A top 20 U.S. fashion school, which is an extension of the AAU (Academy of Art University); celebrated yet another historical showcase at NYFW 2017 in September. This highlight marked the institution’s 21st runway event promoting international creations from rising fashion designers. The 15-minute fall fashion spectacle enlivened Skylight Clarkson Square with exclusive collections of next-generation talents. Chinese MFA graduate, Hailun Zhou, originated immaculate pieces that impressed industry icons and spectators alike. Memorable masterclass designs by Ryan Yu, Eden Slezin, Joanna Jadallah, Dina Marie Lam, Jelly Shan, Cana Klebanoff and Saya Shen also received positive feedback. Even CFDA Education/Professional Development director, Sara Kozlowski; and ANTM (America’s Next Top Model) runway coach/reality TV superstar Ms. J Alexander was among those captivated.
The San Francisco-based AAU or Academy of Art University first opened its doors as a private advertising art school in 1929. Its founding father, Richard S. Stephens headed the institution until his son of the same name inherited his legacy in 1951. The founding father also had passions of art, which included painting and magazine editing. History remained constant until Elisa Stephens (president) replaced Mr. Richard A. (father) in 1992. The school population grew massively under her leadership.
Since 2005, it’s been gracing the runway of NYFW during its semi-annual exhibits. Its memorable showcases continue to receive honorable mentions. By 2012, its student population had reached 18,000 from its humble 2,000 headcounts. It’s a NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design) member. It’s also accredited regionally by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges). The school offers variable programs awarding a Master’s, Bachelor’s or Associate degree on campus or online. Of the students enrolled, an estimated 58 percent are females.
A 2015 survey conducted by the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) reported a higher success rate with its four-year graduates. An approximate 31 percent of graduates finish on schedule compared to those enrolled in a six-year degree program. At which time, 35 percent opted to do classes online. Celebrity alumni include figurative painter, Asencio, Academy Award-winning beautician Rick Baker, Project Runway Season 12 Runner-up Alexandria von Bromssen and more.