What would I wear if I were a guy? That was that simple question that landed 24-year-old Grace Ahn — and her menswear collection, “Resolution” — a spot on the runway at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week as a part of the Art Institute’s annual show.
The daughter of two tailors, Ahn always took an interest in clothes and how they fit, but she didn’t make it her career goal at first. She was simply going through the motions at nursing school, and then her sister passed away. It was then that Ahn had the strength to take a hard look at her life and find the motivation to go after her dreams. So she enrolled at the Art Institute of Dallas.
Ahn is one of 12 students and alumni to take part in the school’s annual New York Fashion Week show. To try and secure a spot, she and other hopeful participants submitted sketches, inspiration boards and garments to a panel of fashion industry experts. The group liked what they saw in Ahn’s collection, which she dreamed up in her menswear class at school. She says it’s simple yet detailed, with a creative, clean execution.
“My collection contains classic styles with a modern-day twist,” says Ahn, who also interns at Stanley Korshak. “ It’s for the quietly confident man who likes to be fashion-forward but doesn’t scream it.”
Although she says she can be inspired by anything — movies, art, other fashion — Ahn really looks up to Tom Ford for his clean, crisp and perfectly tailored clothes, which motivate her to make every garment flawlessly. The young Dallas designer also admires his discipline, which she likely had to channel when creating her favorite pieces from the “Resolution” collection: two bomber jackets lined with silk.
“I am obsessed with textured fabrics,” she says. “It goes beyond the look and gives you something to not only see, but really feel. Combining different textured fabrics creates something magical.”
Thanks to its partnership with Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, which is now in its fourth year, the Art Institute provides its students with the defining opportunity to put their best fashions forward — which, of course, is down the runway. The students’ collections debut on February 17, 7 pm CST, at the Lincoln Center theater.
“I strive to become a designer that is not just known for my work, but for my character as well,” Ahn says. “I want to show people that 1) hard work really does pay off, 2) no matter what life throws at you, God always has a plan, and 3) you can become very involved in the fashion industry without it changing you.”