Last week nine graduating students from the Academy of Art University showed their fall 2012 collections at Lincoln Center. The air in the tents was the typical fashion week frisson; the palpable energy, the buzz of the “it” crowd, the flurry of producers attempting to control the politics of seating, while everyone air kisses before settling into position crossed limbed to leer, pout, and keep that camera poised. It's an atmosphere that captures the frivolity (and at times absurdity) of the fashion industry but once the lights dim and the first look hits the runway it’s all about the clothes.
Wu Di started the show with a collection inspired by the printmaker Aaron Coleman. Ivory, charcoal and camel cashmere separates bisected with black thick black geometric motifs were paired with luxe wool trousers and knee grazing skirts. It all had the air of 1960's Balenciaga with a bow to the Bauhaus. Juxtaposing was Amy Bond's cast of femme fatales, draped in bias cut silk tricot and cocooned in bonded wool. The palate was minimal black, white and aubergine. The hems were long and the silhouettes languid adorned here and there by a statement flash of an oversized Art Deco necklace. “My constant muse is the female form. I am constantly thinking about what to accentuate and what to leave to the imagination. I want to create clothes that make a woman feel confident and sexy.”
Based on the theory of Plato's golden ratio, a mathematical theory on the highest form of beauty interpreted in geometric equations, Xiang Zhan's collection of cashmere and mohair separates felt calm and calculated, luxe and lovely. In shades of whites and gradient taupes his application of the theory to the garment's proportions proved Plato's point: the fuzzy chic of mohair layers under sculpted felt wool and topped with a smart cap was instantaneously pleasing.
Turning to the male as muse was Deanna Pei-Ju Lo's masculine inspired collection. Sleek in black and navy yet charming it its pleated leather details and metallic wool blends. A slim pant or a tightly tailored jacket captured what Deanna calls her “modern teddy boy” look. “Her clothes are always tailored to perfection. She enjoys wearing more masculine silhouettes with sharp lines, but her subtle sensuality always shines through without being overt.” In step with fine craftsmanship and masculinity there was an excellent showing of menswear from Donghyuk Dan Kim. Looking to the American West and vintage military uniforms he created a well edited collection of statement wool blazers, coats and capes over tobacco and maroon oilcloth cotton shirts and leather and cotton pants. A cape in a going-to-the-countryside plaid felt fashion forward and daring but the oil cloth cotton pants in brown and olive with a touch of vintage hardware or cargo detail were destined for the closet of the everyman.
Farida Khan played with futuristic fabrications, techniques and silhouettes for her fall collection: laser cut tricot under gabardine, a polished cotton shirt with geometric print vinyl yoke, and a crisp jacket in laminated cotton. “The woman who wears my collection is fearless. She has an immense love of and appreciation for fashion, and she is not afraid to take risks.” The knitwear of hour was Jeanette Au with chunky and textured oversized mohair sweaters and dresses with intricate cable designs and metallic woven threads. The jewel tone palate of sapphire, garnet, ruby and copper was inspired by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe and injected just the right amount of whimsy that proved to be quite the crowd pleaser. Closing the show was Jade Juanyu Liu with a collection full of looks with gorgeous copper painted fur coats, jackets, and vests. The overall story had a touch of Alber Ebaz-chic with refined shapes in neutral colors and barbaric touches of thick fur trim and horn chokers, all appropriately show stopping.
As the looks made their encore parade down the runway we wondered what was in store for these talented designers. Some are returning to San Francisco, some moving to New York, and one is planning to take on the industry in China. We will be sure to keep an eye on them as we know this won’t be the last that we will see of their accomplished designs.