Fashion Future: Academy of Art University 2017 Graduation Fashion Show


Looks from Jiran Xia (B.F.A. fashion design) and Pei-Ling “Ann” Tsai (B.F.A. jewelry & metal arts) during the Graduation Fashion Show finale. Photo by Bob Toy.

It’s all been leading up to this… 

In the lives of individuals and communities, there are moments that define history and usher in the future. For students in Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion, that moment is the annual Graduation Fashion Show that brings together faculty, family, friends and industry such as retail executives, fashion and accessory designers, interior designers and recruiters to celebrate the accomplishments of each graduate, and honor their creative vision as they join the ranks of the Academy’s distinguished alumni.

On May 6, guests filled the fashion show venue to capacity. The excitement was palpable. In her welcoming remarks, Academy President Elisa Stephens reflected on the amazing transformation of the School of Fashion into the largest and one of the most dynamic programs at the Academy. To highlight the strength of its students, Director of Education and Professional Development for the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Sara Kozlowski, announced a long roster of this year’s award and scholarship finalists. Talk about pride and joy! You can see the full list of student finalists and awardees below. 

President Stephens presented an honorary doctorate to Sarah Mower, chief critic for and the British Fashion Council’s Ambassador for Emerging Talent. In her professional capacity, Mower has championed some of fashion’s brightest debuts of the last decade: Christopher Kane, Erdem, Mary Katrantzou, JW Anderson, Roksanda, among others. A passionate advocate for arts education, she has worked tirelessly to elevate fashion discourse and present students with advancement opportunities. Her role in raising the profile of the British fashion industry within the global community was recognized in 2011 when she received the distinguished honor of Member of the British Empire (MBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for services to the fashion industry. “I got into this, because I’m interested in the future. I know and value how much education means,” noted Mower, praising the dedication and leadership of Simon Ungless, executive director of the School of Fashion, and the program’s entire team. Mower then pointed out San Francisco’s special place in American history as the “cradle of countercultural movement.” “I am curious what will rise up from you. Use your creativity and your voice,” urged Mower, who also received a Certificate of Honor from the Mayor of San Francisco.


Chief Critic of Sarah Mower, who was presented with an honorary doctorate by Academy President Elisa Stephens. Photo by Bob Toy.


Left) Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens. (Right) Director of Education and Professional Development for the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Sara Kozlowski announced the names of this year’s student award winners and scholarship finalists. Photo by Bob Toy.

“Let the show begin!” With these words from President Stephens, the auditorium lights dimmed and the eagerly anticipated fashion show began. 

2017 Graduation Fashion Show

As the music and lights hit the runway, a multitude of live video streams began reaching thousands of online audience members across YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. The first collection to hit the runway was an intriguing collaboration between Thao Thai (B.F.A. fashion design) and Naz Khorram (B.F.A. jewelry & metal arts). Rooted in Vietnamese and Iranian cultures, respectively, their partnership was inspired by the fluidity of selfhood. The looks explored the concept by covering, exposing, or making certain elements transparent. 

The great surrealist Salvador Dali made an appearance on the runway thanks to Brandi Puckett (B.F.A. fashion design) who was inspired by the artist to create her silk, cotton and jacquard garments, embellishing some with wool and faux fur poms.

Fashion and opera both love a good drama. Amy Hsu Tzu Chen (B.F.A. fashion design) and Xiaowen “Wendy” Zhang (B.F.A. knitwear design) brought together their Taiwanese and Chinese heritage to focus on complex textures in their interpretation of the unconventional themes from the classic film Farewell, My Concubine

Fusion knots serve as a fascinating metaphor for contemporary vision of interdependency in handwoven garments by Ann Zhang (B.F.A. fashion design) who turned to British artist Glenn Brown for inspiration.


One of the looks from Aastha Shah (B.F.A. fashion design) and Peggy Kuo (B.F.A. textile design) on the runway. Photo by Bob Toy.

Sometimes purposeful distortion helps us see the world more clearly. Case in point, the famous series of rubber band portraits by photographer Wes Naman. Jessica V. Wijaya (B.F.A. fashion design) created her asymmetrical knits in collaboration with Clarkie Kabler (B.F.A. costume design) who combined traditional tambour beading with unexpected materials, including zip ties! 

The ’80s arcade game Pac-Man has made quite an impression on pop culture, and on Jeanne Marie Sanguinetti (B.F.A. fashion design), who used it as a starting point. Sanguinetti’s geometrical silhouettes are accented with LED-lit character patches created by Ryan Hsiang (B.F.A. jewelry & metal arts). Check out his 3-D printed headphones!

