2023 Graduation Fashion Show

The School of Fashion’s new Executive Director, Neil Gilks, presents the 2023 Graduation Fashion Show, and introduces the School’s first Fashion Industry Advisory Board

(Thursday, April 27, 2023 – San Francisco, CA) This year, Academy of Art University’s annual Graduation Fashion Show will be presented under the guidance of Neil Gilks, the new Executive Director of the School of Fashion. Gilks joined the Academy in the Fall of 2022, bringing over 25 years of experience in the areas of fashion design and education.

Gilks’s commitment to fashion education underlies his development of the School’s first Fashion Industry Advisory Board. His vision includes, “Strengthening the ties of the School with leading professionals in various design, communication, business and related creative fields within and orbiting around fashion. [And]…to drive communication and understanding of current and forecasted industry practices to inform education, curricula, and the evolution of our offerings and directions.”

Over the course of the first term (two years), Advisory Board members will meet with the School’s directors and faculty to dialog openly about the movements in education, as well as the future of design and business. Advisory Board members will also participate in workshops and seminars to enhance connectivity and examine the career landscape with students. 

The Academy is in full support of welcoming this inaugural Advisory Board to work alongside the School of Fashion. Our desire is to continue to bring together the traditions of craft and the advancements of technologies, and, to provoke thought and creativity. We aim to be ahead of the curve by preparing this creative body of faculty and students to lead the conversation and the industry forward. – Academy of Art University President, Elisa Stephens.

The School of Fashion’s 2023-2025 Fashion Industry Advisory Board:

  • Alex Brownless, CEO & Co-Founder of ARTS THREAD  
  • Helen Bullock, Fashion Illustrator, Print Designer, and Lecturer
  • Jenna Drumright, Product & Partnerships Lead, Google ATAP
  • Ulrich Grimm, Design Consultant (shoes, bags & accessories), Lecturer, and former EVP, Global Design at Calvin Klein
  • Deborah Hampton Moore, Chief Design Officer
  • Meghan Kasperlik, Costume Designer
  • Sara Maino, Creative Director at Fondazione Sozzani and International Brand Ambassador at Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana
  • Brendan McCarthy, Founder of Cloud School
  • Justin Newlin, Talent Acquisition Consultant I  Design, Product & Creative at J.Crew and Madewell
  • Simon O’Mahony, Director, Creative Talent, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta
  • Daniel Reynolds, Senior Design Director of Print at Tory Burch
  • Kate Wallace, Creative Director at Derek Lam 10 Crosby and Sustainability Expert   
  • Henry Zankov, Creative Director & Founder of ZANKOV at ZANKOV Studio

The Advisory Board will be introduced in person during the Graduation Fashion Show on May 11th, 7:00 PM at the School of Fashion’s main building on Polk Street in San Francisco.

The Graduation Fashion Show will include the presentation of collections from graduating BFA and MFA students. Announcements in the event program will highlight the awards and scholarships bestowed upon students during the academic year. Also included in the program are lists of students selected for the School’s international exchange programs with Studio Berçot in Paris and Kingston University in London, as well as those selected to participate in the School’s inaugural study abroad program in Florence, Italy.

One hour prior to the Graduation Fashion Show, doors will open for guests to attend a Portfolio Review showcasing the top student work from each program within the School of Fashion. A pop-up of the School’s own Shop657 will also be on-site. Shop657 is an innovative concept store carrying brands and products designed and produced by alumni, students, and faculty. This retail shop was conceptualized and is run by the Fashion Merchandising department.

The Graduation Fashion Show is by invitation only and closed to the general public.

It will be available to view via livestream here:




About the School of Fashion

Students pursuing a Fashion Design degree from Academy of Art University learn from the finest creative minds working in fashion today. They have access to the tools and cutting-edge facilities needed for creating collections that garner accolades. Fashion students the world over gain experience designing styles that are the future of the industry. The School of Fashion offers degrees in the following areas of specialization: Fashion Design for Womenswear, Menswear, and Childrenswear; 3D Design and Pattern Making; Textile Design (including Knitwear Design); Costume Design; Fashion Journalism; Social Media Management; Fashion Marketing (and Brand Management); Fashion Art Direction; Fashion Styling; Fashion Merchandising (and Management); and Fashion Product Development.

The University works with international brands and recruitment agencies for internships and job placement. Graduates have gone on to such companies as Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Alexander McQueen, Athleta, Azzedine Alaïa, Banana Republic, BCBG Max Azria, Bill Blass, Blanc de Chine, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Corso Como 10, Chloë, Diane von Fürstenberg, Donna Karan, Gap, Kate Spade, Kiton, L.A.M.B., L’Ecole Lesage Paris–Atelier de Broderie, Levi Strauss & Co., Liz Claiborne, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Marchesa, Martin Margiela, Martine Sitbon, Missoni, Neiman Marcus Group, Nike, Nordstrom, The North Face, Old Navy, Oscar de la Renta, Phillip Lim, Pottery Barn, Ralph Lauren, Reebok, Roland Mouret, St. John, Threeasfour, Tocca, Viktor & Rolf, and Williams-Sonoma.

