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Spring & Fall 2018 Fashion Collections Debut in NYC

The Academy’s School of Fashion premiered spring 2018 and fall 2018 collections by recent BFA and MFA graduates at New York Fashion Week: The Shows. Ten designers presented a total of five womenswear and two menswear collections, with two of the collections for the world-famous fashion show being collaborative efforts.

Graduates participating in the show:

  • Hailun Zhou
  • Eden Slezin
  • Dina Marie Lam
  • Carlos Rodriguez
  • Rheanna Oliver-Palanca
  • Saya Shen
  • Joanna Jadallah
  • Cana Klebanoff
  • Ryan Yu
  • Jelly Shan

“Working with the designers has been an honor for me,” says Fashion School Executive Director Simon Ungless. “A group like this does not come along often enough. They have built solid friendships through the process of collection development and have become a team. Each collection has an individual spirit, yet the process has been executed as a collective. The craftsmanship and techniques are couture and warrant a trip down the runway. Each designer has already achieved a level of success while maintaining maturity and humility that is rarely seen.”

Looking back to Fashion students’ first show at New York Fashion Week (NYFW), Academy President Elisa Stephens recalls, “We viewed the first NYFW show in September 2005 as a great platform to debut the collections of recent graduates who had received their MFA in fashion design. The accredited MFA degree program in fashion design was well-established, and the high caliber of work from students enrolled warranted an exceptional stage to introduce them to the industry.

“In 1996, the curriculum was rewritten by Bobby Hillson, who is the founder of the MA at Central Saint Martins, Ike Rust, the current MA Menswear Course director at Westminster, and Simon Ungless, who has cultivated the program of studies ever since as executive director of the School of Fashion. The Academy is honored to have a platform of this magnitude at NYFW: The Shows to present the work of graduates from both the BFA and MFA degree programs.”

“Every year our designers have shown an amazing showcase of their talent, and this year is no exception,” says Jayne Foster, graduate director of Fashion. “This group has crafted each collection, and every piece within their collection has its own unique identity. They have stayed true to their vision and pushed their creative process into collections that show exploration of silhouette and textile techniques.

“These are the designers who will inspire and lead the next generation of new creatives. It has been a privilege to work with them.”

Earlier in the year, four of the designers—Hailun Zhou, Eden Slezin, Dina Marie Lam and Rheanna Oliver-Palanca—were selected to showcase their work on another amazing platform: Fashion Future Graduate Showcase (FFGS), launched by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) in response to the vital need to support fashion graduates during their transition from school to career. The Academy was honored to join the inaugural showcase along with four other schools—in total, 85 graduates were invited to participate, 23 of them from the Academy. The students were each provided a booth at the curated exhibition that took place on May 23 and 24 in Manhattan. A bespoke section of the CFDA’s website was created to provide a high-profile platform in which to market their work. Student profiles and lookbooks will remain on the site for an entire year, giving them exposure during this important next step in their careers.

“I am thrilled that this showcase for fashion graduates has been created,” says Ungless. “This type of venue has been missing from the U.S. fashion education cycle for way too long, and it feels completely the right time to happen, and for Academy of Art University graduates to participate. It is deeply important for graduates from different schools to meet each other, share their work, and introduce themselves to industry as the next step to moving into their careers. The commitment to the industry and education shown by the CFDA and NYCEDC is what will lead us into the future.”


Hailun Zhou, MFA Fashion Design

Hailun Zhou was born and raised in Qing Dao, China. Zhou’s collection was inspired by observations and photographs she took while on a journey from San Francisco to the Oakland Museum of California, as well as the abstract sculpture “Volume and Space Organization” by artist Knud Merrild. “The combination of transparency and the use of letters are what I find most interesting,” says Zhou, who incorporated the geographical location of the museum into her designs. Materials for her collection include vinyl and PVC, as well as fabrics she created by fusing different materials together.

Eden Slezin (MFA Fashion Design)

Eden Slezin was born and raised in the Bay Area. Slezin was inspired by his “life and loves” for the sustainable menswear collection he created with locally sourced organic fabrics and recycled materials, including organic twill, organic denim, recycled cotton and recycled rubber. The use of denim represents his working-class upbringing and favorite denim piece, which is a 1940s U.S. Navy uniform jacket replica. Slezin used natural dyes with no chemicals and electric hand sanders for the denim plaid, argyle and stripe surface prints. Other noticeable influences throughout his collection include school uniforms, a nod to his age and his celebration of eternal youth, fetish wear—due to being a gay man in San Francisco and for his commitment to individuality—and the military, because, he says, “I was a U.S. Marine Corps officer for six years, and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Three companies sponsored his collection by donating fabric: @ConeDenim for organic denim, @AmourVert for white stripe and white check shirting, and @SportsBasement for recycled rubber bike tubes. While a student at the Academy, Slezin was a finalist in the Old Navy Design competition (2016), and the CFDA Elaine Gold Launch Pad (2017).

