The Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion turned out some amazing talent this year. Thursday’s graduation fashion show was my first time visiting an AAU Fashion event, and I was genuinely, thoroughly impressed. These students were educated in a city known for innovation but not at all celebrated for its influence in style. Seemingly they’re at a disadvantage. Yet one of San Francisco’s greatest strengths – its international blend of inhabitants – made its own huge presence in the show, permeating through each collection with levels of global refinement and inspiration that could only be achieved by people who really know how to travel and process ideas from multiple places. Judging by the major fashion houses these students are headed to for internships and work, San Francisco won’t be overlooked for fashion much longer.
So many students who showed their work deserve accolades, but my personal favorites were the collections from:
Zhangchi Wang – Amazing geometric wools. The shapes seemed embossed while still maintaining rigidity and volume. Unsurprisingly, Wang earned a scholarship that night. Oh, and an internship at Alexander McQueen. NBD.
Hely Nguyen – Looove his structured stuff! Tailored but light. There was a brushed metallic sheen to his fabrics, but it wasn’t industrial, just extremely chic.
Ethan Yang – More amazing. Totally made me think of Alexander Wang. Also, he was born in Taiwan but grew up in Athens, Greece, which sounds like a really interesting upbringing.
Julie Seltzer – I cannot get over the textiles she created for partner Jacqueline Rabôt’s collection. Ryan from Astonish got a hold of the sketches. Check these out, but imagine them in person:
Fashion Design and Animation and Visual Effects Collaboration – Well this was just amazing. Stop motion puppetry and couture-level costuming at a doll’s size. Kudos to Maria Azucena Romero, Travis Weaver, Victoria Simiele, Mierya Francoso, Dorthy Thielsen, Federico La Tona, Benjamin Arthur, and Luke Night.
For me, the biggest pull to the show was seeing Sarah Burton. Not having been in the recognizable Bay Area fashion crowd in 2006, I did not get to see Lee Alexander McQueen receive a doctorate from AAU. I very rightly saw this go of it as my only chance to be (even somewhat) in the presence of his successor as she accepted her own doctorate from the school.
San Francisco fashion fun fact? Simon Ungless, the Director of the School of Fashion, introduced Burton to McQueen, and it was through that meeting that she earned an internship in the AMQ fashion house. How amazing is that! Ungless himself tutored Burton at St. Martin’s and worked exclusively for Alexander McQueen as well.
I’m telling you. In San Francisco, you’re either sitting next to Mark Zuckerberg for sushi or you’re lining up for coffee behind the guy who identified the current director for Alexander McQueen.
But I don’t know her name.
Philip Treacy, ridonkulous milliner extraordinaire, also attended and received an honorary doctorate from AAU that night. But the best Treacy moment was when he awarded one of the AAU students an internship. According to the AAU staffers behind me, he completely surprised the school, the teacher, and its students when he asked to drop in on one of the hatmaking classes. He went from student to student, surveying each of their works individually. So when he took the podium, people were antsy to hear what he had to say.
He bumbled about for a bit, and then he admitted “I don’t know this student’s name.” After conferring with the instructor for a minute, he returned to the mic to announce his chosen intern.
There’s something incredibly refreshing about a powerhouse name behind a mic who simply liked someone’s work but didn’t prepare a fancy speech to announce her. Or catch her name.
Anyway, congrats to that intern, the Alexander McQueen interns (one of them is Zhangchi Wang), and everyone who completed an amazing feat of work for the Academy of Art. I can’t wait to see where you all land so I can get my hands on some amazing pieces.