Studying fashion in Paris has it’s perks, many of these perks being the endless exhibitions and tradefares that take place within the City. Like Parsons’ New York campus, Parsons Paris professors have connections in all areas of the city’s design community. It is with this network that the students are able to take advantage of so many of the industry events that are not usually open to the general public. As a fashion student, my peers and I have been let in on many special opportunities that we would have never been able to experience in New York such as visiting The Louis Vuitton factory, Premiere Vision, and Various temporary exhibitions.
Last semester those students who were in the Accessories design studio elective visited the Louis Vuitton accessories factory. Due to the fact that their professor had done designs for Louis Vuitton in the past, she was able to bring students on an inside tour of the factory to see the leathers, production, and pretty much all the behind the scenes secrets of the process. Lucy Chen, a BFA fashion design Junior shared with me her experience of the visit, “I’ve always imagined the factory to be a huge space and organized by rows after rows of machines. But the factories turned out the be very personal and cozy. One of the studios is on the top floor of the building and has a nice view of the city. It felt like I was watching someone making a bag on their front porch! They showed us rooms after rooms of machines, leathers, trims, etc. From the most used leather materials to the most precise machinery existing. They showed us many prototypes, and flat drawings of the bags and accessories they were making… The workers there seem to have years of experience under their hands. The most exciting thing to see, for me, was their break room. It made me realize that they are human too and they run on the fuel of coffee.”
In both the fall and spring semesters, the fashion department at Parsons Paris was invited inside Premiere Vision (PV), one of the worlds largest fashion/apparel textile trade shows. Getting an inside look at PV was very exclusive so unfortunately that means I don’t have many photos, but I can say it was a very unique look at the industry. Unless one focuses in textiles, the behind the scenes of fabric/textile creation processes sometimes go unrecognized at a student level. We just go to the local shops, see what’s available, and build our concepts around that. But PV is a proper trade show– there are meetings being held with fabric mills and production teams, interns running about taking notes, and students, like ourselves, soaking it all up. The color chips predicted by the trend forecasters were right at the start of the show, which dictated a mood across all of the swatches, and samples available. The show was organized by styles of fabric, formalwear, sportswear, printed textiles, shirting fabrics, etc. From here, those looking to work with the different fabric mills presented at the show would make orders for the upcoming season (predicted two seasons in advance). Its fascinating to think that in a year we’ll be watching garments come down the runways in fabrics we’ve already seen months in advance. It really put everything into perspective.
Finally, new exhibitions have been plentiful since our arrival in Paris. There is always something new to see each month, and as fine arts students the visits are usually highly discounted if not free. Starting this semester, Parsons Paris students also have been given membership cards to the popular digital art , and contemporary music venue Gaîté Lyrique. This pass allows students free entry to the museums exhibitions and a discount to it’s concerts. Other popular museums where Parsons Students have free entry with valid student identification include the Louvre, Centre Pompidou, and Musée d’Orsay.
There’s definitely no being bored in Paris, and thanks to Parsons Paris we’re always informed on what’s out there to make the most of our parisienne experience.