Dina Marie Lam (MFA Fashion Design), Carlos Rodriguez (BFA Fashion Design), Rheanna Oliver-Palanca (MFA Fashion Design)

Dina Marie Lam was born and raised in Los Angeles. Inspired by her emotions surrounding the passing of her aunt, Lam wanted to convey a feeling of transition in her collection, selecting soft and luxurious materials to evoke warmth and comfort. Lam has been honored with the BCBG Max Azria Super Intern (2017) recognition, presented annually one outstanding intern across the entire company.

Carlos Rodriguez was born in Mexico City and grew up in Clarksburg, Calif. He created embroidery featured in his collection by using a mixture of traditional hand and machine techniques to enhance the contemporary feel of Dina Marie’s collection. Recently, Rodriguez interned at fashion tech startup Savitude.

Rheanna Oliver-Palanca was born and raised in Kennebunk, Maine. Her wool blend knitwear echoed Rodriguez’ embroidery.

Saya Shen (MFA Fashion Design)

Saya Shen was born and raised in Beijing, China. For her debut collection, she was inspired by the black and white photography of Michael Kenna for her personal photographs of scenes in nature such as landscapes, trees, ocean waves and the topography of San Francisco. Snow forms she saw while visiting Hokkaido, Japan, last winter were the inspiration for the oversized silhouettes seen throughout her collection. In reference to her voluminous garments wrapped around each show model like fluffy hills of snow, Shen says, “We were in the mountains where everything was completely covered in snow. We were surrounded by nature and the snow was untouched and beautiful. I designed the collection to be oversized like the snow forms, and to be comfortable, as the scene was so peaceful.”

Joanna Jadallah (BFA Menswear Design), Cana Klebanoff (BFA Knitwear Design)

Joanna Jadallah was born in Chicago and grew up in Orange County, Calif. This collection was inspired by the strength of her ancestors, who were forced to flee Palestine, leaving their belongings and everything familiar behind. The designs capture the beauty of her culture and convey elements of her ancestors’ stories. Her collection includes the use of lightweight wool, suiting fabrics, lambskin leather, cashmere knits and brocades.

Cana Klebanoff was born in New York and grew up in New Jersey. Inspired by the armor of a Japanese culture, samurai armor, nature and the architecture of castles, his pieces communicate wearable comfort with a sense of pride and strength. Klebanoff interned for San Francisco-based designer Joseph Domingo (2011–2014) and was awarded the San Francisco-Paris Sister City Scholarship Exchange to study for a full academic year in Paris, France, at Studio Berçot (2017–2018).

Jadallah and Cana combined their passions to create a menswear collection of interesting silhouettes and surprising textures. “While our inspirations were different, our silhouettes were similar,” said Joanna. “We bring complementary perspectives to the table,” added Cana who had flown in from Paris a few days before the Saturday show, flew back on Sunday in order to begin classes at Studio Berçot on Monday.

Ryan Yu (MFA Fashion Design)

Ryan Yu was born and raised in Shenyang, Liaoning, China. For his collection, Yu was inspired by the expression of light and how it leads us from darkness…which came to him while listening to his favorite song, “In the Light” by Led Zeppelin. Feeling that this would be a good starting point for his collection, he conveyed the concept through bold contrast of black and white in patent leather, jersey and wool, all of which he sourced in the Bay Area. Yu believes that construction is the foundation of fashion. To achieve clean lines, shapes and silhouettes, he focused on the construction of his garments. While some in the audience commented on the futuristic silhouette of his debut collection, others saw references to the 1980s. Both may be correct.

Jelly Shan (MFA Fashion Design)

Jelly Shan was born and raised in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. Her collection was inspired by the sense of peace and joy she experienced while visiting northwest China. The religious environment—monks, temples and clothing—were especially interesting to her. The prayer flags that covered the mountainsides, faded by years in the wind and sun, inspired her to try different techniques on her cotton fabrics to achieve the same color effects. “When people would pray, they prayed for goodness and for others,” says Shan. “I want my collection to make people feel peaceful and full of joy.” Shan has interned as a designer at the Shanghai-based womenswear label Shushu/Tong, and at Max Studio by Russian-American fashion designer and retailer Leon Max.

• Hailun Zhou, @hailunzhou: Online portfolioFashion Future Graduate Showcase portfolio
• Eden Slezin, @designereden: Online portfolioArts Thread portfolioFashion Future Graduate Showcase portfolio
• Dina Marie Lam, @f.r.o.m_dinamarie: Arts Thread portfolioFashion Future Graduate Showcase portfolio
• Carlos Rodriguez, @carlos.rodgz: Online portfolio, Arts Thread portfolio
• Rheanna Oliver-Palanca, @ropalanca: Arts Thread portfolioFashion Future Graduate Showcase portfolio
• Saya Shen, @Shiin_Shen: Online portfolio
• Joanna Jadallah, @joannajadallah: Online portfolioArts Thread portfolio
• Cana Klebanoff, @cana_klebanoff: Arts Thread portfolioBehance portfolio
• Ryan Yu, @zynewyork: Arts Thread portfolio
• Jelly Shan, @jellysss: Online portfolio
• Keep up with the latest Academy fashion news at Fashion School Daily

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