Guests to the School of Fashion include Zaid Affas, Azzedine Alaïa, Prosper and Martine Assouline, Max and Lubov Azria of BCBG Max Azria Group, Yigal Azrouël, Geoffrey Beene, Rose Marie Bravo, Alex Brownless of Arts Thread, Sarah Burton OBE, Creative Director for Alexander McQueen, Andrew Buckler, Julie Chaiken, Kenneth Cole, Giles Deacon, The Honorable Bertrand Delanoë Mayor of Paris, David Downton, Steven Cox and Daniel Silver of Duckie Brown, Patrik Ervell, Loulou de la Falaise, James Galanos, Olya Kuryshchuk and Aya Noël of the publication 1 Granary, Lutz Huelle, Designer, and David Ballu, President of Lutz Huelle, Lisa Smilor and Sara Kozlowski, both of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Joan Kaner, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony, Antonio Lopez, Fern Mallis, Alexander McQueen, Enrique Meixueiro, Executive Editor of Vogue Mexico and Latin America, Rosita and Tai Missoni, Angela Missoni, Margherita Missoni, Buxton Midyette, Isaac Mizrahi, Josie Natori, Ian Hannula and Joe Haller of N.I.C.E. Collective, Elisa Palomino, Laure du Pavillon, Lars Byrresen Petersen of Visionaire, Zac Posen, Oscar de la Renta, Zandra Rhodes CBE, Kate and Laura Mulleavy for Rodarte, Ralph Rucci, Nathalie Rykiel, HRH Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Jeremy Scott, Livia Stoianova and Yassen Samouilov, Founders of On Aura Tout Va, Carla Sozzani, Philip Treacy, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk van Saene, Trino Verkade, CEO of Sarabande: The Alexander McQueen Foundation, Andre Walker, and Dame Vivienne Westwood DBE, as well as Christophe Girard Director of Fashion Strategy of LVMH Fashion Group, as well as fashion critics and journalists – Tim Blanks, Mickey Boardman, Alexander Fury, Robin Givhan, Cathy Horyn, Suzy Menkes OBE, Sarah Mower MBE, and Joe Zee.


About School of Fashion Directors

For over 25 years, Neil Gilks, Executive Director, has committed his career to design and its education. As a fashion designer, Gilks worked through the ranks to Design Director for brands in London and New York. He thrives on building – whether working on launching new labels or recognizing the needs and areas for evolution in established companies. Beyond creating menswear and womenswear collections for the global markets, a dedication to fashion design education has allowed Gilks to attain leadership roles with top-tiered fashion design programs globally. As Director of Educational Initiatives with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Gilks was charged with creating opportunities and mentorship for students and faculty within 21 design institutions domestically. Gilks cites continuing his own artistic practice as crucial – allowing him to retain a creative outlet while further exploring the space where his art, commerce, and social commentary intersect. Since his arrival as Executive Director of the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University in the Fall of 2022, Gilks has been learning how his experience and insight can best serve our community. The learning experience is of the utmost importance to Gilks, as he strives towards making it the most robust and successful time for faculty and students alike. He holds a BA in Womenswear Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London as well as dual MA degrees in Womenswear Design and Menswear Design.

Gary Miller, Director, has experience in New York and London as a fashion director, with career beginnings from the midnineties. His design scope encompasses building and maintaining a brand’s identity, initiating a start-up concept, reinvigorating an existing line, and nurturing an ongoing successful brand. For many years, he worked as a Design Director for the men’s sportswear division at Macy’s Merchandising Group in New York. Previously, he worked at The Men’s Wearhouse, Wilke Rodriguez, Here and There (now part of The Doneger Group), Helen Story and Michiko Koshino. Miller holds a BFA in Fashion Design with Textiles from Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication in the UK and an MFA in Fine Art Painting and Drawing from Academy of Art University.

Jinah Oh, Director of Fashion Merchandising, earned her MBA in Marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, as well as a B.S. in Clothing and Textiles and a BA in Philosophy from EWHA Women’s University in Seoul, Korea. She has extensive experience in international fashion and luxury brands and fashion education. With Escada Asia, she developed business and market strategies, managed merchandising and buying for multiple brands, and pioneered and initiated brick-and-mortar and e-commerce channel development. Later with Cartier, Richemont Korea Ltd., Oh led retail operations and all aspects of retail marketing activities for the Korean market. After joining the Academy’s School of Fashion, Oh built and continues to oversee the Fashion Business programs, including Merchandising, Marketing, and Product Development programs.

Iliana Ricketts, Online Director, was appointed Director of Online Fashion in 2014. She was previously Assistant Director of Online Fashion in 2009 and held the position of Fashion Department Coordinator since 2005. Prior to arriving in the US, Ricketts was an established designer in her country of Bulgaria. Ricketts received her MFA in Fashion Design from Academy of Art University. She received a BFA from Training Centre Calagia and an MFA in Fashion Design from Academy of Art University In 2002, she launched ILYA, a designer ready-to-wear label sold nationally in stores such as Henri Bendel. Her line was also seen on the HBO television series, Sex and the City. In 2004, she helped launch the product line GGblue. Under her creative direction, GGblue became one of the most successful fashion-forward brands in the golf and leisure industry.


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Photography by Jeffry Raposas, BFA Photography