Saturday, 07 June 2014

Graduate Fashion Week: Ones to Remember

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For many years Graduate Fashion Week has provided an important platform for various graduate designers to promote their work. With previous award winners including notable designers such as Stella McCartney, Matthew Williamson and Julien McDonald, the four day event provides graduates with the opportunity to launch a successful career within the fashion industry. Hosted at the Old Truman Brewery, just off of Old Spitalfields market, this year's Graduate Fashion Week showcased the work of students from across over 40 universities. With so many original and creative collections, who should we expect to see more of beyond Graduate Fashion Week? Perhaps the answer lies among the top 25 students whose collections were selected to join the Best of Graduate Fashion Week catwalk show on Tuesday evening.

Crowned the winner of both the Best Womenswear Award and the George Gold Award, it goes without saying that Grace Weller's beautifully executed romantic collection showed real potential for Weller's future within the industry. The Bath Spa University graduate revealed a stunning gothic collection with a dark colour palette consisting of navy blue and red alongside subtle hints of orange. Exposing her technical capability with elaborate hand-embroided lace garments, Weller's collection married such skilfully crafted material with floral designs, promoting a delicate, elegant image.

Grace Weller wasn't the only graduate celebrating as Graduate Fashion Week drew to a close late on Tuesday night. Nottingham Trent's Aimee Dunn was awarded the prize for Best Menswear with her controversial collection influenced by 1980's British politics. Dunn's monochrome collection blended loose fit trousers with casual black slip-on sandals, adding a slight touch of nonchalance to her formal collection. Amongst displays of chunky knits and various examples of clean tailoring, Dunn's collection featured a neat black sweatshirt hosting a large white pop art style image of Britain's first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. This design alongside various slogans imprinted onto selected garments, such as 'Thatcher took our milk' and 'Goal not Dole', highlights Margaret Thatcher's politics as the key inspiration for Dunn's work, primarily the impact her political actions had upon the north.

Birmingham City University graduate Wai Keung Lam presented us with an alternative approach to menswear with his Autumn Winter collection. Inspired by an ancient Chinese philosopher, Lam combined a neutral colour palette of beige, black and grey alongside glimpses of red to illuminate the elements of historic Chinese culture which influenced his collection. Lam's neatly executed pieces exhibit his ability to produce clean cut tailored garments which we hope to see more of outside of Graduate Fashion Week.

Presenting a powerful, vibrant collection suitable for Antarctic conditions, Lauren Lake's garments were governed by various striking shades of pink. The Kingston University graduate used a variation of materials and texture such as shiny PVC and faux fur to create a striking contrast against the predominantly white and pink colour palette, revealing an elaborate, fun, girly approach to winter fashion. As soon as Lake's first outfit stepped out onto the runway, a stir erupted amongst the audience, showing immense promise for the future of this particular graduate with this visually appealing collection.

Opting for a softer variety of colours, Bath Spa University graduate Keziah Newlove's Spring Summer collection is constructed using pastel tones ranging from a soft yellow to a fresh pale green alongside glimpses of metallic appliqué, giving us a tutorial on modern elegance.

Northumbria University's Hannah Donkin displayed impressive technical skills when revealing a glamorous black collection. With faces covered with intricately crafted lace masks and veils combined with structured black dresses, Donkin presents this year's audience with a sophisticated womenswear collection. The graduate's visually potent yet fragile designs make her a strong competitor for future success amongst the hundreds of graduates who attended the event.

However, not all designers showing artistic talent made it to the catwalk this year. Inspired by the often uncontrollable adaptations which take place in nature, such as the development of animals and changes in water movement, Leanne Johnston revealed a collection sporting earthy, natural tones and detailed prints which were produced following close studies of water and butterflies. These particular features help to evoke the illusion of movement and progression through her garments, exposing the creative aptitude of this particular graduate. By combining her separate removable pieces with statement jewellery, the University of Sunderland graduate presents us with numerous wearable outfits to welcome the summer seasons.

With many established fashion designers already producing outstanding collections, these graduates prove with their innovative, expertly constructed designs why they have the capability to make a similar impact upon the fashion industry; watch this space.

Written by Sophie Beresford