Summer Courses at Parsons Paris: Interview with Fiona Dieffenbacher

We had the chance to interview Fiona Dieffenbacher a Program Director and Assistant Professor of Fashion at Parsons Paris. Among her courses is Fashion Design Process.

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Our programs at Parsons Paris allow students to experience Paris from an insider’s perspective by exploring the history of European art and design firsthand in the many museums and design studios throughout Paris.

The program is open to all students who wish to deepen their art and design knowledge and develop their skills in a rigorous academic environment. You can learn more about that program here.

Fiona Dieffenbacher

What is the working and learning environment like for the Fashion Design Process course (are students working independently, collaboratively, one-on-one?) What is a typical day in class like?

 The Fashion Design Process course offers a dynamic learning environment where students are encouraged to develop their own working methodologies, voice and aesthetic as a designer. Students will be pushed to consider their understanding of what is meant by the  term “Fashion”  and to begin to redefine this for themselves in order to move away from existing stereotypes.
In the classroom, I believe that collaboration is key in order to create a positive space for freedom of expression and exchange of ideas. While students are encouraged to work independently on their projects they are also expected to contribute to the progress of their peers in order to develop critical analysis skills. This will be facilitated via various activities during class-time, in the form of lectures, student self-reflection exercises, knowledge-sharing, peer-to-peer small group brainstorming sessions, one to one meetings and class critiques.
Research is fundamental to the the fashion design process, students will be pushed to think beyond the traditional means of inspiration and will engage in first-hand research such as site-specific, user-centric and ethnographic methods via museum visits, photography, interviews and other means of primary investigation.
Students will be encouraged to work across a variety of media from analog to digital, inclusive of 2D small-scale pattern-cutting and 3D draping in order to push their ideas forward and drive innovative translations of concept in terms of their approach to design and the interpretation of form.
Lastly, students will be encouraged to develop personal approaches to curation and to think with intentionality in terms of the work they produce from initial ideation through to final outcomes.

What kinds of unique learning experiences will a student have by going to Parsons Paris this summer?

 Drawing from their own personal points of references, students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture, art, design and architecture of the city in order to leverage the unique perspective that Paris offers from its historical position as a fashion capital and the birthplace of haute couture. This collision of cultures will ultimately lead to the generation of new innovative ideas.

What advice would you give to a student considering a summer study program at Parsons Paris?Come with an open mind and think of Paris as an extension of the classroom in terms of your study-abroad experience. Be ready to embrace the unexpected and to be informed by this rich cultural, historical environment towards forming new conclusions.

What about Paris itself are you most excited to share with newcomers?

 The inexplicable sense of place that can only be found by being physically present in this unique city and experiencing its ambiance, Parisians innate approach to dress and their interpretations of style, along with the intrinsic characteristics that make Paris so magical!

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