The prestigious school’s graduate showcase featured masked models, explosive pattens and more than a trace of BDSM
The Central Saint Martins MA graduate show is one of London Fashion Week’s most highly anticipated events every February, with designers, buyers and journalists all keen to see the industry’s next generation of talent make their first foray onto the catwalk. It is a chance for the graduates to be seen on the global fashion stage, following in the footsteps of the college’s star alumni: Alexander McQueen, Craig Green, Christopher Kane, Simone Rocha and Marques’Almeida, whose stories all began on that very same runway.
Highlights included the hotly tipped Kiko Kostadinov’s workwear-inspired menswear, Richard Quinn’s masked models in floral textiles and Abzal Issa Bekov’s masculine suits and latex apparel. However, it was the refined and well thought out work of the joint L’Oreal Prize winners John Alexander Skelton and Harry Evans who also garnered attention. Skelton for his incredibly in-depth research and ethical menswear, and Evans for his extraordinary handcrafted knit and crochet luxury fabrics. Here’s your guide to five of the best collections.
RICHARD QUINN – MA TEXTILES
After studying the work of the artist Paul Harris, Quinn became obsessed with the idea of transforming a woman into a textile by entirely immersing her in colour and print. “I wanted to create a strong image but still retain interesting detail, textile and fashion,” he said. “Initially each girl would be one overload of textile but I then introduced contrasting surfaces and colours to create something that is odd and otherworldly.” Romantic, tough and unapologetic, models in full body suits, thigh-high boots and gowns pounded down the runway. For Quinn, the was key was to create a different look for each model; he featured second skin velour, hessian mixed with embroidery and bold mushrooming florals, creating unexpected twists of colour, textile and form.
ABZAL ISSA BEKOV – MA MENSWEAR
Bekov created a collection that was an ode to masculinity and homosexuality via tailored suits and fetishwear. “My work became about artists, socialites and designers who sadly died from Aids during the 80s,” said Bekov. “The same guys who, during the 70s, imbued homosexuality with grandeur and sophistication and nobility but were also part of a hedonistic and sexual underworld.”
Bekov started his practical research by constructing fetish pieces, however he felt they were too gimmicky and wanted to investigate the components of fetishwear in more detail. He felt compelled to understand the materiality of latex and resolved that it is desired for its restrictive qualities. The designer drew parallels between latex and the tailored suit, in that the suit also restricts and changes the way the body moves. As a result, the runway saw slickly groomed models dressed in sharp chequered suits, elbow length gloves and black rubber undergarments.
KIKO KOSTADINOV – MA MENSWEAR
After a series of sell-out collaborations with Stüssy last year, Kostadinov has harnessed some well-earned hype. Stocked at Machine-A and later at DSM New York and DSM Ginza, his capsule collections with the streetwear brand set the premise for his shredded and twisted layering aesthetic, which the Bulgarian designer has carried through to his graduate work. The inspiration for his collection, which saw a blend of luxe menswear and workwear, came from his father, who is a decorator, and the time they spent working together on building sites. This was seen in the rough hand dyeing and painting techniques that he applied to dishevel and add texture to the pieces.
HARRY EVANS – MA FASHION KNITWEAR
Having developed his design skills under the mentorship of Meadham Kirchhoff during his undergraduate studies, Evans is now holding the torch for a new wave of men’s knitwear. “I don’t see myself in a lot of the menswear that is out there, so I wanted to create a collection that felt personal to me by basing it on my own style,” he said. So, the designer developed his own silhouettes from a range of inspiration spanning from folk costume to 80s couture and streetwear. The graduate also sourced all of his fabric such as couture padding and stitching from the inner linings of Chanel jackets, which he then layered, hand-crotched and stitched onto fabric.
JOHN ALEXANDER SKELTON – MA FASHION MENSWEAR
The starting point for Skelton’s collection was a survey called ‘Mass Observation’, which began in 1936 and was a sociological and anthropological survey rooted in surrealism. The aim of the survey was to find out the mood and the feeling of the working class, specifically of people living in the industrial town of Bolton in northern England. “My interest in the survey was the interplay between the observed and the observers,” he explained. “Inspiration came from the flamboyant silhouettes of the surrealists and the raw materiality of their clothes.”
For Skelton sustainability is integral to his work and the collection is made entirely from sustainable sources. “The wool is made from rare breeds of British sheep and is completely raw, which makes it 100 per cent eco-friendly and was woven in traditional factories. I also repurposed materials such as submariner coats and my grandma’s bed sheets,” he concluded.