Months of blood, sweat and tears culminate at Gradate Fashion Week, where BA graduate students showcase their collections to the industry for the first time. Critiqued by judges including Mary Katrantzou, Mark Fast and Dazed’s own Jefferson Hack, the Gala Show presents the highlights of fashion’s rising students nationwide, competing for a variety of revered titles.
Chloe Jones of Bath Spa University took the double home, both the George Gold Award worth £20,000 and overall Best Student Collection Award for her contrasting and somewhat haunting pagan marriage of nineties sportswear and delicate chiffon: crystal studded jersey against ethereal architectural imagery. Titled 'Our Father Who Art In Heaven', statuesque models walked ominously to Enigma’s Sadness.
There was an urban element present throughout the collections, with creeper shoes, trainers and high-tops consistently popular, along with Ke Li’s painted and printed Doc Martens. Grimes, Karibu and Regina Spektor completed the soundtrack. Charli Cohen, who balances personal training with fashion design, presented bold CC logos on oversized sporting apparatus and Perspex glasses, which managed to shake off any gimmick title through acutely tailored, androgynous silhouettes and a strong sense of functionality.
Karen Jessen of Berlin won the International Award for her combination of leather, rivets and shredded and pleated fabrics while Edinburgh College of Art’s Riona Horrox scooped the Menswear prize. The first female student from the college to design a menswear collection, teaming streetwear and sheepskin with a monastic quality akin to Chloe.
Many collections had a distinct sense of patriotism, with garments printed with images of political leaders, architecture, flags and Olympic references.
Graduate Fashion Week is potentially the only time where so many personal collections, designed and constructed by primarily by one person, are placed in one space together. An inspiring platform for creativity, 2012 proved to be one of the most successful yet.