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Middlesex graduate show, Dazed Digital
Sian Alexandra Hadnum at Middlesex BA Fashion 2015Photography Chloé Le Drezen

Meet this year’s standout Middlesex fashion grads

Designers get inspired by the biblical apocalypse, retro biker rebels, and protesting the right-wing media as the university presents its next-generation talents

This year's Middlesex BA show saw 19 designers present their collections at the David Lynch-style Royal National Hotel in a heady mix of daring structures, innovative techniques and makeshift face masks. We select our favourites from the new pool of talent below. 


Initial reaction: 

A knitted future rife with crochet, luminescent fabrics and cyberlox crin. 

Tron textiles: 

“I started my collection based on retro gaming infused with biker rebels,” said Brown who sites the 1982 Sci-Fi classic Tron as her main source of inspiration. “Within my research I found a lot of dark imagery surrounding the idea of a power struggle within the virtual world,” the designer explained, “I emphasised this concept by using soft natural fibres in deep hues, contrasted with the sharp and the rather exaggerated use of glittery lurex.” Texturally speaking, Brown’s collection was one of the most complex. The designer explained that her knitted 3D structures started as experiments –  she would wrap modelling balloons around bodies to create her exaggerated panelling ideas. Synthetic fabric and foam came together harmoniously, offset by silver foil joggers which seemed to emanate their own static noise. 


Initial reaction: 

Khaki warriors carrying bludgeons as accessories, look as if they mean business – except for the fact that their faces are obscured by lace doilies.

Do It Yourself:

The elevator doors abruptly split open and out came the first model of the show – Curtis’ masked soldier, equipped and ready for war. But the designer’s creations are less about being menacing and more about morality. “To riot or protest, is often deemed as an act of mindless violence or destruction with little consideration by the participant for the consequences. But beyond this lies protection of traditional values,” explained Curtis, who was inspired by the Ukrainian crisis. The designer decided to hide her models’ identities behind lace veils (a cornerstone of traditional Eastern European clothing) and plastic water bottles-turned-gas masks, as those during the crisis would have done with home made objects. Curtis’ man is “a very strong-willed, confident character with strong moral values and dedication to his cultural and social identity” – in short, someone who’s not scared of a little riotous DIY. 


Initial reaction: 

Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden grows up.

The flower pot women: 

“A 21st century girl who aspires to be the next Darwin,” is the imaginary muse behind Middleboe’s collection. The designer’s girl is “on a quest to find new worlds” – so she’s dressed her in garments suitable for every potential terrain. From pleated chiffon skirts to woollen cream two-pieces and knitted bobble hats – Middleboe’s designs are as diverse as the species of pressed flower found on her translucent rain coat. The ultimate botanical nod came in the form of the handbags-turned-miniature greenhouses which the models carried around, with blooms plotted in a mound of dirt. 


Initial reaction: 

Masked henchman taped up and covered in ransom-style letters, ready to unleash anarchy on their unsuspecting victims.

Murder mass media:

There’s an image of one of Hadnum’s designs on her Instagram page, with the tell-all hashtag #fuckTheDailySport. Her collection served as a reactionary response to the problems mass media presents – “The attitudes towards women in ‘sports’ newspapers reflect attitudes of a very sexist generation that should have been outgrown,” she explained. Models masked by punctured flesh colour tights represented the “faceless consumers of mass media,” with slogans such as “EXCLUSIVE: The Biggest Round-Up of Sh*t” emblazoned across the back of their metallic bomber jackets. “I took nearly every one of my slogans from actual headlines that were featured in these ‘sport' newspapers,” said Hadnum, whose brash, oversized silhouettes were inspired by the “abrupt but beautiful” way artist Jenny Saville paints women. 


Initial reaction: 

Mad Max meets Bane from Batman – the end is nigh. 

Apocalypse now: 

An imposing floor length black jacket covered in ribbons of fabric, a leather mask punched with eyelets and a snow white balaclava – this is the apparel needed to brace yourself for the end of life as we know it. Johnson based her collection on the End of Days from the Christian Book of revelations. “This is why each look is a different colour and has varying textures” she explained, with grey to symbolise the biblical trek through the mountains and black to represent death and the descent in to darkness. “I think the black ghillie coat would look really good as a tour/show piece for Kanye,” the designer added. Well if anyone can make the end of the world look good, is going to be Kanye.


Initial reaction:

Bitch better have my money – models decorated with dollar bills and accessorised with backpacks made out of supermarket baskets.

Chaotic consumerism:

The American writer Vicki Robin once said: “We no longer live life, we consume it.” And this concept has served as the driving force behind Holmes’ designs. Inspired by the Americanisation of Russia, the designer feels that capitalism has merely come to take the place of communism, or as she adeptly put it, “The walls of false freedom coated in a shiny wrapper.” With labels stitched on the outside of her garments and models affixed with oxygen masks filled with dollar bills, Holmes’ stance on consumerism was clear.


Initial reaction: 

Strait-laced Victorian designs given a vivacious edge with African-inspired textiles.

Church in the wild:

Sweeping black dresses decorated with smocking and lace came from a place of nostalgia for Overton. “In my childhood dressing up for church was a massive thing,” she said – but these garments didn’t strictly adhere to the term Sunday best. Select dresses were embroidered with African-mask style faces, decorated with cowry shells and trimmed with thick strips of fur. “The idea of the mask was to represent wealth which is what I think Sunday best is about – wearing your best and most expensive clothes, ” said the designer, who was inspired by the Cameroonian Bamileke tribe. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Overton explained that her oversized silhouettes were made to reflect the plight of less wealthy Victorian families who had to buy clothes “two sizes too big so that they would last longer.”