You are invited to our biggest fashion event of the season, the Academy of Art University School of Fashion Graduation Fashion Show. After a grueling eight months of preparation, our top Fashion students send their collections down the runway. If you love fashion, you don’t want to miss this event.
Graduation Fashion Show
Meet the Designers
Read the stories behind these talented student-designers. Select an image to uncover the inspirations behind their collections.
- Ana Karen Juarez Ibarra
Ana Karen Juarez Ibarra
Starting a Revolution
Strong women. That’s the inspiration behind B.F.A. fashion design student Ana Karen Juarez Ibarra’s senior thesis “In Between.” And she should know; she’s one of them. The design student earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s in advertising, before moving onto her third degree in fashion design. “I got married, but I didn’t want to be a housewife. My parents didn’t raise me that way,” she said.
"This collection is influenced by the strong women that molded me while growing up: my mother, my grandmother and Frida Kahlo,” Juarez Ibarra said. The rebirth of Frida Kahlo in the work of Barcelona artist Antoni Gaudi served as the primary form of inspiration. Coming off the heels of the year of #MeToo, Juarez Ibarra’s collection highlights the power of females and the importance of their voices being heard.
“My clothes are for a woman who is true to herself, confident, forgiving and loving, that breaks the stereotypes, not a feminist but a revolutionary woman, with a positive state of mind in the most difficult situations,” said Juarez Ibarra.
“In Between” is also inspired by large-scale flowers. The silhouettes are voluminous and sculpted, resembling big petals that move in different directions. Mossy greens, light grays, rich purple, and scarlet hues form the color palette. The colorful garments may look as delicate and beautiful as a flower, but they’re structured and strong, a metaphor for the beauty and strength of women.
Growing up in the small town of Tulancingo, Mexico, Juarez Ibarra wasn’t exposed to the arts until a much later age. Emphasis was placed on math, science, and economics, stifling her creative streak. Studying fashion design and completing her collection is where she was finally able to feed her creativity and allow it to burgeon.
Excerpt by Adriana Georgiades
- Anna Yepes Tucker
Anna Yepes Tucker
A Dysfunctional Fashion Condition
What started with a piece of circular fabric from Goodwill ended up becoming a collection that explores the uncomfortable and strenuous feeling of self-doubt. Anna Yepes Tucker would constantly compare her work to others and minimize her ability to create compelling designs. Her journey towards this collection has to do with expressing imperfection, and, manifesting her struggle with confidence and perseverance. With her mind continually drifting to thoughts about not doing enough and, in her own words, “weird feelings,” Tucker came to discover the Japanese technique of Shibori.
This dyeing technique involves indigo dye and white fabric. After tying and wrapping fabric on circular objects, different patterns and volume emerge once the fabric is unveiled. Tucker was intrigued by the unusual forms that the technique creates. Out of control and disproportionate, each shape alludes to the uncontrollable feeling which Yepes compares to an infectious disease.
The neon colors of Tucker’s garments add life into what appears to be a chaotic explosion. Yellow-green, neon pink, orange, indigo, and dark green bring a sense of exuberance to the collection, showing that darkness also has a bright side. A Shibori strapless jumpsuit and an asymmetrical Shibori-dyed blouse with angled pants are a representation of the designer’s sassy attitude, which she also observes is “...a contradiction to [her] lack of confidence.” A baking container and several dome-shaped items became part of the process, being wrapped in wool, silk haboti, and crepe, and later boiled in a pot. Sewing the fabric together was the final step to ensure deliberate imperfection.
Just like a disease, questioning herself became a way of life, an inherent part of her. Aiming to showcase this feeling through her collection, Tucker wanted her shapes to make a statement, and Shibori was the perfect ally. The collection outlines the daily struggle designers go through in today’s competitive fashion world, and honors the emotional journey that’s hidden from the eye, yet ever so present.
Excerpt by Camila Encomendero
- Anna Yinan Zhou
Anna Yinan Zhou
Who would have thought that the love of your life would become your biggest nightmare? Sleepless nights, constant tears, and battling those inner demons. B.F.A. fashion design student Anna Yinan Zhou based her collection off of a heartbreak. For her, it became a way to express how the relationship made her feel--like she was choking. To create her collection, Zhou chose to put herself back into the sad emotions felt during her relationship. Even though times were dark for Zhou, she created videos of her shadow, symbolically allowing her shadow to speak and express feelings, instead of doing so herself.
Zhou’s silhouettes were inspired by the shape of her shadow while dancing, which she captured on film. She was unwilling to capture herself on camera because it represented the shame she felt from the relationship, whereas her shadow is free of that shame and represents her true self. Then, she would review the videos and take screenshots of the way her body was flowing and make dramatic sketches to interpret the shadows. Zhou also purchased a preowned wedding dress and sat in front of her camera, creating a mini video to serve as inspiration for her mood board. Zhou recalled memories and emotions from her difficult relationship; feelings of being controlled and at times ‘set up.’ Zhou gathered all of those feelings and transferred them into her collection.
She chose tulle and lace for her garments, the same type of fabrics used for wedding gowns; the same texture she would have yearned to feel if she was marrying the person she loved. Zhou uses black throughout her collection, representing notions of death, pain, and violence - the opposite of the standard wedding gown color, white, which is thought to symbolize purity and innocence.
Zhou was able to use her creativity and design to transition sadness into beauty; she doesn't want to mourn over what happened, instead she wants to show how much it made her grow as an individual. Working on this collection taught her that everyone who had a dark past could overcome it and get through. When watching her designs come down the runway, she wants her audience to experience something beautiful, with new appreciation, just like any person who overcame a relationship they initially thought they couldn't escape.
Excerpt by Madison Ahmani
- Anrong Huang
Staying up until 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m. was a part of B.F.A. fashion design student Anrong Huang’s daily routine. He describes those nights as a continuous search of trying to find ideal silhouettes for his garments and to realize the main idea for his collection - functionalism. Huang recalls waking up in the middle of the night to modify the sketches of garments he was working on. Ideas were continually popping into his mind and inspired him to symbolize change and versatility in his collection. Inspired by the idea of a multi-use garment and the “Vitruvian Man” drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci, Huang created looks that can be adapted to fit different styles and multiple personalities.
