Fashion designer Byron Lars has been named the next Jane B. Nord Professor of Fashion Design. Over several decades, Lars has led a world-renowned and multifaceted career that brings together creativity, entrepreneurship, and mentorship in the field of fashion design. He will begin his appointment at the start of the fall 2023 semester.
The named professorship was launched in 2022 through the generosity of alumna Jane B. Nord. The $3.5 million-dollar rotating endowed professorship position bolsters Pratt’s support for faculty members who are leaders in their fields and will further its investment in programming, lectures, materials, and technology.
“Byron Lars is a Black American fashion designer who has made a significant impact on the culture and ethos of American fashion, and we are very excited to welcome him to the faculty,” said Jennifer Minniti, chair of the Department of Fashion and inaugural Jane B. Nord professor of fashion design. “Building a strong vision and entrepreneurial spirit is an important commitment for our department and Pratt as a whole. Our students will be inspired by his incredible leadership, dedication to creative exploration, and vast knowledge of the New York fashion industry.”
Byron Lars’s relationship with Pratt spans a decade. In 2014, he was honored with the Fashion Visionary Award at the 2014 Pratt Fashion Show. That year, he was also featured in Black Dress: Ten Contemporary Fashion Designers at Pratt Manhattan Gallery, a major group show that celebrated the groundbreaking creativity and entrepreneurship of Black designers. In 2019, he was a special guest at Black Dress: Salon, an event hosted by the Department of Fashion Design. He received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree at Pratt’s 2022 Commencement.
“Pratt Institute’s commitment to inspire challenging artistic exploration is in complete alignment with my own principles,” said Lars. “This Jane B. Nord professorship will facilitate an exciting opportunity for me to engage in creative dialogue with the students, considering some of the hard questions to which they’ll need to find answers to design effectively.”
Lars began designing under his own label in 1991, initially with a small sportswear collection that focused on what he called “twisted American classics.” Over the years, he expanded on his exploration of iconic fashion, with innovative hybrids such as a take on his grandfather’s fishing jacket that incorporated the proportions of Dior’s “New Look.” These style mash-ups have continued to inform his work, as well as his meticulous workmanship and attention to detail. His clients have included Michelle Obama and Angela Bassett, and he has partnered with Mattel for Barbie collections that authentically represent the style of African American women. He recently co-founded the neo-luxury women’s clothing brand IN EARNEST with business partner and longtime collaborator, Sheila Gray.