San Francisco is associated with a vibrant lifestyle, diversity of cultures, open minded community and vivid arts. This week, the 1989 founded School of Fashion at Academy of Arts University proofed the city can easily step into being an important fashion hub for the next generation of designers searching for their new ways of creating zeitgeist-relevant fashion.

This year’ graduate show presented the variety of ideas and concepts the world of fashion is often lacking today, due the time constraints and market demands to be fast and faster. The show featured bachelor works in Fashion Design, Knitwear Design, Menswear Design, Technical Design, Textile Design and Jewelry/Metal Arts.

Inspirations and references included Antelope Canyon and the Hopi Tribe, Fibonacci Sequence and hexagons, the Fauvism oeuvre of French artist André Derain, origami and 3D printing. As diverse as the show appeared, the unifying message seems pretty empowering – fashion is not dead, and we are here to witness the rise of creativity driven by complexity, searching for answers and not necessary giving them.

The new kids on the block seem to be all right with just asking questions. These are the times we are living in. If fashion and arts would always be adjusted to the reality, would it be still possible to conceive great ideas and interpretations of the zeitgeist? Shouldn’t we give them benefits of the doubt to breathe before they will get squeezed into corporate demands and global market rules that dominate fashion – or should I just say textile industry? – resulting in boring, interchangeable and quite forgettable looks today? I hope yes.


Wen Jiang Randy Brooke for Platea Magazine

Wen Jiang © Randy Brooke 2016

Xiuzhen Li Randy Brooke for Platea Magazine

Xiuzhen Li © Randy Brooke 2016

Brandon Kee Randy Brooke Platea Magazine

Brandon Kee © Randy Brooke 2016

Ben Ellis Randy Brooke Platea Magazine

Ben Ellis © Randy Brooke 2016

Karin Kate Wong Randy Brooke Platea Magazine

Karin Kate Wong © Randy Brooke 2016


And what is important for young people to be able to ask questions? As profound as this sounds, the answer is freedom.

Simon Ungless, Executive Director of the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University, stresses the importance of providing an environment where young people are free to experiment and explore creative concepts. “We provide the tools and skill set that young designers need to learn in order to succeed”, he said, and continued: ”All new ideas and shifts in fashion have from young people, it is time for young people to start the revolution against the corporate cannibalization of fashion.” A reassuring statement in the world of corporate agenda arts and fashion are considerably driven by today.

The AAU School of Fashion might have been the right platform for many students to start that revolution across the pond. Diversity is the key, and so are the ways to look into the interdisciplinary approach. Fashion is not about textiles or styles any longer, and the new generation seems to want to explore fashion into different areas – music, high-tech, arts.. Proximity to Silicon Valley is helpful too. The school collaborates with Weebly, one of the leading platforms at the cutting edge of creativity and technology, sponsoring a contest for the Academy of Art University Fashion Journalism program with the winning prize of 10000 US dollar. Ten Fashion Journalism students have been qualified as semi-finalists for this prestigious honor, the first in the history of the Journalism program. The winners Namrata Loka and Yarina Yao were able to convince the professional jury on the quality of their written and visual content.


Febri Artha Jayanti & Rebecca Dovenryd Almberg © Randy Brooke 2016 Platea Magazine

Febri Artha Jayanti & Rebecca Dovenryd Almberg © Randy Brooke 2016


Ke Zhang Randy Brooke Platea Magazine

Ke Zhang © Randy Brooke 2016

Justin Moreno & Namrata Bhandari Randy Brooke 2016 Platea Magazine

Justin Moreno & Namrata Bhandari © Randy Brooke 2016

Vanessa Nash Spangler Randy Brooke Platea Magazine

Vanessa Nash Spangler © Randy Brooke 2016

In advance of the fashion show, the School of Fashion also hosted two discussions for students. The first was moderated by Academy of Art University Director of Social Media Center & Fashion Journalism Stephan Rabimov and feature special guests Mickey Boardman, Editorial Director of Paper Magazine, and Lars Byrresen Petersen, Digital Director of Visionaire. The second discussion was moderated by Simon Ungless and Christine Suppes, couture collector and co-author of Skira-Rizzoli’s Electric Fashion, and featured guests of honor Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the founders of Rodarte label.

The show has also featured collaborative collections beginning with the SHOP657 Collection which is a private label collaborative collection between Fashion Design, Textile Design, Jewelry & Metal Arts, and Fashion Merchandising students. SHOP657 is the School of Fashion’s retail store that features student, alumni, and faculty product. The store is located at 657 Sutter Street, near Union Square, in San Francisco.


Review by Natasha Binar