The Academy of Art 2012 Graduation Fashion Show & Awards Ceremony was a lively event. Hosted at The Cannery, 2801 Leavenworth Street, the pre-show atmosphere was very lively and fresh, not unlike this new venue of Academy of Art University (AAU). It’s easy to know which of the honored guests of Sarah Burton, H.R.H. Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, and Philip Treacy the audience was looking forward the most, and for great reasons. Two of the student designers would win an internship with Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen (yes, I know!). By the night’s end, we learnt that the two student designers chosen were Maria Romero and Zhangchi Wang (more on their collections below).

But I’m getting ahead of the story. The fashion show showcased great talents (as always expected from Academy of Art students), and the quality of their work was just stunning. With a student fashion show at this caliber, sometimes I forgot that these designers were “just” students. Gosh, I can’t wait seeing their work fully featured as professional designers. Kudos to Dr. Elisa Stephens (President of Academy of Art University), Gladys Perint Palmer (Executive Director of the School of Fashion), and Simon Ungless (Director of the School of Fashion), and the rest of the school’s staff for forging the students and produced such high standard of quality year after year. Marvelously done.

Without further ado, see those fantastic talents of each students at work below:
Photography by Christian Hadidjaja

1. Fashion and Textile Design Collaboration: Renata Lindroos & Mina Fadaie
The seemingly “floating” dress construction and textile motif translated to very chic, art-gallery-ready, japanese avant-garde-esque outfits. Strong, simple, effective, and most importantly, beautiful.

2. Hely Nguyen
I love the long front panels of the tuxedo jackets (?), and the collection exudes “cool” throughout. A thorough, very solid RTW collection that I wish I had in my wardrobe :)

Hely Nguyen - AAU 2012
Hely Nguyen - AAU 2012May 19, 2012Photos: 8

3. Fashion, Textile, and Knitwear Design Collaboration: Erica Laba, Liza Quinones, and Emma Mengchen Yang
I like the combination of sheer pieces underneath chunky knits. Very wearable, even though the colors were a bit too monotone. The trench coats were gorgeous and a piece that I believe San Francisco women can relate to.

4. Ethan Chihuan Yang
Ethan’s silhouettes were straight, long, and lean. I wish the outfits incorporate some splashes of color for “pop” factor, but it’s strictly my personal preference. Fantastic construction for all the outfits, by the way.

Ethan Chihuan Yang - AAU 2012
Ethan Chihuan Yang - AAU 2012May 19, 2012Photos: 7

5. Rumi Iwasaki
Lesson learned: soft heathered grey men’s suits can make super chic gentlemen outfits. The 4th look was the only one I wasn’t really into, but everything else (including the vest at the end) was great to see. On a side note, the 3rd look made me think of a more fashion-conscious Conan O’ Brien (if only ;)

Rumi Iwasaki - AAU 2012
Rumi Iwasaki - AAU 2012May 20, 2012Photos: 9

6. Fashion, Textile, and Knitwear Design Collaboration: Rachael Sansom & Chelsea Levinson
Finally, colors! I love the intricate harmony of orange, green, and yellow on the outfits, and I wonder if wearing any of these outfits would give me an instant burst of energy that would last through the day.

7. Fashion and Jewelry Design Collaboration: Kim Tran & Orly Ruaimi
Street glamor fiesta! The clothes were bold AND harmonious clashes of colors, motif, and texture; so tribal, yet chic and elegant. The bags also held their own fashion star power. Just look at those bag handles!

Kim Tran & Orly Ruaimi - AAU 2012
Kim Tran & Orly Ruaimi - AAU 2012May 20, 2012Photos: 10

8. Joe Chung
The outfits were relaxed and comfy, yet stylish: a solid realization of eco-chic concept. Not too sure how commercial this drape-y collection is, but I certainly dug the 3rd and 6th (last) outfits.

Joe Chung - AAU 2012
Joe Chung - AAU 2012May 20, 2012Photos: 8

9. Mimi Iwasaki
I’m always a fan of palazzo pants and flowy, wide-opening bottom pieces in general. Although the materialization of “contrast between youth and adults in Japanese society” concept was not something, it was a solid collection nonetheless. The neutral color palette was soothing, if not a bit monotone.

Mimi Iwasaki - AAU 2012
Mimi Iwasaki - AAU 2012May 20, 2012Photos: 6

10. Fashion Design and Animation and Visual Effects Collaboration: Maria Azucena Romero with Travis Weaver, Victoria Simiele, Mireya Francoso, Dorthy Thielsen, Federico La Tona, Benjamin Arthur, and Luke Night.
As I stated earlier, Maria is one of the two winners of Alexander McQueen’s internships (congrats Maria!). I wished I could see the designs in person (her brilliant designs were presented in video form), but here are two stills we got:

If you’d like to see the video, it’s being featured at Nowness – Maria Romero: Dulce de Reliquias.

11. Fashion and Jewelry Design Collaboration: Steven La Fuente & Lenny Kovner
I like how simple-looking but powerful the dresses and separates were. I appreciate the construction quality and garment flow even more because the outfits looked so clean. They were also the perfect “canvas” for the accessories, whose clean and modern feel were effectively showcased.

12. Antonio Luna
The mostly black / teal ensemble was solid, but I wasn’t sure if this collection stood out amongst the rest. Perhaps it’s a good thing; I did not see anything wrong for all the jackets and coats (thanks to Gus from Harputs Own, I now truly appreciate the complexity of constructing a men’s jacket).

Antonio Luna - AAU 2012
Antonio Luna - AAU 2012May 20, 2012Photos: 7

13. Fashion and Textile Design Collaboration: Eli Daniel Odisho & Miriam Tolentino
I truly love this collection; totally commercial and very, very wearable. Chic casual denim with a hint of regal quality & sophistication, especially the dress with keyhole detail on the back. Needless to say, I also want the parachute dresses (1st and last looks).

14. Fashion and Textile Design Collaboration: Jacqueline Rabot & Julie Seltzer
This collection was like the wardrobe of a grown-up sea nymph living in a big city. A little bit out there, but glamorous and quirky; a successful modern fantasy.
Sequined jacket and sheer skirts? I’m in.

15. Zhangchi Wang
Yes, that Alexander McQueen internship is certainly a true testament to this young lady’s skills. (Did I mention she also win a scholarship?) Simple-looking soft heathered grey wool with faint yet effective “embossed” texture. Brilliant. The outfits have faint sporty feel that’s cloaked in chic. Have a hard time imagining my last two sentences? Just see the gallery below :)

Zhangchi Wang - AAU 2012
Zhangchi Wang - AAU 2012May 20, 2012Photos: 8

16. Angela Sison
I love that peach circle skirt / jacket combo (5th look). And look, fanny pack is making a comeback! (Or did it ever leave? Hmm….yes, it did.) Overall, a very lovely, cheerful spring collection perfect for San Francisco.

Angela Sison - AAU 2012
Angela Sison - AAU 2012May 20, 2012Photos: 8

17. Massa Ito
My personal favorite of the night. The silhouettes, textures, fabric were all so strong in presentation as they were in lasting impression. I couldn’t help but uttering “Wow” every single time a new look walked down the runway. Brilliantly well-done.

Massa Ito - AAU 2012
Massa Ito - AAU 2012May 20, 2012Photos: 13

And that’s it folks! What a great fashion show! At the end of the night, Philip Treacy might’ve not known the name of the student he was to award an internship to, but it’s all good. The talents shown were breath-taking and whomever the lucky intern is, she’s definitely one heck of a talented student, just like her peers.

Thank you for reading, looking forward to next year’s show!