I’m proud to announce that the Admissions Blog is extending its audience to include those interested in the Associate’s degree! Unlike more traditional AAS degrees, Parsons AAS programs (in Fashion Design, Fashion Marketing, Graphic Design, and Interior Design) are intended for mature students with previous college or work experience focused on beginning a new career in the design field. Sam Muglia, a 2nd semester Fashion Design student, stepped away from his busy schedule to give us some insights about what makes Parsons AAS students tick.
As is the case with most of Parsons’ AAS student body, you had a previous career before deciding on fashion design. What had you been doing, and how did you come to decide on fashion as your new field?
I have a fine arts background (RISD – BFA Printmaking), but professionally I was working as a production assistant for various departments within the realm of film and TV, while working on my own drawings, painting and photographs in my spare time. Last summer, I had the good fortune to work for costume designer Jeffrey Kurland on a major Hollywood movie. Something about the creative process of designing clothes lit me up inside, and with Mr. Kurland’s encouragement, I set out to increase my knowledge of clothing design. While my initial motivation came from a desire to be a better costume designer, I have always been a bit of a fashion bug, and was eager to explore the fashion industry as well.
Why did you choose Parsons?
The Parsons AAS Fashion Design program seemed to be unique. I was primarily interested in acquiring skills, as opposed to more research-based scholarly pursuits, which seemed to be the nature of the graduate fashion design programs I encountered. Parsons’ AAS program seemed to offer the skills-based curriculum I desired, and this turned out to be true. The program assumes complete lack of experience on behalf of the student, and the professors are able to skillfully take you through a tremendous learning curve even in the course of one semester. Knowing nothing about the process of construction, in three months I went from not knowing how to thread a sewing machine to understanding/executing all basic aspects of clothing construction, as well developing fluency in the design process—I designed 2 different six look collections.
What was it like transitioning to a whole new program? Who are your peers, and how do you complement each other?
Of course, this success would not have been possible with out the generosity of my wonderful teachers, as well as the support and collaboration of amazing peers in the program. It takes continued effort to understand the principles of design and construction, and my classmates and I spent many a late night in studio solving each other’s design problems. Personally, I find that time spent in the flow of creative process is one of the most satisfying things one can do with their time, and the collective energy of doing it together enriches the sense of satisfaction. The student body is unique in that we all come from very different backgrounds. My classmates used to work in law, finance, office administration, and some are fresh out of college. A few even have a Fashion Design BFA already but are committed to the craft and are still learning.
Can you talk about what an average class is like? What are some of your favorite projects?
As far as I can tell, most classes begin with a lecture, where the teacher demonstrates some aspect of the course learning-objective. The students sit and watch, take good notes, and then are set loose to try out what they just learned. I’ve had 3 hour and 6 hour classes, and usually this break down is 50/50. Depending on how quickly you can sew, you might have to stay in the studio afterwards. Everyone approaches workload in a different way, too. I tend to brainstorm before I begin constructing. This focus is important for me, because then the execution will be quick. If you tend to think while you’re working, coming up with ideas while you’re halfway through with the first one, then you might spend more time actually carrying out the task. I guess in the long run, it takes the same amount of time.
While I really enjoyed each one of my classes, I particularly looked forward to my fashion drawing class. The professor, Dan Nistor, is an exceptional teacher, and to watch him draw while explaining the primacy of drawing as the foundation of creative process was awe-inspiring. I really treasure the time I spent learning with him.
What are your plans once you finish the program?
If all goes well, I should emerge from this program with a killer portfolio. My plans are to either go back to work for costume designers, or to work for one of the fashion designers I really like. Personally, I would love to work for Jeremy Scott or Alexander McQueen. Two big names, I know, but people in the industry really seem to respect Parsons, and the AAS program. One of my friends got a full time job working for Ralph Lauren even before she graduated!
Do you have any advice for folks looking to pursue the AAS degree?
I feel that designers become successful if they do 3 things:
1) They integrate the traditional skills, processes and advices passed down to them by their teachers to a high degree.
2) After gaining fluency in the medium, they use what they have learned in a way that is unique and true to themselves; the components of the tradition are re-combined in a new way where the history of fashion is expressed through this individual.
3) They know exactly who they are designing for.
Sage advice. Thanks Sam!
-by Victoria O’Neill-