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School of Fashion Collaboration at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week


The seven collections shown by Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion on February 8 during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center have been noted for their extremely polished designs that were meticulously realized. “Sophisticated fashionistas would gladly pay top dollar for these artistic printed leathers, furs in unexpected colors, innovative knit stitches and virtuoso dressmaking techniques,” said Michael Quintanilla from the San Francisco Chronicle. Ten designers offered varying views of modern fashion before an audience of almost 1,000 guests that were unfazed by Winter Storm Nemo and all were executed with exemplary skill.

Among the School of Fashion collections profiled were Teresa Field, James Thai and from the Academy’s newest program School of Jewelry & Metal Arts, Leah Aripotch. Leah’s design has been described as “a stunning medley of exquisitely worked white leather, shapely tweed and serpentine accessories in bronze, brass and copper,” by Quintanilla.

Teresa’s Fall 2013 collection was inspired by artistic representations of the human body, including graphic representations of human anatomy and musculature, as well as process sketches from H.R. Giger’s “Alien”. She collaborated with Textile Designer James Thai, who created custom leather textiles for her collection, burning the leather to create blended imagery of flora and fauna.

James first got a taste for Fashion Design through Academy of Art University’s Pre-College Art Experience Program for high school students. In this program, he won the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Art Competition before enrolling in the Academy’s School of Fashion undergraduate program with an emphasis in textile design. James was excited about showing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week stating, “I feel both shock and excitement. This is something that I’ve only dreamed about as a teenager and for it to actually happen feels a bit surreal.”

Leah collaborated with both Teresa and James, creating jewelry and embellishments for the collection. She was inspired by the work of her collaborators, incorporating themes from their work into her own. She was particularly interested in the mixture of structural geometric shapes with more organic elements, and focused her collection on the figure of the snake. She cast her pieces in mixed metals.

Leah actually earned her BFA degree in both Jewelry & Metal Arts and Fine Art-Sculpture, starting in Sculpture and finishing in the newly established program. She explained her jewelry designs to Quintanilla this way: “Modern women are tired of jewelry that’s dainty and formulaic. Women don’t feel the need to just adorn themselves with delicate items made from precious metals in heart shapes, and why should they?”

The group of Academy students was ecstatic about showing their collaborative designs at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, and also elated that their pieces were so well received by both the Lincoln Center audience and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Michael Quintanilla.


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