By Jeffrey Banks
Former Dean of Fashion at Parsons School of Design, Frank Rizzo died on August 3 after a brief illness. Frank was beloved by everyone who knew him, chief amongst them were his former students.
After matriculating at Parsons in the 1950’s, he began to teach, at first part-time and later as a full-time faculty member, all the while maintaining a chief designer position in the bridal business. After the retirement of the fashion department head, Ann Keagy, he was named Dean of the Fashion Department.
I was so privileged to have had him not only as a teacher but as a mentor and wonderful friend. The number of designers he taught and helped shape is endless, but they include: Isaac Mizrahi, Peter Som, Donna Karan, Louis Dell’Olio, Marc Jacobs, Willi Smith, Kay Unger, and Michael Vollbracht.
Countless designers told me that Frank single -handedly kept them from dropping out of school. The word that comes up first in describing Frank Rizzo is “kind”.
He was certainly the kindest teacher I ever knew, and he will be sorely missed by all.