NEW YORK — Organizers behind the annual benefit for Parsons School of Design on Monday night had to do some last-minute cramming to make the evening a success.
They had to deal with a move to a new venue, ongoing curriculum changes within the department of fashion design and a new dean coming into office. The benefit, which showcased the works of 19 seniors before a crowd of major retailers, designers and vendors, had been behind track for several months in its fund-raising efforts until Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, the evening’s honoree, stepped in with additional sponsorship that ultimately helped raise $1.2 million for the school.
Jacobs, who graduated from Parsons 20 years ago with “designer of the year” honors, said he was grateful to the school for “unknowingly fixing me up” with his business partner, Robert Duffy, as they opened their company after that show.
Jacobs brought along Sofia Coppola, Zoe Cassavetes and Christy Turlington to celebrate his Parsons anniversary. Coppola presented a short film she made that documented the designer’s rise from grunge at Perry Ellis to more recent collections, splicing together the catwalk finales of several shows to appear as a continuous march through Marc Jacobs history. The room was filled with aspiring designers and those who are already well on their way to success — including Jack McCollough, Lazaro Hernandez, Peter Som and Behnaz Sarafpour — so the arc of Jacobs’ career from Parsons student to artistic director of his own company and Louis Vuitton seemed an appropriate symbol for their aspirations.
“I got so much from him, I don’t know if you ever really have the chance to tell them how meaningful that is,” said Pina Ferlisi, executive vice president of Gap brand design, who once worked for Jacobs designing the Marc by Marc Jacobs collection. “I’m a little emotional right now.”
Parsons also announced its designers of the year at the event, declaring a tie between seniors Ashleigh Verrier and Natalia Allen, and noting that its connections and the introductions between its students and the industry are well worn. Verrier is currently interning for McCollough’s and Lazaro’s company, Proenza Schouler, which won the designer of the year award in 2002.