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Hiroaki Kanai


Rokas Rach and Dazed's Emma Wyman pick their top 10 RCA students ahead of the graduation show

London's Royal College of Art is one of fashion's most prestigious schools. Neighbours with The Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park, it has one of the best addresses in further education, industry-shaping visiting lecturers (Simon Foxton) and an impressive alumni including Burberry's Christopher Bailey, Katie Eary, Ossie Clarke, Astrid Andersen, Philip Treacy and Aitor Throup. Dazed Digital selected its 11 favourite graduates rom this year's crop and shot their collections ahead of their public fashion shows on 30th May, of which tickets are available to buy, with proceeds feeding back into the college.

Samantha Bushell, Hiroaki Kanai, Benedicte Holmboe, Rachel Chan, Alexander Lamb, Daniel Pollitt, Rachael Hall, Alex Mullins, Shubham Jain and Hannah Morgan introduce us to their collections...

"Originally, it’s evolved from 1950s menswear, so I’ve gone for quite a masculine shape. There’s mohair and it’s quite three-dimensional. Other looks have strong shoulder-shapes and there is a soft tailoring, the contrast between natural and man-made yarns. Really great cashmere plays against really bold viscose." Samantha Bushell, 22, UK, Womenswear Knit

"The collection is about tailoring fused with draping techniques from 50s couture. I really like this optimistic view of fashion and also the rigid structure. That's the silhouette but I wanted to use more technical fabrics to create it, inventing fabrics by myself and combining two different kinds – like sporty fabric with silk. Colours and pattern are really important, evolved from interiors of that time." Hiroaki Kanai, 30, Japan, Menswear

"I do a lot of hand-knitted things, and that’s mainly because that’s what’s closest to my aesthetic, what I like to do. And my heritage. The shapes are quite like generous and big, because I love comfortable clothes, though it's still a considered shape in alpaca, merino, cashmere, lambswool, shearling, goat and mink. I’ve used quite a lot of denim too and I like workwear references, it's very robust." Benedicte Holmboe, 27, Norway, Menswear Knit

"The initial starting point came from old black and white photographs of tattooed tribes from the 30s. I was drawn to the harsh, graphic lines against the softness of the skin. With inlay and knitweave techniques both on the dubied and the domestic knitting machine I was able to illuminate the tension of hard versus soft, altering the surface and weight of the knitted fabric. The nature of the fabric allowed me to create structured, boxy silhouettes. To contrast, working with viscose tape created a soft, slinky snake-like quality to the pieces." Rachel Chan, 26, UK, Womenswear Knit

"The idea is creating this new uniform for men and embracing this idea that we all talk about: pushing boundaries within menswear. Silhouettes that we’ve missed out on from the Cristobal Balenciaga days, whilst keeping a utilitarian and military handwriting. There is internal harnessing within the garments so you feel you are connected to the shape, as well as different empire lines and proportions that haven't really been done in menswear. It's about creating something a bit more interesting." Alexander Lamb, 25, UK, Menswear

"I looked at an artist called Naum Gabo as I’m quite interested in fluidity and line. I was trying to merge different pieces seamlessly, so they looked like one thing. In terms of colour, I looked at a video by Slayer, called Beauty Through Order. It's a beautiful video, I actually heard about it because my a friend of my boyfriend’s is the girl in it, she’s a dancer. She’s covered in treacle and when it's dripping and the light is coming through, it creates these really intense oranges, ambers and reds, but against black. I don’t want to say sexy, but yeah it's sexy." Daniel Pollitt, 26, UK, Womenswear

"I have all the colours! I went through quite a black and grey project just before and I’ve always always always loved colour so I just decided to do my collection in every possible one I could. I got really excited. The silhouettes are quite simple but that’s because I’m putting in so much pattern, a lot of gold foiling on knits, the shapes needed to be clean and strong." Rachael Hall, 23, UK, Womenswear Knit

"I was looking into native Americans and 1950s Baltimore, the super-kitsch. I mixed the two together to create this collection, which is tribal and ornate. Silk is backed by denim because, aside from being too lightweight and feminine otherwise, this makes it malleable, like leather. I've also used a lot of wool and slightly rubbery fabrics to make the flowers. Red, black and white and ecru versus pastel-soft yellows and a floral story. There's quite a lot going on and I like it that way." Alex Mullins, 25, UK, Menswear

"I've always been interested in colours and absolute, pure colours – colour explosion. I paired this with a flocking technique and now I’m taking that forward, everything is fully-flocked and fluorescent. I’m really happy to see it looking good in the end." Shubham Jain, 26, India, Womenswear

"My work comes from a very physical interpretation of something, this whole final collection is from performance where I took different silhouettes of moving bodies, abstracted them down and then projected them onto myself, redefining and abstracting further. I spent a good, I’d say three days, in Dalston in a stationary shop that has the most incredible old school photocopier that doesn’t work properly. It’s not like the laser printers where it all comes out with this like pristine glow on it, it’s scratchy, almost like someone’s just hand-printing and they don’t really give a shit. These 3D shapes are made out of fibreglass, painted at a car place in Essex and amalgamated with wood in an attempt to make them feel like one object." Hannah Morgan, 26, London, Womenswear Millinery

Rokas Rach
Styling Emma Wyman
Hair Ben Gregory for Gregory Dean
Make-up Nami Yoshida using Mac Cosmetics
Models Aleksandra Marczyk at Union, Felix Ollerearnshaw at D1
Photographic Assistant Kaamilah Nahaboo
Styling Assistant Dominic Cadogan