Each year, hundreds of guests attend this exclusive event, including members of the international press, stylists, and industry professionals. This is your opportunity to see the creative talent and collections from students studying Fashion Design, Menswear Design, Knitwear Design, Textile Design—and more—come to life on the runway.

Meet The Student-Designers

Learn more about our talented student-designers and the inspiration behind their incredible collections.

Zhihan Liu
Zhihan Liu, MFA Fashion Design, is originally from Jilin, China. In 2013 Liu graduated from Northeast Normal University in China with a BFA in Fashion Design, receiving awards and scholarships during her undergraduate years. Her illustrations were published in Donghua University Press and in the Journal of Literature and Art Forum. Liu also received the Award of Excellence from The Second Session of Pearl Design (garment and accessories) in Japan in 2014. The following year, Liu transferred from a graduate-level fashion design program at the same university to the MFA Fashion Design at Academy of Art University. In addition to womenswear design, Liu also designs and creates jewelry. During her recent graduate coursework Liu participated in Levi’s Made & Crafted contest and was one of the eight finalists selected from more than 500 applicants. In 2018, Liu was selected to participate in the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA) Fashion Future Graduate Showcase in New York.

For this collection, Liu gleaned inspiration from the movie “Shutter Island”, especially the scene when the main actress is burned to ashes, starting from her backside. As Liu describes it, for her, this scene evoked feelings of hurt, pain, darkness, austerity and purity; her aim was to transfer that scene onto the collection as a symbol of those emotions and experiences. Liu’s experimentation with texture included burning some of her fabric to get a faded, decomposed effect.
Lusha Wang
Lusha Wang, MFA Fashion Design, was born and raised in QingDao, China. She received an undergraduate degree in law from Beijing Gelee University in 2006. During her time as a law student, Wang successfully ran her own brick and mortar clothing store and e-commerce site for the college student demographic. Wang’s additional professional experiences include online marketing for Samsung Opentide, and, creating an online beauty store to sell Korean cosmetics to Chinese customers. After moving to San Francisco to pursue a second undergraduate degree (fashion), Wang was awarded the Presidential Scholarship for an MFA Fashion Design degree at the Academy of Art University. While earning her MFA, Wang interned at Novella Bridal as an alterations specialist and at IIMUAHII as a designer assistant. Wang’s interest in knitwear led her to take a number of classes in the subject, further rounding out her MFA education.

Inspired by the movie “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and using the film’s star, Tilda Swinton, as her muse, Wang aims to use the details in her collection to show the constraints and struggle women face in society. To represent this, Wang hand-wove yarns together and used strategic binding and stitching to constrain her fabric; Wang’s loose-fitting silhouettes symbolize an independent and confident woman. Her collection includes: cotton-rayon shirting, virgin wool and bamboo blends, cotton sateen, patent leather, wool and metallic yarns, elastic and ribbon. In 2018, Wang received the San Francisco-Paris Sister City Scholarship Exchange Award, allowing her to study fashion at Studio Berçot in Paris during the academic year ahead, and, Wang was selected to participate in the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA) Fashion Future Graduate Showcase in New York during the summer.
Justing Kong Jiang
Justing Kong Jiang, MFA Fashion Design, was born and raised in Guangzhou, China. In 2013, he earned an undergraduate degree in fashion design and engineering from Zhujiang College of South China Agricultural University. Jiang founded the art and design studio and exhibition group, JustOne Studio, and has assistant design experience with brands such as the Hong Kong Float Clothing Trading Co., Calizia Vivian Zhou Design, and LIPPRINT Gentai Apparel. In 2014, Jiang began his MFA Fashion Design degree program at Academy of Art University. Initially inspired by kinetic art and an appreciation for mechanic structure, Jiang’s inspiration evolved to focus more on the artwork of surrealists Oskar Schlemmer and Salvador Dali, and, capturing the ‘spirit of surrealism’; “I was drawn to the idea of designing a collection which would challenge the established ‘rules’ of clothing”. Through trial-and-error, Jiang experimented with different fabric manipulation techniques, including the use of boning to create gathers and shape. Jiang’s collection incorporates the use of unconventional materials such as insulation paper, reflective materials, and conductive fabric – all sourced from a fabric and material supply company co-founded by Jiang, Hautico. Jiang aims to use the fabrication in the collection to enhance the play of light coming off the garments as they appear on the runway, lending a dynamic and futuristic tone to the collection.
Snezana Anicic-Van Pelt
Snezana Anicic-Van Pelt, MFA Fashion Design, is originally from Belgrade, Serbia. In 2007, she graduated from the University of Belgrade with a BA in Ethnology and Anthropology and the year prior completed a certificate through the Center for Gender Research at the same university. Her previous work experiences include creating masks for the Venice’s annual carnival with techniques including patina and gold leaf applications; and, she was a preschool teacher in San Francisco for five years. In 2016, Anicic-Van Pelt accepted a design internship with Eckhaus Latta Fashion Studios in New York where she was in charge of design development, patternmaking, construction, and finishing details for the runway. During the completion of her MFA in Fashion Design at Academy of Art University, Anicic-Van Pelt derived inspiration for her collection through personal “observations of the ways our society has been shifting”. With rapid societal changes and diversity in modern gender identity and lifestyle choices, Anicic-Van Pelt views her collection as a ‘catalyst of the different qualities (identities) that can coexist as a whole, rather than fighting against each other. Anicic-Van Pelt explores the juxtaposition of soft to crisp drape, organic to sharp shapes, warm to cold textures, and, the crude to industrial fabric manipulations ‘translate this idea of a multitude of choices clashing together – in harmony’. Anicic-Van Pelt uses a range of materials in the collection, including, yet not limited to: human hair, Mongolian yak and lambswool, organdy, crinoline, and, siliconed poplin and chenille.

