Back to All Events


  • Tishman Auditorium @ Parsons 63 5th Avenue New York, NY, 10003 United States (map)





12:45 guest arrival

1:00 THE EMANCIPATION OF TEXTILES by Lidewij Edelkoort, Trend Forecaster, Trend Union & Dean of Hybrid Studies, Parsons The New School

1:40 THE EMANCIPATION OF LUXURY by Pascale Gatzen, Part-time Associate Professor, Parsons The New School & Mae Colburn

2:20 THE EMANCIPATION OF WEAVERS by David Goldsmith, Part-time Assistant Professor Parsons The New School and PhD Candidate The Swedish School of Textiles

3:00 touch break

3:20 THE EMANCIPATION OF MADRAS by Kavita Parmar, Founder, The IOU Project

4:00 THE EMANCIPATION OF YAK by Marcella Echavarria, Brand Director, Norlha

4:40 THE 2016 DOROTHY WAXMAN TEXTILE PRIZE, call for entries by Philip Fimmano, Director, Edelkoort Inc.


4:50 THE EMANCIPATION OF SCRAPS by Vera Vandenbosch, Author


5:00 end


Following the seminar, paying guests will be invited to The Townhouse (354 West 11th Street @ Washington) for a preview reception of a pop-up exhibition featuring the textiles collections by Norlha, IOWEYOU & Pascale Gatzen (exhibition and sale continues daily until November 22)

$150 per person / general admission
Free admission for students & faculty with a valid ID (request promo code here)
For tickets and group reservations, click here or contact us through


Lidewij Edelkoort is one of the world’s most renowned trend forecasters, famous for her inspirational seminars and on-point trend books which are sold to companies from Armani to Zegna. She is an intuitive thinker who constantly travels the planet tracking how socio-cultural trends influence concepts, colors and materials for products in industries as varied as design, art, architecture, interiors, food and fashion. 

Li is also a curator of international exhibitions and one of the founding members of Heartwear, a non-for-profit organisation working with craftspeople in Benin, Morocco and India. She co-founded a Humanitarianism Design Masters programme while directing the Design Academy Eindhoven and in 2005 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Aid to Artisans. In 2011, Li launched the interactive online creative forum Since fall of 2015, she is the Dean of Hybrid Studies at Parsons The New School in New York. 


Pascale Gatzen is a Dutch-born artist, fashion designer, educator and founder of Friends of Light.  ‘With Light’ is a series ’ composed of five hand woven jackets made with wool yarn exclusively developed and produced in cooperation with a solar and wind powered farm and mill in the Hudson Valley, New York. The jackets are reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s work and are designed to be worn with comfort, ease and care. The jackets are all woven to form, on hand made looms, advancing and combining ancient weaving techniques to produce distinct pattern pieces that are interlaced to complete a jacket. Each jacket takes approximately 150 hours to make.

Gatzen is a graduate of the fashion department at ArtEZ Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Arnhem. Along with five other graduates, she showed as Le Cri Néerlandais, the first Dutch fashion designers to have a runway show in Paris. Gatzen continued to work as a fashion designer for several years, ultimately completing her graduate education at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, studying fine arts as well as philosophy. Embracing fashion as a mode of human togetherness, the focus of both her artistic practice and her teaching is on the relational aspects of fashion, and on advancing reciprocal models of production and exchange. As an Associate Professor of Fashion at Parsons The New School for Design, over the past 7 years she has developed and implemented an alternative fashion curriculum with an emphasis on radical compassion. She is currently involved in establishing a worker cooperative for local textile production in the Hudson Valley, NY. Her work has been shown and published internationally.

For more information:

Pascale will be joined by fellow Friends of Light member Mae Colburn. She is currently enrolled in an M.A. in design history at Parsons with a focus on contemporary tapestry, a medium she also engages in practice. Colburn has contributed research and writing to state and national efforts to bolster regional textile economies, among them a New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs program to connect fiber and textile enterprises across the state, and a Norwegian initiative to integrate the country's wool supply chain. As a Curatorial Fellow at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, she compiled research on fashion and interior textiles made in the United States. Colburn is a regular contributor to the Fashion Projects blog. 

David Goldsmith has been studying sustainability-aiming handloom textile production at WomenWeave, Maheshwar, India. Goldsmith is an adjunct professor of textiles at Parsons School of Design at The New School, and a PhD candidate at The Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås, Sweden. He has been associated with WomenWeave for almost a decade. 

WomenWeave, based in Maheshwar, India, was founded in 2002 as a Charitable Trust for the purposes of creating livelihoods through the weaving of naya khadi-well designed and well made modern incarnations of Gandhian-era homespun fabrics. WomenWeave currently guides two financially self-sustaining, democratically-organized cooperative social enterprises, The Gudi Mudi Project and The Khatkhata Project.

