"Chinatown"

New York City, Summer 2019

    I spent the better (and hotter) part of July attending the Design Studio course at Parsons New York. I stayed in one of the dorms near Stuyvesant Park with a roommate from Hong Kong, someone whom oddly enough, I had mutual friends with. As I had completed the Sewing and Construction course in Paris last July, I chose this course because it would hopefully broaden my horizon in the fashion industry and expose me to different aspects of what going to a design school would be like.

 

    Over the course of the three week program, I learned a lot about fashion beyond the making of a garment. I spent a morning sketching models standing in front of me in their underwear, followed by hours trying to figure out how to work my way around adobe illustrator and photoshop so I could  turn those sketches into a professional looking garment proposal. I also went to weekly lunch seminars where I listened to Parsons graduates explain their thesis work, the founder of Three as Four discuss his intriguingly advanced and collaborative work, and the founder of "McDonald's Play" discuss theory of product design. Because I have this website, have had worked at a consignment boutique, and have been interested in the success, intrigue, and strategic work of clothing companies from the creativity of Alexander McQueen and Martin Margiela, to the recognition of houses like Chanel and YSL, I have always been interested in the more business side of fashion. This program forced me to explore logo making, visual presentation, and prototype making to a frustrating yet rewarding level.

 

     Outside of class, I spent one Saturday walking from my dorm (318 E. 15th street) all the way up town to Central Park, a Sunday morning window shopping in Soho, a trip to the Met's Camp exhibit, the Cooper Hewitt, and to the Whitney, and many trips to various Ice Coffee shops. While I did visit Carrie Bradshaw's infamous apartment, I never saw SJP as I was hoping to, or any other Manhattan icon for that matter. I met some very funny girls who were on their winter break from Argentina, I connected a Hamburg girl with my German born grandmother, I walked to class every day with a girl from Switzerland and went to lunch with kids from my class traveling from Dubai, the Philippines, Texas, and DC. Learning about the many less glamorous behind the scenes sides of fashion only assured me that I was ok with putting in the work for doing something I loved, and receiving constructive criticism from my peers and teachers at our weekly critiques only built up my confidence and willingness to take advice with grace and patience. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and a trip I will never forget.

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    Our first project in the course was inspired by the history of China town. We spent an afternoon exploring the culture and chaos of the few blocks and taking pictures a long the way. When I got back to the studio, I noticed the bright red lanterns that seemed to crowd the streets as much as the people did.

So, I did some research and discovered just how important these lanterns are, as they symbolize luck and good fortune. I went back to Chinatown and bought three lanterns, some fringe from a fabric shop, and got to work. I made a lantern dress made entirely out of three lanterns and this fringe, and it was one of the biggest challenges I've come across in my sewing career- especially as I didn't even use a machine. Once I had finished the garment, I headed back to Chinatown for the third time and photographed a girl from my class as she strutted around Chinatown in one of the craziest outfits she'll ever wear.