Parsons, the prestigious and well-venerated fashion school in New York, counts the likes of Marc Jacobs (class of 1984) and Jack McCollough and Hernandez Lazaro of Proenza Schouler (class of 2002) among its alumni, so every year when the graduating seniors present a collection of clothes as their final thesis, industry heads check it out to scope the future of fashion. Yesterday, amidst a showcase of 50 mirco-collections from the graduating class, we were stunned to see three consecutive looks featuring Bay Area rapper and guru Lil B’s face strut down the runway. The head-to-toe looks, which included a fishnet suede skirt, a tie-dye velvet bomber jacket and custom Timberland boots, were designed by Isabel Simpson-Kirsch of Nashville, Tennessee, who titled her senior thesis BASED and was inspired by B’s progressive philosophy of love and respect. We snuck backstage after the show to find the designer, which wasn’t very hard, since she was rocking pink basketball shorts emblazoned with Lil B’s face.
Why and how did Lil B inspire the collection? It’s been longer than four years, I’ve been taking summer courses at Parsons since I was 14 and honestly, I was just really frustrated with school last year. It was just getting really hard. Junior year at Parsons is so hard—that’s when everybody drops out. Lil B helped me through it. Being Based and positive, got me through it. And this summer, I was like, the only way I can come back and do this thesis if it really comes from my heart. As corny as that sounds, that’s what the Lil B stuff is to me. It’s just straight up positivity, love and happiness. And I love that and I love his music. I was like, I’m just gonna do an entire Lil B collection and they’re gonna have to deal with it. That’s what I did and everyone loved it. I definitely got it across.
Does Lil B know that you made an entire collection about him? We’ve communicated through email and twitter recently because of this collection. I was like, Just so you know, I’m so inspired by you that I made an entire collection about it. I invited him to the show today but he wasn’t able to come.
Have you seen the Cam’ron fan-fashion? Were you inspired by it? I’ve seen it, I love all of that. But it didn’t really inspire me. This just happened. I’d seen Lil B talking about Mother Theresa and religious things, and I had a conversation with my teacher about Hinduism. I was like I’m gonna put him on some Hindu gods and goddesses heads and it just worked out.
How did your time in Parsons prepare you to enter the fashion industry? They teach us everything you need to know about producing clothes. We get really good at draping and sewing, that’s the most that I got out of it. The creativity and everything else, you bring to the table. Parsons, more than other schools, really harvests the creativity really well. We’re encouraged to do whatever we want, especially with the senior thesis.
You’ve just graduated, what’s next for you? It’s really exciting. I’m trying to get a job, but I really want to start my own line. It’s just about getting investors.
Are you nervous about striking out on your own or are you just based and super happy, like Lil B? That’s what I’m trying to do, because when you put in positive, you get positive back. Which is an example of my thesis. I’ve been able to get press with it, it was in the Parsons show, that was an amazing honor. I think it’s really because of the positive energy that went into it. I’m just gonna try to get a job, make some clothes and do my thing, but I definitely want to keep designing.