fashion Designers

Academy of Art University: Stars Are Born

When Stars are born: Academy of Art University Presents Spring/Summer 2017 Collections during New York Fashion Week.

Being a writer, I am always interested in people’s stories. Where do they come from? What made them choose one profession over the other? What made them successful? Usually, these stories are told from the position of achievement glancing into the past. However, it is even more fascinating to see the beginning of careers, the budding talents, and yet unformed points of view, and wonder where life would take them.

Yearly, the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University in San Francisco collaborates with New York Fashion Week to showcase the works of the most promising students. This year, on the 20th anniversary of this collaboration, thirteen students were selected to debut their S/S 2017 collections at NYFW. On Saturday, September 10th at The Arc, Skylight at Moynihan Station, thirteen unique visions were presented to the public for their first professional review.

Simon Ungless, Executive Director of the School of Fashion said: “… Each designer holds a unique and thoughtful vision. The collections honor the essence of our industry and carry a conscientious connection to textiles, three-dimensional design, tailoring, and construction techniques. It has been a pleasure for us to guide them into preserving their individuality and integrity.”

Well, I consider it a pleasure to introduce each one of the selected students and share with you a glimpse of their vision and introduce them to our readers. I hope you enjoy.

Nina Nguyen Hui

Nina Nguyen Hui’s thesis collection drew inspiration from the sea corals and the organic nature of their patterns. Combining fierce and unforgiving nature of coral with the softness of their beauty, the designer created flowing, soft garments that are both powerful and fragile. Designs incorporated various decorative techniques, featuring elaborate tambour beading, embroidery, and laser cutting. The overall look appears both youthful and refined – a great combination.

Lindsey Trueman

Lindsey Trueman designed her collection with the notion of continuation of her family’s heritage. The combination of her great-great grandmother’s story and the Native American roots produced a unique blend of strict tailoring and rough textiles. The garments are constructed of repurposed grain sacks bearing original embroidered initials and burn-out brocade that speak of the past, while crisp tailored silhouettes focus your mind on to the future.

Dora Li

Dora Li’s inspiration also came from a historical narrative. She re-envisioned the images of 1930’s children workers, wearing adults’ clothes, into a touching collection of loose proportions that featured high waists, pleats, and oversized silhouettes constructed from fabrics created in collaboration with Carly Dean. The fabrics developed in the burnout technique were inspired by unexpected textures found throughout the city.

Ben Ellis

Ben Ellis upholds strong ethical and sustainable practices in his design work that he developed seeing first-hand the dramatic deterioration of nature in his native Alaska. His Sprint 2017 collection is built out of repurposed denim and jersey fabrics, and bears influences of the Fauvism oeuvre of French artist Andre Derain.

Yi Ru Chen

Yi Ru Chen created her collection in collaboration with Jing Qian (Textile Design), incorporating the allusion of water both in the fabric patterns, and in the garments’ forms. Collective imagination of the two young designers aimed to express the changeable and soft feeling of melting forms and streams. Fluid silhouettes combined 1920’s shapes with minimalist draping, enhanced by abstract prints in large brush strokes and giant flowers executed on organic cotton and jersey.

Yolanda Chiu

Yolanda Chiu devotes her talents to the development of jewelry and metal art. For Spring 2017, she designed a collection of glasses executed in acrylic and adorned with western patterns and motifs. Baroque-styled laser cut frames in eye-catching pop-art colors were presented with two collections in the runway show and served as playful, yet whimsical accents that highlighted the accompanying garments.

GeuMi Lee

GeuMi Lee’s collection is based on the ideas of athleticism and orientalism. Traditional Asian garments are seamlessly blended with active sportswear, creating a unique and identifiable style distinctly her own. Application of fabrics, such as polyethylene and polypropolene, allows for the construction of sophisticated sculptural forms in the shape of traditional football jackets, boxing shorts and martial arts skirts.

Brandon Kee

Brandon Kee focused on creating a menswear line that combines oversized cuts with aviation inspired details. The overall aesthetic alludes to 90’s hip hop culture and Chinese anti-gravity pilot suits of the 1970’s. To further “futurise” the impression, he applied rust die technique to transform conventional materials and reversed the jacquard fabric to showcase the ‘wrong’ side.

Melissa Kheng

Melissa Kheng also presented a menswear collection. Like Brandon Kee, she focused on the oversized silhouette; however her inspiration was drawn from the unabashed masculinity of Japanese Bosozoku subculture with elements of traditional fishermen. Jackets and coats in waxed cotton, oversized pockets, layered panels and laser cut graphics create the style of visual unification that exemplifies the meaning of solidarity and group belonging. Classic street wear shapes offer distinct usability and mass customer appeal.

Natalya Sheveleva

Natalya Sheveleva specializes in knitwear design. Her Spring 2017 presentation was inspired by the unlikely evolution of the notions of Art Deco architecture and Arnold Schoenberg’s musical theory “Emancipation of Dissonance”. The collection is a challenging representation of the synergy of the opposites: warm and cold colors, geometric lines and soft fluid draping. Every stitch of the designs was applied to convey the overall graphic composition, incorporating the idea of a textile print into knitwear.

Anita Szu-Yi Chen

Anita Szu-Yi Chen, another knitwear designer, in her thesis collection explores the dichotomy of appearance and expectations in the construction of clothing. Her designs take on angular shapes, uncommon for knitwear. She purposefully applies structured folds to further play up the dichotomy, and creates the knitted patterns to be reversible with aesthetically attractive surfaces on both sides.

My overall impression of the showing is that of raw talent, unabashed creativity and wild youthful spirit. It is the desire to conquer the world that drives the young to break the boundaries and open new frontiers. Inspiring and provocative, however, it was somewhat lacking in sophistication and refinement expected from the Maitres of Fashion. Alas, they have a long road ahead of them. We wish them the BEST!

Photography by: Bob Toy