In 2017 Anicic-Van Pelt was one of the finalists selected to have her garment exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum design competition for Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons; her garment, which she titled “Landscapes of the Human Condition” received the honor of ‘fan favorite’.
Changsheng Yu
Changsheng Yu, MFA Fashion Design, is originally from Changsha, China. Upon receiving his BFA Fashion Design degree at Academy of Art University in 2014, Yu returned to his home country and focused upon industry experience. There, he worked with designer Masha Ma, helping prepare her fashion show at Paris Fashion Week, and, as a manager for Yirantian Guo’s studio. In 2015 Yu decided to continue his education in fashion design and returned to Academy of Art University for his MFA. In 2017, Yu was one of the finalists selected to have his garment exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum design competition for Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons; in 2018 he was selected as one of the five finalists considered for the Geoffrey Beene Scholarship Award granted annually by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and participated in the CFDA Fashion Future Graduate Showcase in New York during the summer.

As a designer, Yu finds inspiration in his surroundings and everyday life. For his collection, Yu began analyzing the compositions, contrasts, and shapes created by natural light and shadows in San Francisco. Yu also incorporated his appreciation of photography, turning to the work of Andrés Cañal and Horst P. Horst. Yu aimed to capture the texture conveyed through their images, the play of light and shadow, sculptural shapes, and unexpected elements. In this collection, Yu also honors his mother and her longtime dream of being a dancer. He examined black and white photographs of his mother’s youth, as well as long-exposure photographs of dancers to help capture movement and fluid lines that he translated into his silhouettes. Yu’s draping, fabric manipulations, and hand-dyed fringes capture his inspirations; his use of a simple black and white color story is a nod to his Chinese heritage as it represents Chinese calligraphy and ink paintings, and, his intent to maintain design that reflects “an Asian soul”.
Jessica (Ching Chi) Lai
Jessica (Ching Chi) Lai, MFA Fashion Design, was born and raised in Taichung, Taiwan, where she finished her BFA in Fashion Design at Shu-Te University. Following, Lai interned at Chia Hiu Uniform in Taiwan where she was responsible for design illustrations, manufacturing processes, and quality inspections. In 2014, Lai started the MFA Fashion Design program at Academy of Art University. During her MFA education, Lai gained additional experience working as an intern at Julia Jentzsch design studio in New York, where she assisted with design development and photo shoots, managed product deliveries, and researched fabrics. In 2018, Lai was selected to participate in the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA) Fashion Future Graduate Showcase in New York.

