The Council of Fashion Designers of America and Ryan Roche to be honored by Academy of Art University in San Francisco

San Francisco, CA, May 7, 2015 – At the 2015 Graduation Fashion Show Awards Ceremony on May 14, The School of Fashion at Academy of Art University will present The Council of Fashion Designers of America (The CFDA) with the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Fashion Industry and Fashion Education. School of Fashion alumna Ryan Roche will be presented with the Academy of Art University Distinguished Alumni Award.

CFDA_type_logo_01“The CFDA not only contributes to the development of the fashion industry in the United States, but it continues to help recognize and support young and emerging designers,” said Dr. Elisa Stephens, President of Academy of Art University. “We are also thrilled to honor Academy of Art University alumna Ryan Roche, who was a finalist in the 2014 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and nominated for the Swarovski Award for Womenswear at the upcoming CFDA Fashion Awards. She is a great example of a designer who has successfully launched a thriving career.”

The CFDA Executive Director Lisa Smilor and Senior Manager of Professional Development Sara Kozlowski will accept the award on behalf of The CFDA for the organization’s leadership in and outstanding contribution to the growth of the American fashion industry. Roche will accept her award in recognition of her accomplishment creating a sustainable American clothing line, which has been recognized by The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. In addition, Roche will offer an internship to one of the designers presenting a graduation collection at this year’s fashion show, taking place on May 14. Dr. Elisa Stephens will present the awards to the honorees at an invitation-only awards ceremony and reception at the School of Fashion prior to the fashion show.

Ryan Roche, photo courtesy of Ryan Roche.
Ryan Roche, photo courtesy of Ryan Roche.

“I had an incredibly conceptual, creative education at Academy of Art University,” said Roche.  “Through this freedom and experimentation, I found my own voice, something that I know more than ever is extremely important in fashion. I am so honored to be receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award. I will always hold the Academy of Art University close to my heart; it is where fashion started for me.”

“I am very proud to have been involved in the inception and growth of The CFDA’s scholarship and professional development programming over the past 19 years,” said Smilor. “It is exciting and very rewarding to identify and support such an impressive, talented group of students and emerging designers each year. Our organization is most fortunate to have the ever-present support of the fashion industry, particularly that of our sponsors and The CFDA Members, which allows us to provide the unprecedented opportunities that we offer and achieve our great success stories.”

The honorees will be joined by BCBG Max Azria Group’s Lubov Azria and her team who are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their sister brand, Hervé Leger. In honor of this milestone, School of Fashion students are participating in a special industry project for Hervé Leger, collaboratively designing a creative capsule collection of 10 looks that embed the brand’s identity within a self-created, forward-thinking and directional vision.

The fashion show will feature collections from students who majored in the areas of Fashion Design, Knitwear Design, Menswear Design, Technical Design, Textile Design and Jewelry/Metal Arts. Select M.F.A. and B.F.A. graduating students will present their work to industry professionals and recruiters at the Portfolio Review at the School of Fashion before the fashion show.

The fashion show will be live streamed at 7:00 pm Pacific Time at


Established in 1962, The Council of Fashion Designers of America is a not-for-profit trade association whose membership consists of more than 470 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessories designers. The CFDA is devoted to supporting and nurturing new and emerging design talent with scholarship awards and post-graduate educational initiatives such as CFDA+, the Eileen Fisher Social Innovator program, The CFDA {Fashion Incubator} and The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Fashion Designer Diane von Fürstenberg is the current President of The CFDA Board of Directors, and is joined by Michael Kors and Marcus Wainwright of Rag+Bone, who both serve as Vice Presidents. Other board members include Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Reed Krakoff, Mimi So,Tory Burch, Prabal Gurung, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger and Ashley Olsen. Academy of Art University School of Fashion recognizes and honors The CFDA for cultivating the next wave of American design talent through their scholarship competitions, which provide merit-based financial awards for tuition and educational expenses; since 1996, the CFDA has awarded 238 scholarships totaling $1,570,000.

Ryan Roche

Roche attended the Academy of Art University where she studied knitwear design. Roche is committed to supporting responsible manufacturing via sustainable, low-impact production. She has worked with a women’s cooperative in Nepal for the last decade and also supports American manufacturing. Ryan Roche founded her eponymous line in 2011 after seven years of designing the children’s brand Mor Mor Rita. She transitioned to womenswear from children’s apparel after actresses Maggie Gyllenhaal, Milla Jovovich, and Shalom Harlow asked her to design clothing that they could wear. Ryan Roche has been featured in American Vogue, British Vogue, The New York Times Sunday Styles and Thursday Styles, T Magazine, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, LA Times, on as “The next big thing” and featured in BlackBook as “The new Queen of knitwear.” Roche has also received praise from Cathy Horyn and for her FW15 collection. Ryan Roche is available at Barneys, Net a Porter, 10 Corso Como, Harvey Nichols Hong Kong, Isetan, Opening Ceremony and Elyse Walker as well as over sixty specialty stores worldwide. She was selected as a runner up in the prestigious CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund 2014 and was shortlisted for the 2015 LVMH Prize in Paris. She is also nominated for The CFDA Swarovski Womenswear Designer Award that will be announced June 2015.

About Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University, the largest private university of art and design in the United States, is educating students for the art and design jobs of the 21st century. Established in 1929, the Academy is an output-based higher education model that provides an inclusive admissions policy to all students, but imposes a rigorous curriculum that requires the students to produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates a mastery of their field in order to graduate. Students are taught by a faculty of professionals from the existing marketplace, both online and on campus in San Francisco, who provide them with an understanding of what it takes to succeed in today’s business environment. The Academy’s hands-on curriculum produces graduates who possess outstanding artistic and design skills—and equally as important, the ability to put those talents to work immediately after graduation. As a result, Academy graduates are ready to compete for and win the jobs of the 21st century in the fields of Acting, Advertising, Animation & Visual Effects, Architecture, Art Education, Art History, Costume Design, Fashion, Fashion Journalism, Fashion Styling, Fine Art, Game Design, Game Programming, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Interior Architecture & Design, Jewelry & Metal Arts, Landscape Architecture, Motion Pictures & Television, Multimedia Communications, Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media, Photography, Studio Production for Advertising & Design, Visual Development, Web Design & New Media and Art Teaching Credential, and Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media. Academy of Art University is accredited by WASC, NASAD, Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) (BFA/MFA-IAD), NAAB (B-ARCH*, M-ARCH), and California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). *B-ARCH program in candidacy status.

About the School of Fashion

Approximately 2,500 fashion students study under the guidance of experienced fashion professionals in the School of Fashion, which houses the following areas of specialization: Fashion Design for Womenswear, Menswear, and Childrenswear; Technical Design; Textile Design; Knitwear Design; Accessory Design; Costume Design; Fashion Illustration; Fashion Journalism; Fashion Marketing; Fashion Styling; Fashion Merchandising; and Visual Merchandising.

The University works with international brands and recruitment agencies on internships and job placement. Graduates have gone on to such companies as Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Alexander McQueen, Azzedine Alaïa, Banana Republic, BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP, Blanc de Chine, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Corso Como 10, Chloë, Diane von Fürstenberg, Donna Karan, Gap, Kate Spade, Kiton, L.A.M.B., L’Ecole Lesage Paris–Atelier de Broderie, Liz Claiborne, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Martin Margiela, Martine Sitbon, Missoni, 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 Azzedine Alaïa, Prosper and Martine Assouline, Max and Lubov Azria of BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP, Yigal Azrouël, Geoffrey Beene, Rose Marie Bravo, Sarah Burton, Andrew Buckler, Julie Chaiken, 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, Neil Gilks of the CFDA, Joan Kaner, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony, Antonio Lopez, Fern Mallis, Alexander McQueen, Rosita and Tai Missoni, Angela Missoni, Margherita Maccapani Missoni, Isaac Mizrahi, Josie Natori, Christina Neault of IMG Fashion, Ian Hannula and Joe Haller of N.I.C.E. Collective, Elisa Palomino, Laure du Pavillon, Zac Posen, Oscar de la Renta, Zandra Rhodes CBE, Ralph Rucci, Nathalie Rykiel, HRH Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Jeremy Scott, Carla Sozzani, Philip Treacy, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk van Saene, and Dame Vivienne Westwood DBE, as well as Christophe Girard Director of Fashion Strategy of LVMH Fashion Group, Robin Givhan, Cathy Horyn, and Suzy Menkes.

About the School of Fashion Executive Director

Simon Ungless, Executive Director of the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University, graduated from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in 1992 and was awarded the prestigious M.A. Degree in Fashion with Distinction. He collaborated with Alexander McQueen on the first 10 collections shown in London and New York, and personally introduced Sarah Burton, Creative Director of Alexander McQueen, to the late designer. In 2002, he was named Creative Director of Member Holiday, a Korean-based contemporary brand, launching both men’s and women’s collections with 37 freestanding stores. His work experience spans fashion design, textile design, forecasting, brand development, and marketing for such clients as Givenchy, Paul Smith, and Versace. In addition to his duties as the Executive Director of the School of Fashion overseeing both M.F.A. and B.F.A. programs, he is the editorial director of the School of Fashion’s 180 magazine, as well as the executive producer of the annual Graduation Fashion Show and Awards Ceremony in San Francisco and the biannual fashion shows during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center in New York City. Currently, Ungless operates two artisanal design companies, When Simon Met Ralph, which focuses on apparel, and Blackened, which centers on accessories and home. Both projects are the culmination of Ungless’ inspirational development work over his career.

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