Reality focuses on the present; however, reality can change depending on one’s feelings and mood. Huang’s designs can transform into entirely different garments. In other words, one garment can transition into another just through a zipper or through a folding technique. Turning, folding, and closing are steps incorporated to modify every look into a different one. The transition involves going from casual to formal and using reflective fabric, highlighting a playful mood within the sophisticated collection. When it came to his silhouettes, he was aiming for avant-garde meets Da Vinci. The artist’s famous “Vitruvian Man” drawing, based on ideal human body proportions, inspired a look that can go from jacket to vest - reinforcing the notion of change and avoiding stability.
Wool, cotton, twill, and silk come together to create a garment that can evolve into a backpack. Its military wear influence is represented in the structured silhouettes that can be adapted into streetwear looks. Cold to warm, formal to casual, and sophisticated to streetwear are some of the features incorporated into the overall collection. These jackets, coats, suits, vests, and jumpsuits are born with the element of adaptation and the ability to survive over time.
Longevity is evident, primarily through the way these looks can be adapted to fit the wearer’s mood - another reference to Huang’s idea of designing for one’s ‘multiple personalities.’ Huang embraces the idea of anybody being able to wear his clothes and matching their character or style mood. The dilemma of choosing between different styles is no longer an issue with such a thoughtful and functional collection.
Excerpt by Camila Encomendero
- Aya Chang
Look At Her Now
With bright colors, cartoon-esque motifs, and a variety of patterns, B.F.A. fashion design student Aya Chang’s childrenswear collection symbolizes a happy and free childhood, one she sought to experience.
Bullied in school and insecure about her appearance, Chang designed her collection to evoke the vibrant, confident child she wished she was.
“I wanted to be happy. I don’t want my kids to grow through some of the struggles I went through. I want them to grow up like my garments did,” she said, pointing to her collection. “I never really felt like I belonged at school. I really struggled. Why are kids so mean?”
Many of the garments feature cartoon images reminiscent of children’s drawings, like denim dungarees with the face of a cartoon fox, a blue checkered skirt embellished with two cherry cupcakes, and an oversized sweater dress showcasing a cartoon car.
The colors range from various shades of pinks and purples to baby blues and bright oranges, and each look is heavily layered.
Most notable throughout the collection is the motif of the pineapple. Many of the garments feature quilted patches or deconstructed pineapple patches, a nod to Aya’s childhood nickname.
She achieved the nickname because of the way her childhood hair spiked up, but it is also a fitting metaphor of her personality.
Aya describes herself as soft on the inside, but hard on the outside, as years of bullying and torment forced her to present a tough exterior to the world to protect herself.
The pain of Chang’s childhood is a distant memory now. The collection serves as a winning embodiment of the designer’s newfound happiness, and the happiness she wishes to kids who will wear her collection.
Excerpt by Adriana Georgiades
- Beam Ratchapol Ngaongam
Beam Ratchapol Ngaongam
A Human Controversy
Making choices that alter the path of our lives is what makes life worth it. B.F.A. knitwear menswear design student Beam Ratchapol Ngaongam started his journey as a menswear designer; however, along the way, he became torn between his love for knitting and his passion for sewing.
Ngaongam was struck by the luxurious aspect that knitwear volume can offer, even more than the tedious knitting process itself.
A defining characteristic of his collection is complexity. It all started with the fascination of how the human body works and ended up being an exploration of sadness versus beauty and the point where they meet.
His journey as a knitwear designer includes sacrifice. The amount of commitment and work required are translated into a collection that symbolizes chaos in its oversized garments and excessive wrapping.
A moment of revelation happened when he realized how much the body could handle physically and emotionally.
Bringing the collection to life involved not only modifying garments daily, it also included his personal routine. At some point, the feeling of exploring the unknown made him question his abilities as a knitwear designer.
Not giving up, he would overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed and be surprised at how resilient his body was despite the pressure. His sketches show a reflection of him overcoming an internal struggle by incorporating vibrant colors into the exaggerated garments.
German-born American painter Hans Hofmann inspired Ngaongam’s use of color in a way that’s cheery and uplifting - a joy that can also be found by striving for our potential.
Confusion occurred as a result of following the same pattern every day, making him feel more like a robot than a human.
Fighting with himself and his mind, he persevered to create looks that resemble hope and the importance of seeking light in the darkness. Polyester, acrylic fiber, and merino wool come in vibrant colors like red, pink, blue and green to hide the uncomfortable feelings of anger, sadness, and fear.
Exaggerated and asymmetric silhouettes in hoodies, dresses, and jumpsuits show that amid the chaos there is still so much happiness to be found.
The curves and color combinations are proof of his survival process despite the hidden doubts and struggles underneath.
A representation of encouragement, his collection symbolizes not only surviving but also mastering, the creative process required to become a world-class knitwear menswear designer.
Excerpt by Camila Encomendero
- Camila Pinzon
Reconnecting With Heritage
From the colorful Barranquilla Carnival to Huila’s Bambuco Pageant and Folkloric Festival, spectacles and joyful events are plentiful in Colombia.
Looking to highlight the rich culture and high-spirited side of this country, Camila Pinzón, B.F.A. Fashion Design, was seeking to honor what she was blind to at first.
Growing up in Colombia, she didn’t appreciate what was in front of her, and it wasn’t until later, during a trip to Cartagena, that she felt the need to learn more about the place she calls home.
Colombia can be often associated with the dangerous world of drugs, and Pinzón wanted to express the unknown side that truly matters when it comes to her heritage.
Acknowledging the fact tourists get mesmerized by Colombia’s nightlife and luxurious hotels, rather than by the culture and traditions, she aims to highlight the difference.
