The Academy of Art University, located in the heart of San Francisco, may have just unknowingly discovered that fashion can bridge the growing diplomatic divide between the United States and Russia. Heavy stuff, for sure, but that’s the power and magic of art, and fashion has always been, above all its utilitarian purposes, a statement to the world. Academy graduate, and fashion journalist, Dairia Kymber saw the power of fashion at work, after accepting an invitation to attend Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia.
Kymber was sent to Moscow, Russia’s capital and largest city, to cover fashion week for Buzzfeed. Her experience was mind-opening and heartening for those of us back home, watching tensions grow between the countries. Kymber discovered everyone she encountered to be warm and opening, and the culture of the exotic and distant country to be intoxicating.
Kymber had the added fear of traveling to a country not well known for its treatment of minorities, as an African-American. Not that encountering strange, new people should be all that intimidating for any graduate of the Academy of Art University. The school, founded by painter Richard S. Stephens in 1929 as the Academy of Advertising Art, is the largest, private art academy in the United States, and its South of Market campus sits right in the middle of all the urban strangeness that is the bay city.
Though the Academy of Art University was the first art school to send its students to New York Fashion Week, the Russian event was something that Kymber couldn’t quite prepare for, despite her best efforts. She found the striking mixture of modern trends alongside historic, Russian styles to be unique and exciting, just as fashion must be. It was designer Anastasia Dokuchaeva who most caught Kymber’s eye, blending cutting-edge choices into a fusion of futuristic joy.
It was Kymber’s connection to the Academy of Art University, graduating with a master’s in Fashion Journalism in 2016, that led to Buzzfeed’s offer, and she’s grateful she ignored the current political tensions. She found the architecture of Moscow every bit as inspiring as the art she saw on the catwalk.