New York. There’s nothing glamorous about ironing your own collection before a
show at New York fashion week, but if that’s what it takes for Jie
Jessie Liu to break into the business, she’ll do it.
Liu was among
nine jury-selected master’s degree graduates — all women — from San
Francisco’s Academy of Art University fashion school whose creations on
Friday got the kind of runway exposure usually reserved for top
Five of the newly minted designers hailed from Asia,
underscoring the region’s rise as a fashion power, and Friday’s
well-attended show was a prized opportunity to be spotted by
international buyers, talent scouts and journalists.
“This is a way for them to be seen across the globe,” said university spokeswoman Edith Mead Barker.
at Lincoln Center, ground zero for the ongoing spring-summer 2013
collections, 32-year-old Liu reflected on her long and winding journey
from her seaside hometown of Penglai, in China’s eastern Shandong
province, to New York.
“I was just like most women when I was
young. I loved to dress Barbie dolls,” she told AFP during a break from
steaming out the creases of the silk outfits she created with
Belgrade-born textile design classmate Tanja Milutinovic.
was grown up I was still obsessed by fashion … and after I worked as
an accountant for three years [in Toronto, Canada, where she got a first
degree in accounting], I just realized that I would enjoy doing it
The eight distinctly modern looks Liu sent out Friday,
with their sharp lines and angular silhouettes, drew inspiration from
London-based sculptor Anish Kapoor and Beijing’s “bird’s nest” Olympic
stadium, she said.
Liu’s ambition? Her own label, like those now
firmly established by pioneering young designers of Asian origin like
Alexander Wang and Jason Wu, with a firm hand on every aspect from
initial design to final distribution.
“That’s my long-term goal,”
she said. “In the short term, I’m looking for suitable position [in New
York next year], maybe an associate designer position, just to sharpen
my design skills.”
From Taiwan, Ginie C.Y. Huang, 28, let the
hypercolorful floral still lifes of Japanese photographer Ninagawa Mika
inform skirt-and-jacket combinations that strolled down the runway in
lime, red, orange and fuchsia.
“Actually, my whole collection is
really tailored, but I added feathers to make it crazier, but not by too
much,” the Taipei native told AFP. “I design for the woman who is
really willing to take a risk, who knows what she is doing.”
fashion devotee since childhood, Huang faced stiff resistance from her
banker father and teacher mother when she first aspired to break into
the business — resistance that eased only after she first got a
“I just held out and finally they understood,” she said, and indeed the entire family was on hand for Friday’s show.
Karnjanasirirat, from Bangkok, had no such problem with her next of
kin. In fact, she said, she enlisted them to send over “hundreds and
hundreds” of swatches of Thai silk, of which she picked a handful, some
of them antique.
The result seen on Friday comprised silk tunics,
dresses, shorts and jackets in shades of champagne, silver, rose and
white, with three-dimensional lapels and pleats inspired by relief
sculptures at a church near her San Francisco home.
“I kept looking at it for three years,” Jarida said. “I took that as my inspiration because I liked it so much.”
big fan of Calvin Klein creative director Francisco Costa’s designs (“I
want them all, even the menswear”), she too dreams of having her own
label in Thailand, and teaching as well.
But for the immediate
future, her sights are on New York: “The fashion industry in Thailand is
not as developed as here. I want to get experience and then I can go
back home and develop.”
Other Asians participating in Friday’s
graduate show were Jisun Lee from Seoul, who reinterpreted men’s suits
from the 1920s as women’s wear for today, and Yanfei Fan, from
Shijianhuang, Hebei province, China, whose silk and organza looks were
inspired by the windows of modern buildings.