Pinzón recalls walking down the streets of Cartagena with her family when she was younger, without giving its significance a second thought.
On a recent visit, instead of hanging out at bars or visiting the trendiest spots, she opted for museums and exhibitions that would connect her with her past on a deeper level.
Through silhouette and unique digital prints, Pinzón infused her collection with life and cheerfulness.
Her initial process involved creating her textiles; however, after seeing several 3-D objects generated by the Academy’s School of Game Development, Pinzón was inclined to do something unexpected.
Her discovery of the 3-D images featuring cubes and apples led to her choice to use more playful shapes and altering color tones and brightness.
Cotton satin blends were used to create collection pieces such as the balloon skirt, an oversized corded drawstring dress, and a short crossed body jumpsuit.
Pinzón honors her heritage in her debut collection by incorporating traditional ruffles of Colombian dress - details which emulate the beat and rhythm of the vallenato, capturing the eye with additional movement as the garments are worn.
The result is an honest homage to Colombia’s true essence, and Pinzón’s declaration of faith in the history and culture of her roots.
It is also a synthesis of happiness and joy, looking to challenge preconceived notions about her home country and to celebrate Colombia’s lively and colorful culture.
Pinzón collection reminds us to dig deeper, past sensational headlines and trendy locations, to get the full story.
Excerpt by Camila Encomendero
- Christopher Cabalona
Christopher Cabalona, BFA Fashion Design
A Refined Fool
“Life is beautiful, don’t waste it” is Christopher Cabalona’s mantra, and a glimpse of happiness during tough times is the guiding light for his collection. Cabalona, B.F.A. menswear design, found inspiration in the clowns of the early 1900s. His collection takes the element of joy and channels it into sophisticated and structured looks. Cabalona’s creation process involved hours and hours of precision tailoring and included excitement as well as periods of melancholy marked by a sense of burden.
For his collection, Cabalona incorporated metal hardware such as turn locks, purse closures, and clasps. He developed cropped jackets, bell bottom pants, tail-coat vests, and jumpers. Beige in color, with elongated sleeves and exaggerated silhouettes, the collection boldly takes a risk in redefining what is commonly perceived as classic male attire. Despite the inspiration of clowns, the designs are not intended to be ‘playful,’ rather, they emphasize the contradiction of being exuberant while showing elegance and refinement ‘in character.’ Cabalona aims to honor clowns’ cheerful yet dramatic essence, for example, a key menswear element - the vest, is reinvented as a piece that showcases both physical humor as well as an awareness of the concept of the ‘businessman.’
Advancing his inspiration further, the 2018 CFDA Scholarship Award finalist adapted the clown’s traditional baggy and vibrant costumes and transformed them into fitted and tailored garments that convey optimism, yet remain sensitive to the notion of depression and its extensions. Cabalona chose clowns as the inspiration for his collection because to him they represent joy and cheer. A beacon of happiness, the clowns serve as a call for people to enjoy life despite the hurdles and feelings of sadness they may face.
Excerpt by Camila Encomendero
- Chuer Dorothy Yu
Chuer Dorothy Yu
It is commonly said that there are two sides to every story; however, what happens when you take both sides yourself, instead of just one? While growing up and attending boarding school Chuer Dorothy Yu, B.F.A. fashion design, developed an appreciation for creative stories inspired by what she sees, experiences, or imagines. Yu admits that she was often bored during her early education classes. To remedy this, she and her classmates would sharpen pencils to see who could create the longest pencil shavings without breaking.
For her debut collection, Yu incorporated a story that she made up years ago--a story about a girl who dreamt of being an artist, a dream that conflicted with her parents, who insisted that she work at a major company instead. The imagined company had a mean and nit-picky boss who demanded that the girl always had 100 sharpened pencils on his desk. All the pencils had to be of the same length, sharpened by hand. It wasn't until the girl played with the designs of the shavings that the boss noticed something different about her.
Inspired by pencil shavings, Yu intertwined her experiences and creative short story into her collection. Yu notes that the pencil shavings usually create spiraling shapes, mainly different types of circles. Although pencil shavings come out seemingly the same, each spiral and each form has a unique twist to its end. A typical wooden pencil shaving can come out in different shades of a coffee-colored brown. For the spiral shapes in her collection, Yu used dark brown and light brown as the main color and the specs of colorful imprints to show the texture of the shavings. Thinned cork is used as the outside layer for her garments, symbolic of the rigid touch of a pencil; she also used foil fabric to mimic reflective qualities in pencil lead.
Yu wanted her collection to be a reminder to others, that you can turn something ordinary into something prodigious.
Excerpt by Madison Ahmani
- Chuqiao Wang
When Characters Blend Into One
B.F.A. fashion design student Chuqiao Wang was not the typical kid who enjoyed sitting on the couch rocking with laughter while watching cartoons or Disney movies, instead, she was expected to be more of an ‘adult’ than a ‘child’; cartoons and movies weren’t allowed. Wang’s inspiration for her womenswear collection is based on the hunger for the childhood she never had and a demonstration of how hard it can be to let go.
With a bold statement of “I want my childhood back!” Wang turns to her creativity to do it in a way that is modern, with sophisticated silhouettes. She believes there is no better way to showcase sweetness, childlikeness, and an emphasis on family than through Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The feeling of happiness and love between them is what she aims to capture in her womenswear collection. Wang experimented with the idea of fusing the personalities of Mickey and Minnie. Neither masculine nor feminine, the focus is on the type of character showing up in the collection with inexact silhouettes, exuberance, and playfulness.
For her collection, Wang takes classic design elements and incorporates them with a style that is sweet and formal, in a modern kind of way. She uses bows and exaggerated sizing to represent Mickey and Minnie, and added elements like layering to bring in current trends in street style. Wang’s collection incorporates a mix of fabrics too - silk, cotton, denim, and wool. Through the collection and elements, Wang identifies with adulthood, as well as a longing to return to childhood and the playfulness and silliness that was missing.