Together, these enterprises provide economic stability, social inclusion and community to more than 200 people, the majority of whom were previously economically, educationally, and socially disempowered women. All of their fabrics are handwoven, either by traditional weavers or by those newly trained in traditional techniques. Many of their fabrics are made with organic, handspun cotton, tussah silk, and wool, and are naturally dyed using stringent environmentally processes. Their goods, in the form of shawls, scarves, sarees, and yardage, represent the epitome of a location-specific but globally-relevant artisanal aesthetic, and are sold to progressive retailers in India and more than twenty other countries.

WomenWeave’s success in bringing attractive, unusual—and unusually meaningful—textiles into fashion, and their achievements bringing bottom of the pyramid individuals into lives of increased prosperity can be considered from many points of view. Goldsmith's presentation will focus on the material and artisanal aspects of the textiles, the purposes and management approach of the enterprise model, and the relevance of both in terms of the movement toward long term strategies for achieving environmental sustainability, socio-economic well-being, and cultural vitality.

For more information:


Kavita Parmar is the founder and creative director of the IOU Project. Despite success formerly as a fashion designer for European and American brands, Parmar grew frustrated that the fashion system did not nurture “BIG Design”. Rather than designing production around an eco-system and making it sustainable, and protecting and actively promoting excellent craftsmanship and artisanship, she felt the fashion industry had become a race to produce faster and cheaper, not better. Societal concerns, she believed, were largely ignored. Consequently in late 2010 she decided to create a collection for her Madrid store that took into account first and foremost, the needs of the artisans – then mainly in India, while giving the client a well-crafted article made specifically for them.

Working directly with more than 250 weavers, out of a total community of 200,000 weavers, artisan-woven fabrics are used to make unique garments and fashion items for men and women. Acting as sales facilitators and promoters, with the complete IOU Project inventory to choose from, “Trunk Show Hosts” select items for display and sale on their own “trunk show” web sites as well as sharing their selection through social networks and personal e-mail links. The artisans receive a fair price for their items when sold while the hosts get a commission which can be, and often is, shared by them with the designers and weavers. 

As an integral part of the IOU Project, a system was developed whereby each fabric is given a unique QR barcode code that is attached to individual items of apparel so that customers can trace their purchase back to the artisans involved in making that piece.  Customers are encouraged, for instance, to post photos of themselves wearing their selected garment on the IOU Project site so that textile weavers can enjoy a direct connection with the end user of their production.

The IOU Project has provided an ethical supply-chain for connecting workers and artisans in emerging economies directly with their customers, generally in industrialized countries. Public interest in the IOU Project is evidenced by the more than 200,000 blog entries generated to date.This greater awareness of workers as individuals and creative artisans has the potential to address social issues related to social and labour conditions in emerging countries. A level of personal interaction can serve to reduce instances of unsafe working conditions and exploitative child labour. The approach taken by the IOU Project in the fashion industry is already being applied by Parmar in the manufacturing of shoes and home goods. Further application will be limited only by the imagination of artisans, designers and distributors. The IOU Project is a clear and powerful statement of “Leave No One Behind.”

Marcella Echavarria is a Medellín-born, New York-based lifestyle specialist. She has collaborated with artisans around the world to develop links between their vanishing communities and other developed markets. She is the creative director and brand manager of Norlha, a pioneering Tibetan textile company transforming the lives of hundreds of Tibetans, creating sophisticated yak-fiber fabrics for fashion, home and hospitality. 

Echavarria has worked with the tourism authorities in South Africa and Peru to produce publications dedicated to new developments in experiential travel, innovative and traditional cuisine as well as luxury goods incorporating indigenous artisanship. She works with companies and individuals, consulting on branding and interiors and designing bespoke travel experiences. 

Echavarria received a B.A. in history and literature from Brown University and an M.A. in Sustainable Development from Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Bogotá. She contributes regularly to different magazines in both South America and the US about travel, design and food. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, Departures, W, Domino, Martha Stewart Living, Elle Decoration (UK) and Elle (US). Echavarria has served as the Editor of Harpers Bazaar Latin America and most recently as Deputy Editor of HandEye magazine, the sustainable lifestyle publication.

Vera Vandenbosch is a Belgian-born New York-based author and creative thinker. A graduate of the renowned fashion department at the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts, she formerly worked as a stylist, writer and photographer for Trend Union in Paris. This was followed by her move to New York where she spearheads the marketing initiatives of renowned home furnishings, textiles and interior design companies. In her spare time, Vera shops at as many flea markets as possible, has at least a dozen craft projects going and blogs at Her book ‘SCRAPS: Stylish Stash Fabric Crafts to Stitch’ is a new illustrated guide to turning textile archives into sustainable fashionable treasures. Vandenbosch is the author of two other craft books: 'Bungee Band Bracelets’ and ‘Mini Macramé’.