California College of the Arts celebrates 2016 Annual Fashion Show by showcasing sustainable and commercial collections from 12 students. Caroline Chun won the Levi Strauss & Co. Emerging Design Award. Cover photo by Christian Hadidjaja.

The annual fashion show at California College of the Arts was held on Friday, May 13. The whole evening affair felt both more lively and more intimate this year. Prior to the fashion show, the multi-disciplinary student exhibitions that are spread out in the campus building (1111 8th Street, San Francisco) attracted many observers. The Friends of Fashion VIP reception goers weaved their way through fashion design process exhibit, information-overload social app exhibit, and so much more. I felt there were a lot more engaged viewers than last year’s event – which is a true testament to the school’s ability to attract more people to beyond-fashion exhibits.

California College of the Arts truly have great causes to celebrate, here are some highlights. First, the graduation for the fashion design students, who are continually encouraged to “blend their personal perspectives with today’s material considerations in order to explore invention and apply innovation to ideate their design” during their study. To that extend, they “ventured to North Carolina to visit the spinning mills, dye houses, and denim weavers” to have more wholesome understanding of how the US cotton-textile industry currently works.

The school also celebrated non-graduating students who have started to create serious marks in fashion. Fashion Design juniors Liam Cliff and Olivia Tang were each awarded scholarships from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) / Teen Vogue Scholarship in Partnership with Target.

Last but not least, the rise of the Fashion Design Program itself. As Fashion Design Chair Amy Williams shared during the fashion show opening, California College of the Arts has risen from 40th to 4th position this year as Top 5 Sustainable Fashion Design Programs in the United States.

Now, let’s talk about more about the fashion show itself, shall we? Compared to settings for previous years, the runway was half as long (and it felt like it’s also half as wide). This translated to much less wind distraction (yay!) and more intimate seating experience. There were two runway lanes, on which multiple models walked on simultaneously. Chris positioned himself at the end of one runway, and Nico positioned himself at the end of the other. Thanks to them, we are able to present these photos of individual models going down the runway.

As expected from California College of the Arts fashion show audience, everyone was really supportive of every single collection. Each and every single model walking down the runway(s) was greeted with warm, enthusiastic applause. That’s one of my favorite things ever about the school’s fashion show, which shows how much loving support there are between the school, its students, and their families.

So without further ado, you can browse all of the 12 collections below. Once again, HUGE thanks to Christian Hadidjaja and Nicolas Ardelean for the awesome photos. Enjoy!

Photos by Christian Hadidjaja and Nicolas Ardelean.

Sophia Lemos

The soft and feminine garments of Ms. Lemos is a great start to the fashion show. The collection “juxtaposes the angular shapes and industrial textures of the Constructivist art and architecture movement of the 1930s against the softness of modern textiles.” The drape and flow of these garments made of knits, crepes, and gauzes are poetic and sensual, but far from fragile. The strategic sheer panels and cut-out details provide contemporary finish that is both alluring and empowering.

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Rieko Cho

Ms. Cho uses creamy milk tea color poured on garments with soft shoulders and (mostly) above-the-knee hemlines to convey charming innocence. The circular shapes and knots further the childlike fluffiness, while lace and organza maintain feminine allure of the garments.

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Caitie Dodge

Here I Amis
I love how Ms. Dodge explores the “tension between the need to hide and the craving to be seen” in her collection. This very relevant self-conflict is showcased with twisted textured knits, as well as flashes of burned orange on top of solemn gray. The last look of this collection conveys her concept most clearly – relaxed, casual, yet subtle twists and creases of the top may suggest the turmoil within.

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Moises Estrada

This is one of my favorites of the night. By the time the first model walks out, I fall in love with the fierce heroine attitude of the garments. Mr. Estrada “pays homage to the World War II night witches, the fearless female aviators whose dangerous nighttime missions flew under the radar and dodged bullets that threatened to set their canvas planes alight.” I’m totally on board with the whole mix of denim outerwear and strapping, oversize grommet details on belts and pockets, and contrasting top-stitch lines on the structured pieces.

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Jiyun Moon

Origami is always one of the most popular inspirations fashion designers like to draw from. Sometimes, the results are too literal (folds and layers of structured fabrics, anyone?). Thankfully, this collection has none of that. Deriving from “rebellious Korean street fashion and skateboarding aesthetics”, the first menswear collection of the night looks youthful and fresh with diagonal cut accents.

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Tiantong Zhou

These long columnar lines of exudes a zen-like quality. This collection is meant to balance “the hard architectural shapes of the urban with the raw, desolate beauty of the wilderness.” The textured wool and rib knit garments certainly look cozy AND chic.

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Melyssa Yanga

Delicate and light, this collection’s silhouettes “recall [lotus] blooms encased in glass.” The natural fibers (silk, cotton, linen, and wool) used to create this collection are decorated with subtle laser etching details. This collection reminds me of a woman’s natural beauty at its finest hour: relaxed, confident, and grounded.

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Kristi Pak

I love everything about this collection. The chunky fisherman’s sweaters styled with the yellow rain boots are so on-point. I especially LOVE the third look: cropped chunky knit and suspender skirt with wide box pleat details. The air of nostalgia is strong, and I feel all warm and cozy inside just looking at these garments. Definitely one of my favorites of the night!

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Elina Xie

Inspired by Alphonse Mucha’s painting Rose, which “depicts a fierce woman with a bold gaze, cloaked in the thorny stems of climbing roses,” Ms. Xie’s bridal collection is so on-trend. The non-traditional fabrics, adorned with hand beading, embroideries, and barbed textures made with laser cut and embossing techniques materialize into modern garments for weddings and beyond. Although these bridal ensembles may be hit or miss, the models’ bouquet toss at the end was certainly a hit with the audience. I guess we now know that four lucky people are about to get married soon :)

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Wenxin Zheng

Fin De Si├Ęcle
Ah, I’m such a sucker for these oversized, long silhouettes with seemingly Asian-esque shapes. That being said, the collection name is actually French for “end of the century.” It’s a stunningly grounded collection, rich with introspective tones about “time of despair, but also of hope, a moment of valued beauty that was not conventionally beautiful.” Poetic, soulful, and feminine, it’s as I would find a peaceful sanctuary wearing any of these garments.

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Nicole Adames

The second (and last) menswear collection of the night conveys the different meanings of ‘anomaly’ very effectively. The overall attitude is cool and collected while keeping a youthful edge, and the garments feature straps, patchworks, and quirky styling with wooden mannequin models. Moreover, the carefree shapes combined with subdued colors give this strong collection a special kind of swagger.

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Caroline Chun

So What.
Ms. Chun’s collection is arguably the most carefree of the bunch. She seems confident of her own design direction and just wants to create what she likes. Out of the garments she presented on the runway, my favorite is the dress shirt. Fun fact: a week later, when I bumped to Amy Williams at a local fashion event, I was informed the dress shirt is sold already! I’m really looking forward to Ms. Chuns’ first post-graduation professional collection.

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After the finale walk, Amy Williams invited Marilee Avteniev of Levi Strauss & Co. to present Levi Strauss & Co. Emerging Talent Award. It seemed they’re saving the best for last: Caroline Chun is the latest winner of the award! When she gave the microphone to Caroline for a few words, Caroline chose to thank Amy Williams for doing an awesome job as Fashion Design Chair. Apparently next year, Ms. Williams is going to step down as Fashion Design Chair and go back to teaching. It’s so sweet to see Caroline half-ran to Amy Williams to hug her. So sweet!