Marissa Webb said if she could go back to school, she would ask her teachers more questions. “One of them always said, ‘You can get more with honey than vinegar,’” Webb said. “That’s a good rule to live by.”Charles Harbison, who’s designed his Harbison collection for several seasons, offered more practical wisdom: “Merchandising is everything,” he said. “Know your woman, know your man, and figure out how to merchandise your collections to [give your customer] everything that they want.” After remarks by Simon Collins, creative advisor and member of the Parsons Board of Governors, David E. Van Zandt, president of The New School, and Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic at The New York Times, the runway show got underway for the packed house of 940 guests. The event also drew LVMH’s group executive vice president, human resources and synergies, Chantal Gaemperle, Parsons’ executive dean Joel Towers, chair of Parsons’ board of governors Kay Unger, Saks Fifth Avenue president Marc Metrick, Catherine Malandrino, Brian Atwood, Robert Duffy, Julie Gilhart, Natalie Joos, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada and other industry names. Thumping electronic music signaled the start of the show, which featured select collections from 40 graduating design students spanning men’s wear, women’s wear and children’s wear. Jacobs doled out awards to the school’s top talent: Steffi Tsz Wing Lau won accessories designer of the year award, Jennifer Lia Kim won children’s wear designer of the year, and Jon Max Goh and Sungho Kim tied for men’s wear designers of the year. Blair Moore and Michael Kwok Yan Yip, meanwhile, took home portfolio of the year awards. Lucy Jones, who showed her collection in a short film and was one of eight finalists in the women’s wear category, took home women’s wear designer of the year. The 23-year-old Wales, U.K., transplant specializes in design solutions for seated individuals. “It’s really nice to see something different get recognized in fashion,” Jones said. “I want to empower disabled individuals. My younger cousin is half paralyzed — and when he was about 14, he said, ‘I can do everything, but I wish I could dress myself.’ I just thought, oh my God, it’s 2012 and no one has done this yet… There’s always been Velcro or fleece [options], but never something cutting-edge.”
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