Q&A with Executive Director Simon Ungless
Q: Academy of Art University’s showing at NYFW has now become a runway staple for “fresh and innovative perspectives” by student designers. Looking back a decade, what is one thing in common that each class of students has had with one another?
A: NYFW Collection students all tend to have a very clear vision of their design aesthetic and a confidence in their technical abilities that will support creating the collection three dimensionally.
Q: What has been the biggest change (or difference) you have seen from student designers since the first NYFW show in 2005?
A: From 2005 to now the biggest change I have observed in student designers is a more solid focus on getting a job after graduation. Since the 2008 economic crash, the reality that the industry has changed and become even more competitive has become a big focus for the students. They want to show they are industry ready more than ever before, and presenting their collections at NYFW is a great way to demonstrate that skill to a wide array of industry professionals.
Q: With the explosion of fast fashion, supermodels being discovered on Instagram, and the demand from consumers who "see it now, want it now" changing the role of fashion shows, how important is it for young designers to take a moment to look back at how things have traditionally been done?
A: It is more important than ever for these young designers to look back at the traditions and rules of designing and making clothes. Regardless of fast fashion and social media, good design and the tangible skills of draping, cutting and construction are not changing. For young designers to stand out and develop sustainable careers they still need the same well-developed skills. Fashion is constantly changing, and we are already seeing a trend away from fast fashion; the designers need to be skilled up in order to survive.
Q: Whether they are a student in industrial, interior or fashion, how has technology influenced Academy design students - for good or for worse? What kind of immediate impacts have you noticed?
A: The most apparent way technology has affected our students is through sourcing of raw materials; everything is online and easily found. Also, new technological advances in fabric production have been a big influence on the students—they all want to use the newest fabrics and techniques. While exposure to a larger number of readily available, cutting-edge options can be a great advantage, it can also be a challenge with regards to inspiration and concept sourcing. If a designer relies on online searches, websites, and apps for image sourcing and story building, they end looking at the same information as everyone else. Designers have to be wary that this can mean that their research starts looking alike and they have to place emphasis on creating individual, developed concepts that are uniquely their own.
Q: As we look back 10 years of being a part of NYFW and the release of the 8th Issue of 180 Magazine, what is the overall message that you hope for young designers to take away from this issue?
A: The underlying message of 180 Magazine Issue Eight is that although the surface of things change, the basic fundamentals of designing clothes, creating knitwear and textiles, styling, and writing good copy stay the same. Young creatives need solid, tangible skills no matter what level of the industry they enter. The simple fact that you need to know the rules before you can break them is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago when I was in school.
Q&A with Costume Design Coordinator Maggie Whitaker
Q: What does the new Costume Design program mean for future students wondering what field of design they should get into? Is this a good option for those interested in fashion design?
A: Students working on a degree in costume design have a curriculum balanced between design and production skills. Thanks to faculty members like Jean Lamprell, they are able to hone their skills in 3D design by creating tutus, corsets, and period bodices. The images in 180 magazine feature the work that our students created with Jean using her patterns and decades of experience. By the end of their time here, they have learned how to think directionally, understand the roles of the characters in a play, create a comprehensive design that releases the text on stage, and produce their ideas in conjunction with a director and actors at least twice.
While costume design is a very different field than fashion design, there is a great amount of creative crossover between the two fields. A fashion design student who is interested in costume design would have opportunities early on in their program to design and dress actors, thus having more experience taking their work and translating it into reality. It also creates opportunities for fashion students to explore doing work on film and television, which increases the range of their creative potential.