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csm ba fashion show graduate student collection design
Kevin GermanierPhotography Lucie Rox

Tory Punks, tampons and muscle men: CSM’s new designers

Meet the class of 2017

With a list of alumni boasting Alexander McQueen, Riccardo Tisci and Céline’s Phoebe Philo, fashion is always looking to Central Saint Martins for up-and-coming talent. Last night, the newest crop of graduates studying courses from menswear and womenswear to print and knitwear presented their efforts. From the hundreds of students, the line-up was whittled down to a lucky 41 for the catwalk show – the ones who didn’t quite make the cut hosting their own guerrilla-style presentation outside.

Writer, dominatrix and founder of Wet Satin Press Reba Maybury acted as ‘Mistress of Ceremonies’ and shared a few words before the show began. For anyone who might think fashion is frivolous or unnecessary her message was simple: “fashion is everything” – and having dedicated their lives to it for the past few years, these students knew that well. 

Of course, with the looming snap election, political references were on the minds of some. Daniel John Sansom’s self-described ‘Tory Punk’ collection went all out – it saw models storm the runway dressed in skimpy satin dresses and pantsuits sometimes covered with bags of ‘coke’. They teetered along in towering platforms with pastel coloured wigs atop their heads fit for a queen (specifically, Elizabeth) to a booming bass soundtrack spliced with clips of Theresa May. It wasn’t just an ode to the Prime Minister, but rather British women like the Duchess of Cornwall and Baroness Thatcher mashed up with Katie Price and Jodie Marsh. “I imagined them all, you know...partying, champagne, sniffing and all that together, and Tory Punk was born,” he told us after the show.

It received one of the best receptions of the night, with many breaking into applause for the final look. It consisted of the so-painted-it-was-almost-drag version of Camilla Duchess of Cornwall being carried out on a throne by four thong-wearing “Tory Hunks”. “(She’s) the embodiment of Tory Punk,” Sansom says. “She doesn’t give a fuck.

The strongest collections were those belonging to designers who reflected culture and society. Tolu Coker’s showcasing of hip hop culture was reminiscent of 90s-era Lauryn Hill, complete with Baker Boy style hats (and also featured a cameo from illustrator and model King Owusu, who took to the runway with a boombox). Similarly, Mowalola Ogunlesi’s petrolheads – who accessorised their skin-tight patterned leather trousers and jackets with Lagos number plates and car trinkets – made for one of the night’s standouts. 

The show was a melting pot of ideas and inspirations, contrasting from one student to the next. There was May Sutton’s unconventional use of loaves of bread moulded to make bustiers and tops, and Alex Wolfe’s cast of oiled up bears dressed in 90s cyber fashion, who looked like they’d been cast on Grindr – morph suits included. The show featured everything from the down and dirty to glitz and glamour – like Kevin Germanier’s neon wig-wearing models, who sashayed to French 80s synth music in tulle dresses covered in thousands of rainbow coloured beads. 

Goom Heo – who took home the L’Oréal Professionnel Young Talent Award at the end of the night – had a collection that could best be described as seriously surreal sportswear. Tailored jackets with exaggerated shoulders that mirrored those of an NFL player were mashed up with nylon shorts and football boots that were ready for the pitch. The show-stealing closing look comprised of colourful jerseys layered on top of one another. Matt Dyer’s play with silhouette consisted of shirts and trousers that in places clung to the body as if wet, with trousers and plastic carrier bags coming stamped with “CSM”.

Throughout the show, there was no shortage of performance. Sheryn Akiki’s girls marched down the runway with one model aggressively smearing her face with lipstick, and another throwing tampons at onlookers. Equally, Elena Koivunen’s black widow felt as if she had been plucked right from the stage of a play capturing the relationship between two wartime lovers. The penultimate designer Xiaoming Shan (who got a special mention at the end of the show) managed to wow without even really making clothing. The graphic, coloured lines that sprung from models, hanging from their mouths and occasionally sticking to their bodies in the form of tape blurred the lines between art and fashion and confirmed that CSM remains a thriving hub of creativity.

Head to the gallery above for all the backstage images from the show.