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Academy of Art University Spring 2013 Collection Struts the Runway at NYFW

Fashion’s tastemakers, buyers, editors and financiers work this week to not only note the trends and set the tone for the coming season but to hunt for the insider’s holy grail: the industry’s next Marc Jacobs or Proenza Schouler.  

Each season the Academy of Art University presents a select few to the masses at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, a veritable auction block for the next fashion-industry darling. Friday's presentation of their 2013 collections at Lincoln Center proved that their best and brightest are not only accomplished technicians, in step and on-trend, but that their vision behind their clothes is strong, strong enough to keep the industry at full attention, on thier radar, ready to see what’s next. 

The standouts in styling were easily identified. Tanja Milutinovic presented silks printed with overblown cross hatches and paint drip graphics in a palette of taupe, black and silver.  She structured the goods into funnel necked tops, paired them with slim pencil skirts and pants and created a look that read Hitchcock era Kim Novak goes to Commes Des Garcons.

Yanfei Fan coupled the quintessential Mary Quant with today’s Burberry bird cool. Sky high hems on black and white check mod shifts and round acrylic shades married the look with edgy touches of a little bolder shoulder and unexpected layers of feathered trim. The result successfully nodded to British kitsch but bowed to everywoman’s idea of chic.  

Ginie C.Y. Huang brought the color to the runway in a Fellini-esque fleet of neon micro dresses trimmed in ostrich fringe. The glare of color and the flirtation of the frocks sent a wave of infectious glee and iPhone weilding over the crowd.

The minimal guard was present and well represented in several of the collections. Stephina Touch worked her way through a study on Asian architecture interpreted in silk and cotton. Every piece angled and crisp, in clean and airy whites. Iglika Vasilev Matthews cut a sleek sophisticate in chalk and slate suede. Her subtle repeat pattern embellishments and embossing created a soft illusion of texture. In minimalism, technique is paramount, flaws do not lie.  

In the case of Jisun Lee and textile designer Liza Quinones’ showing the tailoring was impeccable. An applaudable feat for young designers without a sewing staff.  The architectural wool vests with planar lapels over a slim wool pant appeared at ease alongside silk t-shirts and wool crepe sheaths.  The look was column lean and lithe, the palette was a deep emerald and turquoise and the hand feel of the rich fabrics would be evident even from the standing room section. It was intellectual luxe sans fuss.

Perhaps the most powerful showing was the opening of the show. A collaborative collection from the work of eleven graduates. The premise was a focus on textile development. UBIFRANCE, the French Trade Commission, obliged the students with a full entree to the industry’s most revered mills: Sophie Hallette for laces, Belinac for silk jacquard and Roudierre for technic fabric just to name a few.

The result was a collage of mixed media that was intriguingly graphic and textural. New wave stripes over pop art prints coupaged with metallic laces and abstract florals created an air of the art-world edge. The silhouettes of calculated draping lent to an elegant wearability. In the end it all proved that sometimes with the melding of minds an assemblage of talent can produce the most dynamic yet cohesive work.