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Project Runway

Budding SF designers prepare for New York Fashion Week.

A look representing each collection: (from left) Iglika Vasileva Matthews, Stephina Touch, Ginie C. Y. Huang, Jarida Karnjanasirira, Jisun Lee & Liza Quinones, Yanfei Fan, and Jie Jessie Lui & Tanja Milutinovic.

Jarida Karnjanasirira's blazer, blouse, and shorts in Thai silk.

A close-up of the designer's structural element, inspired by high-relief sculpture.

A fit model in Karnjanasirira's first muslin pieces.

The designer's croquis portraying her full collection.

Stephina Touch's belted dress.

A detail short showing pleat work in the material.

Touch was inspired by ancient Asian architecture.

The designer's croquis.

Iglika Vasileva Matthews used suede and leather to build her collection.

Fine gold studs to add detail.

Inspiration photos reflecting modern architecture.

The designer's croquis.

Jisun Lee and Liza Quinones's collaborative collection.

The details show Lee's lapels covered in Quinones's rich prints.

Quinones used tempura paint to begin creating her textiles on paper, using a variety of tools to blend patterns.

The menswear-inspired look came from 1920s mugshots.

Ginie C. Y. Huang's neon dress.

The feathers Huang used allow the illusion of constant movement.

A photo by Mika Ninagawa, Huang's inspiration.

The candy-colored collection in the designer's croquis.

Yanfei Fan's dress and organza jacket.

The pockets can be seen from the jacket's exterior, hailing from Fan's inspiration: the transparency of glass.

A matted feather from Fan's sketchbook.

The designer's croquis, showing different pieces from the collection.

A dress from fashion designer Jie Jessie Liu and textile designer Tanja Milutinovic's collaborative collection.

The designing duo's croquis.

On September 6th in New York City, the Academy of Art University debuts a select group of nine graduate students' spring collections at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. For the young designers, it's a dream come true.

Here we spoke to them about their anticipation and inspiration.

Jarida Karnjanasirira

Tell us about your collection.

I live near Grace Cathedral and the doors of the church inspire me. High-relief sculpture interests me because of its illusions and depths. When it came to my clothing, I had to create dimensional pieces that played with shadow and light, creating an element of 3D structure. I chose to work with Thai silk because it's a material that I'm comfortable with, being from Thailand. My family sent me over 200 swatches from home to choose from!

Where do you shop in the city?

Haight Street. I always find things that aren't anywhere else.

Your favorite designer?

Francisco Costa.

What type of woman do you design for?

An intellectual who is a mix of orient and western aesthetic; she is androgynous but sexy.

Stephina Touch

What was your first foray in fashion design?

I learned to sew when I was a freshman in high school, and when I was 18, I designed my own preom dress. When I look back on that dress, it wasn't that great--but I've taken so much from those first experiences.

Tell us about your collection.

I was inspired by Asian architecture and thought the collection would be really beautiful and strong if it was all white. I went though a ton of different fabrics, looking for a cotton sateen that wouldn't be too lightweight. The weight that I ended up choosing wasn't the right color, so to get the hue I wanted, I had to use five pounds of color remover in my bathtub and stir OxiClean in it for hours.

Where do you shop in the city?

440 Brannan. It has a great industrial feeling.

Your favorite designers?

Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang, and The Row.

What type of woman do you design for?

I think this collection translates well into a work environment--it's not fussy. I see my girl as someone who is successful, smart, and driven.

Iglika Vasileva Matthews

Who influenced you when you were young?

My mom was one of those people who never left the house until she looked perfect. When communism collapsed in Bulgaria, I expressed the way I looked more, and became a little bit rebellious.

Tell us bout your collection.

I studied textiles so a good amount of my work is influenced by fabric manipulation. I see myself more as a winter designer, so I gravitate towards heavy wools and cashmere--who doesn't like cashmere? The architect Zara Hadid inspired my use of shape and neutral colors.

Where do you shop in the city?

I love some of the little boutiques in the Marina, but always turn to the Gap.

Your favorite designers?

Calvin Klein and Alexander McQueen.

What type of woman do you design for?

A woman who is invested in her career--she likes tailored looks but with a bit of an edge. She's able to transition certain pieces seamlessly from day to night.

Jisun Lee and Liza Quinones

Tell us about the collection.

Lee: Green is my favorite color. It's an uncommon color to wear but when worn with confidence, I think it brings out a lot of personality. We were inspired by photos that came from the 20s, and although the people in them are criminals, they actually look fashionable! I focused on the details of menswear; the shadows that the extra fabric from lapels and collars create. I like that baggy, oversized suit. It looks comfortable versus the tight Italian suit of the same time.

Where do you shop in the city?

Lee: Modern Appealing Clothing and Rand + Stratler.

Quinones: Painted Bird and 31 Rax.

Your favorite designer?

Lee: Phoebe Philo of Celine. I admire her simple sophistication.

Quinones: Jean Paul Gaultier and the late, great Alexander McQueen; both are true artists.

What kind of woman do you design for?

Quinones: Edgy, polished, strong, sophisticated women.

Ginie C. Y. Huang

Do you have a first memory invoked by fashion?

I love the handwork and delicacy involved in design. When I was five or six years old I used to take my mother's clothes and create outfits for my dolls.

Tell us about your collection.

I was obsessed with Mika Ninagawa and the way she photographs faux flowers and goldfish and makes them look alive. The colors she emphasizes are loud and were a big influence on me choosing feathers and neon.

Where do you shop in the city?

Zara and Madewell.

Your favorite designers?

Marc Jacobs and Kenzo Takada.

What type of woman do you design for?

She's brave and likes adventure. She's the girl who looks strong on the outside but she's soft and sweet underneath.

Yanfei Fan

Tell us about your collection.

I wanted to emphasize the pockets and their shape by allowing them to show through the material, which is why I chose organza. It's like the transparency of windows and the way light reflects through them. The designs are functional, emphasized by layers that are shown through the colors black and white.

Where do you shop in the city?

World Market in North Beach.

Your favorite designer?

John Galliano and Phoebe Philo.

What kind of woman do you design for?

Someone like Audrey Hepburn, who is independent, peaceful, and interested in art. I think she's the kind of woman who knows herself well and has the ability to discover what is beautiful all around her.