This collection primarily consists of drawings created by fashion designer and theater producer Robert Carreon (1947-2020) while enrolled as a student at Parsons School of Design between 1966 and 1968, as well as drawings from his Parsons admissions portfolio and publicity photos of his work from 1967 to 1969.
1.2 Cubic Feet and 3 boxes, 5 folders
All textual materials are in English.
[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Robert Carreon student work, KA.0133.01, box __, folder __, New School Archives, The New School, New York, New York.
Scope and Content:
Robert Carreon produced the drawings in this collection as part of his coursework at Parsons School of Design from 1966 until 1968, with the exception of eight drawings from his admissions portfolio and a drawing of a dress and cape that Carreon created for his sister's winter wedding while he was enrolled at Parsons.
According to Carreon, student assignments followed a structured workflow: fashion design students maintained a sketchbook (not included in the collection), which they periodically reviewed with the head of the Fashion Design Department, Ann Keagy. She would select ideas from the sketchbook for students to further develop into more formal drawings, which she would also critique. These drawings form the bulk of this collection. Some of Carreon's drawings bear her annotations. Designs that passed this second critique would become renderings that designer critics reviewed with the students. Students were encouraged to experiment with different techniques, a practice evident in Carreon's drawings. He struggled with rendering the human face, and adopted a method of drawing the human figure to compensate for this.
Drawings in the collection are typically executed in pencil and gouache, although there are some examples of drawings rendered only in ink to emphasize construction. Carreon annotated the drawings to indicate fabrics used and the collection or assignment. In many cases, manufacturers provided the fabrics and professors issued prompts based on the availability of a type of fabric or fur.
Carreon signed his work "Rob" until his third year, in which he switched to "Robert." This was used to roughly date his work when no date is inscribed on a drawing. Additionally, he dropped the hemlines of the dresses and skirts he designed during his third year in a class with critic Chester Weinberg, and this development was also used to establish rough dates for the drawings.
In addition to original drawings, the collection contains publicity materials featuring Carreon's work while he was a student.
Biographical / Historical:
Robert Carreon was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child, he appeared on television and in regional theater productions. Carreon attended Philadelphia's Bishop Neumann High School, where he founded and edited the Neumann Gazette, a publication dedicated to the topic of theater. In 1966, Carreon applied to and was accepted by Parsons School of Design's Fashion Design Department. At Parsons, Carreon studied with figures such as longtime department chair Ann Keagy, Frank Rizzo (who would succeed Keagy as department chair), Suzanne Moray, and art history professor Paul Brach. Visiting critics, such as designer and Parsons alumnus Chester Weinberg, were also mentors. Carreon's classmates included Willi Smith, Kay Unger, Constance Saunders, and Sanford "Sandy" Slepak.
At that time, Parsons offered three-year programs and, in Carreon's second year, his design for a bikini and matching poncho won the June Francis Award. This resulted in Carreon's ensemble opening the 1967 annual school fashion show. With Carreon's approval, Keagy asked Carreon's classmate and friend Willi Smith, whose talent as a sketcher was evocative of the preferred Parsons' "style" at the time, to illustrate the design. This illustration can be found in the records of the Fashion Design Department. Haircare firm Clairol purchased the bikini and poncho for a traveling "fashion caravan" highlighting youth style.
Carreon's inspirations in the mid-1960s included the play Cabaret , which opened on Broadway during his first year at Parsons, and fashions of the 1930s generally. Short, permed hair in some of his drawings show this influence. Additionally, Carreon cites Rudi Gernreich and Pierre Cardin, specifically Cardin's 1964 Cosmos collection, as influential. He owned a Cardin Cosmos jacket, which he wore to class. Gernreich's influence can be seen in the helmets and head coverings as well as outfits resembling Gernreich's revolutionary swimwear in Carreon's student work.
Carreon left Parsons during his third year, and he found employment on Seventh Avenue at Mam'selle, working with designer Betty Carol, with whom he continued his design education. Mam'selle offered apparel to a market then known as "juniors," catering to older teens and young women. He later moved to Gucci America, where for ten years he was responsible for the firm's Fifth Avenue operations, as well as personal properties. Working with designers Julio Savio, GG Gasparini, and Ernest Castro, he supervised all elements of store and office design, budgeting and construction, as well as security, interior design, visual merchandising, furnishings and accoutrement. He was responsible for coordinating technical and creative support for fashion shows, benefits, and galas, and hosted dinners and receptions for VIP clients, family and friends.
Carreon later worked as a writer, stylist, merchandiser, and editor for Time-Warner, before returning to theater in 2001. Prior to his departure from Time-Warner, he established OUT@TimeInc, which received the 2003 Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Fairness Award. Carreon founded Carreon Productions and has produced or been involved with a number of award-winning and critically acclaimed theatrical productions, including Soon of a Morning (2005), Remember Me (2005 and 2006), The Great Divorce (Magis Theater Company, 2007), Two One-Sided Conversations (2009, Lion Theatre), When Last We Flew (2010), and Outside on the Street (Invertigo Threatre Company, 2013). According to Carreon, who is a member of the Broadway League, Carreon Productions was founded on a principle of "art as a form of communication," a concept he learned at Parsons from Paul Brach.
Robert Carreon died on November 9, 2020 in Lima Pennsylvania.
Biographical details supplied by Robert Carreon at the time of donation.
Obituary retrieved September 29, 2021: https://www.ruffenachfuneralhome.com/obituary/Robert-Carreon
Donated by Robert Carreon, 2014.
Donor assisted with identification of dates for undated drawings in the collection.
Arranged in 2 series: I. Drawings, 1966-1968 II. Publicity, 1967-1969
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Additional student work by Robert Carreon and printed materials produced for the 1967 school fashion show will be found in the Parsons School of Design Fashion Design Department records (PC.02.02.01).