10 Years of NYFW

Photography by Nicolas Gutierrez. Fashion Editor: Simon Ungless.

Jacquard Knit Tunic and Skirt by Stephanie Gelot, MFA Knitwear Design, 2011.

With trunks packed full of garments, equipment jammed into boxes and shoes piled into shipping containers, a caravan of bleary-eyed students and faculty barge through the backstage entrance to New York Fashion Week (NYFW) at Bryant Park. The year is 2005 and they have finally arrived; they are ready to join the fashion circus. 

Looking like a ragtag bunch from the frontier of Northern California, this group of designers would soon become the trailblazers for other aspiring fashion radicals who were once too afraid to demonstrate what young, new talent represented. This was a decade ago, when Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion first became the pioneers of bringing innovative design onto the runway and taking New York Fashion Week by storm.

At a time when presenting at Fashion Week was only accessible to fashion royalty and couture design labels, the rebellious faculty and staff of Academy of Art University took a leap of faith and manipulated the academic calendar in order to prove that their students would benefit substantially — and contribute fresh and innovative perspectives — if given an opportunity at NYFW. Not only were they right, but they also paved the way for other design schools to follow. The School of Fashion started a revolution of new age fashion design where clothes aren’t displayed just for monetary gain, but for pure appreciation of the inventive art and its artists.

Students’ careers and learning opportunities have grown due to the unparalleled exposure they have received from showing their work at the largest fashion event in the world. As the years progress, each show attracts more media attention and recruiters looking for something new. And those first waves of fashion alumni have gone on to expand their skills in post-graduation careers, becoming leaders in fashion houses, their own labels and other design driven industries. 

As the School of Fashion reflects on the work it has exhibited in 17 shows within the last 10 years, it’s apparent that the designs produced stand the test of time. Senior BFA and MFA students from majors including Fashion Design, Knitwear Design and Textile Design, have showcased collections reflective of their imaginative spirit — garments that remain effortlessly chic and timeless.

Over the years, the School of Fashion’s NYFW shows have spanned different locations, including Bryant Park and Lincoln Center. And its most recent, Spring 2016, ushered in the milestone anniversary at a new venue: The Arc, Skylight at Moynihan Station. 

Alumni, faculty and staff — and those fortunate to have been in the audience — will always look back on when it all first started; when the renegades from the west came to the Big Apple and stole the show. 

Here’s a look back at some of those visionaries from throughout the years.