long gone. I wasn’t as blown away with the amount of celebrities as I thought I would be (except for getting winked at by Boy George!!!!)
However, fangirling with my friend Sanjama over the racks and racks and racks of masterpieces, all constructed beautifully with impossible volumes and exquisitely delicate, was amazing. After the show, Sanjama and I hovered around JPG and actually got to say hi to him! I’m really, really grateful to Parsons Paris for having given me such an amazing opportunity.
Are there any outside of school activities you can do in Miami as opposed to Paris? You are a knitter. Are you working on a new piece?
I am knitting CONSTANTLY. It’s actually the perfect activity to do during zoom calls, because it lets me do something with my hands while still paying full attention to the class. I’ve knit a couple of tops, a couple of hats, a pigeon, an octopus, a safety cone, and an ugly little duck!
I’m also incorporating knitting (well, crocheting) in my final for Space and Materiality!
The weather is also a real pleasure. There’s honestly nothing better than printing out a text I need to read for school and heading outside, enjoying the sun with my dog Garbanzo at my side. The atmosphere with the family is also really good. I think there’s a huge sense of relief that at least we’re all together. I’m really lucky to be in the situation that I am in, and beyond grateful. Hope everyone is staying safe!
Before we leave you, are you sharing any of your work on social media so we can have a look?
Yes! I have a tumblr blog with most of my projects, which is https://farahritter.tumblr.com/. There’s also my ELP, which contains all of my work!
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Farah. Can’t wait to see you in the fall!