Academy of Art University Faculty and Alumni Continue Shaping the Fashion Industry - Social Media Explorer
Academy of Art University Faculty and Alumni Continue Shaping the Fashion Industry
Academy of Art University Faculty and Alumni Continue Shaping the Fashion Industry

Fashion and style are constantly evolving art forms rife with a unique blend of creative expression and functionality. But bringing these ideas to life requires more than vision. It calls for practical skills and understanding of everything from textile manipulation to business acumen.

The practitioner faculty at Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion know this firsthand. They’re currently active in the industry themselves, developing their own designs. This experience melds with student passion and talent in the classroom, with hands-on learning and workshops, providing a powerful blend of book and business smarts to position them for success.

Academy of Art University Faculty Shape Talent and Fashion Trends

The School of Fashion features a rigorous curriculum designed to put students through the paces of real world design experiences. Prospective students can choose from associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or certificate programs in a number of fashion design concentrations, giving them complete control over their educational journey. From design to art direction and styling, there is a focus and curriculum for everyone.

The powerhouse behind the coursework and syllabi are the industry-shaping faculty, who bring years of experience to the classroom while offering connections beyond it. Students often benefit from building relationships with instructors and teams they network with well beyond graduation, some leading to employment or creative collaboration opportunities otherwise inaccessible to fashion hopefuls.

Industry great Simon Ungless is one strong example of faculty talent at work for the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University. Ungless brought decades of fashion knowledge to his role as executive director of the School of Fashion, including numerous collaborations with Alexander McQueen. His career has also spanned design, merchandising, and marketing aspects of the field for brands including Givenchy and Versace.

School of Fashion Students Show Off at Prestigious Fashion Shows

As executive director, Ungless has helped develop a curriculum to position students for real world success and the ability to make an impact in the industry before they even graduate. Students have the opportunity to create a portfolio as part of their coursework and participate in fashion shows, some even presenting at New York Fashion Week.

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The Graduate Show, also featured at Fashion Week, showcases the work of Academy of Art University graduate students in an exclusive event open to industry influencers and press. The 2021 Graduate Show featured 11 students with diverse backgrounds and design aesthetics. Each collection was accompanied by a storyboard explaining the deeper meaning and mission behind the craftsmanship on display. Examples included Ying Jin’s use of equestrian influences to portray confidence and bravery, Christopher Cabalona’s juxtaposition of joviality and melancholy in menswear, and Yaryna Zhuk’s emphasis on sustainability and design with minimal waste.

Academy of Art University alumni also go on to present at industry shows and win awards in recognition of their creative achievements. In October 2021, alumna Bell Quintao was named a winner at the Gucci X Artsthread Global Design Graduate Show, standing out among over 5,000 participants. Her work, an innovative footwear and accessory collection, was recognized for being at the leading edge. Ungless commented on Quintao’s achievement, “She is not only an accomplished designer, she is also technically proficient in making what she designs.” This includes using 3D modeling to create heels and handbags, a skill acquired during her Academy of Art University coursework.

Today’s Students Become Tomorrow’s Leaders at Academy of Art University

The School of Fashion is not just overseen by industry leaders; it is designed to create them. Faculty bring their real world understanding to bear in classroom and workshops that encourage creativity as well as entrepreneurship and influence. Graduates become the leading designers and voices of the future, helping to further shape the industry with their updated vision and focus.

This is spurred by the interactive and direct relationships between students and faculty. Instructors become colleagues, not just teachers, for up-and-coming designers looking to make their mark on the world of fashion. Many faculty, Ungless included, use their own experience and influence to help promising designers beyond the classroom to make connections, apply for awards, and successfully debut in competitions. These avenues are effective since faculty are genuinely well connected and part of the industry they are teaching about.

Faculty are not the only Academy of Art University members paying it forward. Alumna Stephanie Thomas has spent nearly 30 years using her platform to advocate for disability fashion that is safe, accessible, and stylist. Thomas has made her mark on the industry at large, appearing on popular media outlets and presenting in her very own Tedx Talk. Her work has led to the development of Disability Fashion Styling system, impacting the way that people who struggle with accessibility and dressing with proper fit, function, and fashion.

As a 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient from Academy of Art University, Thomas continues to share her story with the School of Fashion family. “My ‘why’ is always [about] destroying negative perceptions of people with disabilities,” said Thomas in a recent interview. “I knew I was a storyteller, and fashion styling is a form of storytelling.” She has also been recognized as part of the Business of Fashion 500 list for her role in helping revolutionize the industry when it comes to disability styling.

Academy of Art University has a storied history of providing industry-based curriculum learning to artists, designers and creatives. Students can choose from more than 120 accredited degree options, all taught by instructors who are experienced professionals in a course of study. Academy coursework is a hands-on experience that combines a solid foundation of core skills with the freedom for students to express themselves creatively. To learn more about the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs in fashion, visit

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About the Author

Mary Smith

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