Josie Borden’s passion for fashion brings her to Paris

Ingrid Houtkooper

The City of Lights: known for being a design meca and fashion capital, Paris attracts people from all over the world aspiring to work in the fashion industry. Junior Josie Borden was among those drawn to Paris to take a fashion course, with the hopes of elevating her understanding of the fashion industry. 

Fueled by her interest, Josie searched for summer programs that focused on the style and design elements of fashion. After discovering the month-long summer course Fashion Design Process at the New School Parsons Paris, she decided to apply. Josie thought the creative background she would gain from design would help her with a potential career in fashion merchandising. In the program, she fully immersed herself within the culture of Paris and learned about the steps to designing a collection. 

Josie’s days were spent working on her dress, which was inspired by Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) and his 1965 collection, titled the Mondrian Collection. In addition to the dresses’ bright blotches of colors separated by thick black lines, the Mondrian Collection is known for its square patterns. 

“A lot of the first week was just spent collaging and putting together ideas for different colors and palettes and moods,” Josie said. “You’d decide from [your collage] what you wanted to take away from your collection. My inspiration came from buildings and squares.” 

Despite her initial inspiration from YSL, Josie’s final product changed dramatically over the course of the month. Her initial plan was to create a skirt, but this eventually transformed into a slip dress. 

“I ultimately decided that [YSL] was interesting to me,” Josie said. “But then again, I didn’t really work from inspiration. I started with an idea, and then it just evolved from there. It changed massively during the time I worked.” 

The process of creating her dress was no small feat, and took her hours of dedication. She spent approximately nine hours at school every day sketching, collaging, draping, sewing, fabric shopping and tailoring.

Taking inspiration from Yves Saint Laurent collections, Josie chose a square pattern and black and white color palette for her dress. (Photo courtesy of Amira Chefredi)

 Although Josie is more interested in the business side of fashion, she still thought learning about the creative process would be a good experience. Tina Borden, Josie’s mother, agreed that fashion design knowledge is helpful to have even if she does choose to pursue fashion merchandising. 

“[Josie] actually had the option of taking a business class there, but she told me, ‘I can take a business class anywhere, and if I’m going to be in Paris, I should take the fashion design class,’” Tina said. “If [she’s] going to be in business in the fashion industry, [she also] has to understand the actual creativity side of it.” 

Junior Katie Shell is also interested in fashion, and has been researching the Parsons Paris summer programs for 2022. Similar to Josie, Shell is less interested in the design aspect of fashion, but agrees that this class would be an amazing experience. 

“[The course] gives you a lot of background because the fashion industry is super complex and there’s so many different tiers and levels of high fashion and fast fashion … Getting some experience with high fashion and runway fashion in a program like Parsons could be really beneficial [down the line],” Shell said. 

In addition to thinking the course could be advantageous for eventually earning a career in fashion, Shell also thought the experience would be an overall great opportunity beyond just getting design knowledge. 

“It’s so fun to get away for the summer, especially when you’re learning and it’s something you’re really interested in,” Shell said. “Combining education and vacation at the same time, with a hobby, sounds like a dream.”

Although Josie spent a lot of her time creating her dress, her work was well-balanced with time spent outside of class exploring the quaint, cobblestone streets of the city. 

“We went to the Louvre, and had a picnic by the Eiffel Tower,” Josie said. “I really enjoyed going through the different neighborhoods and shopping at little boutiques … I feel like I know Paris pretty well now [and] I can navigate myself [around the city],” Josie said. 

Connecting with the Francophiles and fashionistas of the world was an aspect of the program that Josie found extremely rewarding. Since Josie went by herself, making friends who she could spend her days with was a valuable learning experience.  

“One of the most important parts was having to learn how to be in an environment in which you don’t know anyone. Being in a city where [people speak] a foreign language, and having to meet people and be responsible for everything yourself, made me a lot more independent,” Josie said. 

Tina agreed that meeting new people was a great life lesson for her daughter, and that she gained more from this course than just fashion design expertise. 

“I think it’s good for kids to gain some independence…[Josie] didn’t know anyone going, which I also liked. I thought it’d be a good experience to make new friends and do something a little bit out of [her] comfort zone.” 

As a result of her time spent in Paris, Josie has learned a variety of skill sets. Whether it be in design or in life, she knows that this experience will serve her in the future. 

“I learned so much and it made me a lot more mature, because there’s really no one to tell you what to do. I learned a lot about French culture, which is super important in fashion. I think the most valuable thing was meeting people who are different from [me],” Josie said.