Lilah Horwitz – IDp, Fashion Area, Class of 2012

Lilah Horwitz, a graduate of the Integrated Design Program in 2012, considers herself many things – designer, a citizen of the world, nomad, explorer, artist, and maker. Her outlook is typical of the IDp graduate, using her medium to investigate the larger world by “attempting to address larger issues of production and consumption in the fashion industry.” She makes collections that are placed-based, refusing to follow the rules of the fashion world. And, along her journey that started at Parsons, she has continued to explore the relationships between maker, user, garments and local environments. Here she shares her story, weaving her unique practice, world-view and experience into a narrative that begins at the School of Design Strategies within Parsons.

“I have developed a practice of making site-specific clothing. In an attempt to address larger issues of production and consumption in the fashion industry, I create collections that are placed-based, rather than following the seasonal pattern of fall/winter and spring/summer. These collections are informed by my explorations in new places that I am learning to live in. I have created a method of working as a designer, citizen of a changing world, nomad, explorer, artist, urban/rural participant, and maker.

New York and Parsons is the first collection on the map, West Virginia the second, and I am beginning the third collection in Milwaukee. I began this practice of “making” in Professor Pascale Gatzen’s ‘Love’ class, a studio in the fashion area of study in IDp at the School of Design Strategies, where students create a project with the idea of love as the center theme. Here, I was given wonderful support and inspiration to begin exploring “making” as documentation. I presented this NYC collection in a pop-up shop in Brooklyn, and the shop became a platform for discussion on the relationship between the maker and user, our garments, and our surroundings.

During my freshman year at Parsons we were sent out into neighborhoods of New York foreign to us, and given conceptual assignments to build a relationship with the greater city around us. The skills I learned in these explorations have been of value in my current work and life outside of school, and shaped my practice and methodology in making socially conscious clothing.

The second collection, West Virginia, was created over 6 months while living in the rural mountains of Southern West Virginia and building a small house made out of reclaimed lumber and salvaged windows with my boyfriend, Nick Olson ( Select garments from the West Virginia collection have been developed into an exclusive line for ABC Carpet and Home in Manhattan. I created one of a kind, hand-made, ‘editions’ of four styles, resulting in sixteen garments total for ABC Carpet and Home. Rather than reproducing the garments in the exact same fabric and hardware, the styles have four different takes on a basic shape, each made and inspired by the experience of living in rural Southern West Virginia.

When people ask me what I do, I hesitate, smile knowingly, and say that I make clothing. If they inquire further I describe that as a maker, I explore ways that we can rethink our relationships with objects by changing the way we create. During my years in the IDp program at Parsons I became increasingly aware of the many responsibilities of the designer – social, environmental, economical, personal, etc, the list goes on. Integrated Design means considering the social, environmental, and personal aspects of design; integrating that into your life, practice and the world.

When my professor and mentor Sarah Stolwijk hired me to photograph her latest collection during my Junior year, it was an honor and a moment where I felt inspired to keep making beautiful and important work, because it validated my development as a young creative.

After four years I found that my professors and my peers were my mentors, inspirations, friends, community, and collaborators. It is so beautiful watching all of our work grow and change together, in constant dialogue about how we want to make the future, and looking to one another for help and support. I often feel a sense of pride in my ambition to explore new places.

During my time at Parsons I learned that, above all, the love you put into what you do, shows.”