New York-based Parsons fashion school to re-establish Paris campus

NYC-based Parsons to set up in Paris again as part of a network of global teaching hubs

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2013, 6:59am


From Marc Jacobs to Alexander Wang, star alumni of New York's Parsons design school have long made inroads in Paris. But now the faculty is going a step further, opening a full-fledged branch in the fashion capital.

Many of the industry's most sought after names learned the ropes at Parsons The New School for Design, from Tom Ford to Proenza Schouler's Lazaro Hernandez.

Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons, says the school learned how to use New York as a "laboratory", and hopes to achieve the same in Paris.

Paris is destined to become one of a network of teaching hubs, with Parsons programmes in the pipeline for Mumbai, Shanghai, and Latin America, allowing an international student corps to draw on the resources of each.

"We are not just running after where the money is - we are not going to Qatar or Abu Dhabi," said Tim Marshall, provost of the New School University to which Parsons belongs.

"These are global cities, cities that make sense as a comparative set. It's also about the movement of ideas," added Towers.

The century-old New York school first set up shop in Paris in 1921, but ties with its French offshoot dwindled over time to little more than a licensing deal, now expired.

"We want a much more embedded school, integrated into the local culture, that is drawing on the real design talent here," explained Marshall.

"We are all trying to find the right balance between heritage and innovation, and between local and global," added Renaud Dutreil, a former French government minister and member of the Parsons board.

From the old-school artisans in Louis Vuitton's historic workshops, to the luxury brand's current, thought-provoking designer Jacobs, Paris encapsulated two ends of that spectrum in design terms, he said.

From September, Parsons Paris will welcome 150 students to its new premises a stone's throw from the Louvre, delivering US undergraduate and graduate degrees in fashion design, design management or history of the decorative arts.

Tie-ups are in the works with France's Ensad school of decorative arts, with the IFM fashion institute, HEC business school, Sciences Po and the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, as well as with both the LVMH and PPR luxury giants.

Parsons' students in Paris will pay around US$38,000 per annum.

As it does in New York, the school - a private non-profit entity - will plough one third of tuition fees back into scholarship programmes, and says it will raise funds to improve access to poorer students in Paris.