Excerpt by Camila Encomendero
- Florence Canonoy
Can’t Get Detention Now
Walking down the hallways of her high school years ago, Florence Canonoy looked down at her uniform and realized she didn’t feel comfortable in what she was wearing. She felt restricted, forced to fit a standard that wasn’t showing who she really was.
Canonoy, a Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) scholarship finalist in 2018, embraced her personal disposition by shortening her skirt and tying her necktie the way the boys were required to tie them. (Girls and boys were mandated to tie them differently to distinguish their gender. She did not like that.) Receiving detention after school every other month didn’t stop her from repeating the deconstruction experiments over and over again. Her collection represents the free-spirited girl that didn’t understand why her creativity always got her in trouble.
Varvara Stepanova, a Russian Constructivist artist, became Canonoy’s digital prints inspiration. Stepanova designed uniforms which were stylish in its simplicity and bold in its utilitarian representation. This moved Canonoy to study Stepanova’s methodology in how physical variations were accounted for. The essence of Canonoy’s garments lies in their versatile, convertible elements. A cotton batiste shirt with magnetic straps can change in length and be worn in multiple ways. The convertible concept is more than just a modification; it supports Canonoy’s wish for having an environment where students were encouraged to express themselves, rather than having set rules around what to wear and how to wear it during her high school days.
Canonoy’s collection also features abundant use of layers and misplaced traditional tailoring; a ”lapel” pant, a “trouser” jacket” and a blue Japanese denim upside down collared skirt. Layering techniques are also demonstrated in her convertible draped two-layer dress with magnets and a double-collared cotton shirt.
During her early education, she often confused instructors and peers with her shy personality, mixed with a courageous attitude. Taking her high school uniform, cutting it up, and exploring the art of draping is her way to reconcile the gap, combining her past and present and sending them down the runway.
Excerpt by Camila Encomendero
- Hanan Sabir Argaw
Hanan Sabir Argaw
Hooked on Fashion
B.F.A. fashion design student Hanan Sabir Argaw’s senior thesis is a collection that almost didn’t happen. The Ethiopian-born designer was a year and a half away from completing her psychology degree when she quit to pursue her real dream: fashion design. Her collection is a testament to choosing one’s passion over doing what others expect of you.
There’s also another, timely theme; inspired by the documentaries “Take Your Pills” and “The Magic Pill,” Argaw wanted to highlight the problems of addiction, capitalizing on the pharmaceutical pill shape and essence. The silhouettes are oval and circularly built, and each garment is extremely textured and voluminous. Sculptural applique in various colors resembles the array of forms and colors of different prescription pills. Strongly stylized, Argaw’s collection is a physical embodiment of addiction and serves as a call to action for others to lead healthier lifestyles.
Argaw incorporated a wide variety of materials into her work, including jersey, wool, silk, corduroy, and cotton twill. The collection is entirely sustainable, as most of the fabrics were sourced from either FabScrap, a company that recycles materials, or FilzFelt, a company that sells felt offcuts from previous projects that would otherwise have been discarded. The theme of sustainability ties in with the topic of wellness, as both relate to healthier choices for the environment and the individual respectively.
In 2018, Argaw was the recipient of the California Fashion Foundation Scholarship. Her winning entry, a reversible and adjustable oversized coat, was also completely sustainable. Awareness, transparency and reusing resources are important to her as a designer.
Argaw’s self-described motto is “work even harder,” one she will employ to prove herself to her family members, who don’t see fashion that same way she does. Another invigorating motto? “Don’t doubt yourself and continue pushing, because there is more reward in the process.”
Excepty By Adriana Georgiade
- Isaiah Garcia
When Painting Captivates Fashion
“I think fashion is one of the highest forms of art created,” said B.F.A. fashion design student Isaiah P. Garcia. And his collection certainly looks like it. Garcia’s innovative technique, made up of free-flowing, organically shaped plastic overpieces filled with dyed hair gel, showcases his former artistic background as a painter. His alternative to fabric was meant to channel the fluidity and movement of water, which inspired his collection.
Before enrolling at the School of Fashion, Garcia took painting classes at a community college. The desire to paint stemmed from a need to express his emotions during a time of mental transition. Painting challenged his artistic limits and encouraged him to break his self-induced boundaries. Growing up in a small town, he claims his art was all he had. He sold his paintings at farmers markets before realizing he could channel his artistic contribution into the world of fashion.
Each overpiece is made by hand. Each piece has to be individually measured, cut into shape, filled with dye, and then sealed with heat. The process is incredibly time consuming and meticulous, making each overpiece have its own custom construct.
Garcia was fascinated by water’s absence of natural color, and the fact that it gains any form of color through light alone. The dyed gel inside the plastic can move and transform shapes, mimicking the fluidity of water and resembling water ripples. The forms of fine crystal glassware inspired the silhouettes of the collection. Asymmetry is a common aspect of each look, reflecting the unique properties found in the finest crystal collections.
Except by Adriana Georgiades
- Jing Zhao
A Caffeinated Society
“I think a really nice garment is based on the fabric,” said B.F.A. student Jing Zhao. She may be majoring in fashion design, but that doesn’t mean she underestimates the significance of textile design. So much so, that she’s taking textile design classes in conjunction with her fashion design ones, which makes her the only student to incorporate fabric she designed herself into her senior thesis collection.
As a key inspiration image, Zhao had filled an IV bag with ground coffee beans. According to her, it symbolizes society’s addiction to coffee, an illustrative demonstration of people’s dependence on it.
Many of the prints she designed for the collection resemble the pattern of spilled coffee. Zhao wanted to draw attention to the fact that some people drink so much coffee that their hands begin to shake, causing them to spill their drink. This loss of control reinforces the concept of addiction. The shapes of coffee bags inspired the silhouettes of the collection. When pieced together, the result is a multi-layered, deconstructed shape. According to Zhao, the deconstructed look of her collection is meant to resemble the appearances of disheveled coffee addicts.
