Our Runway Rundown from the Academy of Art University Fall ’13 Fashion Show

We were not at all thrilled to hear that New York would be hit with a blizzard on the night of our show, but as they say, the show must go on, and it certainly did. As fashion week attendees swapped their sky-high heels for more sensible boots and piled on the layers, preparations carried on backstage at the Academy of Art University Fall ’13 Fashion Show.

Designers carefully steamed and ironed their garments, squashing every wrinkle out of sight. Hair and beauty teams descended upon models, sometimes three and four at a time, teasing their hair into sleek twists and administering a heavy dose of shadow around the eyes. First looks were called and dressers rushed to get models into their assigned pieces carefully and correctly. Stylists made final adjustments–scrunching a glove here, a tuck there–and then they were off.

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Janine M. Villa’s collection opened the show. Her tailored silhouettes were brought to life by the bright colors and patterns of the vintage Welsh blankets and coordinating fabrics. Amanda Nervig’s multi-colored knits were the perfect complement, adding to the rich textures of the collection.

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Yuming Weng’s garments offered a marked contrast, comprised of sleek, simple sheaths and suits. The cool grey and stone hues were a light take on traditional fall palettes. Our favorite moment was watching the models turn the corner on the runway, and seeing the beautiful three-dimensional details continue on the back of each garment.

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The audience in the front row was treated to something special when Teresa Field’s pieces hit the runway–they were able to see the minute details of each garment, particularly James Thai’s prints etched onto cream leather. The delicate pleating on the wool dresses and coats bounced as the models planted each step, and Leah Aripotch’s striking jewelry (and that insane bag) kept the collection firmly grounded.

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Hitting show-goers with a jolt of color, Heather Scholl’s designs lit up the runway. The detail apparent in the knitwear, embellished with metallic threads, complex patterns, and intricate beading, was astounding. Inspired by the duality of pain and glamour present in queer culture, Heather’s collection commanded attention, making both a social and sartorial statement.

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Chenxi Li’s first look piqued our interest immediately. It had the feeling of an elegant uptown woman shrouded in sumptuous navy blue fur, using her hood to hide her face as she headed downtown for a secret rendezvous. The rest of the collection did not disappoint, featuring ladylike silhouettes that had a certain edge thanks to the moody blue tones.

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Strong, angular silhouettes were the focus of Heather McDonald’s collection, making a bold statement on the runway. The rounded shoulders and exaggerated hips felt like a chic set of armor protecting models as they headed into battle. And though the collection looked amazing on the runway, it’s ultimate beauty lies in the exquisite structural details that can only be seen up close.

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Closing the show was Qian Xie’s collection, playfully dubbed “50 Shades of Gray” during the design process. The garments, constructed from leather, wool, and loup fur, featured sleek, straight lines and impeccable tailoring. Skirts with slightly A-line hems were worn over slim pants, with plush furs on top, and subtle details including lattice-woven leather and crystal beading added to the luxe feeling of the collection.

As the models took to the runway for the finale, everyone in the audience held up their smart phones, snapping away as the last looks passed by. After the runway was cleared and everyone began to file out, the excitement exploded backstage. The designers all hugged each other and their family and friends, feeling a mixture of pure joy, shock that it was all over, and utter exhaustion after many sleepless nights. It was the first of many exciting opportunities for the designers–their debut at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week–a moment they will never forget.

For more on the Academy of Art University Fall ’13 Fashion Show, click here.