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Exhibition and Symposium Explore Legacy of Work Wear in American Fashion
Betrayal VIII by John Stezaker. All rights reserved.

NEW YORK, NY.- In celebration of the launch of new graduate programs in fashion at Parsons The New School for Design, the school will present Workwear, an exhibition and symposium that explore the legacy of work wear as a uniform for success in New York. The exhibition will be on view February 8 through March 5 at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons, with a symposium featuring leading fashion critics, designers and scholars on February 13.

"New York fashion remains closely aligned to the idea of dressing for business, expressed as a visual form of acumen and a fitness for purpose," said Shelley Fox, Donna Karan Professor of Fashion Design at Parsons and the director of the new MFA in Fashion Design and Society. "Postwar constructions of New York as a fashion capital have traded upon representations of the workplace where professionals were successful, efficient and economical in their dress. It is only fitting that new graduate programs in fashion should begin by exploring this rich seam, since these values continue to inform contemporary fashion."

This fall, Parsons is launching two graduate fashion programs, the first in the school's history: a Master of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and Society, initiated through the support of Parsons alumna Donna Karan, and a Master of Arts in Fashion Studies. Building upon Parsons' expertise in design education, and the legacy of The New School in the social sciences, these programs are interdisciplinary in nature, placing fashion in a contemporary, global context that recognizes its significance as a cultural, social and economic force.

The exhibition will feature both iconic and cutting-edge work that engages the themes of Workwear. This includes a 1986 film installation of Donna Karan's iconic Seven Easy Pieces, a modern system of dressing for women where a handful of interchangeable items together create an entire wardrobe; and Boilersuit by Savile Row tailors Norton & Sons in collaboration with Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, a modern utility outfit that accumulates patches as mementos of the wearer's life.

In addition, Workwear will feature a newly commissioned film by the fashion label Boudicca, which contemplates a future workforce powered by motion-capture, green-screen technology; a mascot installation by British communication designers Rebecca and Mike, which features iconic American brands such as Dunkin' Donuts, The New York Mets, and Taco Bell; Paul Fejos' silent film masterpiece Lonesome (1928); and the installations Uniform and Office Workers by Shelley Fox in collaboration with Spiewak, the manufacturer of uniforms for the NYPD, MTA and other agencies.

A symposium on February 13 will explore the themes of work wear from historical, cultural and sociological perspectives, and will include work from an unpublished photo essay by Walker Evans, as well as discussions with fashion historians, critics and designers such as art critic Vince Aletti and designer Zowie Broach of Boudicca.

Parsons The New School for Design | Shelley Fox | Vince Aletti | Zowie Broach |

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