The coffee, of course, is a symptom; Jing is criticizing the fast-paced nature of society and how people rely on caffeine to keep up with it, too scared to just be themselves. “You can’t show your real mood,” she said. “For example, as a designer, you have to show people you are really passionate about fashion, but actually sometimes you’re tired! You can have a lack of inspiration, a lack of ideas, but you can’t show it.”
Excerpt by Adriana Georgiades
- Jiru Jia
The View From Above
Waking up every day at sunrise, Jiru Jia’s dad would go out into nature and take pictures of colorful birds in their pristine natural environment. Surrounded by a wide range of green and pink plants, the birds stood out with their oversize wings and elaborate movements. Each image captured a particular bird with its vibrant feathers entirely on display. Jia recalls how, upon waking up in the morning, her dad would approach her, filled with excitement, and show her the unique art he captured. During that time, Jia didn’t suspect that the birds would come to play a role in her fashion creations. Years later, her dad’s photographs became the primary guideline in Jia’s graduation collection, made from asymmetrical denim that offers a distinct look from every angle.
The collection, lacking a defined pattern, in the beginning, was created with different textures that the B.F.A. fashion design student built from scratch. The process included cutting, sewing and weaving different textured denim to produce a unique fabric that would convey the streetwear vibe Jia was looking to achieve. The result is a series of looks that might be all denim, yet do not look like it from afar. On the fabric, birds were drawn by hand, using a bleach pen; a very thoughtful and coordinated process, considering denim doesn't allow tracing due to its thickness. The bleached bird motif became the centerpiece of a shred-detailed dress and a denim top with tie detail and shredded denim pants.
The lines and silhouettes represent the chaos of natural beauty, while the asymmetrical forms reference denim patterns. From pockets to vests and jackets, the silhouettes are a representation of vintage patterns upgraded with new cuts and put together in different ways to offer a different take, a sense of surprise elevating their appeal. Jia’s collection unites compelling remembrance and fond emotions with innovative fabric manipulation that is as moving and freeing as those birds in motion.
Except by Camila Encomendero
- Kelly Joohui Kim
Kelly Joohui Kim
The Dock That Sailed Away
Kelly Joohui Kim has been around water her entire life. Growing up in a sailor family, Kim watched her dad by the dock as he entered the sea. She wasn't allowed to go sailing with him because he felt uncomfortable about letting her step on the boat. She would have to wait on the dock until her father would return. This resulted in her obsessing over the items that she frequently saw laying on the dock itself: rusted chains, tattered rope, and items left behind. Sailing was one thing that Kim saw her dad was passionate about.
Fast forward to her post-high-school years, Kim became interested in fashion design after living in the Philippines and having the experience of overseeing a selection of costumes for her school musicals. It made her want to study this art form; however, after the first year, Kim began to doubt herself. She felt compelled by knitwear and her perspective instantly reformed. She was amazed by how one can use one type of yarn, utilize various techniques and develop completely different designs.
When focusing on her collection, Kim set sail to destroy knitwear norms and be recklessly experimental with her collection. She chose to dye fabric yarns and work with a variety of fibers to bring more texture to her garments. Her creative use of linen, mohair, and elastic cords to recreate textures weaves uprooted memories of waiting at the dock. At first, Kim’s collection silhouettes might be perceived as rough; however, her unique knitwear brings softness and allure to all of her garments.
Her knitwear emulates the visual core elements that rope portrays. Kim’s utilization of texture sensitivity represents her keen eye for the details. One of her key dresses was created to appear like fresh seaweed caught in a dirty net. Looking into the ocean, one can observe different shapes in a waveform. Kim’s interpretation of these forms leaves a defining moment as the capabilities in knitwear continue to provoke her lens to seek out meaningful design continuously.
Except by Madison Ahmani
- Linh La
When you’re stressed the first thing you want to do sometimes is give up. Linh La’s collection was inspired by the story of Judith Scott, the artist who didn’t give up. Scott was a visual artist who was born with Down syndrome and had deafness; as a result, she was secluded from outside influences. In the 18 years Scott was active as an artist, she never repeated any artwork shape or color scheme. Scott’s work included long lengths of knotted cloth or yarn and creating mixed media sculptures. LA interprets this process as the artist's way of holding onto everything around her because she cannot speak, and this is her way of expressing her feelings. For her collection, La adopted the same artistic process as Scott. Unlike artists who make plans or conceptualize before they start a project, La enjoys bringing everything she likes to her workspace and laying all the materials out to see what she can improvise and create right on the spot.
For her thesis collection, La wanted to play with different types of textures. Her creative process was developed by gathering various textures and colors to experiment with designs she could combine. La likes to manipulate her materials and garments first, and then sketch a look. Just like her inspiration, all of La’s creations were crafted without preliminary preparation. When La first did her garment process, her pieces came out in what she describes as ‘too crafty,’ so she decided to combine more weaving into the garments. She borrowed from Scott’s weaving ideas and applied them to garment draping. Then, for her second draping process, she combined hats and woven pieces to create that uncanny spiral effect of Scott’s work.
La has noticed that when it comes to artists with disabilities like Scott, they tend to push through significant obstacles and rarely give up. This perseverance is something that La finds so beautiful and inspiring, something she worked into her collection.
Except by Madison Ahmani
- Maya Gunnell
Enter the Void
A popular phrase states, “there’s more to someone than meets the eye,” describing when a person or a situation is more complicated than they appear. By taking a look into B.F.A. fashion design student Maya Gunnell, who materialized from a small town in Vermont known for their apples and ice cream, one makes a deeper dive into her fashion collection. When you think of negative and positive, you don't think of the two being combined or working together. Psychoanalytic theory by Carl Jung, one of Gunnell’s inspirations for her collection, uses the force of taking the negative and positive and watching both beautifully connect as one. Gunnell wants her design to make you feel as if you are your own shadow, having both pessimistic and constructive attributes which make you who you are.
Botticelli’s “Primavera” painting was another inspiration for Gunnell’s collection. The Renaissance masterpiece made her think of the grace and beauty in the mythological scene shadowed by darker energy of the nature surrounding the characters.
During the 15th century, when “Primavera” was created, the sinister tortures of human suspension were practiced, involving intricate tools. Gunnell reflected this dark side of the Renaissance in her designs. She used Gilson hooks which hold up the garment together and translate in the collection the feel of human torture. These features make Gunnell’s creations seem dark yet alluring at the same time.
Each human experience that a designer portrays through their artwork reflects specific characteristics of the artist’s personality. When discussing her work with Gunnell, she commented, “There’s more to you that you're trying to avoid.”
Except by Madison Ahmani
- Omotoyosi Olajoku
The Unexpected Scroop
Growing up with Muslim roots and celebrating Ramadan, B.F.A. fashion design student Omotoyosi Olajoku took the topic of a dissected cow and gave it a fashion lens. When thinking about any form of dissection, fashion probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Olajoku, however, used it an inspiration on her way to a very wearable collection.
Selecting inspiration for a collection is usually incredibly stressful for a designer.
Olajoku wanted to change that. “I feel like there’s so much pressure when choosing an inspiration, so I wanted to do something random and unexpected and turn it into something beautiful,” she said.
Showcasing her ideas of femininity and womanhood, Olajoku decided to take inspiration from contouring a cow, the same way you’d contour your face with makeup to give it a fresh glow. As a result, the clothes look like a modern-day version of a butcher’s apron.
Olajoku chose to work with taffeta fabric, because of its playfulness and ability to create volume. The sound taffeta makes when it moves down the runway - a word called “scroop” - ties in with her concept of something random and unexpected.
The garment inspiration came mainly from ribs and fat of the cow, the pretty pinks and reds that give it an obscure feminine touch. This idea gave Olajoku room to play around and have fun with her collection, thinking of how adding color and feminine flower designs would play out. She started with taking ideas from the labels on meat packaging at the grocery stores and transforming those into the entire color story for her collection. This twist gives the audience a different perspective, and a collection to remember.
Excerpt By Madison Ahmani
- So Hyun An
So Hyun An
Born in South Korea but raised in Papua New Guinea, So Hyun An has a unique hybrid identity. The combination of these two unrelated and vastly different cultures had culminated in her unique senior thesis collection. “I’m trying to explore my roots as well as embrace where I grew up because that’s what shaped me,” she said.
Her collection combines the traditional dressings of Papua New Guinea with the traditional Korean hanbok dress. Feathers are a prominent feature of the collection, inspired by the traditional headwear of Papua New Guinea. Instead of using store-bought feathers, An decided to hand-make each one, a single feather taking over three hours to craft. She also used deconstructed bilum bags, another item native to Papua New Guinea, as fabric for the garments.
Her collection is a physical manifestation of her multifaceted upbringing. “In the beginning, I was designing garments that were appealing to look at, but I kept finding a lack of content. I was not satisfied,” she said. “The first time I really loved my collection was when I put my personal life into it.”
She fell in love with how clothing could be used to express an emotion, retaliate when provoked and resist the unfathomable. Her interest in fashion grew into a dream to become a fashion designer, one supported by her parents. “Without their support, I don’t think I could have explored as much as I did,” she said.
An’s collection is for the free-spirited; someone who understands the power of their gender or non-gender and are fearless to live their true identity.
Excerpt By Adriana Georgiades
- Supawish Boonprasart
Holding Society Accountable
Growing up in Bangkok, Supawish Boonprasart would pass the same piece of abandoned land every day on his way to school. Lush, green and untouched, it was a place for locals to fish and harvest edible plants at no cost. Boonprasart vowed to buy it when he graduated, to ensure that it stayed that way and to preserve its biodiversity. He received an unfortunate phone call from his mother that he describes as “a little heartbreaking” as the call informed him that the land had been sold and was under construction, set to be turned into commercialized buildings. Boonprasart’s collection is a tribute to that land, acting as a medium to bid it farewell and also to question the consequences of globalization and his country’s social issues.
The colors of Boonprasart’s garments mirror those of the garden; mossy greens and deep blues for the greenery and lake, and bright yellows and pinks for the flowers. He notes a concern that the bright colors he used are at risk of misleading viewers, causing them to perceive the collection as happy and hopeful and miss the darker message he wishes to convey: that globalization is destroying our planet.
Many of his looks feature jersey wrapped around the head and face, a nod towards developing countries’ lack of safety standards for workers. It stems from his secondary inspiration, a photograph by Ralf Tooten, which depicts a construction worker using a scarf wrapped his face in lieu of a protective mask. Many developing countries like Thailand do not mandate, nor do they provide protective materials like helmets, face masks and reflective jackets to construction workers. Boonprasart is using his collection to draw attention to this lack of precaution in the developing world, and by extension, their human rights issues, environmental problems, and inequalities.
According to Boonprasart, his collection is all about irony and contrasts; happy versus sad; simple materials like jersey and t-shirt versus intricate construction techniques; flowy versus structured silhouettes; the developed versus the developing world; and the questioning of society versus acceptance and moving on.
- T Camarillo
High-End Drag Takes the Runway
There’s more to drag queens than the clothes they wear; there’s life, color, sass, and a whole lot of power. B.F.A. fashion design student T Camarillo wanted to show the world what high-end drag is really about. Drag performers are seen as illusionists as if they are just performing and putting on a show for the people to see and enjoy. The beauty on the inside gives people something curious to think about. It’s the part that no one sees or contemplate — the most important and hidden gems.
For Camarillo, drag transcends fashion. “I wanted to put on a show for the runway. I didn’t want to put on a collection that could be seen as commercial,” he said. “It’s about the personality and the attitude that a drag queen has. I wanted to show that.” His clothes are for the powerful, sexy, self-assured women. It’s about glamour and confidence, and he wants his clothes to be a vehicle for self-expression.
