Designer Profile and Inspiration Images by David Dooley/Runway Images by Randy Brooke/WireImage
Every designer dreams of showing their collection at Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week, and on Friday, February 7th that dream came true for 13 designers from the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University. “Since 2005, the School of Fashion has premiered the collections of students and recent graduates during New York Fashion Week. Part of our commitment to our students is to help launch their careers and have their work seen by industry professionals,” said Dr. Elisa Stephens, President of Academy of Art University. “Debuting these designers’ collections during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is an incredible opportunity for each of them.”
With more than 18,000 students, Academy of Art University is the nation’s largest accredited private art and design university. Established in 1929, the school offers accredited A.A., B.A., B.F.A., M.A., M.F.A., and M.Arch degree programs in Acting, Advertising, Animation & Visual Effects, Architecture, Art Education, Art History, Fashion, Fine Art, Game Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Interior Architecture & Design, Jewelry & Metal Arts, Landscape Architecture, Motion Pictures & Television, Multimedia Communications, Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media, Photography, Visual Development, and Web Design & New Media. Online degrees are offered in most areas. Academy of Art University is an accredited member of WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design), NAAB (Master of Architecture), and CIDA (Council for Interior Design Accreditation offered for BFA-IAD, MFA-IAD).
For the Fall 2014 season, 13 designers presented eight collections, four of which were collaborations between Fashion Design and Textile Design students. In total, six womenswear and two menswear collections were presented at the Academy of Art University Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week show.
Jaci Hodges, M.F.A. Fashion Design, collaborated with Nisha Hanna Btesh, B.F.A. Textile Design, on a 1960s-inspired womenswear collection that was created with the use of Shibori, the Japanese technique of resistance felting. Originally from Austin, TX, Jaci holds a B.B.A. in Marketing with a minor in Philosophy. Additionally, she recently completed a design internship with gr.dano, a Bay Area ready-to-wear company co-founded by fellow alumna Jill Giordano. Nisha is a California native, born and raised in San Diego. Jaci and Nisha were inspired by the excess of prints worn during the late 1960s, in particular to those seen on the Brady Bunch, and the costumes worn by Mia Farrow in the film Dandy in Aspic.
Frank Tsai, M.F.A. Fashion Design, collaborated with Andrea Nieto, B.F.A. Textile Design, on a menswear collection inspired by the mood and emotion of an international photography collection, “Beauty in Decay,” personal struggle, raw emotion, and the different stages of the healing process. Frank was born and raised in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, earned a B.S. Degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising, was awarded high honors for his undergraduate fashion show, and worked as the Marketing Manager for FU YU Clothing Company. Andrea grew up in Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, is on the Academy of Art University President’s Honor List, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship through the YMA Scholarship Fund as a Geoffrey Beene National Scholar, and recently finished a design internship at BCBGMAXAZRIA.
Elizabeth Castellon, M.F.A. Fashion Design, is originally from Bronx, NY. Before attending Academy of Art University, she graduated from The High School of Fashion Industries, and then went on to complete her B.S. in Human Ecology, with a concentration in Fashion Design. Her Fall 2014 menswear collection is comprised of leather, a variety of wools, and upholstery fabrics. She took inspiration from futuristic architecture, interiors, sculptures, and incorporated themes from 1930s sportswear. Her goal was to blend the classic tailoring elements that traditionally embody menswear with an abstract, futuristic appearance.
Mingyu Du, M.F.A. Fashion Design, collaborated with Joseph Khawane, M.F.A. Textile Design, on a womenswear collection made of unique fabrics including army tent and parachute materials, wool blankets, and cotton canvas. They were inspired by the mod fashions of the 1960s as well as the attitude and freedom of the youth from that period. Originally from Qinhdao, China, Mingyu earned a B.F.A. in Fine Art and Calligraphy and won the National Dragon Cup Painting Calligraphy Competition in Beijing, China. Joseph was born in Fairfax, VA, and grew up in Baltimore, MD. After earning his B.F.A. in Fashion Design, he worked on theatre set and costume design, as well as millinery production. His design internship with Aysha Saeed in NYC inspired him to pursue his M.F.A. degree at Academy of Art University. He drew inspiration from Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui and Syrian contemporary artist Diana Al-Hadid.
Jasmine Gonzalez, M.F.A. Fashion and Knitwear Design, grew up in San Jose, CA. Before attending Academy of Art University, she earned a B.S. in Apparel Design and Merchandising. She has interned with design companies N.I.C.E. Collective, gr.dano, Jessica McClintock, and most recently with Rodarte on their Spring 2013 show. Her Fall 2014 womenswear collection includes hand-knitted pieces, hand-made yarns, and hand-dyed velvet, and was inspired by the idea of all cultures combining as one. The main details of her knits were taken from the design of Fabergé eggs, while the oversized silhouettes showcased in her collection were inspired by Jasmine’s reinterpretation of traditional Inuit outerwear.
