On the StyleNOW 2014 program, Geetika Gupta, the Fashion Academic Director for Art Institute of California – San Francisco (AiCA-SF) stated the following:

Style is not just about how you look- it’s your demeanor, your communication and what people remember about you. In fact, style is the release of personal potential!

Those two sentences succinctly encompassed what StyleNOW 2014 Fashion Show was all about. 14 student designers from AiCA-SF poured so much of their heart and soul into each and every collection going down the runway on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco.

You wanted personal potentials released? You got them in spades, ladies and gentlemen. From Lauren Barisic’s “Modern Impressionist” collection as the show opener, Makayla Scott’s brightly colorful and crowd-pleasing kids’ collection, Hieu Nguyen’s gorgeous Japanese geisha-inspired garments, Joshua Charles’ wild drag queen’s collection AND a fierce couture collection, to the quartet collections of “N/A” student collaborators, the high level of designs were so thoroughly enjoyed. There’s so much life behind each creations that it’s really hard not to notice any given garment. Heck, even the school’s security guards (see picture below) even joined in on the action to set up the designer finale walk!

Contributing to the success of this year’s AiCA-SF fashion show was the StyleNOW 2014 production team: the tireless, perfection-seeking Fashion Marketing and Production students helmed by Michael Rosen himself, who no doubt imparted a great deal of wisdom out his arsenal of experience. Such is one of the benefit of having the London Fashion Week Founder on the AiCA-SF fashion school! The runway, set to be on the same ground level as the audience’s, consisted of three entry/exit points that allowed the audience to be in closer proximity with models who worked it in highly choreographed walking patterns. This in turn, created an highly engaging runway viewing experience that was leaps and bounds more exciting than your normal viewing of “model walking in straight line to the end of runway and back” kind of stuff.

Since Chris and I went to both of StyleNOW 2014 shows (the 5pm preview show and 8pm VIP show), we got a more holistic observation of the behind-the-scenes activities surrounding this student fashion show production. Therefore, I’m going to make an additional blog post to share our experience (coming soon!). The judges for StyleNOW 2014 fashion show awards were Robert Oren, Alex Chases (also the lead stylist of the fashion show production), Rachel Richardson, and Erin Glenn. There were four awards up for grabs for the night: Best Construction, Best Concept and Creativity, Most Relatable and Marketable Design, and Best of Show. Now, let’s get to students’ works, shall we?

If you have seen my prior posts of AAU and CCA fashion shows, you are aware that I now rely on creating a list and anchor links for easier browsing. Instead of scrolling down endlessly to view works of 14 designers, you have the option of using the “Back to List of AiCA-SF StyleNOW 2014 Student Designers” link at the end of each AiCA-SF student designer’s feature to go back up to the list and pick another AiCA-SF designer whose work you’d like to see.

As always, many thanks to Christian Hadidjaja for the photos.

Photos by Christian Hadidjaja

Lauren Barisic

Luxurious fabrics in bold colors and clean lines dominated Lauren’s “Modern Impressionist” collection. They sailed Lauren’s designer point-of-view clearly across in various silhouettes and shapes, and it’s no wonder that she was declared as the runner-up of Most Relatable & Marketable Design at the end of the night. Congrats Lauren!

Back to List of AiCA-SF StyleNOW 2014 Student Designers

Lucia Mendez

Inspired by the “charro symbol” of her Mexican heritage pride, Lucia’s collection consisted of separates and mini dresses. The pleating details, vertical stripes were amplified by the richly, mostly gold / brown-colored fabrics.

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Mark Figueroa

Mark’s collection has both the sleek and edgy feel that flows, as well as the strong and angular structure (see the boxed shoulders on the 2nd look?). My favorite was the sexy long dress with teardrop cutout on the front and almost-pelvic-bone-reaching double thigh slits. There’s no Kendall Jenner-like risque situation here, so thank you Mark for keeping it classy!