What makes high-end drag so special is her appealing look and specialized taste. In Camarillo’s women’s collection, high-end and traditional drag components such as eyelashes, rhinestones, and full wigs are featured frequently, but mostly as a metaphor; the exaggerated eyelashes link to the length of his pieces. The wigs embody the volume of his dresses and skirts. The rhinestones convey feeling good, looking good, and being untamed.
Materials include fringe curtain as a trim, in-house made crystal fringe and crystal embellishments, and fake acrylic nails as another asset. With his handmade garments, Camarillo wanted to remind people that self-expression is always good and that it’s okay to be yourself in every possible way.
Excerpt By Madison Ahmani
- Xinyue Zhang
B.F.A. student Xinyue Zhang is more than just a menswear designer; she’s also an illustrator. She continually finds her two worlds colliding; her design aesthetic and sketches of comic characters work in tandem, each field inspiring the other.
Her collection was inspired by handcrafted, paper collage structures she created from pages of a vintage National Geographic edition from the 90s. The handcraft drew her to the work of paper sculpture artist Anna Wili Highfield, whose sculptures of horses and crows are a culmination of layered paper and rough edges. Zhang aimed to mirror this texture by placing seams in random places throughout her garments, making her works resemble the sculptures of Anna Wili Highfield.
It is an outerwear-based collection, inspired by military jackets and streetwear. Garments include long, oversized poncho jackets with large hoodies and large pockets. The dyed, printed and stone-washed fabrics create a decayed texture to each look. All of the material was hand-dyed by Zhang to acquire a unique color palette. Zhang is drawn to unsaturated colors, much like the colors of her illustrations. Some of the patterns and colors of the fabrics were achieved by mistake, but Zhang believes the imperfections add interest to her collection. “You can create something from mistakes. It’s part of the artistic process,” she said.
Zhang is one of the few menswear designers in her year, but she believes a designer does not need to separate themselves according to gender. “I think women can wear exactly what men wear, even though I design menswear, my clothes can also be for women if they want,” she said. “I think the market is separating the genders, but that’s not necessary because some women also like elements of menswear and vice versa.”
Excerpt By Adriana Georgiades
- Xuan Wang
Salute to Style
Fashion Design student Xuan Wang has a surprising past; after graduating from Berkeley High School, she served in the U.S. Navy. While the fashion industry and the military are two seemingly unrelated fields, Wang has combined the two for her senior thesis collection.
Her collection was inspired by military aircrafts, intended to “pay respect to the men and women who put countless hours on and below the flight deck to support operations and maintenances of the U.S. aircraft carriers.” The silhouettes don’t just resemble paper planes; they are paper planes, made from Tyvek papers and constructed using origami paper folding techniques.
Her geometric, structured garments are mostly white, with splashes of red, yellow, blue and black adding color and pattern. The textiles were achieved through solvent print on photo lax paper, which was then adhered to the Tyvek paper. U.S. naval ships’ signal flags inspired the bold prints.
Wang’s collection is a tribute to the skills and lessons she gained from her time in the Navy, and the meeting of her two worlds, fashion and military. Among her achievements is a refreshing and innovative use of the military jacket. With garments named “Fighter Jet Dress” and “Storm at Sea,” Wang highlights the danger of a military position and salutes the brave men and women who risk their lives for their country. The “Fighter Jet Dress,” in particular, also focuses on being a zero waste design. The entire pattern is created by only one rectangular shape. Every piece was utilized. Fighter jet engines are mimicked in the design of the final garment.
Wang’s decision to join the Navy was initially unwelcomed by her family due to its risky nature; however, she wouldn’t change a thing. Instead, she credits the military for the woman she is today and her desire to evolve traditional fashion silhouettes into a contending collection.
By Adriana Georgiades
- Yifan Xu
Everywhere around us, there are people, places, and art; our awareness of it is what makes living so beautiful. B.F.A. design student Yifan Xu appreciates the effect of illusion and aimed to create a collection that mimics modern parametric design, along with the unexpected contrast of monochromatic color block with vintage floral prints - a visual ode to springtime.
Xu’s interest in fashion design was influenced by her grandmother, who she shared is an amazing seamstress. Her grandmother taught Xu as much as she could about sewing. While growing up, Xu observed her grandmother’s skill and ability to direct hours of focus into her work. Similarly, Xu’s collection demands hours of hand-drawn lines, accurate cutting, and calculations to create a parametric silhouette. The result is modern architecture for the body.
In 2017, Xu’s interest in parametric design was first showcased at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for the museum’s Undergraduate Fashion Design Contest. For the contest, Xu submitted one garment, inspired by designer Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. Xu’s submission caught the eyes of the judges, and she was selected as a finalist. Her original garment, shown at The Met, has since been deconstructed by Xu and integrated into her senior thesis collection.
Xu’s appreciation for parametric design has much to do with her interest in optical illusion; especially the way the eye begins to capture movement while staring at an optical illusion graphic or object. Xu created ‘mirage sculptures’ in her garments because she desires a similar optical illusion effect when people look at her designs being worn.
Excerpt By Madison Ahmani
- Ziyi Ye
Ancient Folktale Meets Modern Fashion
There is an ancient Chinese folktale called “The Cuckoo Crying Blood” that tells a story of the beautiful azalea flower. Legend has it that the flower was once pure white. During its blooming season, all that could be heard were the songs of the cuckoo bird - sad and full of sorrow. The cuckoo would cry so hard and for so long, that its throat would bleed and stain the petals of the azalea. B.F.A. fashion design student Ziyi Ye based her collection on the Chinese word Dujuan, a shared name for the azalea flower and the cuckoo bird.
Ye’s collection is a physical manifestation of the folktale. With garments that are pure white, some that are deep scarlet, and others in varying hues of pink, the collection mirrors the flower changing color over time. The silhouettes also reflect the tale, with voluminous ruffles and flowing layers resembling the petals of the flower and the wings of the bird. The word Dujuan represents elegance and magnificence, which Ye expresses by incorporating soft, luxurious organic fabrics like silk satin, silk organza, Egyptian cotton, and gazaar.
