Shows & Reviews  

Expect the Unexpected from Academy of Art University's Fashion Grads
Janette Maack


Designer's Challenge: Reining in the Creative Monster

In watching the show one can't help but acknowledge the fact that the creativity (though entertaining in its unspoiled purity) needs a dose of filtering. As young new designers the Academy of Art University fashion graduates have just begun the journey to defining their design philosophy and developing a signature style, and many will likely look back on this show as the beginning of their professional career. More than 30 design grads prepared for months to show their collections in the runway production, where hundreds of family, friends, and faculty gathered at the Morgan Theater in San Francisco to support the graduates' many weeks of hard work.

"Each year we select honorees who have made an outstanding contribution to the fashion industry and from whom students are able to learn"

In addition to the runway show, the Academy of Art University held its annual Awards Ceremony where the School of Fashion honored Prosper and Marine Assouline, founders of Assouline Publishing, and fashion illustrator David Downton with Doctorates of Humane Letters. "Each year we select honorees who have made an outstanding contribution to the fashion industry and from whom students are able to learn," said Dr. Elisa Stephens, president of the University. "We are delighted to have two of the most influential leaders in the publishing world and one of the most highly respected fashion illustrators".

2009 Spring Graduation Fashion Show

The Academy of Art University School of Fashion has been called "the best fashion school you've never heard of (Class Act, W Magazine, October 2008)," probably because it is the only fashion school to be offered the honor of showing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. Under the direction of legendary fashion writer and illustrator Gladys Perint-Palmer, Academy of Art University's fashion school has taken the industry by storm. Last week graduates of the Academy's BFA Fashion Design program made their runway debut with a Graduate Fashion Show that featured both individual and collaborative collections created by the students.

Overall the show was what one might expect from a decidedly creative group of runway first-timers: unusual silhouettes, asymmetrical cuts, and plenty of mixed-up prints.  Although unconventional, the collections were cohesive and showed profound attention to detail and construction.

Runway Standouts

The show began with a collaborative collection worked on by a group of third semester MFA Fashion Design students featuring fabrics donated by Britex Fabrics. The collaborative collection indeed stood out as the most cohesive, well-designed, and innovative portion of the show. The first look (usually the strongest in a designer's collection) was a voluminous, modern-cut wool coat. The remainder of the collaborative collection featured neutral colors (mostly black, grey, and ivory) and played on mixing textures. Subtle plaids were juxtaposed with oversized houndstooth prints, slouchy silhouettes were sharpened with the careful tailoring of coats and knee-length fitted skirts, and the overall effect was classy, modern, and definitely runway-worthy.

Popular throughout the collections were loose, voluminous silhouettes and asymmetrical cuts. There were an abundance of ankle-length tent dresses that were somewhat unappealing, but a good mix of lively prints may have made up for the lack of body-consciousness.  A standout designer is certainly Mary Kathryn Ryan, who showed a collection of artfully pleated, belted looks influenced by Native American handmade goods and Kathryn Hepburn. Ryan's fluid looks were a modern take on 1920's and 30's-inspired silhouettes, and her obvious flair for design shows in the beautiful cuts of her garments. Keep an eye out; if Mary Kathryn Ryan's graduate collection is any indication of her talent you will likely see more of this designer in the future.

 During their visit to the school the honorees continued their contributions to the world of art and design: Downton visited Fashion Illustration Students in the drawing studios at the Academy of Art University campus and the Assoulines selected two interns from the Fashion Merchandising and Fashion Journalism programs. Anika Brown was selected to work in the New York office, and Gena Banducci was selected for an internship with Assouline Publishing in Paris. The students will likely begin their internships this summer.  


Fotos Randy Brooke

Writer Janette Maack


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