Academy of Art University Honors the Azrias

The fast-growing international scope of fashion education and business were vividly on display last week.

SAN FRANCISCO — The fast-growing international scope of fashion education and business were vividly on display here last week when the Academy of Art University presented the annual three-day celebration for its fashion school graduates.

The event, which focuses primarily on presenting and connecting students to potential employers, included portfolio reviews to the trade, a lecture by The International Herald Tribune’s Suzy Menkes, and a fashion show and awards ceremony.

Graduate students presenting their designs for women’s wear, accessories and men’s wear were predominantly from Asia — including China, Japan, South Korea, Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam. A growing number of students at the school are from the Middle East.  

The global nature of the fashion world was apparent during a lunch presented by Elisa Stephens, president of the academy, in honor of Max Azria and Lubov Azria of BCBG Max Azria Group. The company founder and chairman and his wife, chief creative officer, were both honored with an honorary doctorate.

“Max is from Tunisia, and I was originally from the Ukraine, so this is beyond a dream to be honored,” said Lubov Azria. “I couldn’t sleep last night, I was so excited.”

RELATED STORY: BCBG Max Azria Fall 2013 >>

Max Azria, whose collections are currently sold in 37 countries, said that he is now targeting Australia and Brazil among an additional 30 new international markets.

“We are in six or seven locations in Russia and we are re-strategizing our presence there for more exposure,” he said. In the U.S., he is looking at new locations for larger stores in New York, Dallas and Chicago.

Others at the lunch included former mayor Willie Brown; Jill D’Alessandro, curator of the textiles department of the de Young Museum; Wilkes Bashford; Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, and Adrianna Sullivan.

The student fashion show presented collaborations among students in various B.F.A. programs such as textile arts and jewelry design. Standouts included sportswear by Phoebe Naiqing Wang inspired by uniforms of oil workers, and sculptural jackets and coats by Fay Xinzhou Liu.

Princess Reema unveiled an ongoing relationship with the academy through her Saudi Project. Earlier this year under her sponsorship, seven academy fashion students and two instructors studied traditional Saudi textiles, jewelry and metal arts in Jeddah and Riyadh. Fashion and accessories inspired by the initiative will be shown at Harvey Nichols in Riyadh later this year.

Abercrombie & Fitch and the Council of Fashion Designers of America also presented scholarships, while internships with BCBG Max Azria were revealed. Students had earlier been selected for exchange programs with Studio Bercot in Paris, and with L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne.