Hailing from the school of fashion at Academy of Art University, 15 student and recent graduate designers premiered their thesis collections at Mercedes-Benz Fashion week at Lincoln Center On Feb. 14, 2015. Presented to an audience of fashion industry professionals, the collections were “focused on transformation”. Such transformations were displayed in fabric manipulation and printing techniques to change the existing qualities to completely different textures and surface characteristics. Advanced tailoring techniques were also used in order to achieve wearability in the silhouettes.
For the fall 2015 presentation, the fifteen designers presented ten collections, four of which were collaborations between fashion design and textile design students. In total, eight womenswear, one mixed menswear and womenswear and one menswear collection were presented. The collection, designed by Emmanuelle Ciara Jones and textiles designed by Ghazaleh Khalifeh, was inspired by hip-hop street culture and music. Jean-Michel Basquiat whose artwork focuses on “suggestive dichotomies such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience” has been especially inspirational to Jones. Khalifeh played off of Jones’ inspiration of African textiles and voodoo by complementing silhouettes with textiles that incorporate elements of culture, spirit, and New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1980s. All fabrics used were natural fibers.
Christian Willman’s collection, both structured and minimalistic, was inspired by the work of Northern Irish installation artist Matt Calderwood, whose sculptures “challenge the physical potential of materials, explore structural power, and portray the use of friction and gravity to achieve equilibrium.” The collection is done in wool, eco-wool, and cotton. Xiaowei Liu and Stella Xingyu Hu focused on the basic silhouette of a bomber jacket and setting an androgynous tone, Liu’s collection combined womenswear and menswear comprised entirely of indigo fabrics custom dyed by the designer herself. The fabrics were inspired by the Japanese indigo patchwork technique of boro. Hu, who worked on the menswear portion of the mixed menswear and womenswear collection used corner like design details, faux leather tape and a rainbow palette all paying homage to the Rubik’s cube.
Fashion designer Han Tang and textile designer Tam Nguyen collaborated on this fall 2015 collection entirely made of wool and silk. Inspired by Italian photographer Yvonne De Rosa and her dark photos, Tang used smooth lines and strong, elegant silhouettes for the shoulders and sleeves of her designs. Decaying and chipping surfaces of abandoned houses and naturally weathered exteriors inspired the textiles that Nguyen included in the fall 2015.
Erin A.F. Milsoevich focused on the juxtaposition of flowing fabric with constructed silhouettes “To further exaggerate volume and movement, each look includes a handmade crinoline.” Paulina Susana Romero Valdez’s inspiration for the fall 2015 collection entitled “It’s Only Heritage” was drawn from her Mexican roots as well as her love for baroque art and culture. The collection was done in Baroque-style wool brocade, wool tweed, silk, cotton, hand-dyed leather, and is accented with vibrant, traditional Mexican embroidery.
Kevin C. Smith and Andrea Nyberg’s menswear designs were created based around areas of light and volume. The inspiration for the collection comes from Christo’s Running Fence, a 24.5-mile-long installation art piece made by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 1976, as well as from vintage light bulbs and candle smoke. Sheer layering was utilized to give a luminescent effect. Nyberg’s textiles were inspired by non-material substances in nature such as smoke, condensation, and dew, mixed with layers of transparent stripes. Shades of blue wool suiting were used for more structured stripe patterns and were paired with grey and tonal blues for shirting. Print mixing was highly utilized and the looks were highlighted with atmospheric smoke printed raincoats.
French philosopher Michel Foucault’s use of panopticon prison architecture to “illustrate power and social order” is the inspiration behind Ozanhan Kayaoglu’s fall 2015 collection. Kayaoglu was drawn to images that showcased rusted metal inside the prison, which led him to develop a fabric dying technique using the rusted metal. For her fall 2015 collection, Farnaz Golnam drew inspiration from nature and incorporated three-dimensional details from flowers into the garments. The collection, filled with sculptural qualities enhanced by voluminous panels and seam detailing, was executed in solid gray and black wool and features needle-felting details that “play with the viewers’ perceptions of depth and dimension.”
Xue Yang and Oom Terdpravat focused on a unique sleeve design and cocoon shaping, Yang’s collection was inspired by vintage Chinese fabric. The cocoon shaping in particular represents restrictive practices such as foot binding as practiced in earlier centuries on Chinese women. Terdpravat used a watercolor palette of deep purples, blues, and greens on the textiles used for this fall 2015 collection. Print inspiration derived from floral, geometric embroidery of a Northwest Chinese hill tribe was also prevalent in the collection.