Top Fashion Students Debut Spring 2009 Collections During Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

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Recent Academy of Art University graduate collections for first time to include 100 percent online degree students

Ali and Elena have excelled in the program proving the success of the online environment. They have benefited from a solid program and the great opportunities presented to them by the University.

Academy of Art University in San Francisco will present the Spring 2009 fashion collections of recent graduates during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on Friday, September 5th at 8:00 p.m. at The Tent in Bryant Park, Sixth Avenue at 41st Street.

Since September 2005, the university has showcased graduate work during New York Fashion Week in the areas of womenswear, menswear, accessory, knitwear and textile design. For the first time, two 100 percent online degree graduates will be showing collections: Ali Kahn in menswear and Elena Akoulova in womenswear.

"We are thrilled," exclaimed Dr. Elisa Stephens, President of the University. "Ali and Elena have excelled in the program proving the success of the online environment. They have benefited from a solid program and the great opportunities presented to them by the University."

The online program launched seven pilot courses in 2002 and today has 116 online fashion courses in BFA and MFA Fashion Design, Fashion Journalism, Fashion Illustration and Merchandising.

Born and raised in Lahore, Ali completed his degree online while in Pakistan. He has created a clever mix of classic wearability in his shapes and color-scheme with avant-garde surface textures and details. His humor shows through in his slogan Caution: For External Use Only. Ali shipped his menswear collection to San Francisco for his thesis presentation, which was held by videoconference.

Russian-born Elena Akoulova completed her degree online while in Marietta, GA. She has created a womenswear collection of simple A-line linen dresses with draping techniques and colors inspired by orchids. She presented her thesis before the review committee in San Francisco. Elena plans to go into production with her RTW line here in the U.S.

Approximately eight other designers will be showcased as well, including Jaime Cole, Desiree Daniels, Johanna Hatzenbuehler, Anne Jones, Kara Laricks, and Warot Subsrisunjai. In April, Jaime was featured in MTV: True Life I'm Going To Fashion Week. Johanna will present a sustainable collection of recycled fabrics and Warot's Man Ray inspired womenswear will include sculptor Mike Feeney's accessories.

Since its inception in 1996, when a new team of industry professionals was brought in to lead and build the School of Fashion, the MFA program has grown to over 400 MFA students studying both onsite and online. Students gain a top-notch fashion design education through the fashion school's comprehensive programs and gain hands on experience at an onsite Fashion Merchandising store at the University's 79 New Montgomery location.

About the School of Fashion
Established in 1929, Academy of Art University is the largest accredited private art and design University with nearly 12,000 students onsite as well as nationally and internationally in the online program. Over 1,800 students study fashion under the guidance of experienced fashion professionals. The School of Fashion houses ten 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 Merchandising and Visual Merchandising.

Gladys Perint Palmer, Executive Director of Fashion, is a working journalist and illustrator. In 1998, The Fashion Book (Phaidon Press) named GPP one of 500 people of influence in fashion since 1860. In 2003, Assouline published Fashion People, GPP's book of drawings and irreverent captions. In 2007, GPP's work was included in 100 Years of Illustration by Cally Blackman and the exhibition accompanying the book launch in London. She is honored to contribute her work to Victoria & Albert Museum's 150th Anniversary Album and the exhibition at the V&A in London as only 150 artists were asked to contribute. She is working on her second and third books -- Fashion Bible and You are not on The List.

Simon Ungless, Director of Graduate Fashion, graduated from Central St. Martins School of Art and Design in 1992 and was awarded the prestigious MA Degree in Fashion with Distinction. He collaborated with Alexander McQueen on the first 10 collections shown in London and New York. In 2002, he was named Creative Director of Member Holiday, a Korean-based contemporary brand, launching men's and women's collections with 37 freestanding stores. His experience covers Fashion Design, Textile Design, Forecasting, Brand Development, and Marketing for such clients as Givenchy, Paul Smith, and Versace.

Sharon Murphy, Director of Fashion Merchandising, spent over 25 years in the apparel industry including management positions in sourcing, manufacturing, product development and fashion retailing. She has worked for Esprit de Corp both on a domestic and international level as well as for Jessica McClintock, Inc. with a focus on the development of fabrics and apparel for contemporary, junior and children's markets. She joined the University as an instructor in 2001 and continues to consult with Venice Collaborative to source textiles and related materials for architects and builders of residential projects in Venice, CA.

The University works with international brands and recruitment agencies on internships and job placement. Graduates have gone onto companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Alexander McQueen, Azzedine Alaïa, Banana Republic, Blanc de Chine, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Carla Sozzani's 10 Corso Como, Chloe, Diane Von Fürstenberg, Donna Karan, GAP Inc., Jeremy Scott, Kate Spade, KITON, L.A.M.B., Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Martin Margiela, Martine Sitbon, Missoni, Nice Collective, Nike, Nordstrom, Northface, Oscar de la Renta, Pamela Dennis, Pottery Barn, Reebok, Ralph Rucci, St. John, Three As Four, Tocca, Viktor & Rolf, Williams Sonoma, Zac Posen and Zandra Rhodes to name a few.

Guests to the School of Fashion have included Azzedine Alaïa, Geoffrey Beene, Rose Marie Bravo, Loulou de la Falaise, Oscar de la Renta, Michael Fink of Saks Fifth Avenue, James Galanos, Christophe Girard, Director of Fashion Strategy, LVMH Fashion Group, Robin Givhan of The Washington Post, Joan Kaner, formerly of Neiman Marcus, Antonio Lopez, Fern Mallis of IMG, Alexander McQueen, Suzy Menkes of The International Herald Tribune, Rosita and Tai Missoni, Isaac Mizrahi, Josie Natori, Zac Posen, Zandra Rhodes CBE, Ralph Rucci, Carla Sozzani, Koos van den Akker, and Dame Vivienne Westwood DBE.

Academy of Art University is a member of WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), NASAD, Council for Interior Design Accreditation (Formerly FIDER) (BFA-IAD), and NAAB (M-ARCH).

Academy of Art University School of Fashion
180 New Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 / 1.800.544.ARTS (2787)

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