Designs by Lucy Hammond, Benedicte Holmboe and Rachel Chan shown during the graduates’ fashion show at the Royal College of Arts in London.
British fashion students were once famous for their wild and wayward designs. But this season’s shows have struck a fine balance between innovation and reality in a time of austerity.
For the graduates’ fashion show at Central Saint Martins in London, Serena Gili designed this intricate knitwear atop a sculpted skirt.
Chris Moore/Karl Prouse
Tigran Avetisyan, another Central Saint Martins graduate, showed oversized garments printed with graffiti slogans.
Graduate Fashion Week — an agglomeration of more than 40 universities with 65 courses — will culminate Wednesday in the George Gold Award. The sponsor is George at Asda, a subsidiary of the U.S. retail giant Walmart. And this marriage between art and commerce proves how well-integrated colleges have become with the world of work.
But this reality check has not undermined creativity. The B.A. fashion show at Central Saint Martins in London was as emotional as it was effective. Showing for the first time in the landmark building that is its new home at King’s Cross, the event also marked the end of the reign of Jane Rapley. The head of college received an ovation for her skill in making the institution a byword for excellence, and for negotiating its move.
An optimistic spirit with expansive shapes, often molded like sculptures, were the dominant notes. Serena Gili’s intricate knitwear, shown atop sculpted skirts, was an exceptional example.
There was vivid color, laced with handcraft, in the pink and red dresses from Molly Goddard. While Erin Hawkes, winner of the L’Oréal Professionel award, had an almost Puritan feel to the satin skirts and floppy hats melded with sportswear.
A rebellious touch came from the men’s wear designer Tigran Avetisyan, who won a scholarship from the luxury titan LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton). His graffiti slogans printed on oversize work wear included the words “so much pressure” and “no jobs.” That might be a mantra for students graduating in hard times.
Craft, color and texture were the key words at the Royal College of Art’s M.A. graduate show, where knits and men’s wear designs shone as brightly as the sheens on fabric.
Wendy Dagworthy, as head of fashion, seemed to have created an environment where each of the 28 students reveled in self expression, yet made wearable clothes.
The dripping, painterly strokes of color from Shubham Jain were typical kaleidoscopes of color. Digital prints on clear plastic from Daniel Pollitt and Lucy Hammond’s translucent effects seemed intrinsically 21st century, as did Rachel Chan’s graphic and geometric knits.
The Brioni Project, an award from the Italian men’s wear brand, enticed students to create a blazer with pockets and lapels outlined in white or a gray jacket made from a jigsaw of pieces, the ideas making magic out of classics.
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