Academy of Art University Spring 2014: 10 talented students

The 10 student designers at the Academy of Art University’s Spring 2014 show drew from a diverse spectrum of inspirations, ranging from a Turkish cab driver to the paintings of a Filipino artist.  Each student’s wholly individual set of designs, shown across four womenswear and four menswear collections, effectively maximized and manipulated the fabric they had chosen for their work.

Nika Tang and Vicken Derderian’s pieces stood in particular.  Tang’s romantic womenswear collection left a lasting impression long after her wildly-ruffled white dress and oversized fringed macrame necklace closed the show.  Her cohesive and inventive collection showcased modern neoprene combined with traditional macrame techniques.  Playing with texture, her fabrics had a caviar effect enhanced by the exaggerated ruffles of each piece.  Heightening the femininity was Tang’s usage of a pink, light blue and white palette.

Derderian produced one of the most outstanding collections of the show, creating beautifully voluminous origami-like dresses with stiff folds that Derderian himself admitted to Meniscus Magazine “don’t really work in the real world” but showcase how “fashion and architecture challenge each other.”  Made of organza and silk crepe, notable pieces included a backless blue patterned dress and an envelope sleeve A-line dress with an asymmetrical hem.

For other students, the 1980’s seemed to be the most popular reference point, some taking the era more literally than others.  Didvik Kuang opened the show with his menswear collection of slouchy double-leg pants and boxy shirts and jackets, mainly in sandy hues.  Derived from Richard Gere’s character in “American Gigolo,” they had a decidedly relaxed attitude that made them more sporty than dapper, as Giorgio Armani’s original looks for the movie were.

Leslie Dilloway’s menswear went on a more eccentric and international route, taking inspiration from a Turkish cab driver in late ‘80s London.  Using ethnic prints and textures, she created loose pajama-like pants with drawstrings and matching shirts and jackets.  An amusing touch was the addition of matching fanny packs.

Ryan Morar’s collaboration with Melissa Avalos, a textile design student, was influenced not only by the early ‘80s albums of Sonic Youth and Beat Happening, but also by Robert Rauschenberg’s “Combines” mixed-media artwork.  What resulted was a grungy, street-ready menswear collection of loose pigment-painted jackets, shirts and pants.  While the power-sanded pieces looked appealing in darker colors like navy and moss green, the bright sunrise colors of one coat and shirt looked out of place.

One designer went further back in time.  Interested by how people combined fabrics with different textures and weights, Marine Rongrong Wei’s menswear collection speaks of the oversized clothing of the Great Depression.  Wei created well-cut looks that combined striped pajamas with more somber outerwear.

Gwen Shihyao Lai’s womenswear designs were the complete opposite from Wei’s, showing a great dose of vitality in terms of color and technique.  Lai created floral-like patterns on cotton, linen, silk and ikat, using a bleaching technique to blend colors together.  While there did not seem to be a direction to the silhouettes shown, the point of these looks was really Lai’s creativity with her chosen fabrics.

Flowers also made an appearance in Shanshan Bai and Winbo Shiau’s work, although in this iteration, it was manifested in the cutting of a pure white silk gazar sculpted jacket’s lapels and the pleated fabric on a knit lilac sweatshirt.  The three-year partnership between Bai and Shiau, who specializes in knitwear design, has produced a feminine streetwear aesthetic best exemplified in a metallic blue bomber jacket covered with mesh that was worn with a black tunic and pair of knit mesh pants.

Photos: Academy of Art University Spring 2014 – New York Fashion Week
photos by Semon Tam for Meniscus Magazine

photos courtesy of Randy Brooke/Getty Images for Academy of Art University