Thursday, March 1, 2012



words/images Judith Ecochard

Always a highlight of New York Fashion Week-this year's Academy Of Art University's (AAU) runway show was street ready we thought...

MEANING-we could see these models keep on walking, straight off the catwalk---into the byways of Manhattan...stylishly attired in ensembles that would earn approval nods from those who know good design when they see it!

We got backstage hours prior to the show-to chat with some of the soon to graduate students selected to have their creations don the runway...and hair/make-up gurus.

First up was the immensely talented and intellectual XIANG ZHANG, a Shanghai China native...who earned an MFA in knitwear design from AAU.

"Stitches on the diagonal changes the construction"
Why he's smarter than us---his collection was inspired by Plato. That's right, the philosopher and the Greek's "high form of beauty...and principles of math and science."

"Knitwear is a all about math...and how I calculated to make the geometric line is inspired by ancient Greece," Zhang added. "The colors are all neutral to represent the high form of beauty-so the color is of birth, a skin tone of birth."WOW!!

 PLUS-the knitwear is woven together, not sewn Zhang has spent over 3.5 years learning how to knit "on industry machines and (on) the character of each yarn..."

knit together 'panels" not sewn together-labor intensive

Beautiful draping...

back of above knit top
This last knockout piece-a light metallic mohair yarn-"is like a warrior...(and) a mathematical theorem was used to define the knit pattern.'

details of this super soft knit

"I wanted my clothes to be very wearable, " Zhang told us..."New York people want to wear their clothes...I wanted to design something that people can wear."

Cerebral and practical.

We doubt we will ever have a conversation with a fashion designer quite like this...maybe with an architect, but not in womenswear purveyor...though we were reminded of Geoffrey Beene's precise designs.

Jeanette Au's knitwear, very textured, patterned, and wonderfully hand wrought- got major bravos from the press after the show. Duh. We mean this was incredible work.

wearable too-luxury without the bulk  exquisite workmanship

Inspired by the Ballet Russe artists "Stravinsky...the whole mood...the colors and textures..."...and the paintings of Leon Bakst.

Needless to say, these mohair/wool creations are done by hand...and what else to love...Au's a LaGuardia HS of Music and Performing Arts graduate-actually right down the block from the venue...and for those not in the know-the school that inspired "Fame"---the movie.

How cool is that???????

Wu Di, native of China-is pursuing her MFA in Fashion Design.

Geometric shapes and angular silhouettes using cashmere knits and double face wool---were all polished, modern...and rather sophisticated.
designing her garments is "like painting"

Architectural shapes and comfort-were important to Wu...and the wearable neutral tones of charcoal and creamy white were "not shiny...with reflective zippers" providing a bit of pop to the designs. Clever.

AND no surprise-when we asked her admired list of designers-she cited Balenciaga and Céline (under the current) Phoebe Philo who both "design with power."

Farida Khan watches her designer husband Ali Khan iron a top

Farida Khan is a native a Pakistan-and an MFA online fashion program graduate-who was with her husband-also a fashion designer and AAU alum. We barely had time for a chat -but she felt her looks were modern and edgy-with influences of pop culture and "unconventional beauty." AND hopes to be a working designer in Paris someday.

Menswear designer Donghyuk Dan Kim puts on the final stitches

shoulder detail

autumnal colors of tobacco, olive back, maroon brown-in a highly wearable collection inspired by vintage military uniforms and clothing from the AMerican West

HAIR: by John Reyman for very interesting. "Strong and mature" seemed the operative words,with the clothing "evolved, mature and contemporary...structured , beautiful and strong hair..." in a kind's "50's fallback idea with a modern edge."

For gals-long and back with shape....

Sherri Jessee -stylist has board straight hair-that was curled and pinned took about 25 minutes. Transforming!

pin curl iron for longer locks.

Using AVEDA's Volumizing Tonic and Pure Abundance-volume- and Control Force for hold...the guys were actually pin curled then locks were 'pulled out..."for  for texture.

Make-up by Janessa Pure for Aveda---wanted to "keep the look youthful enough because the there are so many strong textures." (Meaning clothes and hair!)

Brows are straight and neutral "keep it young"

male models hanging out before the show

runway/Wu DI

Amy Bond-an online Fashion Program MFA grad...clean minimalist shapes...
in black and aubergine-deep purple.

Xiang Zhang knits:

Deanna Pei-Ju Lo-Luxury fabrics including pleated leather..."modern teddy boy" according to the run of show. Loved!

strong shoulder-menswear inspired

Donghyuk Dan Kim menswear-we felt-would work as a women's collection too...tailored, sharp, wearable...

tobacco oilcloth cotton raincoat with geen cotton legging would work for gals.

Freda Khan designs made of black cotton, wool garbadine, and clear/black geometric vinyl.

Kate Y.K. Lee is from Seoul ...

Sculptural shapes and rounded silhouettes offset by sharp angled seams and defined lines- we loved the pale silver/leather jacket and pants (above)...and navy leather dress, tops and legging (below).

Jewel tone knits by Jeanette Au...

Jade Juanyu Liu, an MFA student from China was inspired by the French collage artist Damien Blottiere.

Layered fabrics and mindfulness of shadows and empty space ---factored into separates shot through with shimmering copper.