Academy of Art University

It was quite an impressive showing early Saturday morning, by the graduates of the famed Academy of Art University. The second time this runway event has been taken to New York Fashion Week. Though one always comes to expect to be dazzled and amazed by the talent and creativity of the graduating design and textile students, I was particularly taken with the timeliness and relevance of what was shown on the runway.

Highlights were the almost all brown toned couture like designs of Maine native Laurie Browne (talk about coincidental!) in collaboration with textile designer Young Jun Ryu who played with proportion, experimented with volume, and masterful cuts. It was hardly surprising to read that she cited the “exaggerated proportions of European expressionist painter Egon Schiele and Balenciaga’s design structure and volume of the 60s”.

The inventive and structured denim sportswear (sponsored by Cone Mills) from Taiwan native Li-Jen “Alan” Lee, who was inspired by the postmodern architect Frank Gehry. Li-Jen used intricate seams, curved and bubble hems, to create couture like pieces, and added prominent pockets to infuse practicality into the delicious design. Talk about treating denim in a most couture like manner! What perfect timing, since jeans and denim are all over the place and the humble fabric is getting much attention as a couture fabric (thanks to Karl Lagerfeld who used denim throughout his fall/winter 2006 couture collection for the house of Chanel).

The colorful and spirited knitwear from Vietnamese and Saudi Arabian Quyen Nguyen [KNITWEAR / WOMENS] Fashion and knitwear designer Quyen Nguyen who cited Girl Scout uniforms and menswear shirts as inspiration for her knitwear collection of sportswear that relied on classic shapes rendered in mind boggling pattern and texture mixes.

The unique and amazingly hand detailed ribbon- based couture like pieces from Swedish and African-American Shanti Rose Markstrom who literally brought the house down with her heavily constructed ivory ribboned corset top and narrow brocade pants.

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