San Francisco's Academy of Art University (AAU) is definitely among the institutions offering courses in fashion and design that have been rising to global attention. Roughly two weeks ago, 39 student designers from the School of Fashion at AAU presented their final collections at the annual Graduation Fashion Show in San Francisco.
Among the honored guests there were The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and School of Fashion alumna and 2014 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner up Ryan Roche, but the real stars were the students with their fresh ideas, innovative materials and experimental silhouettes.
The best thing about the 21 collections presented is that six of them were the result of a collaboration between students of different disciplines, such as Fashion Design, Knitwear Design, Textile Design, and Jewelry/Metal Arts.
Ye Kuang, B.F.A. Fashion Design, collaborated for example with M.F.A. Jewelry & Metal Arts Designer Candy Hsinyu Chu.
The fashion students at AAU are always encouraged to look for unusual inspirations for their final collections: Kuang moved from Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat's Incineration Line in Roskilde (View this photo). An incineration line is usually something practical to deal with local waste, but van Egeraat's incinerator is actually an outstandingly modern structure engaged in a dialogue with the landscape. Though the building is angular and solid and features a tower echoing the twin spires of Roskilde Cathedral, the laser-cut circular openings piercing the surface of the aluminium structure infuse it with an illusion of lightness.
Using neoprene, imitation leather and lace provided by Sophie Hallette, Kuang created a series of pierced looks characterised by ample silhouettes wth angular lines. The holes cut out in the fabric evoke the surfaces of the Incineration Line, while Chu constructed jewelry from vinyl tubing in a color palette inspired by Nordic summers.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Ye Kuang: I was born in the Shandong province, and raised in Shanghai, China. I studied in Shanghai from elementary school. Architectures and sculptures are usually my inspirations, because I like their silhouettes and geometric shapes. I've always loved fashion since I was a young girl, but I launched my practice only after I came to AAU.
Candy Hsinyu Chu: I was born and grew up in Taipei, Taiwan. I studied art since junior high school specializing in watercolor and Chinese painting. After that, my parents encouraged me to study overseas exploring the world of art. In 2013, I got my BFA degree of fashion design at AAU. After four years of professional training, I learned how to build a women's wear collection, gathering inspirations, creating moodboards, sketching, designing, cutting and sewing. I did six women's wear looks for the AAU 2013 Spring fashion runway show. Meanwhile, I also nurtured my passion for handmade jewelry in a class with David Casella. So, I decided to follow my dream again pursing an MFA Degree of Jewelry and Metal Arts at AAU. In 2015 Spring, I showcased my 6 pieces of laser cutting jewelry made for my collaboration with Fashion student Sue Ye Kuang.
How did you feel at showcasing your collection at the Academy of the Arts fashion show?
Ye Kuang: I felt very excited and satisfied. This fashion show was very meaningful to me, because it was my first fashion show, and it was a good summary of my four-year career at the Academy of Art University. I spent 9 months working on the collection, so it became a bit like my baby. And I was very happy with it!
Candy Hsinyu Chu: I spent at least 3 months working on this interesting laser cutting collaboration with Sue. We faced many difficulties and conflicts together. We learned a lot from each other. I am so glad we took it this further. On the day of the fashion show, I couldn't believe it was all happening. It ended in a second, but I felt so proud for both of us. I can't wait for the next collaboration!
How did the creative process work for you for what regards this collection, did you first develop a story in your mind for example and then you transferred it on the fabric/accessories?
Ye Kuang: I did a lot of research in summer before the pre-collection, and what came to my mind was the Incineration Line in Roskilde designed by Erick van Egeraat. I followed the design process to contribute a lineup; at the same time, I chose the fabric - neoprene - to support my design. I also made 3D samples to try the 3D pop-in detail, which was inspired by the main door of van Egeraat's architecture.
Candy Hsinyu Chu: The first piece I developed was an acrylic necklace with LED lights which I made in my laser cut class. In the beginning, I was inspired by a Chinese concept: Yin-Yang/ Light and Shadow, symbolizing how two opposite energies interact with each other. I wanted to create a contrast but also a sort of transition in my pieces via colors, shapes and composition, showing how energies can maintain a balance. Later, I incorporated the colors and design elements borrowed from Scandinavian influences.
Which was the most difficult aspect of developing your collection?
Ye Kuang: I think the most difficult aspect of developing my collection was the sewing of the fabric, because neoprene is very hard to sew due to its smoothness, and it is also hard to finish. It was a challenge for me.
Candy Hsinyu Chu: Wearability was the most time-consuming and difficult aspect for me. Jewelry is not only about good design, but about body comfort as well. Besides, you have to take care of how easy it may be to put on or take off a piece.
Can you tell us more about your main inspiration for this collection, Erick van Egeraat's sculpture? In which ways did you interpret and integrate his forms and shapes into your designs?
Ye Kuang: This architecture attracted me a lot, the silhouette, the holes, and the detailed door. I chose the fabric, neoprene, keeping in mind the strong shape I wanted to do. I took the shape of the building, and transferred it to the sleeves, and the silhouettes of my designs. At the same time, the holes on the building cannot be missed, so I had the fabric laser cut and it turned out very nice!
Do disciplines such as art, architecture or science usually inform the construction of your pieces?
Ye Kuang: Yes, architecture is the main discipline that informs the construction of my pieces.
How was it working with prestigious fabrics such as Sophie Hallette's?
Ye Kuang: It was a very great and unforgettable experience. The lace fabric is very beautiful and elegant. The lace emerging from the laser cut holes added some softness to the designs and made them look very feminine.
Did you find any stages of your collaboration difficult or challenging?
Ye Kuang: No, I thought the collaboration went very well and smoothly. We kept updating and exchanging our ideas every week. It was efficient.
Candy Hsinyu Chu: It took me a while to figure out what kind of jewelry items went well with Sue's designs and what could make us both look unique and innovative. Apart from the six pieces of jewelry - 2 necklaces, 2 bracelets, and 2 purses - that I showcased at the fashion show, I also experimented with headpieces, ear cuffs and knuckle rings.
What's the most important thing you learnt from your years at AAU?
Ye Kuang: I learnt a lot from AAU, but the most important thing is how to manage my time and how to communicate with people.
Candy Hsinyu Chu: Always take notes and record in my journal everything I have experimented with, felt and designed.
In your opinion, where is the real "future of fashion": in the techniques linked to printing (think about digital printing...), in specific materials (smart textiles/3D printing, etc.) or will genuine innovations come from new solutions in tailoring?
Ye Kuang: In my opinion, I would like to say the future of fashion is in the new deconstruction of the classic clothes. Nowadays more and more designers are trying to use new and innovative materials in fashion. But I believe that, in future, people will go back to more ordinary fabrics, and the structure and construction of the clothes will catch people's eyes.
What plans do you have for the immediate future?
Ye Kuang: I will go to New York for an internship at Milly New York.
Candy Hsinyu Chu: I expect graduating in Spring 2016. I then want to find a job in New York and in the future I'd like to launch my own jewelry business.
Image credits for this post
All images in this post courtesy AAU. Image 2 in this post: Sue Stemp of St. Roche reviewing Ye Kuang's portfolio by John Perez.
Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos
Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos