Parsons The New School for Design has announced the appointment of Simon Collins, a seasoned creative director with over 20 years of experience in all facets of the fashion industry, as the new dean of fashion at Parsons. Collins will oversee all areas of fashion studies, including the BFA degree program in Fashion Design; AAS degree programs in Fashion Studies and Fashion Marketing; and the new MFA in Fashion Design and Society, which was initiated through a gift from Donna Karan and is expected to launch in 2010.
"Simon Collins is the ideal candidate to lead Parsons fashion design programs into the 21st century," said Parsons Dean Tim Marshall. "With a truly international perspective, and a background that extends from design to business and from luxury to mass market, Simon brings a level of experience that will greatly benefit Parsons as we look to forge even greater connections across the disciplines taught at The New School."
Collins has worked with some of the world's leading brands, from Nike and Polo Ralph Lauren to Fila, Zegna, and Marks and Spencer. As Creative Director for Nike's Asia Pacific division, he led a $900 million apparel business that included the launch of new collections created in collaboration with Junya Watanabe of Comme des Garcons and Naoki Takizawa of Issey Miyake, among others.
The appointment of the new Dean of Fashion comes at a significant time in the development of fashion education at Parsons, as the school advances a progressive restructuring of its academic programs. Earlier this year, Parsons announced the appointment of designer Shelley Fox as the first Donna Karan Professor of Design. In this role Fox will develop the new MFA program in Design and Society, the first of its kind in the United States. With a global focus, the selective program will draw on connections with the other areas of study at Parsons and The New School, from the social sciences to business, marketing, media, technology, and sustainability. This reflects the future direction of all design studies at Parsons. In addition, this fall the school will be offering its first fully online degree, when it launches its career-changing AAS Fashion Marketing program online.
"The opportunity to provide a creative vision for Parsons' extraordinary fashion design programs at such an auspicious time in the history of the school is incredibly exciting," said Collins. "Parsons holds an unrivaled place in the development of American fashion design and has the unique advantage of being part of The New School. I am looking forward to working with the superb faculty at Parsons to lead a fashion design school that responds to the distinct challenges and opportunities of today's global environment."
With the launch of the first fashion design program in America in 1906, Parsons is credited with giving birth to Seventh Avenue, the epicenter of American fashion. In addition to Donna Karan, notable alumni of the program include the design legends Adrian, Claire McCardell and Norman Norell; industry leaders Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Isaac Mizrahi, Narciso Rodriguez and Anna Sui; and rising talents Chris Benz, Doo.Ri, Derek Lam, Proenza Schouler, Behnaz Sarafpour, Peter Som, Vena Cava, and Ashleigh Verrier.