Academy of Art University Graduate Fashion Show, San Francisco, CA. Spring 2012.
Written by Julio Cortez
Last Thursday, the Academy of Art University hosted their annual Graduation Fashion Show and Awards Ceremony inside San Francisco’s treasured Cannery Building. The waterfront brick facade housed H.R.H. Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Sarah Burton, and Philip Treacy as the evening’s honorary guests, as well as other esteemed university alumni and the who’s who of Bay Area fashion in support of the academy’s emerging artists and designers.
The festivities began around three in the afternoon with a friends and family presentation consisting of graduating students’ design portfolios and a sneak peek at the runway. Guests gathered around the Cannery’s breezy courtyard while browsing what the next generation of fashion and textile design has to offer, including presentations by graduating fashion merchandisers and textile designers.
ASTONISH spoke with Director of the School of Fashion Simon Ungless about the road many of his students have endured in their evolution as designers.
“A lot of the time, students ask themselves, ‘What’s in it for me?’, instead of remembering that what really matters is the experience itself,” says Ungless of the internship process. Shadowing the art and craft of someone else gives students the opportunity to ask questions and absorb technique through first hand encounters. Ungless’ advice is priceless, after all - he is the man responsible for raising Sarah Burton’s reign in the Alexander McQueen family.
Gladys Perint Palmer, Executive Director of the School of Fashion, introduced the academy’s special guests from behind her infamous shield-like sunglasses.
Up first was Sarah Burton, who was presented with a Doctorate of Humane Letters for her outstanding achievements at Alexander McQueen over the last seventeen years. “Along the way, she also created a wedding dress,” jokes Palmer, noting Burton’s recent designer of the year awards. The crowd erupted in laughter and a roar of applause as Burton accepted her award for her contributions to the arts, thanking her late friend and mentor, Lee McQueen, in return.
H.R.H. Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud is a stunning example of civic advocacy and leadership, working with organizations that focus on fashion and its effects on culture internationally. It’s no surprise that she was also presented with a Doctorate of Humane Letters for her profound contributions to art and design.
According to Palmer, when Philip Treacy was a little boy, he grew up across the road from a British church where weekly weddings served as fashion shows. Fascinated by the glamorous creatures, he began sewing dresses and hats for dolls fashioned out of his mother’s chickens, geese, pheasants. and ducks. “Don’t you think it’s weird this boy is making dresses for dolls,” a neighbor asked Treacy’s father, which he responded to with, “whatever makes you happy.” “Those are the kinds of fathers we like,” says Palmer as the crowd erupts in another round of applause for Treacy’s Doctorate of Humane Letters.
“I would like to give a big thank you for those backstage waiting for all of us to stop talking so they can start the show,” joked Academy of Art President Dr. Elisa Stephens as she kicked off the 2012 runway show. After all, the evening belonged to the surprises the graduates had in store.
ASTONISH spotted the Honorable Willie L. Brown, Jr. making a fashionably late entrance into his front row seat as the runway commenced with an opening of horror film inspired prints and architectural doll-like pieces by Renata Lindroos. In contrast, the models donned slicked back hair and bright orange to nude lips.
Eli Daniel Odisho collaborated with textile designer Miriam Tolentino on a collection of denim draped dresses inspired by the designer’s childhood memories of Catholic art and his grandmother’s house. “I didn’t want to be literal with the Virgin Mary inspiration, so I had to edit down the shells and crosses,” Odisho tells ASTONISH of his graduation portfolio.
The runway introduced new talent to the art and fashion worlds, launching some graduates into a frenzy worth screaming over. Two fashion graduates were selected for internships with Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, meanwhile Philip Treacy went rogue and invited an absent accessory design student to join him at his millinery overseas.
After the runway, ASTONISH caught up with Philip Treacy for a quick chat as guests made their way out into the Cannery Square’s crisp night. As Treacy congratulates the crowd of graduates and attendees forming around him at the runway’s edge, he announces, “this calls for a drink!”
Well, if you insist.
Renata Lindroos, Mina Fadaie, Hely Nguyen, Erica Laba, Liza Quinones, Emma Mengchen Yang, Ethan Chihuan Yang, Rumi Iwasaki, Rachael Sansom, Chelsea Levinson, Kim Tran, Orly Ruaimi, Joe Chung, Mimi Iwasaki, Steven La Fuente, Lenny Kovner, Antonio Luna, Eli Daniel Odisho, Miriam Tolentino, Jacqueline Rabot, Julie Seltzer, Zhangchi Wang, Angela Sison, Massa Ito.
Honorary Guests of the Night:
Sarah Burton, Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Philip Treacy.