Meet the students graduating from the prestigious school this year
Central Saint Martins has gifted the world such greats as Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Phoebe Philo, to name but a few. It’s no wonder, then, that its MA graduate show is such a hot ticket, as hordes of attendees wait for the next rising star on the London fashion circuit to blow them away. With an 18-strong line-up, the prodigious talents showcasing their work last night had hugely varied approaches. Whether it was new takes on classic men’s suiting, woman wearing a giant inflatable paddling pool – part of Edwin Mohney’s absurdist collection, which closed the show – there’s talent of all kinds emerging from the prestigious school this year, including Rebecca Jeffs and Olaf Tavares Vieira, the recipients of the 2018 L’Oréal Professionel Creative Award.
It was a climactic start as Liam Johnson’s remodelled silhouettes opened the show. His whole intention, he explained backstage, was to “be as honest as possible, reducing everything down to its true form.” That form took primary colours and unexpected textures – think printed tights – and stretched them around giant triangular or circular hoops which kicked out at the bottom in huge geometric flares. Shoulders were wide, a conical bra became one giant, metre long cone jutting out ahead of the model, and hats, made of the same translucent fabric, shrouded the face and the neck like posh ladies’ summer hats that had melted in the sun. “I was playing with unexpected textures, cliches, skulls, and was just trying to offer an alternative to ‘normal’ fashion,” he finished.
A cacophony of neons, square silhouettes and mortar boards collided with plates and cups across the young designer’s ode to the Spanish ritual of gifting beautiful homewares across family lines. “I was doing sculptures with my grandmother’s most precious possessions – her plates and cups – at her place. And I thought about this woman who carries everything with her – she has plates from her grandmother, cups from her mother. We put these plates and cups on the walls because they mean something to us, and we use them to eat, too, so I wanted to instil the garments with that meaning. I wanted to create an ironic and surreal vision of that.” It was an ode to the women in his family, and the women he wants to dress: “My grandma she’s really old now, but she puts makeup on, lots of jewels, purple hair. I don’t want to design for a 20 year old, I prefer an older woman – they know what they want, their body, themselves,” he explained post-show.
PAULA CANOVAS DEL VAS
Paula Canovas del Vas’s collection was all about designing for empowered women. “I feel that every time there’s a womenswear designer making empowering clothes for women, they imitate menswear,” the designer explained. “As a woman designing for women, and as a consumer, I feel myself very restricted – it’s either very frigid or the very hot look.” This manifesto for powered-up female dressers came in the form of mixing the unexpected: a draped undergarment with an embossed felt jacket acting as armour in a bold palette of pink and yellow; PVC trousers mixed with mohair tops; giant shoulders that invited the wearer to take up more space. “There’s so much to explore as a woman designing for women: I want it hot, powerful, sexy, and elegant, all of those things in one. I feel like it’s my duty,” she finished.
Twitching curtains were what tied Yuhan Wang’s whole collection together: with hand painted fabric literally tied here and there, concealing and revealing various parts of the body. “The flat I live in faces a hotel, and I see people passing by every day. Everybody wants to see what’s behind the curtain, what stories are playing out,” she told us. “It became a metaphor then, for me, like how women use their clothes to cover themselves, and what kind of stories are they covering up.” Wang’s dresses played with restrictions; arms were loosely tied to each other, and seams pulled at the hips and the waist as she explored the line between coverage and exposure.
Men’s tailoring is rarely about sensuality, so Eleanor McDonald set about to change that. Revealing numerous erogenous zones – from lower torsos to slices of back – patches of skin were seen through intentional peep-holes across a series of knitted tops. “It’s the new version of a suit,” she said after the show. “They are so often stuffy, you know – classic menswear suits – so I wanted to soften the look a bit.” Her garments played with proportion, with detailing to the torso and trousers that flowed at the waist. And the suits aren’t just designed with men in mind. “I like the idea that on boys they’ll be super super-tight, but when you put it on a woman it becomes the perfect oversized suit. It’s gentle in different ways,” she finished.