by Stephen Garner

The New School honored singer, songwriter, artist, and designer Pharrell Williams; Julie Wainwright, founder and CEO of The RealReal; Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of Stitch Fix; and Michael Preysman, founder and CEO of Everlane, at the 71st annual Parsons Benefit. The honorees were recognized for embodying the university’s dedication to creativity, sustainability, and innovation as well as their exceptional commitment to educational and charitable initiatives. The event was held on Monday, May 20th at Pier Sixty in New York.

The program featured remarks from each of the honorees and their presenters. KAWS, the internationally acclaimed artist and designer, introduced Pharrell and presented him with the Parsons Table Award.

“Thank you, Parsons and The New School, for recognizing me tonight,” said Pharrell when accepting his award. “I’m standing here in awe of these students and the world they are designing for us. I look around and really feel the future they are creating. I am inspired by the optimism and potential in the room.”

Celebrating its 71st year, the annual event introduces the next generation of fashion design leaders, honors icons in the field, and raises instrumental funds for student scholarships.

The 2019 Parsons Benefit raised $3.6 million in scholarships, including funds from a live auction led by Lydia Fenet, managing director of Christie’s.

“It was an honor to celebrate Pharrell, Julie, Katrina, and Michael, who are all leaders in their fields, and have empowered young designers and artists through their incredible work,” said Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons School of Design.

Following a runway show featuring fashion collections by graduating students, Burak Cakmak, Dean of the School of Fashion, announced the 2019 Designer of the Year awards. This year’s recipients are:

●       Social Innovation: Jose Luis Cabrera and Natalia Riedel

●       Future Textiles: Andrew Davis

●       Creative Systems: Yayi Chen and Veronica Lee

The evening featured a performance by Linda Briceño, a recent graduate of The New School’s College of Performing Arts, and the first woman to win Producer of the Year at the Latin Grammys.

Additionally, at Parsons Festival on May 18th, graduating students from the School of Fashion received awards and scholarships from various industry partners:

●       Yoox: Sharon Cho

●       CALA: Jaeyoung Bang

●       Eyes on Talent: Conor Davis, Helena Wang, and Natalia Riedel

●       Goodwill: Kyemah McEntyre, Bailey Hardaway, and Joyce Ko

●       H&M: Bailey Hardaway

●       Hugo Boss: Katherine Walz, Jose Luis Cabrera, Veronica Lee, and Sterling Ungphakorn

●       Luxarity/Lane Crawford: Yi Chen Ho

●       Pitti Uomo: Chaohua Shi

●       Safilo: Abbir Malik

●       Solstiss: Yayi Chen

●       Swarovski: Cassadee Hirsch and Taylor Hoekstra

Photos by Ben Gabbe / Getty Images for Parsons