15 M.F.A. designers from the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University presented their Fall 2015 thesis collections at Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week. Since 2005, the School of Fashion has premiered the collections of students and recent graduates during New York Fashion Week. For the fall 2015 season, 15 designers presented 10 collections, four of which were collaborations between Fashion Design and Textile Design students. In total, eight womenswear, one mixed menswear and womenswear, and one menswear collection were presented.

“We are committed to helping our students launch their careers, and we are thrilled to give them the platform to present their work to fashion industry professionals,” said Dr. Elisa Stephens, President of Academy of Art University. “It is an incredible opportunity for our student designers to debut their collections during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.”

“This group of designers focused on transformation,” said Simon Ungless, Executive Director of the School of Fashion. “They used fabric manipulation and printing techniques to change the inherent qualities of textiles to create new textures and surface qualities. There is a focus back to the body and wearability in silhouette, which the designers have utilized advanced tailoring techniques to achieve.”

Emmanuelle Ciara Jones and Ghazaleh Khalifeh
Emmanuelle Ciara Jones, M.F.A. Fashion Design, was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. Jean- Michel Basquiat whose artwork focuses on suggestive dichotomies such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience—has been especially inspirational to Jones as she designed her fall 2015 collection. Jones’ collection was motivated by hip-hop street culture and music and features textiles designed by Ghazaleh Khalifeh, M.F.A. Textile Design, who hails from Marin County in California. Khalifeh played off Jones’ inspiration of African textiles and voodoo, complementing silhouettes with textiles that incorporate elements of the culture, spirit and graffiti of New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1980s.

Christian Willman, M.F.A. Fashion Design, was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Willman’s fall 2015 collection is inspired by the work of Northern Irish installation artist Matt Calderwood, whose sculptures challenge the physical potential of materials, explore structural power, and portray the use of friction and gravity to achieve equilibrium. Playing off these themes, Willman’s collection is both structured and minimalistic, and is executed in wool, eco-wool and cotton.

Xiaowei Liu, M.F.A. Fashion Design, was born and raised in Wuhan, China. Liu’s fall 2015 collection is a mixture of menswear and womenswear looks which center on the basic silhouette of a bomber jacket. The collection is comprised entirely of indigo fabrics custom dyed by Liu, who was inspired by the Japanese indigo patchwork technique of boro.

Stella Xingyu Hu, M.F.A. Fashion Design, was born in Nei Monggol, China and grew up in Delian, Liaoning Province of China. Hu collaborated with Xiaowei Liu, M.F.A. Fashion Design, on the menswear portion of a mixed menswear and womenswear collection. Hu designed knitted garments inspired by a Rubik’s cube—corner-like design details, faux leather tape and a rainbow palette are evocative of the famous three- dimensional puzzle.

Han Tang and Tam Nguyen
Han Tang, M.F.A Fashion Design, grew up in Beijing, China. She used wool and silk and was inspired by Italian photographer Yvonne De Rosa and her series of dark photographs. Tang focused on smooth lines and strong, elegant silhouettes for the shoulders and sleeves of her designs, and collaborated with Tam Nguyen, M.F.A. Textile Design, who hails from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The textiles were inspired by the decaying and chipping surfaces of abandoned houses. Her designs capture the texture of peeling and naturally weathered exteriors.

Erin A.F. Milosevich, M.F.A. Fashion Design, was born in Champaign, Illinois, and grew up in Carmel, Indiana. Milosevich’s fall 2015 collection centers on movement and restraint, which is portrayed through the juxtaposition of flowing fabric with constructed silhouettes. To further exaggerate volume and movement, each look includes handmade crinoline.

Paulina Susana Romero Valdez, M.F.A. Fashion Design, was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and grew up in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. For her collection, “It’s Only Heritage,” Valdez drew inspiration from her Mexican roots as well as her fascination with baroque art and culture. The collection was executed in Baroque-style wool brocade, wool tweed, silk, cotton, hand-dyed leather, and accented with vibrant, traditional Mexican embroidery.

Kevin C. Smith and Andrea Nyberg
Kevin C. Smith, M.F.A. Fashion Design, is a California native who was born in Walnut Creek, grew up in Sacramento, and has a B.F.A. degree in Art Studio. Smith created menswear designs based around the ideas of light and volume. His inspiration comes from Christo’s Running Fence, a 24.5-mile-long installation art piece made by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 1976, as well as from vintage light bulbs and candle smoke. The clothes are layered pieces comprised of sheer, flowing overcoats. Andrea Nyberg, M.F.A. Textile Design, was born in Columbus, Ohio, and was raised in North Ridgeville, Ohio. Collaborating with Kevin for their fall 2015 menswear collection, Nyberg was inspired by non-material substances in nature, such as; smoke, condensation and dew mixed with layers of transparent stripes. She used shades of blue wool suiting to create the more structured striped patterns, paired with grey and tonal blue organic prints for shirtings. Each silhouette includes many pieces offering playful but subtle print mixing. The looks are highlighted with atmospheric smoke printed raincoats enshrouding the men in form and function.

Ozanhan Kayaoglu, M.F.A. Fashion Design, was born in Eskişehir, Turkey, and grew up in Istanbul. French philosopher Michel Foucault’s use of panopticon prison architecture to illustrate power and social order is credited as the inspiration behind this collection. Kayaoglu was drawn to images that showcased rusted metal inside the prison, which led him to develop a technique of dyeing fabric with rusted metal.

Farnaz Golnam, M.F.A. Fashion Design, is from Kermanshah, Iran. For her fall 2015 collection, Golnam drew inspiration from nature and incorporated three-dimensional details from flowers into the garments. The collection has a sculptural quality, which is enhanced by voluminous panels and seam detailing. The collection is executed in solid gray and black wool, and features needle-felting details that play with viewers’ perceptions of depth and dimension.

Xue Yang and Oom Terdpravat
Xue Yang, M.F.A Fashion Design, was born and raised in Jilin, China. Inspired by vintage Chinese fabric, Yang’s collection focused on a unique sleeve design. The cocoon shape of the garments represents restrictive practices, such as foot binding as practiced in prior centuries on Chinese women. Yang collaborated with Oom Terdpravat, M.F.A. Fashion Design and Textile Design, who is from Bangkok, Thailand. She designed the textiles for this joint fall 2015 collection in a watercolor palette of deep purples, blues and greens. Her print inspiration derives from the floral, geometric embroidery of a Northwest Chinese hill tribe.