For this collection, Lai focused upon draping and textile development. The silhouettes are inspired by packaging design and advanced 3-D techniques, rather than the human body. Lai also incorporated the full freedom of personal design and creativity by using her own hand-drawn images transferred into digital format, transferred onto the fabrics with silk screening techniques. Inspired by the works of graphic illustrator, Olimpia Zagnoli, Lai created a playful collection with bold ‘pop art’ colors, textured applique, irregular geometric shapes and improvised, hand-drawn plaid. The primary fabrics used in her collection are organic cotton and organic wool.
Zibo Wang
Zibo Wang, MFA Fashion Design, was born and raised in Beijing, China. In 2015, Wang earned her undergraduate degree in apparel and textiles from Kansas State University. Soon after, she moved to San Francisco to pursue an MFA in Fashion Design at the Academy of Art University. Wang’s professional experiences include trend research, creating technical flats, and brand development. For her debut collection, Wang was inspired by her childhood and her experience of growing up on a military compound. The mixes of fabrics she chose for the collection are related to ‘family life’; her machine embroideries reflect both her home and military themes. Wang combines traditional masculine and military details with the womenswear collection, intentionally playing with the notion of gender stereotypes and an emphasis on redefining femininity.
Yoonsuk Lee
Yoonsuk Lee, MFA Fashion Design, was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. He graduated from ESMOD Seoul in 2010, earning his undergraduate degree in menswear design. Since then, Lee has worked for a number of Korean fashion brands including, General Idea, Obzee, and “Time Homme” in Hyundai Handsome. In 2015, Lee began his MFA Fashion Design (womenswear) program at Academy of Art University. For his debut collection, Lee combines his education in menswear and womenswear design with visual associations from the ‘walk of shame’, along with inspirations derived from his grandfather’s custom tailored suits, and the surrealist black and white photography of Vivian Maier and Irving Penn. Lee experimented with the collection by merging details of menswear tailoring with elements of womenswear couture, including the use of boning, horsehair facing, and hand-stitching. He also included the process of deconstructing and reconstructing as a nod to “the reinterpretation of objects through fashion” and efforts in sustainable design. Lee scoured vintage stores in the Haight district of San Francisco to source some ideas for the fabrics, and reconstructed vintage garments to develop the silhouettes for the collection. He also created exaggerated houndstooth patterns by hand-weaving surplus black, white, and cream-colored lace trimmings found within the school. In 2017 Lee was a finalist for the Geoffrey Beene Design Scholarship Award annually bestowed by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
Nicholle Jones
Nicholle Jones, MFA Fashion Design, was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. In 2007, she obtained a BS in Fashion and Retail Studies from Ohio State University. Jones’ professional experiences began with an early design internship with Donna Karen International and evolved into working with Victoria’s Secrets, and then Express; she worked in fabric development, creative direction, design, visuals and product development, technical packages, management of domestic and international vendors, and product risk assessments. From there, Jones segued into millinery and continues (as she has for the past decade) to design and create headpieces, as well as develop marketing plans and facilitates online sales. Jones entered the MFA in Fashion Design at Academy of Art University in 2015 as an online student; she is a successful online student, demonstrating how one can successfully study and complete a degree remotely. Jones integrated her millinery background into her collection and outlined a three-part vision: to create an emotional, moving experience through the clothing; to create intelligent construction and patternmaking through advanced and bespoke tailoring; and, to confront limitations of conventional fashion and beauty. For Jones, the idea is to have her level of critical thinking and problem solving challenged. Jones’ inspiration for the collection were masks; the mystery that hides underneath – either a physical mask, an invisible mask, or simply ‘an act or behavior’ that is an attempt to cover or distract. Jones experimented with unusual materials to create her sculptural garments; her primary material is sinamay, a hat-making fabric, mixed with other lightweight fabrics.
Vivid Yunan Ma
Vivid Yunan Ma, MFA Knitwear Design, was born and raised in Taiyuan, China. She attended the Savannah College of Arts and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia, where she earned a BFA in Fashion Marketing & Management in 2013. Ma also has professional experience in design, development, and packaging for global leather handbag manufacturer, The Well Leatherware, and, in production, illustration, textile design, and showcase preparations for New York-based brands such as Sang A Studio, Georgine, and Danna Degnan. After two years of professional practices in fashion industry, Ma began her MFA Knitwear Design program at Academy of Art University, further strengthening her skills and versatility as a designer. Ma’s collection is inspired by the photography of Mark Nixon, in particular his series of portraits that appear in the book, Much Loved, featuring teddy bears and stuffed animals that show all the signs of wear and tear as dearly beloved ‘stuffies’. Ma’s collection aims to capture the essence of unconditional love and nostalgia, pointing to an overall sense of harmony and serenity that these worn-out toys seem to convey. For Ma, the color choices in her collection are representative of the emotions and memories associated with Much Loved; bold colors, like the red and orange, represent ‘love’, whereas the midnight blue represents ‘blurred memories’. Ma sourced her yarns mainly from Italy, using mohair, cashmere, rayon and elastic for the construction of her zero-to-no-waste garments. She demonstrates versatility through the use of single and double bed knitting machines, hand knit and crochet, as well as the Dubied and Stoll machines, experimenting with techniques and stitch, including: cable, ripple, weaving, jacquard and tuck lace. Ma brings these elements together to create depth and dimension to each garment in her collection.
Tingting Cai
Tingting Cai, MFA Fashion Design, grew up in Shanghai, China. She attended the Shanghai University of Engineering Science and graduated with an undergraduate degree in fashion and apparel design in 2015. Cai interned as a fashion design assistant for both Danuo (Italy) Co. in Shanghai and Trendy Intl’ Group in Guangzhou; she was in charge of conducting research on current trends, sourcing fabrics and textiles, and, making pattern cards with flats and construction information. From January to June, 2015, Cai participated in a non-degree exchange program in fashion at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan, Italy. For her collaborative collection with Esther (Tian) Qi, MFA Fashion Design, Cai identified her point of inspiration in vintage books; specifically, the construction of the books, as well as, the connection between people and books – how they leave traces of their experience of reading throughout a book (dogeared pages, writing, highlights, coffee spills, etc). Cai experimented with fabric layering to reflect the pages of books and to also support the sculptural silhouettes of the collection, which are based upon Qi’s inspirations. Cai used a variety of colors and textured fabrics in her layers, as well as hand-sewn details that also represent the manner in which many vintage books are bound. In order to create the three-dimensional look, Cai arranged layers slowly and gradually.
Esther (Tian) Qi
Esther (Tian) Qi, MFA Fashion Design, was born in Xi’an, China. She attended Konkuk University in Seoul, Korea, where she completed an undergraduate degree in fashion design in 2014. While in Seoul, Qi served as an assistant to the interior design firm, Trans + Mond Shin Jang Kyoung, where she was responsible for research, illustration, design process, flats, as well as the coordination of fabrics and accessories for clients. Qi continued the pursuit of her fashion career and started the MFA Fashion Design program at Academy of Art University. For Qi’s collaborative collection with Tingting Cai, MFA Fashion Design, she sought to incorporate her initial inspiration of Siamese twins and their irregular, connected bodies, specifically, the point of where their bodies connect. Prior to collaborating with Cai, she was also drawing inspiration from books and the connection made between people and books. The fabrics in the collection include worsted wool and flannel, mull, cotton twill, and wool crepe.
Longwen Li
Longwen Li, MFA Fashion Design, is originally from Guangzhou, China. Li received his undergraduate degree in footwear design from Guangdong Baiyun University in 2014. Shortly after, Li began his MFA in fashion design at Academy of Art University, and is currently working on a collaborative menswear collection with Kiwon Kang (MFA Textile Design). The collection is designed to celebrate potential stereotypes and capture a ‘modern, nerdy, and futuristic’ style, inspired by the movie, “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise”, as well as glitch art (the practice of using digital or analog errors for aesthetic purposes). Li’s silhouettes are structural and stiff with large geometric shapes, which were inspired by his photoshop manipulations of stills from the movie and glitch art overlays that resulted in some distinctive shapes emerging. For Li, the unusual menswear silhouettes represent ‘functionality’. To create the intended silhouettes, Li improvised by fusing different thicknesses of felt onto his fabrics to maintain shape. The collection includes the use of wool suiting, rayon, corduroy, and the repurposed use of vintage Hawaiian shirts.
Kiwon Kang
Kiwon Kang, MFA Textile Design, was born in Busan, South Korea. In 2013, he graduated from Ajou University with two bachelor degrees, one in biotechnology and one in international (Japanese) studies. In further pursuit of his design interests, which developed in childhood, Kang entered Academy of Art University in 2014. Kang’s signature textiles are full of graphic elements, and, clean and computational parts – reflecting his appreciation for logic and science. For this collection, Kang worked with Longwen Li (MFA Fashion Design) and Li’s inspirations for a ‘modern, nerdy, and futuristic’ style. Additionally, Kang merged complimentary inspirations for texture from Nam June Paik’s video art by focusing on the motif of distorted images and white noise coming from an old CRT TV screen, coupled with his own artistic interpretations. Kang used a variety of colors in his textile design and overlays, as well as techniques to re-create color and patterns on the vintage Hawaiian shirts.
Mark Kazu Mekaru
Mark Kazu Mekaru, MFA Fashion Design, is a San Francisco native. He earned a BA in architecture from UC Berkeley in 2005. Now, Mekaru is finishing his MFA Fashion Design at Academy of Art University, and working on a collaborative menswear collection with Katy Fang Liu, MFA Textile Design, and Amo Chou, MFA Knitwear Design. The inspiration for Mekaru’s collection originated from a Miyako Ishiuchi photograph of a disintegrated garment destroyed during WWII, along with some elements of the Japanese art of origami. Ideas of disintegration, peeling, and falling away are incorporated in the garment shapes as well as textiles and knits. The collection incorporates the use of denim, wool, cotton, twill, oilskin, polyester, waxed cotton canvas and linen, as well as, a combination of layering, draping, details and textures.
Katy Fang Liu
Katy Fang Liu, MFA Textile Design, was born in Shanghai, China. In 2010, she received a BFA in fine arts from the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts. Four years after graduating, Liu’s love of drawing and painting influenced her pursuit of an MFA in textile design at Academy of Art University. Liu’s professional experiences include fashion and textile design (intern) San Francisco-based clothier, Amour Vert, and as a fashion and textile designer for Shanghai Mecoxlane International. Liu’s work has been exhibited in a San Francisco gallery and two different galleries in Shanghai. In 2017 Liu was selected by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) as one of 41 students (out of 1,000+ entrants) for the CFDA+ 2017 “The Power of We” showcase connecting global student talent with their membership.

