The LCF show this Thursday night is still to go, but I've put time and effort into seeing as many student graduate collections as possible this summer because these guys are the future of fashion, right? What struck me with this year's crop was that most womenswear fashion design graduates seemed to be playing it safe with their skills and especially their creativity; they want, nay need, to get a job, and jobs are more likely to be found in the mass retail sector than they are in high fashion due to sheer economies of scale. I lost count of the number of times I wrote "Wants to work for Whistles/Monsoon/Adidas/Jigsaw/TopShop/Topman, (*delete as appropriate), which is no bad thing, but I guess I was looking for that elusive jolt of excitement you get when a new talent emerges. The textile design, print design and knit graduates were on another level with their experimentation, however, which kinda made up for the rest. They say a recession breeds creativity, and it does if you look hard enough. Here is what I loved... (LCF I'll get to you tomorrow!)
1. ERIN HAWKES - CENTRAL SAINT MARTINS
Erin Hawkes from Central Saint Martins was the highlight of the CSM BA fashion show for me. Her collection showed that she has a hugely sophisticated eye for proportion, colour, fabric and style, as well as having brilliantly quirky references from nuns to 90s street style and experimental Japanese design. Erin's collection earned her the night's big prize – the ‘L’Oréal Professionnel Award.
2. TOM CRISP - ROYAL COLLEGE OF ART
Tom Crisp from the Royal College of Art MA course made me want to be a 21 year old man, just so I could wear his collection with a sense of authenticity. Though I would happily wear most of his collection as myself, now. His clothes were alive with technique, and radiated the fact that Mr Crisp is a highly creative force. I expect he has already been snapped up by a luxury fashion house. If not, why not? Or better still, start his own brand. Is it me, or does Tom Crisp sound like a brand name already?
3. SERENA GILI - CENTRAL SAINT MARTINS
Serena Gili, a knitwear graduate from Central Saint Martins, chose to showcase her extraordinarily beautiful and intricate tops with resin egg-shaped skirts, thus putting them on the pedestal they deserve. My appreciation of her work was heightened when I saw the above close-up on Serena's Tumblr. I would love to see more - and even buy a piece from this designer whose influences covered everything from Queen Elizabeth I to Faberge.
4. CHLOE JONES - BATH SPA UNIVERSITY
With this collection Chloe Jones from Bath Spa University earned herself the two top prizes at Graduate Fashion Week, namely the Gold Award, judged by Suzy Menkes and Daphne Guinness, which saw her pocket £20K to pay for either a year of fun, or to pay for two years of an MA. I'm sure she will be plumping for the latter. She also took home the award from best womenswear collection. The way she mixed nomadic silhouettes with sporty references and a kinda Game of Thrones vibe struck me as fresh looking and modern minded.
5. XIAOPING (FIONA) HUANG - UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL LANCASHIRE (UCLAN)
I missed seeing Xiaoping's turn on the Graduate Fashion Week UCLAN runway because I was judging the Media Award, but when I bumped into Mary Katrantzou backstage, she told me to check her out and I wasn't disappointed. This is what I was talking about earlier when I said some of the textile students had gone all out to express the limits of their creativity. If I was creative director at a bold-face luxury fashion brand I would want someone like this on my team. Xiaoping, or Fiona as she prefers to be known so impressed Mary Katrantzou and Liberty of London's Managing Director Ed Burstell that she was awarded the Zandra Rhodes Textile Award.
All catwalk photographs by Chris Moorte/Catwalking.com.
Serena Gili backstage image: - idonline.com
Serene Gili close-up from: http://ohwelloneirataxia.tumblr.com/