Academy of Art University 2016 Graduation Fashion Show features 16 student designer collections, including a runway-to-retail store collaboration. Guests of honor: Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte. Photos by Christian Hadidjaja.

Another year, another solid showcase of Academy of Art University (AAU) fashion students. The class of 2016 delivered solid design and technical skills paired with the always crucial socio-environmental awareness. The 2016 Graduation Fashion Show on May 11, 2016 was held at the campus on 2225 Jerrold Avenue (same venue as AAU 2014 Graduation Show).

This year, the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University honored Kate and Laura Mulleavy, founders of Rodarte. They are each presented with an Honorary Doctorate degree from Academy of Art University by University President, Dr. Elisa Stephens, as well as a Certificate of Honor from the Office of the Mayor of San Francisco, Mayor Edwin M. Lee. Earlier that day, Simon Ungless and Christine Suppes, couture collector and co-author of Skira-Rizzoli’s Electric Fashion moderated a discussion panel with Kate and Laura Mulleavy for AAU students.

Left to right: Kate Mulleavy, Academy of Art University President Dr. Elisa Stephens, Laura Mulleavy, and Celine Sohrabian, who won a summer internship with Rodarte.

I was really happy to briefly catch up with Electric Fashion friends!!! Left to right: Ed Jay, Christine Suppes, Frederic Aranda, Mira Musank.

The 2016 AAU Graduation Fashion Show featured 16 collections from students who majored in the areas of Fashion Design, Knitwear Design, Menswear Design, Technical Design, Textile Design and Jewelry & Metal Arts. Makeup for the models was done by Victor Cembellin and his M.A.C. Cosmetics team, whereas hair styling was done by Jon Reyman and his Spoke & Weal Salon team.

The setting for this year’s fashion show is a long figure 8 runway, where the models emerge from the center. It’s good that AAU tries to maximize front-row seats for the audience, however it is practically impossible to keep track of each of 16 collections chronologically as they come out unless you are seated on the center area (near the place where the models emerge). Aside from the occasional confusion from seeing multiple collection pieces passing by, it is a great experience to once again see top design talents in San Francisco!

Photos by Christian Hadidjaja.

Photos by Christian Hadidjaja

SHOP657 Private Label Collaboration Collection

The show opened with SHOP657 Collection, a private label collaborative collection of Fashion Design, Textile Design, Jewelry & Metal Arts, and Fashion Merchandising students. SHOP657 is part of the university’s initiative to provide real world training to students. The 8 students participating are Cherish Bai (BFA Fashion Design), Jayme Goodman (BFA Fashion Design), Meeneshwer Madhu (BFA Menswear Design), Sylvia Rivera (BFA Fashion Design), Soji Solarin (BFA Menswear Design), Yuki Zhang (BFA Fashion Design), Yun Ling Tham Timmy (BFA Textile Design), and Neysa Makizuru (BFA Jewelry & Metal Arts).

For this collection, they are inspired by the commute from downtown to Tenderloin, as well as Alice in Wonderful. Apparently they both are “quite the journey,” as the students put it. The garments have mostly white / off-white base decorated with colorful, bold prints and shapes. Casual yet full of character, these garments are balancing the line between high-end and commercial designs. It looks like a visit to 657 Sutter Street is in order!

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Wen Jiang

It’s only the second collection of the night, but it’s one of my absolute favorites. Ms. Jiang uses 100% wool fabric into her collection that draws inspiration from spaceships, Munich-based photographer Nick Frank, and architecture. From the color palette, pleats, long and lean silhouettes, and color blocking, I absolutely love them all. And that last look with white top, pink pants, and color-blocked grey coat? I’d grab them in a heartbeat.

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Annie Yang and Jasmine Xu

Menswear Design and Textile Design Collaboration

Ms. Yang is inspired by Brazil-based artist Daniel Steegmann for her collection, which is made with cotton twill and cotton sateen fabrics. The curves, cut-outs, and little knot details of the garments harmonize well with the lines and coloring of Ms. Xu’s textiles. Overall, I believe it’s a nice concept that can be applied to both genders.

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Xiuzhen Li

For a collection that’s inspired by decay, Ms. Li’s garments look powerful. The mixing of textures from felted cotton, cotton, lace, and beading are key in conveying luxury and glamor. Well done!

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Vanessa Nash-Spangler

I love the control Ms. Nash-Spangler asserts over these dramatic shapes. The tulle net are THE focal points, but these garments never overwhelm the models. For this collection, she’s inspired by sacred geometry and architecture.

Using combination of tulle net, power mesh, silk organza, Supima cotton twill, and China silk, Ms. Nash-Spangler successfully create the first (and arguably the most effective) show-stopping fashion moment on the runway that night. Moreover, kudos for her winning the San Francisco – Paris Sister City Scholarship Exchange in Paris, France at L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne!

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Busara Boussard and Eirin Midtskogseter

Fashion Design and Jewelry & Arts Collaboration
Would it be right to categorize this collection as athleisure? Or is it supposed to be straight-up athletic wear? Inspired by EPM Museum in Seattle, lacrosse uniforms and equipment, Busara Boussard’s collection is vividly colorful and sporty. However, the billowy cover-ups don’t seem to harmonize well with the fitted tanks and bottoms.

Moreover, I’m not sure what to make of Eirin Midtskogseter’s jewelry, either. The concept behind it is “What if jewelry protects against physical pain?” However, the nickle silver, brass, and synthetic rubber cord are assembled to form body adornments that look like slices of giant band-aids and heat pads. Therefore, I get confused seeing this juxtaposition of energizing exercise garments with solemn-looking physical injury first aids. It’s like going for a jog in the morning while knowing you’d hurt your shin afterwards. That’s a rather unsettling feeling, isn’t it?