Liu always aims to repurpose materials, to create sustainable textiles, and, to incorporate advanced methods of processing natural materials whenever possible. Liu’s aesthetic is often inspired by the work of Dries Van Noten; she admires his risky choice of colors and his manipulations that create vivid patterns and ‘a wildness’. For this collection, Liu collaborated with Mark Kazu Mekaru (MFA Fashion Design) and Amo Chou, (MFA Knitwear Design), working with Mekaru’s lead inspiration of a Miyako Ishiuchi photograph of a disintegrated garment destroyed during WWII. She created multi-layered fabrics treated in burn-out, screen printing and discharge techniques, using denim, oilskin and waxed cotton canvas.
Amo (Yu Ling) Chou
Amo (Yu Ling) Chou, MFA Knitwear Design, was born and raised in Taiwan. She attended Vanung University and received her undergraduate degree in commercial design in 2012. During this time, Chou placed as one of the top three winners in a national university student photography competition. From 2010 until 2014, Chou worked for Fashion Company LTD in visual merchandising, as well as a representative agent for many well-known brands including Lacoste and Vivienne Westwood, among others. In 2015, Chou attended the extension education center at Shih Chien University, where she studied fashion design. Following, she pursued her MFA in Knitwear design at Academy of Art University. For this collaborative menswear collection, Chou teamed with Mark Kazu Mekaru (MFA Fashion Design) and Katy Liu (MFA Textile Design), working with Mekaru’s lead inspiration of a Miyako Ishiuchi photograph of a disintegrated garment destroyed during WWII, as well as some elements of origami. Chou focused upon creating knitwear that mimicked traditional surface textile effects such as burnout and discharge. Her knitwear in this collection is composed of wool, cotton and natural bristle yarns.

Lineups and Mood Boards

Behind the Scenes: Road to Fashion Show 2017

Two semesters, 23 students, and one big show: Amid design sketches and the hum of sewing machines, fashion design students at Academy of Art University's School of Fashion prepare for the 2017 Fashion Show.

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