Parsons to Honor Rihanna at Annual Benefit

First Harvard, now Parsons. What, like it’s hard? 

After receiving the Humanitarian of the Year Award from Harvard just last month, the goddess known as Rihanna will be honored by an academic institution once again, this time, at Parsons The New School for Design’s 69th annual benefit, set to take place May 22 at Pier 60. The multi-hyphenate (seriously, is there anything she can’t do?) will join Eileen Fisher and the Neiman Marcus Group in receiving honors, which, according to the school, recognize individuals who empower women on a global scale through self-expression and leadership. 

“Parsons is proud to present Rihanna with this honor, as she has inspired millions through her powerful music and distinct style,” Parsons executive dean Joel Towers said in a statement. He added that in addition to her philanthropic program, the Clara Lionel Foundation, “she has championed our recent alumni on a number of occasions by wearing their designs.” 

Indeed she has. During last year’s VMAs, Rih proved she’s fashion’s ultimate chameleon by performing in a black quilted puffer jacket from former Parsons student Melody Ya Jun Lin’s thesis project. She’s also worn designs by Parsons MFA Fashion Design and Society graduates Melitta Baumeister, Matthew Dolan, and Snow Gao. (This is in addition to her support of design students from other schools, like Pratt.) No wonder the singer, who just showed her third Fenty x Puma collection in Paris earlier this month, was crowned Fashion Icon of the Year by the CFDA in 2014. 

“It’s such a thrill to know that a design school as prestigious as Parsons School of Design would present me with this honor,” she said. “I consistently find creative and exciting designs coming from Parsons alumni, so I feel a deep connection to the school. But, I am especially grateful that Parsons would recognize me for the work I’ve done in regards to philanthropy.”

The benefit, which will be held in collaboration with The New School’s College of Performing Arts, raises scholarship funds to aid the next generation of fashion designers. The school added that an item—no word on what that is just yet—will be auctioned off with proceeds going to Rihanna’s non-profit and Parsons. The night will cap off, as it always does, with the main attraction: a runway show featuring the work of graduating BFA Fashion Design students who are all finalists in the running to win the Designer of the Year Award. 

Last year, the award went to two womenswear designers, and a whopping $1.86 million was raised for scholarships. Here’s hoping the pull of a star like Rihanna will set the bar even higher in raising funds for budding designers. 

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