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Nicole Zisman
Backstage at CSM BA19: Nicole ZismanPhotography by Daniele Fummo

Rebel bikers, big screen TVs, and balloons: the 2019 CSM grads to watch

Meet the next-gen designers that should be on your radar

With an alumni made up of the likes of John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, and Riccardo Tisci, it goes without saying that Central Saint Martins has nurtured some of fashion’s greatest talents.

Following in the footsteps of those before them, last Thursday heralded the final show of the school’s 2019 BA fashion students. And while last year’s outing might have seemed hard to top (who can forget the moment Gui Rosa’s models threw giant knitted aubergines into the audience, or Harry Freegard rode a scooter down the runway wearing a ‘Harry Is Dead’ headpiece?), this year’s class more than held their own.

The night was an amazing display of creativity, featuring everything from Chaney Diao’s unique ‘business at the front, party in the back’ corseted dresses to a metallic Cleopatra courtesy of LVMH Grand Prix student Benjamin Benmoyal. Elsewhere, Danni Harris tackled the topic of evolution with a series of looks featuring animalistic mouthpieces, and Swarovski Award recipient Jamie Challinor’s Power Rangers stormed the runway in screen-printed faux-leather with glossed wooden sculptures attached to their dresses.

Here, we meet a selection of the designers from the Class of 2019 that we think should be on your radar.


Swiss designer Pauline de Blonay explored transformative fashion with a series of unique, mouldable suits. “I first started experimenting with a t-shirt that I covered in this aluminium tape and realized that I could create any shape I wanted with it. I then extended to bigger panels and created these big moldable dresses,” she says of her starting point. By using malleable aluminum, de Blonay opens the realms of possibility when it comes to how wearers can engage with clothing, resulting in truly one-off, personalised looks.

The student used the collection as a way to explore her identity and that of the people closest to her. “I created many self-portraits and portraits of people that surround me. These drawings influenced the overall mood and colours of my collection. My idea was that I was extending myself onto another person’s body by giving them casted parts of my body in metal along with the drawings of people that are important to me represented in the garments.”

To add an even more personal touch, she used printed photographs of her friends as inspiration for the wildly original make-up looks. “I developed (disposable cameras) and then re-drew them in pastel. After that I started re-drawing these portraits on my own face with some coloured eye powder and pencil. I liked the idea of taking a picture, printing it in 2D, drawing it, bringing it back into 3D on my own face with make-up and then taking a new picture of it – it’s sort of loop.”


Last month, during Louis Vuitton’s Cruise 2020 show, the world watched the ever-evolving relationship between digital technologies and fashion shift when the label sent out its new smartphone bag

When it came to her final collection, Nicole Zisman started with a similar concept, only this time, she turned things all the way up to eleven, with her opening model wearing a 53” television (yes, really). “It was actually extremely complicated to engineer – I had to attach a body cast onto the back of the screen where the wall mount should go so as to establish as many points of contact with the body as possible, then bolt the whole thing to a climbing harness,” she says of how the piece came together. And that’s before she had worked out how exactly to get it to play a film of her collection lookbook on the runway.

With the aim of investigating the ‘real versus the artificial’, Zisman explains that “Each look aims to evoke, or imagine, a garment or styling process that isn’t really there. To bring the real into the imagined until the lines blur, and consciousness can no longer distinguish reality from a simulation. Perhaps consciousness is what gives existence to the physical, rather than the other way around. Perhaps we can alter what we see. I used technology to support this aim of re-thinking print and clothing and be able to show moving image. In the end, the screen became almost a backbone to the collection in more ways than one.”


Having worked at Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton as a design assistant and intern, it comes as no surprise that womenswear student Vy Cutting’s collection exuded individuality and artistry.

Summing her collection up as 'cyber rebel bikers', the young designer was inspired by Karlheinz Weinberger’s photography series ‘Halbstarke’ and images of Switzerland’s version of motorcycle gang The Hell’s Angels during the late 50s to 70s. “These rock ‘n’ roll obsessed biker rebels re-interpreted the iconic American pop culture through their style and DIY accessories,” she explained. “I wanted to extract the visual aura of this subculture and their instilled qualities of youthful rebelliousness and transpire them into a futuristic aesthetic.”

When it came to the process of actually creating the looks, Cutting looked towards the distortion in paintings by Angela De La Cruz and sculptures by John Chamberlain. “I wanted to create this collapsed effect as if the clothes have been stretched and re-positioned with uneven folds to fit the existing shape. I started off by draping and cutting up existing motorcycle clothing. After I did a lot of research into specific detailing which I like, which lead to me playing around a lot with folding and draping motorcycle prints.” To create her final vision, looks were pieced together with oversized belts, made in collaboration with London based artist Emily Frances Barrett.


Born in Moldova, fashion design and marketing student Fidan Novruzova drew inspiration from her family’s move from a small town to a bigger Soviet capital. “(The collection) is about their transition from being surrounded by elements of South Caucasian domesticity to the pragmatism of big city everyday life, alongside being strongly influenced by 80’s Soviet movies”, she explains.

The process of designing her collection started during a trip to Baku last Christmas, where she rediscovered her family archive and sourced different types of memorabilia. This led to not only the creation of her square-toed leather boots, which sparked major shoe envy, but also her stand-out skirts with suspended waistbands. “I collected various objects from thrift shops, such as an ill-fitting 80s striped office shirt and a skirt suit. After a lot of experimenting with draping, I gradually started developing silhouettes and the stripes on the shirt were transformed into something almost resembling animal prints.”

When describing the handcrafted odes to her homeland added onto her final look, the young designer said “The concrete buttons with the Azerbaijani motifs were my way of making something as classic as a trench coat more personal and special, portraying symbols such as pomegranate, Maiden Tower, and carpet motifs.”


Unless you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t been on your phone over the last few days, chances are somewhere on your timeline you’ve seen Fredrik Tjærandsen’s extremely creative and now infamous balloon dresses. Hailing from Norway, the young designer has already honed his artistic abilities, working as a design assistant at luxury fashion houses Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga.

Bringing the 2019 CSM show to a close, Tjærandsen’s rubber dresses inflated and deflated as the models walked and posed their way down the runway. Drawing inspiration from recollections of his youth, the way in which the balloons obscured the looks was representative of the way certain memories become faint and fade over time. As the balloons deflated, the looks became more visible, as the perception of reality is restored and the memories can be viewed in the truest sense.

Tjærandsen’s wildly innovative approach to design earned him not only huge applause, both in the room and from hundred of thousands of people on the internet, but first prize for the L’Oréal Professionnel Young Talent Award. Big things are coming. 

Check out the full gallery above.