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Vreeland, Diana
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Mollie Parnis interview, 1982 June 2

This interview opens with Mollie Parnis talking about her latest project, a prize for three young journalists that she began in memory of her son. She then segues into the origins of her company and her early biography. She commenced her career by designing blouses after being frustrated at the quality of the designs while working in a design showroom on Madison Avenue. The Parnis-Livingston company began in a studio Seventh Avenue about five-years after Mollie Parnis and Leon Livingston married in 1930, with Mollie designing and Leon managing the business needs. After her husband died in 1960 she closed the business for three-months. Diana Vreeland convinced Mollie to stay open by putting two of her sketches in Harper’s Bazaar. The name of the business remained Parnis-Livingston until 1970 when it changed to Mollie Parnis. She now has three divisions: Mollie Parnis, Inc.; Mollie Parnis Studio; and Mollie Parnis at Home. Upon success, she began doing philanthropic work, including a grant foundation called “Mollie Parnis Dress up Your Neighborhood”; scholarships at FIT and Parsons; and the aforementioned journalistic prizes. Topics touched on include: the impersonalization of the current fashion industry; her friendship with various First Ladies, including Mamie Eisenhower, Lady Bird Johnson, and Nancy Reagan; how the changes in the industry have necessitated changes in her business-model, including the prevalence of licensing from designers in the 1980s.

Parnis, Mollie

Alan Fishman interview about his mother, Shirley Goodman, 1996 May 21

Alan Fishman, the son of Shirley Goodman, discusses Goodman’s role in the early days of FIT. Goodman had worked on the World’s Fair with Grover Whalen, and was eventually introduced to the group of successful businessmen who were founding the institute out of the High School of the Needle Trades. Fishman describes his mother’s intense and lasting advocacy for the institute, though she came in without fashion industry experience. Fishman began working in the FIT mail room during his high school years. He recalls putting fliers together to announce that FIT was building a new building with the firm Deyoung & Moskowitz. Fishman then launches into a colorful description of the exchange trade fair with the U.S.S.R. in Moscow. He witnessed the infamous “Kitchen Debate” between Nixon and Krushchev and performed with a host of American models to showcase the American take on fashion. Following that summer, Fishman attended Cornell and graduated in 1966 with two years spent in Italy. He was briefly drafted, but exempted from service in Vietnam due to his family situation. He returned to FIT in 1966 as a part-time faculty member in the Fine Arts Department. Fishman discusses FIT’s international involvements and his placement at the Polimoda school in Florence, Italy for 7 years at the behest of Marvin Feldman. He describes FIT’s demographics in the 1960s and how those have changed in the years since. He then discusses other roles he has held at the school including time spent working with Deyoung & Moskowitz on the development of the FIT campus. He explains the Fine Arts Department’s role at FIT and the founding of the Artisan Space Gallery. Finally, Fishman notes his mother’s involvement with the “Inner Circle,” an elite group of leading women in the fashion industry.

Fishman, Alan

Symposium records

Includes the papers and presentation delivered at the 2007 Symposium "Focus on Fashion Journalism." The names of the presenters and the title of their presentations contained in this folder are: Meghan Grossman, "Fashion in the Desert Sun: Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Diana Vreeland;" Mai Vu, "Picture Perfect? Retouching Practices in Fashion Photography;" Kristena Graebar, "Joe Eula."