• Fiona Dieffenbacher

    Assistant Professor of Fashion Design


    Fiona Dieffenbacher is an Assistant Professor of Fashion at Parsons School of Design with over twenty years of experience spanning industry and academia. Dieffenbacher has held several leadership positions within the School of Fashion - most recently she was Program Director, BFA Fashion Design (2011-18), where she successfully led the BFA program though the development and implementation of the new curriculum that embraces progressive modes of teaching inclusive, universal approaches to design for the twenty-first century. From 2007-11, Dieffenbacher held the position of Director of External Partnerships, where she managed a large range of projects including Coach, Louis Vuitton, Swarovski, Henri Bendel and LVMH. 

    From 1998-2005, Dieffenbacher ran her own ready-to-wear label ‘Fiona Walker’.  Launched a Mercedez Benz Fashion Week, the collection was available at select retailers throughout the U.S and Asia and was featured regularly in publications such as WWD, The New York Times, New York Magazine, InStyle and Harpers Bazaar.

    Degrees Held:

    MA, Fashion Studies, Parsons School of Design 

    BFA, Fashion Design, Parsons School of Design, (Michael Kors Designer of Year Award)

    BA hons, Fashion & Textiles, University of Ulster, U.K

    Recent Publications:

    "Fashion Thinking: Creative Approaches to the Design Process," Bloomsbury, 2013

    Students often struggle to develop their own style and approach to design. While the design process is fundamental to the way all fashion designers work, there is no right or wrong method: each emerging designer must find their own authentic process.

    Fashion Thinking establishes key approaches to design and enables this process of discovery. Nine student projects form the core of the book, representing a diverse range of strategies at each key stage of the design cycle. By following each throughout their various stages of development, these examples offer a unique and inspiring insight into the thinking behind a final collection and enables emerging fashion designers to discover their own working method in the process. Additionally, a section entitled 'Perspectives' includes interviews with eduactors, practitioners and designers.

     A second edition of 'Fashion Thinking' is set to publish in October 2020. 

    Research Interests:


    Dress & Emotion is a research project funded by Parsons School of Design that seeks to explore the emotional and sensory act of dressing.  Launched with a panel conversation at Parsons in February, 2015 the project was followed by an Exhibition in the Aronson gallery in February, 2016. 

    The project aims to investigate themes of body image, identity/self-curation, representation and the messaging of dress around the following questions: How do we see ourselves?  What comes first? The Body, the Image we seek to create or does one create the other? Are we dressing a body image that is real or imagined? Do we see dress as a uniform, persona, provocation or protection? Does dress reflect environment?


    This project seeks to understand the embodied soul in the context of dressed bodily practice. In particular it interrogates the disconnect resulting from the body/mind split of Cartesian Dualism along with critiquing commonly held assumptions of anti-body or anti-materilist views associated with Christianity. The project proposes an integrated approach, along with proposing the concept of the future body as the ultimate form of dress and investigating the impact religious belief in this concept has on present dress practices for the believer.

    Current Courses:

    ARS: Fashion (Spring 2021)

    Design Studio 1

    Thesis 1

    Thesis 2 (Spring 2021)