“I ain’t lost; just wandering,” sings Adele in her hit “Hometown Glory.” Jane Wade (B.F.A. fashion design) was inspired by her many non-destination walks through San Francisco to create intricate leather cording designs. 

Holi is the world-revered Hindu spring festival that celebrates the vitality of bright colors. Aastha Shah (B.F.A. fashion design) collaborated with Peggy Kuo (B.F.A. textile design) on a “chaotic and vibrant mix” of traditional Indian artwork and Western streetstyle aesthetic. The result was fantastic!

For millennia, the ocean has been a source of life, mystery and artistic inspiration. Amanda Velasquez (B.F.A. fashion design) found inspiration in the iconic Mino coats of Japanese fishermen and skeletal artwork of Lori Tomita for her wool-bamboo cashmere and denim collaboration with Shanice Ashley Green (B.F.A. knitwear design).  

Survival of the fittest is an idea that brought together Julie Kintner (B.F.A. menswear design) and Yan Li (B.F.A. textile design) to create menswear looks that were first developed through experimentation using tarps and emergency blankets. Literati painting influences and textures of the forest complete the concept. Darwin would approve! 

Tough love, unruly freedom and bravely facing the wind, Vivian Cho (B.F.A. fashion design) sought inspiration in the notorious Japanese biker girl gang culture for her denim-strong looks, complete with stitched judo belts. Who’s ready to ride?


One of the looks from Jeanne Marie Sanguinetti (B.F.A. fashion design) and Ryan Hsiang (B.F.A. jewelry & metal arts) on the runway. Photo by Bob Toy.


A look from Laura Hidaka (B.F.A. fashion show) Claudia Zoh-Hung Tan (B.F.A. fashion design) and Virginia Yue (B.F.A. fashion design) on the runway. Photo by Bob Toy.

More than a century in the making, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona might be the ultimate work-in-progress. Estene Marquez (B.F.A. fashion design) pays homage to the visionary architect and the painstaking process of creative execution with laser-cut details on organza and charmeuse garments.

Now You See Me was a hit heist movie that left audiences spellbound. Alvin Ang (B.F.A. fashion design) and Christina Miyagi (B.F.A. textile design) captivated the audience with their textiles and looks inspired by the long artistic tradition of trompe-l’œil or optical illusions. 

Hardwired for style is something one could say about the Icelander Dagny Steindorsdottir (B.F.A. fashion design) who used complex patterns of circuit boards and electric cables to complete her leather, suede and wool looks. 

Portland, Oregon has earned a reputation as one of America’s reuse and recycle pioneering communities. Erika Tompkins (B.F.A. fashion design) celebrates her hometown with clothes created from molds of vintage garments and silicone-coated fabrics. 

In a love letter to her Palestinian ancestors, Joanna Jadallah (B.F.A. menswear design) explored complex historical ideas of home, refuge and legacy with the aid of castle and armor inspired textiles by Cana Klebanoff (B.F.A. knitwear design) and horn-made accessories by Qin “Samantha” Xu (B.F.A. jewelry & metal arts) with additional beaded embroidery by fashion design major Jeannifer Tiftamarta. In true nomadic or post-globalized manner, it takes a village to raise a look! 

Slow is the new fast! Inspired by the languorous visions of Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto and the idea of sleepwalking while dressed, Bowen Tian (B.F.A. fashion design) created oversized puff pieces with whimsical buttons using velvet and upholstery fabrics.


Looks from Vivian Cho’s (B.F.A. fashion design) collection. Photo by Bob Toy.


One of the looks from Jessica V. Wijaya (B.F.A. fashion design) and Clarkie Kabler (B.F.A. costume design) on the runway. Photo by Bob Toy.

Harmonious coexistence of humanity and nature is today’s newsfeed mainstay and a fitting theme for collaboration between Jiran Xia (B.F.A. fashion design) and Pei-Ling “Ann” Tsai (B.F.A. jewelry & metal arts) who explored the fragile balances of ecosystems in natural fabrics and acrylic jewelry. 

The closing looks of the 2017 Graduate Fashion Show appeared on the runway courtesy of Laura Hidaka (B.F.A. fashion design) who was inspired by the Hawaiian culture of hospitality and the traditional Kahiko hula skirts. The garments in sunbrella canvas and kona cotton were beautifully embroidered by Claudia Zoh-Hung Tan and Virginia Yue (B.F.A. fashion design). When it comes to fashion, every goodbye is a welcoming aloha to something new! 

The models and designers took their final walk-through to the thundering tune of Marlena Shaw’s anthem “California Soul.” It was a lively finale, fitting for the great show and an industrious academic year. Thank you and good luck to the School of Fashion alumni, class of 2017! 

