Student Designers Take On Fashion Week

Seven emerging designers showcase their collections.

Feb. 17, 2011— -- Every February renowned designers like Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, and Max Azria give us a taste of next season's fashion at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City.

However, veteran designers were not the only ones showing their collections. Seven emerging young designers from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco got their chance to show the world what they think you'll be wearing come next season.

At Lincoln Center on the runway, models sported a flurry of textured fabrics, dark solid colors, and designs created using modern and traditional, Western and Eastern, techniques. Designers, press, fashion enthusiasts, and TV personalities like America's Next Top Model judges, J. Alexander and Nigel Barker, filled Lincoln Center's largest theatre on Friday, Feb. 11.

"New York is not used to seeing young designers. Now they're seeing young designers," said Simon Ungless, the Academy's director of fashion and the director of the segment that showcased the students' work.

The Collections

Aura Taylor, one of the seven designers, was born and raised in Lithuania. She found inspiration for her collection from the history of sewing, which led her to an investigation into the emerging no-sew technologies.Using traditional tailoring with no-sew techniques such as heat welding and the use of adhesive tape, Taylor was able create a collection that she said looked "modern and new."

Taylor believes the diverse cultural and professional backgrounds of each of the designers resulted in unique collections.

Dejchat Sriyoopum drew on his Thai roots to develop the look for his collection using fabrics like wool, silk and taffeta, Sriyoopum wanted to design wearable and chic apparel.

"I didn't want to make evening gowns," he told ABC News. "I want young people to wear my collection and feel elegant.

The designers worked with instructors from the University throughout the design process to create individual looks for each collection.

Simon Ungless the director of the show said the designers were not trying to create a unified collection, but a look of the show to flow.

"We don't want the collections to look the same. We want the audience to see and hear seven voices." Minha Yoon's women's collection was inspired by the effect of light and shadows.

"I have a lot of sheers playing off of shadows," she said. "Creating depth and dimension was very important for me."

Emerging Designers: What It Takes

"We don't think of them as students, they're emerging designers with growing careers," said Ungless.

The emerging designers started developing their final thesis collection, the collections modeled at fashion week, two academic semesters prior to the show.

Each of the designers is pursuing their M.F.A. in fashion design at the University and was selected after an application process to create individual collections for the show.

The designers were then guided by instructors through the process of fabric selections, fittings, and styling.

"It took me over six months to finish my collection," said Hurst Chang-Wei Lin.Lin, one of the seven emerging designers from the Academy, left his job as a magazine editor in Taiwan three years ago to pursue "a life as an artist who can color the human body."

Students were also expected to purchase their own materials for the show.

"Budgeting is an individual thing. You have to think from the beginning what you want to spend on toile materials and other things," said Stephanie Gelot, who was raised in Canada.

"You can use scrap fabric that's donated. That helps cut down on the cost of what you can afford," Gelot added.

Jonathan David Baker purchased a majority of his materials for the show from a higher end retail fabric store in San Francisco. But for Baker, the most time intensive show preparation was not the material.

"Casting models is a huge part of the preparation, I was casting models up until the last day before the show," said Baker.

What's Next?

With collections complete and the Fashion Show over, the emerging designers are walking away from Fashion Week hoping the debut of their collections will lead to new opportunities.

The goal of the Fashion Week show for Holly Smith, who prior to pursuing a M.F.A. in Fashion Design at the Academy worked in product development at Coach, is to "find job opportunities."

For Baker, the fashion show is a huge contribution to his portfolio. "This is a great launching pad, especially if you want to do your own thing on a small scale."