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Ben Ellis

This collection makes me uncomfortable, but in a healthy, critical way. After all, Mr. Ellis draws from ecological upsets, climate change, and Fauvist painter Andre Derain to create the garments. The prints and textures on denim and repurposed cotton t-shirts serve as effective visual statement of modern environmental issues. From his garments, I am immediately forced to think more and do my part about waste reduction, endangered animal protection, and long-term climate change.

I believe we need more designers like Ben Ellis to bring big social and economical issues on the forefront of our daily lives. Long-term problems like climate change require crucial sustained momentum to get focused public support. One thing is certain, though; his winning of $10,000 from California Fashion Foundation Scholarship for Menswear is well-deserved!

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Sophie Cheng

Ms. Cheng is inspired by the Antelope Canyon and the Hopi tribe to create her collection. The curves, pleats, ruffles, cut-outs, and draping can look like there are too many details applied on any one garment. However, the pastel colored silk charmeuse, 4-ply silk, suede, and woven cotton poly blend make the garments look both strong and romantic. They have characters, therefore making this quite a lovely collection.

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Karin Kate Wong

This is my most favorite collection of the night. I love everything about it; from the choice of fabrics (cotton, lamé, chiffon, silk woven) and colors to the ribbon tie closures and the mostly backless finish of the garments. Most importantly, they move really well on the models. The more ‘crumpled’ shapes hold their structures and contrast nicely with the more flat, flowing counterparts. It’s like a perfectly controlled chaos! Who knew the standout collection of the night is inspired by bedding? Well done. Bravo!

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Ke Zhang

For this collection, Ke Zhang is inspired by Korean-American artist Do Ho Suh. It’s fascinating; when menswear pieces are created with sheer yet sturdy fabrics, the results are both classy and sexy. Masculine silhouettes are accompanied by layers of cotton organdy and jersey knits, which creates different opacity levels of the models’ body parts. Quite sexy indeed.

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Febri Artha Jayanti and Rebecca Dovenryd Almberg

Fashion Design and Knitwear Design Collaboration
Ms. Jayanti is inspired by American artist Valerie Hegarty, whereas Ms. Almberg is inspired by 1910s nun’s habit and geometric shapes. I feel the ensembles have demure, focused qualities about them that is very chic. A very solid collection!

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Regina J. Yoon and Jadi Haynes

Fashion Design and Textile Design Collaboration
The bold, vivacious prints and playful shapes of this collection provided the second coming of show-stopping fashion statements of the night. Seeing cotton, broderie anglaise, and pleather covered in prints inspired by abstract florals are really refreshing. Ms. Yoon’s inspiration of Korean shaman clothing materializes in fun mix of tops, bottoms, and dresses that are geared for editorial features.

Last but certainly not least, the beading spruced about on some garments are both stunning and fun! They are done by Jessica Victoria Wijaya (B.F.A. Fashion Design) who studied Tambour Beading. Those details are the perfect finish to the collection’s “more is more” vibe.

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Brandon Kee

I really like the shapes of this menswear collection. Mr. Kee does a great work taking 1990s hip-hop and 1970s Chinese anti-gravity pilot suits as inspiration and delivering baggy silhouettes adorned with corset-like ribbon ties. Made with Italian-made cotton Jacquard, bamboo jersey, organic cotton jersey, the garments move really well on the runway. They have contemporary, cool appeal tinted with a sweet dose of rebellious crazy. Nicely done!

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Jiaqi Lu

Ms. Lu’s navy blue and black collection is inspired by origami. Mixing fabrics such as silk, cotton, crepe satin, and polyester faile, she creates interesting three-dimensional depth and varied textures in her garments.

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Justin Moreno and Namrata Bhandari

Menswear Design and Textile Design Collaboration
This is my favorite menswear collection of the night. From Mr. Moreno’s Afghani skateboarder girls and vintage European military gear inspiration to Ms. Bhandari’s floral textile design, it’s one suave collection. The garments are made with silk velvet, Tencel twill, cotton/silk twill, French terry burnout, and cotton mesh. They have confident attitude, casual dressy vibe, and most importantly, the models look really fine wearing them!

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Celine Sohrabian and Shuangning Sici Li

Fashion Design and Jewelry & Metal Arts Collaboration

First of all, congratulations to Celine Sohrabian for getting an internship with Rodarte! Looking at this collection, you can see her talents in mixing different fabrics on complex panels to form garments as if she’s solving jigsaw puzzles. She’s inspired by distortion of shapes, obscurity, Picasso’s light drawings, deep sea creatures, as well as 1980s Issey Miyake garments. Using boiled wool, wool and acetate double knit, metallic tweed, rip stop nylon, wool ribbed jersey knit, hand-painted cellophane-fused cotton twill, cotton/poly lace, and latex, Ms. Sohrabian successfully creates a visually intriguing collection.

It is a wise choice to have Shuangning Sici Li’s jewelry to complement Ms. Sohrabian’s garments. The white mushroom-like shapes provide the right flavor of quirkiness that blends well with the garments. This collaboration is a solid finale for the night!

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And there you have it! It was a great night of fashion, and I had a wonderful time observing the Academy of Art University student designer talents. Thanks to Ian Mackintosh for always inviting us year after year, and special thanks to Jessie Liu, an Academy of Art 2012 MFA Fashion Design graduate, whose amazing leather coat I wore that night! We had a great time commenting on the garments as the models passed by! Of course we had to take some pictures after the runway was over :)

Style note: Jessie Liu coat (Fall/Winter 2016), Theia dress, Vince Camuto flats, Longchamp envelope clutch.

Had a fantastic time seeing the Academy of Art University fashion show with Jessie Liu! She’s wearing a leather jacket from her Fall/Winter 2016 collection.

Thanks for reading; until next time,