Academy of Art University student fashion designers watched models wearing their designs walking on the runway from backstage with Executive Director of the School of Fashion Simon Ungless. The Spring 2016 fashion show marked the school’s 10th anniversary showing at New York Fashion Week. Photo by David Dooley / Courtesy of Academy of Art University.

Friday, September 11, 2015 must have been an exhilarating day for Max Lu, Jingci Jessie Wang, Ruone Yan, Liz Li, Bom Kim, Mehrzad Hemati, Livia Bianda, and Wenhan Yuan. Watching their thesis collections featured on New York Fashion Week (NFFW) Spring/Summer 2016 was surely a priceless moment for these eight designers from Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion. The rebranded, reloaded NYFW meant a new venue, and the student designers presented six collections (four womenswear, two menswear) at The Arc, Skylight at Moynihan Station.

Academy of Art University School of Fashion always has an abundance of talent, and it’s always shown full throttle. This season, the designers are focused on minimalist structure of garments and purity of silhouette. The results are clean lines, beautifully crafted garments with cool, fresh take on looser, airy shapes and relaxed yet high style feel. Let’s browse the looks, shall we?

Runway photos: Courtesy of Academy of Art University.

Max Lu (M.F.A. Fashion Design) and Jingci Jessie Wang (M.F.A. Fashion Design)

Not only both Lu and Wang have notable design accomplishments before pursuing their M.F.A. degree, they also previously worked together for a collaborative menswear collection for Spring 2015 NYFW.

This time, Lu and Wang wanted to “express ambiguous and unclear forms from a blurry dream.” Shiny fabrics like lame, metallic leather, and sequins were shaped into classic 1950s silhouettes. Beautiful!
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Ruone Yan (B.F.A. Menswear Design)

We first saw Yan’s Cephalotus (i.e. Venus flytrap) collection during Academy of Art University’s 2015 Graduation Fashion Show in San Francisco earlier this year. But seeing the collection once again provoked introspective self-questioning of guarding oneself versus being free. Somehow, through Yan’s cocoon-like layers made from jersey, leather, and canvas dyed with oolong tea, I feel we can have both.
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Liz Li (M.F.A. Fashion Design) and Bom Kim (M.F.A. Knitwear Design)

Ah, the modern classic combination of hard and soft. Li’s background in print and fashion design translated to the airy quality of linen and transparent fabrics. Decorated with hand painting and embroidery, the garments were paired with Kim’s more structured knitwear. Their inspirations came from traditional Chinese painting, abstract art, and freehand brushwork. What a marvelous collection; truly well executed.
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Mehrzad Hemati (M.F.A. Fashion Design)

Incorporating menswear elements into garments constructed from cotton, silk charmeuse, duchess stain, and organza, Hemati’s Spring 2016 collection looks really fresh and high-style. They’re bold yet refined, confident yet thoughtful. I especially love her custom closures, which look like piercings. This is hands down my favorite collection and I don’t care it’s past Labor Day. I want them all!
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Livia Bianda (B.F.A. Menswear Design)

Bianda’s collection was another standout from this year’s Academy of Art University’s Graduation Fashion Show. Lycra, mesh, pinstripe wool, and pinstripe cotton were her chosen materials for this collection. Inspired by football players’ uniforms, her exaggerated silhouettes and stylish bags look really clean and sharp.
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Wenhan Yuan (M.F.A. Fashion Design)

Yuan’s collection is also another favorite of mine, for similar reason why I love Hemati’s. Yuan “reflected a sensous woman in men’s clothing, emphasizing fresh style, sex, and emotion.” However, the feelings exuding from Yuan’s garments are entirely different. They feel more poetic, relaxed, and calming. This collection was created with cotton, suit fabrics, and paper textured fabrics. I wonder if wearing Yuan’s garments counts for stress therapy. If so, sign me up!
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I could only imagine the emotions that were running high backstage before, during, and after the show. Well done, designers; kudos to work well done! And special thanks, as always, to Ian Mackintosh for letting me know about this wonderful NYFW showing.
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From left to right: Jingci Jessie Wang, Max Lu, Mehrad Hemati, Bom Kim, Liz Li, Livia Bianda, Wenhan Yuan, and Ruone Yan. Photo by David Dooley.

Thanks for reading; until next time,

Runway photos: Courtesy of Academy of Art University.
Backstage photos by David Dooley / Courtesy of Academy of Art University.

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