How to Successfully Apply to Parsons BFA FASHION DESIGN Program plus! Tips & Accepted Student Examples

If you’re applying for a competitive Fashion Design program like the ones offered at Parsons, Pratt, FIT, Cornell, OTIS and Central St Martins you’ll need a great portfolio to get in, and it’s important that you know each school’s requirements, because they’re a little different. 

The Art Portfolio examples here were made by an Ashcan Art Portfolio Prep student who was accepted into the highly competitive Parsons BFA Fashion Design Program. 

Parsons innovative Fashion Design BFA program has trained six generations of designers who have shaped the fashion industry.

Parsons BFA Program PORTFOLIO Requirements

Freshman and transfer applicants to the Fashion Design BFA programs must submit both a portfolio and the Parsons Challenge.

The portfolio is 8 to 12 slides and can include a range of media such as drawing, painting, sculpture, fashion design, animation, performance, graphic design, sketchbook pages, or any other visual media. We encourage you to show experimentation and range. Your portfolio does not need to include work specific to your chosen major, unless you are applying as a transfer student, in which case we do encourage major-specific work.

The Parsons Challenge:

Create a new visual work inspired by a piece submitted in the portfolio. This new piece should connect to the theme or concept of your original work. Support your process by writing a 500-word essay describing the way your ideas developed. You may also submit up to two additional visual pieces that document your process. All forms of media are acceptable—drawing, video, photography, sculpture, 3D work, collage, digital images, etc. The Parsons Challenge helps them understand how you develop ideas, visually communicate those ideas, and support your work in writing.

No matter which BFA Fashion Design program you apply to, it’s best to include Fashion Illustrations 

There is a certain way to make a Fashion Illustration that is important, such as using what is known at the “fashion figure” which you must hand draw (not traced) & real 2” x 2” fabric swatches that identify the fabrics you’d use, on the front of the sketches.They must be your original fashion designs, on figures that you have drawn yourself in color, using the medium of your choice. Design sketches must be on full-length fashion figures with back views.⁠

It’s also great to include garments that you’ve designed and made. These garments should demonstrate your knowledge of construction, and must be sewn, and the clothing needs to be photographed on a person or dress mannequin. 

The most important thing to convey to admissions through your Art Portfolio is that you’re a fashion enthusiast! Show admissions that you’re inventive, imaginative and ambitious. And demonstrate an awareness of contemporary fashion design and show initiative and that you’re self motivated. 

How to Apply

Parsons requires applicants to submit their Common Application before uploading their portfolio and Parsons Challenge.

After submission of your Common Application, you will receive an email with instructions for accessing your Admission Hub. Your portfolio and your Parsons Challenge must be submitted within seven days of the application deadline or within seven days of submission of the Common Application deadline. You must use the same email address that you used to complete your Common Application when you create your portfolio.

If you’re struggling to make this kind of drawing on your own, we’re here to help you. We have a great Fashion Illustration class online now-

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