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Fashion Students Draw Attention of Local Press

The Academy of Art University's School of Fashion is the best fashion department in America, and newspapers are starting to notice. Maureen French's story was published in the Contra Costa Times about two outstanding Academy students.

Abigail McCannon
Abilgail McCannon
Alix Hadley
Alix Hadley

Local students are sew talented in fashion world
By Maureen French

If you ask Abi McCannon and Alix Hadley where the fashion capital of the world is, they might answer Oakland. It's their capital anyway, and it's where their live/work studio is located. Both Alix, 24, and Abi, 25, are graduating seniors at the Academy of Art University, and their collections will hit the runway on May 24.

Abi McCannon hails from Iowa. She transferred to the Academy from the University of Iowa, and she realizes she's a long way from home. Abi's inspiration for her collection is jazz from the 1920s through the 1950s. Abi loves to work with the contradictions between feminine and masculine looks. She wants to use vintage handbags and shoes on the catwalk to enhance the period quality of her clothing.

Alix Hadley was born in Florida but has lived in Virginia and Georgia. She transferred from the Savannah College of Art and Design because Savannah didn't have the benefits of a big city like San Francisco. The concept for Alix's collection is "Freedom Culture." She tries to incorporate elements of many different cultures into her creations. Alix uses antique kimono fabrics for linings, she attaches sleeves with intricate beads, and uses cashmere from 1940s France. She likes to use old and new, and finds her treasures at flea markets, auctions, estate sales and second hand shops.

Alix and Abi met their second year at the Academy, and have been friends and collaborators ever since. Both women share a live/work space in Oakland. Their studio is one of the largest rooms in the space. It is covered with fabric, a drafting table, sketches, irons, dress forms, and an industrial sewing machine. It is a jumble of creative energy, and it's where Abi and Alix do their best work. Alix says "commuting time is sewing time, so a home studio really works for us." They both agree that having their own work space makes the process a little easier, although you would never characterize this process as "easy."

In order to have your collection shown at the graduation show, you have to commit to a year of intensity and sometimes, heartbreak. Being in the show starts with a concept rendered as sketches and honed to reflect the highest detail and workmanship. After the sketches, patterns have to be drafted for each piece.

Draping comes next, where you work all of the kinks out of your patterns and a prototype of sorts, made out of muslin (a thin unbleached cotton fabric) is crafted. Every detail has to work before you are able to cut and sew the collection out of your chosen fabrics. This process takes time and sheer determination, all for the glory of seeing your first official collection on the runway. After visiting Alix and Abi's studio and seeing some of their pieces, I have no doubt they both have a promising career in fashion design. These are talented students, ready to take the leap into the uncertain world of fashion.

To further increase the stress level of these students, for the May 24 show, the men of fashion will be honored and given honorary doctorates by Elisa Stephens, the university's president. The honorees include the bad boy of fashion, British designer Alexander McQueen, CEO of Macy's West, Robert Mettler, Wilkes Bashford purveyor of fine menswear, and Christophe Girard, the deputy mayor of Paris and director of fashion strategy of the LVMH Fashion Group. With this list of luminaries, no wonder the students have a case of the nerves.

For more information on our Fashion program, please visit our Fashion School pages.

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