Bold Colors & Shapes: Academy Of Art University Fashion Show 2016 Inspired By Tenderloin Musings


What better way to start the runway than with a little homage to the place where every AAU fashion student starts their journey: aka the Tenderloin. A place you’ll somehow find the homeless community being more on trend than yourself. It’s such a gritty place and unlikely source of inspiration but add in inspiration from Alice in Wonderland and you actually end up with a collection that inspires.

In a crazy way, Alice in Wonderland meets the Tenderloin is almost a perfect way to describe the zany nut job world the Tenderloin that is still heavily connected its roots almost undisturbed by the outside world. The theme of the Shop657 capsule collection was the perfect opener for the show and the best way to end the graduate’s life as an AAU design student

Each collection that went down the runway was intangible and was one of those things that made you unable to move and also made you for once not interested in trying to capture a picture for the gram. It was abstract, which I loved in this day we see designers being questioned as to whether or not they are actual designers, or if they are simply really good stylists. For once that question did not pop into my head as I watched each whimsical outfit loop around the runway.

What drew me was how they were inspired by anything and everything. As we saw with one of my personal favorites, Vanessa Nash-Spangler she relied heavily on her love of color and geometrical sequence to create ethereal dresses. What I found drove a lot of collections was the muse or artists they were inspired by. That’s what I love about shows, it’s not about a designer taking all the credit but instead admitting that another person inspired them to add their own personal twist. With BFA Designer Ke Zhang he took his muse, Artist Do Ho Suh’s transparent fabric sculptures and created a Men’s collection using a lightweight fabric called Organdy to almost emulate Do Ho Suh’s structure by adding subtle layers to his collection.


Finally, the collection that made me sit in awe was Brandon Kee, nothing drives interest and inspiration in me than seeing hybrids. With Kee’s collection, he somehow blended 90s hip hop street style with Chinese accents to create a collection that almost anyone would wear and love. Hip Hop culture has been on the rise in recent years as we saw when Drake broke the internet with his new album Views. If the tv show “Fresh off The Boat” was more fashion forward I can almost imagine Eddie Huang flipping out if he were to ever see this collection. Baggy is in now apparently with subtle accents of femininity and with Kee we see him capturing it perfectly and flawlessly without breaking a sweat.

I could talk for pages and pages dissecting every aspect of the show but would that sum it up? Can anything ever really sum being able to see the work and craft that went into creating a collection? With fashion being diluted with designers turned stylists it’s refreshing to once again see runway shows once again that honestly make zero sense. Isn’t that what runways used to be all about? The AAU graduation show strikes inspiration through unexplainable garments which reflects what a fashion show should do because at the end of the day it’s about inspiring and maybe influencing another to take what they saw and add their own personal twist.

Written by Allison Hill, photography by the Associated Press — More style to be had on our fashion feed. You’ll love it, we promise.

Anthony is the founder of Bob Cut Mag and the director of business development. Anthony writes on LGBT, people, and gender issues but catch him also writing about other shenanigans he finds himself in. Want to partner with Bob Cut? Email him at

Need More Bay Area?