San Francisco University of Art

Graduating  Class of Fashion Forward Future Stars 2019

by Pikke Allen, Editor at Large

Graduation Fashion Show 2019

The history of the SF Art Academy is a unique one and particular to the city of San Francisco.  Their students and graduating class are a part of fashion history, as the school hasimage1developed and put out into the fashion world many luminaries over the years. It is always a unique and wonderful experience to see what students are doing, their vision of the world and their wonderful spontaneous take on what fashion really means.  The Academy of Art is the largest school of art disciplines in the US today, so it may surprise you that its importance to both fashion and culture on the West Coast, can’t be compared to anything else for fashion education in the country today. So, the over 2,000 attendees of the graduating class this year made it the hottest ticket in town.


Drawing on their own personal experiences that are a combination of the naive, or perhaps tentative. Some of the work might even pulled from both internal or external cultural references; sometimes the work is outside the box and inspiring.  Some of the designer’s work and creations are so non-commercial as to be commendable. Always, the students present their knowledge gained in this program whether it be textiles, fabric cutting, patternmaking or handcrafts, there is a unique mixture of disciplines expressed in their final collections.  Here are some of the highlights that I truly enjoyed and those I felt had real promise in their future in the fashion industry.

One of the unique areas in the show was the menswear, with CHRISTOPHER CABALENA a stand out with his series of white suits, vests and truly futuristic looks that will be a unique addition to a brand looking for new directions in menswear.  I feel his work has already predicted a red carpet choice for any music or cinema star and ready for Pharrell Williams, for example would be quite at home in these looks.

My next favorite designer was CLARA M CHANDRA & JACK GUNNIN whose unique placements of textiles and colors harkened back to one of San Francisco’s most unique designers, the team of JEAN MARC who were a powerful duo in the 1970s. mood board says it all and sketches say it all.  With contrasting colors and sculptural sleeve extensions, I urge them to go back to see the work of this unique team as they can learn from them. Her cultural heritage from China and Indonesia are expressed in remembrance of her mother’s courage and beauty.  Together they worked some magic, whimsey and fun.

My next choice for designer favorite, is ZIYI  YE who used her cultural experience of a Chinese folktale to begin her inspiration that ended up in a collection of feminine and soaring shapes in shades of pink red and rose tones.  The clothes had a chance to breath on the models are the first steps of what I feel will be a successful evening wear or bridal designer in the future.  Her lovely eye for color and shape will be an asset in bringing her ‘youthful’ eye to clothes that will be very appealing to both young and old.

HANAN SABIR ARGAW was another woman designer who really put the graphics and pop back into a runway show, and her work was a crowd pleaser. Her outfits featured the pill-popping colors you see below in her mood board and the circles of pills and related shapes were built into garments that really had a sense of fun and point of view. This is a critical moment for any young designer, trying for and getting a worldview that is just the open door to more exciting things.

ANAN YINAN ZHOU was a remarkable show of how black can have a variety of moods from sad to exultant. The mood board says is all; both despair, extreme emotions and also a poetic glamour that reminded me of work by ALEXANDER MQUEEN in its devastating approach to glamour.   There is an opportunity to go beyond the black; I hope this young woman will envision the light as well, but her exploration of the dark side was a standout.

Her runway looks were crowd pleasers, almost mystical and strange but beautiful. Her use of Black in all its forms made us take a closer look at the color, that in itself is both a mood, a design point of view and one of fashion’s favorite ‘non-colors’.  I understood the fabrics though basic, were molded into unique shapes. A higher fabric budget will allow her to soar to great heights in the fashion world as she has a deep understanding of the way fabrics can work in sculptural elegant shapes, and so her future looks bright, indeed.

Here are some links for you to see the show in person, yourself in this online reportage of the show.  More information on the show is also below.

WATCH the fashion show: For more information, please visit

School of Fashion Blog:


About the University:  ‘Academy of Art University is the largest private university of art and design in the United States. Established in 1929, the Academy imposes a rigorous curriculum that requires the students to produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates a mastery of their field’.

Luminaries and Attendees:

Livia Stoianova, Co-founder and Designer, On Aura Tout Vu (2019 honorary doctorate recipient) Yassen Samouilov, Co-founder and Designer, On Aura Tout Vu (2019 honorary doctorate recipient) Edwin Mohney, Fashion Designer

Andre Walker, Fashion Designer (2018 honorary doctorate recipient)

Sara Kozlowski, Director of Education and Professional Development, CFDA

Olya Kuryshchuk, Founder and Editor in Chief at 1 Granary

Lara Lettice Johnson-Wheeler, Writer, Editor, Broadcaster / Contributor with SHOWstudio Bernhard Wilhelm (artist / designer)