We're not sure whether it's the shift in mood in general within fashion where an appreciation for the minimal is resurging or whether Louise Wilson is more hell-bent on getting a singular and clear vision based on form and shape out of her MA students. We just know that frilly theatrics and graduate collections with a colourful song and dance weren't in order last night and instead, by and large, most students honed in on concrete ideas that tried to alter perceptions of form be it through alternative ways of pattern cutting, innovating knitwear or shape building with unusual materials.
The Harrods award were given to two joint winners, the first to Jackie JS Lee whose collection was a full of sleek tailoring with hidden clean-cut twists such as lapels melding into coats. "I have a good knowledge of tailoring as I was a pattern cutter for eight years. It's kind of difficult for women to wear tailoring as it's normally quite uncomfortable so I made it in jersey and tried to make it chic, elegant and feminine all at the same time." The second went to Lilly Heine who build up layers of fabrics to create illusions of diamond shapes that moved with the body. "I just started looking at Picasso sculptures and diamonds and how they're cut. So I started layering up fabric in 3-D shapes so the garments became like soft moving sculptures."
Other notable collections included Matthew Harding's pleated ensembles that were controlled with concealed bangles as well as controlled furry textures inspired by the late 70s. "I've always been interested in sculpture. The collection was inspired by Linda Carter's Wonder Woman so there were these late 70s shapes. I stumbled upon this idea of these bangles with the corrugation inside which controlled the gathers. It's trying to balance structure with femininity because so often you get structure that looks like it's made out of cardboard."
Boxed up shapes were built into the front and back silhouettes in Thomas Tait's collection which also played off with longer flowing lengths. "I sort of always scribble down my silhouettes with these exaggerated shoulders and hips. I realised that if they were clearer shapes, like boxes, you can create these two shifting boxes, one in the front and one in the back at the top, so sort of like this fragmented silhouette."
Tse Goh played with the idea of a white t-shirt and distilled these shapes into white neoprene. "It was just playing with a shirt on a stand until the shape evolves itself and thinking about how the t-shirt could stand up on its own."
Menswear designer Malte Flagstad concentrated on sleek masculine shapes using sheer fabrics and a painted wool that reflected the surfaces he looked at. "The starting point was one image by Ingar Krauss, of this ballerina girl who had this masculinity to her. Then I looked at sculptures with surface textures like paint peeling off and dust settling and that's how it kicked off. I just like the idea of everything being quite uniform with a few subtle detailing."
Flashes of colour came courtesy of Amy Stephenson who integrated colourful glass pieces with muted fabrics to create loose silhouettes that knotted and draped according the glass placement. "All the pieces are moulded to the body parts and put in odd places so that they stick out. It was about 70s funk and flash, and we were going for a Mad Max sort of look and everything looks a little hippyish and handmade."
Knitwear graduate Shao-Yen Chen used nylon threads to cut into dresses that were shaped and moulded meticulously creating volume and reduction where needed. "I looked at traditional knitwear and twisted it with plastic mixed with lycra, cashmere, contrasting luxurious yarns with crap yarns. I was looking at landscapes and in particular, waves in the ocean and looking at the layers of the waves lapping on top of each other."
Photography by Alex Sainsbury
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