The New School will host the 71st annual Parsons Benefit, honoring visionary figures in fashion, technology and the arts that embody the university’s commitment to creativity, innovation, and sustainability. The evening recognizes acclaimed singer, songwriter, artist and designer Pharrell Williams; Julie Wainwright, Founder and CEO of The RealReal; and Katrina Lake, Founder and CEO of Stitch Fix with the Parsons Table Award, and Michael Preysman, Founder and CEO of Everlane, with the Frank Alvah Parsons Award. The Parsons Benefit will take place on May 20, 2019 at Pier Sixty, New York, New York.
These honorees will be celebrated for their numerous contributions to fashion, entrepreneurship, and sustainability, as well as their deep commitment to supporting future generations of artists and designers. Under the leadership of Julie Wainwright, Katrina Lake, and Michael Preysman, their respective companies are positioned at the intersection of fashion and technology. They have embedded innovation throughout their businesses, challenging and advancing our ideas about fashion’s role in contemporary culture. These concepts of the transformative power of design are at the core of The New School and Parsons’ mission and curriculum.
“We are thrilled to be honoring Pharrell for his substantial contributions to the music and fashion industries and The RealReal, Stitch Fix, and Everlane for their unwavering commitment to innovation and sustainability in fashion,” said Joel Towers, Executive Dean of Parsons School of Design. “Parsons was founded upon the idea that design can change the world, and these exceptional honorees are reimagining the creative and commercial landscape in a way that will positively impact the industry for years to come.”
“We have fundamentally changed our curriculum at Parsons in order to train students to embed sustainable and ethical fashion perspectives and practices into their work,” added Burak Cakmak, Dean of Fashion at Parsons. “Our honorees are constantly expanding and redefining what it means to be an innovative, responsible, and values-driven company, and we are proud to recognize these industry leaders, who share the Parsons vision that design can address and solve pressing problems.”
Parsons, one of the leading art and design schools in the world, hosts the Parsons Benefit each year to present and empower the next generation of fashion designers and to raise instrumental funds for student scholarships. Donors’ generosity through the Benefit supports education that enables students to pursue studies in art, design, liberal arts, music, technology, and social innovation.
As The New School celebrates its Centennial in 2019, the university is profoundly grateful to Julia Lin, a Parsons School of Design parent and member of the Parsons Board of Governors, for her university-wide challenge which enables donors who establish new endowed scholarships for student financial aid to double their impact through a dollar-for-dollar match. This means that a gift at the minimum amount to establish an endowment, $125,000, becomes a $250,000 scholarship to support students in perpetuity. Donors have the opportunity to name these endowed scholarships and make pledge payments to fulfill their commitments over a term of up to five years.
“We are so thrilled to be recognized by Parsons, an incredible institution that shares our commitment to be a force for change in fashion,” said Julie Wainwright, CEO of The RealReal. “Reducing fashion’s footprint is critical to the health of our planet. Parsons sits at the pivotal intersection of creativity and intention, fostering a new generation of fashion leaders who understand the importance of sustainability and will fuel change.”
“I’m deeply honored to be recognized by Parsons, along with my fellow award recipients,” said Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of Stitch Fix. “Parsons is a fantastic institution that is dedicated to finding, supporting and inspiring the next generation of artists, innovators and entrepreneurs who will take our industry forward. I’m excited to see what Parsons graduates can achieve in the future.”
“We believe that design is one of the greatest drivers of culture, and is a key factor in creating a more sustainable supply chain,” says Michael Preysman. “It is an honor to be recognized by Parsons, who has put sustainability at the forefront of their curriculum and has given young talent the tools and resources needed to innovate and build a better future for the industry.”
Pharrell, Julie Wainwright, Katrina Lake, and Michael Preysman join an esteemed list of past honorees. From Donna Karan, Jason Wu, and Vera Wang, LVMH to Macy’s, Rihanna to Sarah Jessica Parker, Solange, and Gucci’s Marco Bizzarri, The New School celebrates the creativity and vision of past, present, and future leaders.
For the second year, Julie Gilhart serves as the Parsons Benefit Chair, alongside Co-Chair Susan Rockefeller. The evening includes a show featuring the work of select graduating Parsons BFA Fashion Design students, as well as performances featuring students from The New School’s College of Performing Arts, including Latin Grammy Award winner Linda Briceño.
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