The San Francisco Academy of Art University has been a tour de force in the world of fashion since its establishment in 1929. Come graduation time every year, the AAU lives up to its mantra, "An art school by artists for artist." Under the leadership of Gladys Perint Palmer, Simon Ungless and Ursula Gordon the Academy’s staggeringly creative design students put on a spellbinding runway show, underscored by innovative design, impeccable craftsmanship and distinct vision. This year was no exception. With British wizard of cut and form Alexander McQueen sitting front row, the Morgan Auditorium on Post Street was abuzz with haute chic vibrations. "I think I owe a lot of thanks to Simon Ungless who I was at St. Martins with," said McQueen and added "We studied together at St. Martins about 15 years ago. We actually started off by him doing my prints… I am a bit jet lagged but it's worth it. I'm just very honored."
In addition to the genius St. Martin's graduate, dubbed the best pręt-a-porter designer today, three other "Men of Fashion" namely Macy’s CEO Robert Mettler, retailer extraordinaire Wilkes Bashford and Paris' deputy mayor Christophe Girard were in attendance to cheer on the new graduates.
The show took off to a glamorous start with black clad models, accompanied by beautiful chocolate colored companions dripping with jewelry. In the absence of vibrant hues, the outsized silver and pearl orbs accenting stunning futuristic accessories lit the runway on fire. However, not to be outdone by the irresistible glimmer of metallics, the pitch dark ensembles, characterized by a flirtatious experimentation with volume, made a case for revamped elegance. But understatement was not the sole theme explored by budding AAU designers. Ji Won Ree's keen sense for color and impressive manipulation of proportion, as manifested by her separates of exuberant circle skirts and pulsating dolman-sleeved sweaters, provided an effervescent counterpoint to the restraint displayed at the naissance of the procession. Positioned on the sophisticated spectrum stretching between these polar opposites were lithe evening dresses, flamenco inspired high-waisted pants, painstakingly tailored abbreviated jackets, graffiti-worthy snow gear and everything else in between.
After the beautiful show left the audience captivated the guests of honor walked up on the stage to announce exceptional talents of their choice. McQueen chose aforementioned student Ji Won Ree for a three-month internship at his London design studio, and two graduates won three-month internships at Louis Vuitton in LVMH Paris and Kiton design studio in Naples.
President Elisa Stephens and her fashion vanguard are determined to put San Francisco on the global high-fashion map. So far it appears that they are well on their way to conquering international runways one talent at a time.
Following the graduation show Fashionlines editor-in-chief Christine Suppes and Professor Patrick Suppes hosted distinguished guests including the honorable "Men of Fashion", President Elisa Stephens, Gladys Perint Palmer, Kit Tobin, Carolyne Zinko and Ciina Feng at Postrio.