Last night saw a roster of up and coming fashion talents present their BA collections
Every year, graduate fashion shows gives creative yet exhausted students nationwide the chance to present their work on a large-scale platform. In many ways, the resulting collections are the purest form of fashion; they are often produced on small budgets and driven by the sole ideas of one designer, making them a fascinating insight into some of Britain’s brightest minds.
The University of Westminster has a strong reputation for cultivating talent; Christopher Bailey, Claire Barrow and Liam Hodges are among the alumni of the college’s Fashion course. Last night’s graduate show included similar flashes of brilliance; there was Emma Hart and her unique brand of reconstructed beauty, Christopher Pak and his sartorial homage to collage and Jack Byne, who drew from the worlds of sex and subculture. The fashion industry has a strong reputation for celebrating young talent, so here are five names you should expect to see a lot more of in the very near future.
It’s never easy to open a show which features sixteen designers, but Constance Blackaller did so in memorable fashion with an offering of “deconstructed draping”. An abundance of colour characterised the designer’s graduate collection; there were harlequin checks in cobalt blue, hand-quilted silks in magenta and flashes of bright turquoise juxtaposed with burnished gold. Silhouettes were intricate, incorporating myriad twists and turns and origami-folding techniques to create voluminous looks reminiscent of the Japan and the country’s traditional dress.
Inspired by Robert Gober’s sculptural renderings of domestic objects, Emma Hart’s abstract embroideries add an interesting dimension to a collection of pastel-hued rubber. Collaging techniques are evident in the deconstructed gowns; ruched shoulders, shredded seams and metallic hoop details are also present in Hart’s individual brand of beautiful chaos. There’s also a subversive hint of sex in the use of rubber that lends an element of off-kilter sensuality to the designer’s brand of patchwork femininity.
For his graduate collection, Jack Byne presented a unique fusion of sex and subcultural references. There were nods to the punk movement in the myriad flashes of leather, whereas the pointy-toed, heeled boots seemed to be an homage to the dandies and their unique brand of off-kilter masculinity. Traditional tailoring was warped and distorted; trousers were widened and elongated, whereas deconstructed tank tops were cut low to allow flashes of the flesh beneath. Trailing furs were draped over shoulders as a final touch, resulting in a unique aesthetic.
American artist James Castle and his hand-made collages were cited by Christopher Pak as the key inspiration behind his graduate collection. These references manifest literally in the oversized, decorative stitching that marks Pak’s aesthetic. The results were striking – a patchwork collection of asymmetric dresses, draped leathers and dramatic outerwear inspired by the couture shapes of decades passed. Elements of lightness appear in the form of layered shreds of silk and organza, intended as a literal emulation of Castle’s paper collages.
PIP PAZ HOWLETT
Acid house and rave culture were the starting point for Pip Paz Howlett’s graduate collection, a disorienting blend of psychedelic swirls and porno prints. Latex was a key textile, appearing throughout the collection in the form of skin-tight catsuits, oversized jackets and cut-away tops. Ripped, dishevelled pieces revealed hints of flesh and hinted at the hedonism of Howlett’s imagined underworld; elsewhere, pops of eye-catching colour and the show’s frenetic soundtrack sought to revive the manic energy of one of Britain’s most beloved scenes.