Parsons Duo Brandon Suen and Bijan Kazem Have Big Fashion Plans - page 2

By Jeff Ferrantino on August 31, 2006

Suen Kazem; photo by Dan Lecca"Parsons is known for turning out the best American designers, from Claire McCardell to Donna Karan," said Suen. "It's known that just through the connections and the alumnus, that Parsons is the place to be."

In winning top honors, the duo presented a women's sportswear collection using animal skins, furs and innovative fabrics such as their own fiber, "new mohair," handspun silk, cashmere and chinchilla. The collection showcased their black silk blouse and pearl jacket, a python skirt, and black leather vest with white fox trim.

"We knew what we were meant to do, but we weren't sure how the rest of the world would respond to our collection, our designs," Kazem explained. "It was very gratifying. It was a load off our shoulders."

"I was really prepared to hate it. It was black and gray and I've been looking at black and gray since January," Michael Fink, senior fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue told the New York Post of the duo's collection. "But as soon as they started pulling the pieces off [the rack I saw] it was very of the moment."

Fink is someone that both Kazem and Suen credit for mentoring them "quite a bit" during their studies at Parsons.

"I think the Parsons program really forces you to learn how to conceptualiSuen Kazem; photo by David Packerze and develop a collection," explained Suen. "Just being absorbed into the fashion industry as a whole. In the beginning, we came in with whatever skills we had, simple sewing skills and simple drawing skills, and then going through Parsons internships, we were elevated to a level where we're actually able to develop a line."

For Suen, those internships included time spent at Jeffrey Chow and Calvin Klein, while Kazem worked at Zac Posen. The pair also interned together at J. Mendel for a year as well.

"There's no substitute for it," Kazem said of his internship experience.

While they shopped around their 24-piece collection that led to the top honor at Parsons, Kazem and Suen wound up taking positions at J. Mandel, instead of running immediately out of the gate with their own line.

"We had the opportunity to actually start our own line, but we decided to take a little time off, so that we can learn as much as possible," said Suen.

"I think Brandon and I really wanted to put our own label aside so that we could absorb more of the design and production aspects, and then apply them to our own business once we get started," added Kazem.