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In a class of their own

New awards and a strong international presence helped make this year’s Graduate Fashion Week the biggest yet, as the latest crop of outstanding young designers exhibited impressive interpretations of current trends.

Glitz and glamour led the way at the 19th annual Graduate Fashion Week last week, as the world’s fashion elite flew in to honour the latest crop of young
design talent.

Italian designer Alberta Ferretti, Barbara Hulanicki, creator of iconic 1960s brand Biba, and Mark Eley, half of design duo Eley Kishimoto, were joined by Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts and the 2009 winners of Britain’s Got Talent, dance troupe Diversity, to present the biggest-ever set of GFW awards, 17 in total, at Earls Court 2 in London.

The most prestigious award, the River Island Gold Award, went to Rebecca Thomson from Manchester Metropolitan University School of Art, who also won £20,000 towards creating her next collection.

The Womenswear and Menswear prizes, won respectively by Rhea Fields from Northbrook College and Thomas Crisp of Ravensbourne College, were joined for the first time by a new International award, which went to Roya Hesam from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. This year was the first time GFW had welcomed talent from abroad, and visiting universities came from as far afield as Russia and Singapore.

This year also saw the first musical accolade, awarded for creating the most inspiring catwalk music. This went to UCA Epsom and was presented by Kanya King, founder of The Music of Black Origins (MOBO) Awards.

Designer Alexander McQueen was posthumously awarded the Inspiration Award.

The collections themselves depicted a stronger set of trends than in past seasons. Nude tones and gauzy fabrics played a big part, while café au lait, biscuit and tan organza and silk creations featured heavily. Sharp shoulder statements are still proving inspirational for young designers, as are shoulder to ankle dornments, which ranged from stripy body-length scarves through to full-length ponytails made with real hair.

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