When Talent Meets Opportunity

Creativity thrives in supportive environments. The Academy is committed to providing exceptional mentoring and financial aid opportunities to its students. Their success inspires our entire community. Every year, we are happy to announce several awards, scholarships and internships. The various co-sponsored scholarships range in monetary value from $1,500 to $25,000 but their positive impact on recipients’ professional development is immeasurable. Design competitions drive the industry and future consumer enthusiasm for newcomers. The San Francisco Paris Sister City Scholarship Exchange is a unique program that gives a group of motivated students a chance to live, study and create in the heart of Paris, the world couture capital. The Council of Fashion Designers of America curates a number of distinct opportunities for emerging talent, including coveted spots at the showcase in New York City, another global style center. Top fashion journalism students are rewarded with iPads courtesy of Flipboard to continue fostering a progressive relationship between fashion media and technology industry. We are proud of all the winners and wish the best of luck to all the finalists. 

Congratulations winners and finalists!

The Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Future Graduate Showcase (Curated Exhibition in New York, May 23–24, 2017)

Carly Dean, M.F.A. textile design

Laura Hidaka, B.F.A. fashion design

Bom Kim, M.F.A. fashion design

Dina Marie Lam, M.F.A. fashion design

Brandi Puckett, B.F.A. fashion design

Aastha Shah, B.F.A. fashion design

Eden Slezin, M.F.A. fashion design

Dagny Steindorsdottir, B.F.A. fashion design

Bowen Tian, B.F.A. fashion design

Christina Miyagi , B.F.A. textile design

Amanda Velasquez, B.F.A. fashion design

Jessica V. Wijaya, B.F.A. fashion design

Hailun Zhou, B.F.A. fashion design

Jiran Xia, B.F.A. fashion design

Szu-Yi Chen, M.F.A. fashion design


The Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Future Graduate Showcase ( Digital Showcase)

Sahara Aldrich, M.F.A. textile design

Alvin Ang, B.F.A. fashion design

Binan Han, B.F.A. fashion design

Estene Marquez, B.F.A. fashion design

Rheanna Oliver-Palanca, M.F.A. fashion design

Erika Tompkins, B.F.A. fashion design

Nancy Zhao, B.F.A. fashion design

Xiaoyu Zhao, M.F.A. fashion design


Kenneth Cole Footwear Innovation Award Finalists

Erika Tompkins, B.F.A. fashion design

Ann Yunhui Zhang, B.F.A. fashion design


CFDA Geoffrey Beene Design Scholar Award

Finalist for the $25,000 Award: Yoonsuk Lee, M.F.A. fashion design


Liz Claiborne Design Scholarship Award

Finalists for the $25,000 Award: Susan Zienty, B.F.A. fashion design


CFDA Scholarship Award

Finalist for one of two $25,000 Awards: Pamela Toribio, B.F.A. textile design


YMA-Fashion Scholarship Fund

FSF Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Award for $10,000: Amanda Velasquez, B.F.A. fashion design

FSF $5,000 Scholarship: Elora Martinez, B.F.A. fashion merchandising, and Hyun Ji Lee, B.F.A. fashion merchandising


SURTEX®International Student Design Competition: designext®

Jiran Xia, B.F.A. fashion design


San Francisco – Paris Sister City Scholarship Exchange in Paris, France

Studio Berçot: Amanda Velasquez, B.F.A. fashion design, Ruth Reynaga, B.F.A. fashion design, and Cana Klebanoff, B.F.A. knitwear design

 L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne: Jessica V. Wijaya, B.F.A. fashion design, and Amy Hsu Tzu Chen, B.F.A. fashion design


2017 Top Fashion Journalism Students

iPad Mini Courtesy of Flipboard: Nivetha Sundar, M.A. fashion journalism, Kahea Montgomery, M.A. fashion journalism, and Isabella Urbina, B.A. fashion journalism


2017 Fashion Journalism Scholarship

Sponsored by TRC Public Relations & Marketing

$1,000 Scholarship and Summer Internship at TRC Public Relations & Marketing: Nivetha Sundar, M.A. fashion journalism

$500 Scholarship and Summer Internship at TRC Public Relations & Marketing: Katheryn Zerbe, B.A. fashion journalism


2017 Social Media Center Scholarship

Sponsored by Cross Marketing Public Relations

$1,500 Scholarship and Summer Internship at Cross Marketing Public Relations: Farnaz Dadashi, B.A. fashion journalism


Summer Internship at Cross Marketing Public Relations: Nivetha Sundar, M.A. fashion journalism