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Academy of Art University’s Graduation Fashion Show Wows San Francisco

It’s the event that all Academy of Art University Fashion students await: the Spring Graduation Fashion Show and Awards Ceremony.



Academy students, faculty and staff mingled with the fashion elite during a pre-show reception. Graduating students had an opportunity to present their collections to some of the most influential people in the industry. Besides Guests of Honor Ralph Rucci and James Galanos, guests included local style icon Tatiana Sorokko, George Zimmerman, founder of the Men’s Wearhouse, Cameron Silver, owner of the Decades boutiques and Michael Fink, VP Women's Fashion Director at Saks Fifth Avenue. 

“I’m glad we’re finally to this point,” said Katrina Cordiale, a BFA Textile Design major was showing a Menswear collaborative collection with partner Eric Tan. “We haven’t seen our collection on the runway yet so we’re very, very excited.”  Katrina is also the first prize winner of the 2008 Surtex Student Design Competition in the Home Elements category.

The up-and-coming fashion designers were excited to see people interacting with their work outside of the classroom. This experience provided an excellent networking opportunity as many of them will be looking for jobs after graduation in May. Some students, however, have already landed jobs.

Kamolrath Maneepairoj, who is pursuing her MFA in Visual Merchandising, just got a job in the fine jewelry department at Barney’s in San Francisco. Though her jewelry line, Gamenn, wasn’t in the evening’s runway show, she drew a number of people to her table with her stunning designs.

Henry Dion Reyes II was thrilled to be showing his menswear collection, inspired by Egon Schiele illustrations. He took classic menswear pieces and gave them a rock and roll feel. Schiele’s dark illustrations of vulnerability and loneliness set the mood for his collection.

“This is so surreal,” he said about being able to show on the runway. “It is what you dream of all through college. I’m super stoked!”


              Dr. Elisa Stephens presents a Doctor of Humane Letters to James Galanos

Dr. Elisa Stephens, President of Academy of Art University, kicked off the runway show by presenting legendary designers James Galanos and Ralph Rucci with Doctor of Humane Letters, thanking them for their impact on the world of design and contribution to the arts.

“San Francisco should be proud of itself because this doesn’t exist anywhere in the world!” exclaimed Ralph Rucci, regarding the Academy’s prestigious School of Fashion. He also noted that this award was better than any fashion award he has received because it came from students.

               (L-R) Alyssa Prentice, Ronnie Escalante Jr., Katrina Cordiale and Eric Tan

A unique element of the Academy’s School of Fashion is the amount of collaboration that occurs with different departments. Not only do Fashion Design Students collaborate with Textile and Knitwear Design students, but they also work with students in the School of Fine Art Sculpture department. Visually stunning sculptural jewelry accentuated breathtaking designs, eliciting cheers from the audience.

                (L-R): SoojiLee and Tura Sudgen, Katie Lares, Henry Dion Reyes II

After the runway show came to a close, the student designers gathered on stage and eagerly awaited the announcement of who would be named Ralph Rucci’s interns. Alyssa Prentice and Ronnie E. Escalante, Jr. were met with uproarious applause when their names were called. Alyssa’s geometry-inspired collection was cool and clean while Ronnie’s collection of eveningwear dazzled and brought the show to a glamorous close.


                 (L-R): Ralph Rucci, Dr. Elisa Stephens, Ronnie E. Escalante, Jr. and Alyssa Prentice

Like preceding years, the fashion media is already buzzing about the Academy students’ remarkable designs.

“I can’t get over how good these students are,” wrote local journalist Dino-Ray Ramos in his InsideBayArea.com fashion blog. “They have distinct vision and a creativity that cannot be duplicated.”

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