According to Ye, this collection challenged her to design out of her comfort zone. Her traditional mature design aesthetic turned on her as she ventured into the exploration of more youthful garments.
Excerpts By Adriana Georgiades
- Claudia Tan & Pamela Toribio
Claudia Tan & Pamela Toribio
There’s a road in Hong Kong called Goldfish Street, where rows upon rows of plastic bags, filled with colorful goldfish, create a beautiful walking art gallery of vibrant color. Then, one realizes that there is cruelty beneath the beauty; after all, these are genetically manipulated goldfish, trapped in plastic prisons, modified to look more attractive for human consumption and enjoyment. The guilt of finding beauty in cruelty serves as an inspiration for the collaborative collection of Claudia Tan, B.F.A. fashion design and Pamela Toribo, B.F.A. textile design.
Tan and Toribo discovered their inspiration in Japanese photographer Mika Ninagawa’s “Liquid Dreams” photo series. Through the series, Ninagawa conveys the sad juxtaposition of beauty and cruelty on Goldfish Street. Today the fish can be designed and made to order, with exaggerated eyes, unnaturally saturated color, or without fins. Just as Ninagawa’s photo series sheds light on the relationship between cruelty, manipulation, and beauty in the lives of the goldfish, Tan and Toribo draw attention to the same, through the platform of their collection.
Having seen the photographs, Tan was deeply moved by the torture of the fish and decided to express it through the construction of her garments. “The overall silhouette symbolizes the shape of plastic bags, in which the fish at the shops live isolated from their real world. The drapes are inspired by the movement of the fish, limited by plastic jail, as they fantasize about an underwater dreamland,” she said.
In turn, Toribo was inspired by the dreamlike watercolor effect created by the rows of colorful fish living in transparent plastic bags. The textiles she created for the collection feature an explosion of color and an amalgam of patterns, resembling the saturated rainbow hues of Mika Ninagawa’s photographs.
The designs and the textiles merge seamlessly, indicative of the duo’s harmonious working relationship. Together, Tan and Toribo simultaneously reflect the ironic cruelty underneath the surface of beauty, while questioning the ethics of a disturbing live animal market.
Excerpt By Adriana Georgiades
- Clara M Chandra & Jack Gunnin
Clara M Chandra & Jack Gunnin
The Art of Identity
B.F.A. fashion design student Clara M. Chandra and B.F.A. textile design student Jack Gunnin became a creative team to give visual voice to Chandra’s experience of her heritage and identity. While growing up in Indonesia, Chandra experienced what she describes as ‘discrimination’ both personally and also through stories of other Chinese-Indonesians living in smaller, rural regions. Chandra’s initial vision for her collection was to share this very personal experience and to bring awareness through her designs.
Chandra’s concept for the collection is based on Chinese-Indonesian artist, FX Harsono and his video “Writing in the Rain.” In the video, Harsono writes his Chinese name on a wall of glass, which begins to be erased by rainfall. Harsono’s social-political commentary reminded Chandra of forced assimilation and its effects upon Chandra and her family, especially her mother who had to change her Chinese name into an Indonesian name. These reflections brought a renewed appreciation for her mother and her mother’s courage and personal strength.
To honor her mother, Chandra and Gunnin incorporated shadows from one specific photograph of her mother when she was a young woman. In his research, Gunnin was further inspired by the beauty and purple hues of the Indonesian national flower, moon orchid. His textile prints for the collection incorporate both the parts of the photograph, as well as manipulations of images of moon orchids to create vibrant, abstract prints. For the duo, the resulting images from both the photograph and moon orchids, symbolize Chandra’s mother’s life and pieces of her identity – which naturally extend to Chandra.
The collection became a process, starting with an emphasis on disconnection and discrimination, ending with an underscore of courage and beauty.
Excerpt By Madison Ahmani
- Xiangyi Zhou & Lamiae Ameziane
Xiangyi Zhou & Lamiae Ameziane
Two Worlds Collide
Solid versus fabric and form versus function are the main themes for a collection that explores what happens when fashion and architecture merge. B.F.A. fashion design student Xiangyi Zhou collaborated with B.Arch architecture student Lamiae Ameziane to create looks that challenge the solid world of architecture by incorporating fabric. Learning how architectural forms can be assimilated into a garment, Ameziane was attracted to the structural fashion Zhou was going for. The duo aimed to integrate architectural shapes and voluminous structure into fashion by incorporating digital printing techniques in a revolutionary way.
The different pieces are a representation of both ‘architecture in motion’ and ‘structural fashion.’ Foam, silk gazar, and wool are combined to create designs that are inspired by glass sponges and conceptually reference the skin of an armadillo. The latter’s surface resembles a protective layer that changes in form and opacity. One can only imagine a solid armadillo that can turn into a fluid object with the ability to move as the body does. Fashion is no more limited to conventional fabric; instead, it can be adapted to fit silhouettes and forms that are created to stand out. To achieve their vision, Zhou and Ameziane used a process that involved a 3-D slicer software for three-dimensional visualization, a laser cut, and a vacuum that is designed to develop precise physical models.
Zhou doesn’t consider this type of sculptural clothing her ‘style’; however, she was attracted to the idea of playing with movement and texture. For Ameziane, this represented an opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and explore the relationship of solid versus fluid and form versus function while steering away from the idea that architectural structures are limited to buildings. Although the garments include structured forms, from up close, one can see the use of silk wool and twill wool. Foam is also used to give structure to the 3-D parts of the garments while digital printing techniques are used to print plaids on the 3-D forms. Designers in their respective fields, they switched roles to become the bridge that connects fashion and architecture.
Excerpt By Camila Encomendaro
90 Years of History
California Hall in San Francisco. It's a fabulous venue with a vibrant local history. U2, Janis Joplin, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, The Hell’s Angels, Dirty Harry, Romeo Void, Summer of Love, and now Academy of Art University's School of Fashion. Join us for the Graduation Fashion Show at this historic landmark.