(interviewee)Joel E. Towers
(interviewer)New School (New York, N.Y.). New School Archives and Special Collections
(publisher)Parsons School of Design
(subject)Parsons School of Design. Office of the Dean
October 16 2013
In this audio recording, fashion designer Kay Unger discusses her childhood, professional career, and life as a Parsons School of Design student with Joel Towers, Executive Dean of Parsons The New School for Design, and Wendy Scheir, director of the New School Archives and Special Collections. The interview begins with Unger describing her family and creative influences, such as an early interest in fine arts. She then describes life as a Parsons student in the mid- to late-1960s, including both regrets and positive experiences, as well what it was like living alone in Manhattan as a young woman. Unger speaks about studying under Ann Keagy and Frank Rizzo, and the close bonds that were forged between her and her fellow students, including Willi Smith and her lifelong friend Michaele Vollbracht. The interview continues with a discussion of the challenges that she faced while working for established designers such as Geoffrey Beene after graduation, as well as the successes and failures that came along with running her own businesses, starting in the early 1970s with her namesake label and the Gillian Group. After speaking about what it was like to lose ownership of her name due to financial issues, Unger and Towers discuss her current projects and how she has transitioned into leadership roles, including her current position as chair of the Parsons Board of Governors. The interview took place in the Dean’s office at Parsons The New School for Design, 66 Fifth Avenue, New York City.
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