By  on February 26, 2008

NEW YORK — In an era of emerging markets in unexpected places, synergies between unusual bedfellows and fast-changing technology, fashion graduates must be nimble and imaginative, particularly about career options.

To that end, Parsons The New School for Design is creating a Master of Fine Arts program in fashion design and society, which intends to give students a wider perspective. The school imported London designer Shelley Fox to lead the program, which is expected to be inaugurated with its first students in September 2010.

Donna Karan, a Parsons alum, had made the professorship possible with a 2006 endowment, and Fox will become the school's first Donna Karan Professor of Fashion Design.

"As a student at Parsons, I gained an appreciation of the impact of fashion and all forms of design on the world around us," Karan said. "I am excited by the choice of Shelley Fox to lead this innovative program, which will open the eyes of the young, talented designers to the many ways in which fashion influences culture across the globe."

Parsons' goal was "to develop a graduate program that dealt with fashion in a broader sense, looking at fashion and society, and, from a business point of view, global culture and society," said school Dean Tim Marshall. "Donna Karan endowed the professional chair for someone to come in and develop that program. She was very clear about saying, 'This will be a high-level program with no more than 40 to 60 students, really educating the leaders in fashion for the next generation.'"

Fox, who moved to New York a month ago, launched her eponymous collection after graduating from London's Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 1996, but stopped selling it commercially in 2004. Since then, she has focused on research projects and teaching. She was a senior research fellow at Central Saint Martins and course director of the Master of Art in fashion design and enterprise at the University of Westminster.

Fox is hopeful that the two-year Parsons program will allow students to extend their horizons beyond design showrooms.

"I always collaborated with filmmakers, directors, choreographers, and even with the Medical Research Council," Fox said. "Donna and I agreed that there is a need to be more multifaceted and multitalented. Students have to have more than just being able to draw a great dress. We have to be able to also venture into other mediums."


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