Graduates Fashion Week

PRs flapping, parents nervously beaming, journalists poised with pens ready, and of course the usual front row fashion darlings, this year including Jodie Harsh, Jo Wood, and, ahem Belle Amie. Yep, it seems only yesterday we were working our butts off with the rest of them at London Fashion Week, and now Graduate Fashion Week has come around again.

A graduate of the London College of Fashion myself, I had high expectations from the BA students from the Womenswear, Menswear and Surface Textiles courses, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The catwalk was awash with bold colour, daring cuts and outrageous proportions, as well as some of the most innovative embellishment and detail I have ever seen, serving to highlight exactly what it is I love about London and the calibre of designers it produces.

London College of Fashion graduates aren’t afraid to experiment, to be ironic, to make a statement, and to just have fun. This was clearly visible in the collections produced this year. On the runway we saw sportswear, tailoring, eveningwear, and casual day wear, each designer confident in conveying their personal vision, each striving to impress the audience of 500 influential industry insiders.

For me however, there were a few designers that offered more than just a spark of something special, displaying such accomplished skill and creativity you could almost feel the goose bumps of the awe-struck audience.

On the night, three of the graduates were honoured for their efforts. Charlotte Barry took home The Barnett Lawson Award for Best Use of Trimmings, praised for her beautifully embroidered sequinned and studded dresses that provide plenty of texture and movement through tassles, pleats and fringing in shining hues of golden yellow.

Copenhagen-born Stine Riis won the Biddle Sawyer Silks Award for her innovation with textiles, juxtaposing sheer shirts and fur boleros with patent leather panelling and wool. The much coveted Collection of the Year award however, went to Nova Chiu from Hong Kong, whose vibrant and eclectic collection featuring fur, tie-dyed skinnies, bell adornments and oriental fabrics impressed the judges, taking inspiration from Shangri-La and her Chinese heritage.

The phenomenal technical detail and unabashed creativity and imagination displayed by Nova left the hairs on my arms standing on end, followed by the unmatchable feeling that there, in the studio, I had witnessed the beginning of the next big thing.

There was plenty more talent in the sea though, with other ‘ones to watch’ including Kathy Lam, whose clean, preppy collection of shirts, skirts and separates in icy blue and white tones add a modern touch to day dressing, while Ya-Chiao Sung’s feminine collection of sheer blouses and full floaty skirts, toughened up with corsets and plenty of gold embellishment combined wearability, with sex appeal.

Menswear designers to take note of include Nair Afonso Xavier who opted for a playful sporty aesthetic, adding a modern twist with clashing neon colours and accessories, as well as Sean McGirr who was all about the detail, finishing workman boiler suits and denim pieces with chains, badges, pins and lots of layering.

Indeed, the London College of Fashion’s BA Graduate show was a decorative, colourful affair with only the freshest of talent, affirming the capital’s place as a fashion hotspot for creative genii.

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