Academy of Art University puts on a stellar fashion show rivaling the best San Francisco has to offer

Academy of Art University Fashion Show

I had always heard that The Academy of Art University puts on a great student fashion show. And they certainly didn’t disappoint this year bringing in star designer Zac Posen to receive an honorary doctorate degree and to choose the winner of the student design internship. The fashion show is actually three shows repeated over two days. The first show is for faculty and students. The second show is for VIP/Press and is followed by another show the next day open to the general public. This year’s show took place on a 200 foot runway under a huge white tent reminiscent of shows in New York Fashion Week. They spared no expense in producing this show employing top notch lighting and a very fashion friendly white runway backed by a simple white background. At least fifteen models were flown in from Elite Model Management in New York with the remainder of the models from LA Models and other local agencies including Look, Stars, City, and Passport. Executive producer Simon Ungless did an amazing job of putting together a seamless yet vibrant show with impeccable timing and kick ass music. I was a little surprised that they didn’t do more with the runway walks. The entire show consisted of each model walking alone down the runway and back. There were no pairs, no pauses, no mid-runway poses, etc. Perhaps the idea was to keep it a clean, simple fashion oriented show as opposed to a “produced” show one might see at the Macy’s Passport show. As a photographer, I prefer the one model-one walk approach as it results in much better timing for still pictures.

The main show was preceded by a reception featuring MFA and BFA fashion, textiles, and knitwear design exhibitions. Each designer had a separate space where they featured their portfolio for review. AAU does an excellent job of helping their student create highly marketable portfolios with equally impressive business cards. A lot of thought and creativity went into designing each card. Some designers even went as far as having multiple business cards. Many in the San Francisco fashion community were present at the show including San Francisco Chronicle fashion writer Sylvia Ruben. I also spotted designers Jill Giordano & Brian Scheyer of gr.dano. Jill is actually an instructor at AAU. The reception was a catered event with wine and appetizers served throughout the reception. I do have to make a comment about the appetizers though. It was by far the smallest portions I have ever seen served anywhere. I saw a server approach with what seemed to be empty skewer sticks so I thought she was going to refill it. As she got closer, I realized that there was actually a single sliver of food stuck to the end of the skewer. Imagine popcorn shrimps served individually. Some pieces were smaller than a fingernail tip and was impossible to identify by taste due to the very limited portions. Whatever it was, it tasted like chicken.

The runway show kicked off with some speeches and the presentation of honoary doctorate degrees. Designer Zac Posen drew laughter from the crowd when he began his acceptance speech by saying “Please, call me doctor”. Washington Post fashion editor Robin Givhan also received a degree along with fashion icon and designer LouLou de la Falaise.

The majority of designs in the runway show were top notch with a few notable standouts. I was particularly impressed with the works of Mun Soo Kwon, Shannon Galati and Ya-Lin Hou, and Jenny Schweitzberger.

The entire gallery of over 2,000 images can be viewed here broken down by designers. You can also view a single image of each piece by viewing this slide show of 137 images. I usually process fashion images with the goal of producing color accurate images but I also took some creative license and did some special processing for images from the second runway show. It was inspired by one of my favorite films this year-300.

I look forward to seeing more outstanding work from these very talented designers.