The New School Archives Digital Collections

Kay Unger


life : 1945-


Kay Unger is a fashion designer, whose lines for women tend to concentrate on practical, clean styles that can be worn throughout the day. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Unger studied at Washington University before graduation from Parsons School of Design in 1968. After graduation she worked as a designer for Geoffrey Beene and for the Traina Boutique. By 1971, Unger had developed her own collection and, with partners Howard Bloom and Jon Levy, would go on to create  successful lines including Gillian, Gillian Dinner, Gillian Suits, Gillian Petites, Woman, A.J. Bari, and GiGi By Gillian. The Gillian and A.J. Bari labels were discontinued in 1995 and the Kay Unger New York and Phoebe labels were launched. Her labels currently include Kay Unger New York, Phoebe Couture, Career Separates by Kay Unger, and Kay J’s by Kay Unger. Since 2012 Unger has focused on philanthropic projects through the Kay Unger Family Foundation, a "venture philanthropy” organization which funds pre-existing charities addressing needs such as cancer research and scholarships. Unger has also served as a trustee of The New School and as chairwoman of the Parsons Board of Governors.


Related collection

Parsons School of Design Dean's Office oral history project

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