Arijana Kajdic, M.F.A Fashion Design, was born in Velika Kladu”a, Bosnia. At six years old her family immigrated to Ravensburg, Germany where they received asylum until the end of the Bosnian War. Her family eventually migrated to Boise, Idaho where she earned her B.A. in Communications and English. For her collection, she blended elements of masculine design with feminine treatment, all the while paying homage to the women who have nurtured her, in particular her grandmother. Her collection has an immense amount of handwork, ranging from hand-dyeing to hand-beading. French lace company Sophie Hallette provided the lace, and other fabrics used include alpaca, mohair, wool, suiting, cotton, silk, and gauze. After graduation, she will begin a six-month Assistant Designer Trainee Program at St. John Collection.
Flora Cervantes, M.F.A. Fashion Design, collaborated with Lori Solem, M.F.A Fashion and Textile Design, on a collection constructed from canvas, cotton, wool, and latex. Flora grew up in Warwick, NY, and holds a B.A. in International Political Economy and Business Administration and an A.F.A in Fashion Design. Flora drew inspiration from the environment, in twisted shapes found in nature, and in the way human emotions are bent and gnarled by life experiences. Lori hails from Sumas, WA where she earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis on Fashion Design, Sustainability, and Social Accountability. Lori was inspired by gritty industrial textures and illustrations of the French artist Gustave Doré.
Earnest Huang, MFA Fashion Design, collaborated with Hong Ni, M.F.A. Textile Design, on a Fall 2014 womenswear collection made of natural materials such as leather, wool, and cotton, as well man-made fabrics Phifertex and Viscose. Earnest was born in Taichung, Taiwan where he completed his B.A. in Humanities and Social Sciences. Earnest was inspired by his travels to Hong Kong. Hong is from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, and holds a B.F.A. in Textile Design and an M.F.A. in Textile Interior Design and Fashion Trend Research. Her many accomplishments include earning the 2010 Chinese National Art Exhibition Award, teaching at her undergraduate alma mater, and being the chief designer for two fashion companies, LingLuoHui and Dacheng Cityscape Design LLC. While a student at Academy of Art University, her 3.78 GPA earned her a spot on the President’s Honor List. Her textile designs were inspired by the scale and fine details of aerial view photography and contour maps of the countryside.
Approximately 2,500 fashion students study under the guidance of experienced fashion professionals in the School of Fashion, which houses the following areas of specialization: Fashion Design for Womenswear, Menswear, and Childrenswear; Technical Design; Textile Design; Knitwear Design; Accessory Design; Fashion Illustration; Fashion Journalism; Fashion Marketing; Fashion Styling; Fashion Merchandising; and Visual Merchandising.
The University works with international brands and recruitment agencies on internships and job placement. Graduates have gone on to such companies as Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Alexander McQueen, Azzedine Alaïa, Banana Republic, BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP, Blanc de Chine, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Corso Como 10, Chloë, Diane Von Fürstenberg, Donna Karan, Gap, Kate Spade, Kiton, L.A.M.B., L’Ecole Lesage Paris – Atelier de Broderie, Liz Claiborne, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Martin Margiela, Martine Sitbon, Missoni, Nike, Nordstrom, Northface, Old Navy, Oscar de la Renta, Pamela Dennis, Phillip Lim, Pottery Barn, Ralph Lauren, Reebok, Roland Mouret, St. John, Threeasfour, Tocca, Viktor & Rolf, and Williams Sonoma.
Guests to the School of Fashion include Azzedine Alaïa, Prosper and Martine Assouline, Max and Lubov Azria of BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP, Yigal Azrouël, Geoffrey Beene, Rose Marie Bravo, Sarah Burton, Andrew Buckler, Julie Chaiken, The Honorable Bertrand Delanoë Mayor of Paris, David Downton, Steven Cox and Daniel Silver of Duckie Brown, Patrik Ervell, Loulou de la Falaise, James Galanos, Neil Gilks of the CFDA, Joan Kaner, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony, Antonio Lopez, Fern Mallis, Alexander McQueen, Rosita and Tai Missoni, Isaac Mizrahi, Josie Natori, Christina Neault of IMG Fashion, Ian Hannula and Joe Haller of N.I.C.E. Collective, Elisa Palomino, Laure du Pavillon, Zac Posen, Oscar de la Renta, Zandra Rhodes CBE, Ralph Rucci, Nathalie Rykiel, HRH Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Jeremy Scott, Carla Sozzani, Philip Treacy, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Van Saene, and Dame Vivienne Westwood DBE, as well as Christophe Girard Director of Fashion Strategy of LVMH Fashion Group, Robin Givhan, Cathy Horyn, and Suzy Menkes.