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Makayla Scott

when all the kids rushed into the runway wearing all those colorful getup, everybody cheered and clapped. Makayla’s design story was about a 23-month-old boy Hiram Lawrence Jr. who was shot in the head in West Oakland, later taken off life support and declared dead. The community made a mural of bright colors and geometric shapes in his honor, and that inspired Makayla to create her “Zip of Hiram” collection.

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Anacelia Castro

Young, rebellious, and fun. Anacelia’s “Futuristic” collection was abundant in exciting piping details, cutting choices, and prints. The models looked great wearing them, so it’s no wonder she’s the Best Construction winner of the night.

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Mai Xiong

Mai’s designs were elegant, flowing, and soft. They’re feminine and yet they’re not too pretty. The only thing I did not “get” was the first look’s bottom; it looks like a skirt that went through a shredder while being attached to a tone-matching spandex. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I sure like every other pieces in her collection :)

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Katy Buchmueller

Modern, skeletal, with a healthy dose of quirk. Katy’s black-and-white designs were cool RTW pieces with a touch of avant garde. My favorite was the 3rd look; the white A-line shirt dress with the “floating” effect, coupled with black thigh-high leggings, a black briefcase, and a bow tie hair accessory. Cutesy and edgy!

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Sade Wallace

The three beautiful queens! I admired Sade’s use of different fabric textures in weight in constructing her garments and accessories, as well as how well she was in layering all the pieces together. They are busy yet cohesive, a great realization of her surrealism concept and Eartha Kitt persona.

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Hieu Nguyen

Hieu’s Japanese geisha-inspired collection was refined, quietly beautiful, and elegant. The Japanese culture references were plenty, from the intricate, life-like ocean wave or soft cherry blossoms embroidery, kimono sleeve details, to the artful wide pleats that reminded me of Japan’s castle rooftops. Gorgeously done!

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Joshua Charles

Joshua came out in full drag modeling his own first look of the drag collection, stomping to the front raising his arms up to DEMAND the audience of attention. Many queens soon followed suit; standing up from their seats amongst the audience, strutting and stomping their way to many rounds of applause.

Joshua’s second collection quickly followed suit, revealing models in couture gowns. Fierce and bold, the gowns were gothic in nature and extravagant in concept. So it’s thoroughly deserved that Joshua was the runner-up for the Best Concept and Creativity award.

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Tayler Melhart

The first designer of the “N/A” quartet to showcase her collection, Tayler presented her 90s hip-hop collection with a bang, complete with awesome rap from MADlines and latex body suits. Oh, and don’t forget the ski masks and braids!

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Daniela Ramirez

The runner-up of Best Construction awards showcased clean lines in luxurious leather and faux fur, as well as delicate sheer fabrics. The nude or black sheer masks and military boots kept the mood strong and focused.

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Francisco Rodriguez

Francisco’s inspiration for his collection is very interesting for me, and I’m glad to see the physical realization of his design vision. The goth royalties in black were strong and were almost too much, just as intended. Congratulations for your Best Concept and Creativity win, Francisco!

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Jesus Romero

The last of the “N/A” designer quartet closed the show with 10 strong looks and capped it all off with two wins: Best Relatable and Marketable Design and Best of Show awards. Jesus showcased his design skills in a variety of silhouettes, shapes, and design details…see them all by browsing the pictures below. From tailored separates, gowns, corset, pleated cover-ups, and coats, his 30s / art deco design aesthetics came through successfully in his creations.

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There you have it! Congratulations for all the AiCA-SF 2014 Annual Fashion Show student designers; StyleNOW 2014 was a great platform for AiCA-SF student designers to really pushed themselves and took chances with their design visions. We’re glad that we got to see the results of such hard work. As I was congratulating Michael Rosen at the end of the show, he said to me, “You see what we have accomplished in one short year. Look forward to what we’ll do next year.” So yes sir, I can’t hardly wait!

Thank you for reading,

Photos by Christian Hadidjaja