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.
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
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
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.