CCA Fashion Show Celebrates Designers' Finishing Touches, Builds Community

Designer James J. Edwards received Surface magazine's Emerging Talent Award [Photo: Jim Norrena]View slideshow 

What comes to town once a year, showcases extraordinary outfits, makeup, and attitude, offers one-of-a-kind prizes, and packs a one-city-block tent with cheering fans of all ages? Why, the California College of the Arts end-of-year Fashion Show, of course!

Emulating the latest event-in-a-tent fashion show presentation, CCA's 2009 Fashion Show took place May 8 on the San Francisco campus. The sold-out event was nothing shy (literally!) of pure, unadulterated fashion extravaganza, now one of the college's most anticipated end-of-year student exhibitions.

Whether you’re inspired by haute couture or prêt-à-porter, CCA’s Fashion Show provides the CCA community and beyond with real-world insight into not only the Fashion Design Program but also the demanding expectations of the professional fashion industry itself.

Professional models showcased each of the dozen juried designers’ collections via a makeshift high-caliber runway, which daringly evoked the current trend in both New York and Paris to implement nontraditional runways. It took fewer than 48 hours to trickle up the entire block of Eighth Street in front of the Nave into a sophisticated white-tent arena that housed the illusionary rags-to-riches concrete catwalk! (Remember, in fashion appearance is everything, and this event featured spot-on execution—no fashion pun intended.)

What followed was nothing short of spectacular! Fashion highlights ranged from reversible bikini with Mongolian-lamb life vest to soft-shell barrel skirt with safety handles and water wings to a poncho purse to silver leatherette-pieced V-top with strapped, ruched-pewter parachute skirt to rust-bronze chiffon cape with silver-spliced sheath. Beautiful to witness, yet dizzying to describe—what with the amazing assemblages of asymmetrical designs, metallic overtones, and elegant and eccentric designs alike! (Lucky for readers, a slideshow is available below.)

CCA Fashion Design chair Amy Williams was of course on deck to welcome returning major sponsor Osterweis Capital Management for its fifth consecutive year, and Surface magazine for its seventh year as media sponsor. Surface bestowed its coveted Emerging Talent Award on designer James J. Edwards. (Jihye Kang won in 2008; Chris Weiss in 2007.) Edwards was “utterly and completely surprised,” as he modestly mentioned later while making his personal runway appearance at Project One, San Francisco’s new art gallery/lounge and location of the much-anticipated after-hours party.

Another notable winning ensemble wasn’t an outfit at all, but rather a fitting opportunity that pairs designer Yi-ling Tsou with DDCLAB Design Technology, innovator of men’s and women’s ultracool, high-tech clothes (think climate-controlled jackets), for a three-month internship at its New York studios. Last year was the first year such a prestigious internship was awarded to a designer; Zara Franks spent three months interning at Marciano in Los Angeles.

The talented class of 2009 designers, all of whom exhibited great promise and much modernity, also included Paloma Broadley, Tiffany Crosby, Heather Johnson, Lina Lavi, Cyd Morris, Cathy Nguyen, Megan Robertson, Stephanie Sandstrom, Zoe Shaw, and Crystal Titus. (Read more about the designers, including seeing their victory laps on the runway at the close of the show.)

While CCA’s Fashion Show is a culmination of shared efforts among aspiring designers, faculty, and local industry leaders, it's also a philanthropic community event. This year’s event attracted members from Youth Homes (a Concord-based organization that works with children who are removed from unsafe homes); College Track, an after-school, college-preparatory program that helps students from underrepresented communities graduate from high school and succeed in college; and two local chapters of the National Charity League (NCL), whose mission it is to foster mother-daughter relationships in a philanthropic organization committed to community service, leadership development, and cultural experiences. The NCL selected CCA’s Fashion Show as its selected cultural outing event for the year.

Ben Ospital, half of the brother-and-sister-team that runs Modern Appealing Clothing, a pulse point of fashion in the Bay Area for more than 25 years, graciously and enthusiastically juried the designers this year (his sister, Chris, juried last year). Their collective support of the program has been instrumental in its success.

Other jurors included designer Tiila Abbitt, as well as Josh and Lauren Podoll of Podoll Industries, which carries the Josh Podoll line, a hip and well-respected line with the chic boutique crowd.

Susie Romak is the regional vice president of Ticktockers, an NCL subgroup, who campaigned on behalf of the Fashion Show, including securing 60 paid admissions. Her husband, Kevin, also provided a substantial donation.

Enjoy the slideshow, below, of the 2009 Fashion Show, which highlights selections taken from each designer’s collection.

(And, yes, you can pause the slideshow, which you'll definitely want to do . . . at least a dozen times! And for the record, anyone who thinks a round-trip jaunt on the runway is easy should try it in 4 or 5-inch stilettos on an uneven concrete surface under dozens of blazing-hot lights—not to mention the distracting sound of enthusiastic photographers’ camera shutters snapping image after image of every shift and shimmy!)

Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Use the direct link. [Photos by Navid Baraty]