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Graduate Fashion Week: 20 years of student talent

With less than a week to go before the start of Graduate Fashion Week, Drapers catches up with some of the students to give you a sneak preview of their designs.

Name of Student: Jennifer Allen

Name of University: University of the Creative Arts Rochester

Specialism: Menswear

Inspiration behind the collection

Prince Harry, and the overwhelming behavioural and achievement expectations surrounding him at the moment. He plays a balancing act with tradition and the modern developed world, and has been portrayed as the rebellious, risk taking ‘dirty Harry’. Good/evil, pure/soiled, restriction/rebellion; this collection considers these paradoxes in relation to the Prince. Heritage and tradition are embedded within him, yet the media have tried to break this ‘purity’ with headlines deeming him improper.

Details on the collection

This collection considers both light and dark in its use of colour and in its pure, sometimes simple yet powerful silhouette. Asymmetry points to rebellion and irregularity. Neoprene and smooth, tightly woven waterproof cottons emphasise the sharpness. The fullness is drawn to the ground and engulfs the body, then tapers to a slim line/cuff at the ankle of smart/casual trousers in Kid Mohair and cashmere suiting, contrasted with matte Spandex. Laser cutting leaves behind a shadow, its precise yet burnt/raw edge indicating a soiled perfection.

Career ambitions

Being a fashion management student, I am interested in the development and management of the product as well as the designing stage. It is important in this career for me to help create, develop and manage a product that is extremely considered and therefore successful.

Name of Student:  Samantha Wood

Name of University:University of the Creative Arts Epsom

Specialism: Menswear

Inspiration behind the collection

My graduate collection is based on a selection of American colour photographs from the time of the Great Depression. They were interesting to me as most photos from that time were black and white, drab and depressing, however these photographs had a joy and colourfulness to me. I love taking an American influence but contrasting it with a very British edge.

Details on the collection

The garment shapes and silhouettes are based on a mixture of American workwear and sportswear. I contrasted these shapes with fabrics in pastel blues, greens and creams with hints of burgundy and tan. I also managed to create a few new textiles for this collection, both print and through manipulation of a floral print which really brings the collection together.

Career ambitions

After graduating I hope to gain experience interning at different British menswear designers before I decide what I want to specialise in. I have an interview this week with JW Anderson.  My collection has taught me that the possibilities in menswear design are endless and I am very excited to find out where I am best suited.

Name of Student:  Harriet Blackwell

Name of University:  Southampton Solent University

Specialism: Womenswear

Inspiration behind the collection

The main inspiration behind my graduate collection is ‘Wabi Sabi’ and ‘Ma’, Japanese concepts, which explore negative space and the idea of finding beauty in imperfection. Designer Yohji Yamamoto has been a huge inspiration to this collection. These Japanese inspirations have also been juxtaposed against a sportswear influence to create a modern twist on a Japanese aesthetic.

Details on the collection

The collection experiments with the idea of asymmetry and playing with negative space around the body, by contrasting oversized and fitted shapes. I have used a dark monochromatic palette to reflect the Japanese aesthetic. Fabrics used include contrasts of heavy cotton drills against polyester crepes to create an imperfect asymmetry, reflective of my theme, accented with Airetex sports panelling.

Career ambitions

My ambitions are to establish myself as a serious womenswear designer with the ultimate ambition of having a successful fashion label.

Name of Student:  Kyle Graham Spires

Name of University: Edinburgh College of Art

Specialism: Womenswear

Inspiration behind the collection

My graduate collection is inspired by the relationship between cloth and body, with specific attention paid to the relationship between seduction and movement. The anatomy is integral to the collection, as it has dictated the way in which the silhouette has developed. When considering shape and line within the collection, I looked closely at parts of the body, which seduced me personally. The notion of revealing and concealing areas such as collarbones and shoulder blades intrigued me greatly.

Details on the collection

My obsession with seduction developed into creating surface aesthetic through laser engraving. This was particularly successful on thick pony hairs and leathers, resulting in three-dimensional surfaces.  The silhouette developed into something consuming the idea of juxtaposition, celebrating movement through the use of luxury silks such a crepe back satin, and restriction through m use of nylons and heavy wools and laser engraved leathers. My colour palette was developed in a rather spontaneous manner with white, yellows and red taking centre front.

Career ambitions

I have recently been accepted to study my Masters in Womenswear at The Royal College of Art. Who knows what may come after this significant milestone. 

Name of Student: Eileen Pang

Name of University: Liverpool John Moores University

Specialism:  Womenswear

Inspiration behind the collection

The collection, “Tribal Futurity”, is inspired by the distant future being, questioning how far technology can advance before humans are over consumed and entirely dependant on it. But traditional methods and techniques shouldn’t be forgotten and that this is the answer to surviving the future.  The initial inspirations for “Tribal Futurity” came from the ideas between the fusion of African tribal culture with modern technology and architecture.  The possibilities of different weaves and the use of different materials were used to try to create a modern twist.  This collection has a fresh futuristic feel to it. With its clean lines, muted colour palette, strong structural curved shapes and the fluidity of the soft fabrics manipulated in this way, it keeps it away from looking androgynous yet exudes the feeling of power whilst still enhancing the female form.

Details on the collection

Silhouettes are very structural; they include triangular shapes around the shoulders and enhance the shape of the hips. My fabrics are mainly different types of neoprene with wool felt under layer. My colour palette is shades of white and beige.

Career ambitions

I am hoping to study for an MA, possibly the Artefact course at London College of Fashion. and then to be successful in starting my own line and business.

Name of Student:  Nicola Chisnall

Name of University:  University of the West of England, Bristol

Specialism: Womenswear

Inspiration behind the collection

My design inspiration stems a lot from nature, traditions and carnivals. This season I’ve been particularly obsessed with the Santiago Carnival in the Dominican Republic.

Details on the collection:  My collection is about capturing the atmosphere of celebration, being heavily influenced by carnival costume and dance. After submerging myself in my inspiration I created a series of 3D textile swatches, which I then sculpted onto the body, to help inform my garment shapes. I like to use a variety of media and colour when creating my textiles and get a lot more excited in a D.I.Y shop than a fabric shop. The final collection is heavily embellished with plastic cable ties and colourful wooden matchsticks and some garments a joined together using these. I have one dress that is made up of over 30,000 cable ties.

Career ambitions

My career ambitions are to eventually launch my own label or to head into the world of styling and prop design. 

Name of Student: Rebecca Odubanjo

Name of University: Colchester School of Art

Specialism: Womenswear

Inspiration behind the collection

My inspiration is using my African heritage focusing on the use of colours, and African prints in dramatic shapes. 

Details on the collection

The essence of my collection was to bring African textiles into the western fashion world building up as tiers, frills and layers to make a statement for spring 12.  The fabrics used were African printed material (Ankara) mixed with plain black cotton to make my collection stand out, unique and represent my ethnic background (Yoruba) and culture.

Career ambitions

My career ambition is to be a well recognised designer and to work as a part of a team with an ethical fashion company who will encourage my ideas, skills and also increase my knowledge about fashion designing.  Furthermore, I would love to set up an apprenticeship workshop in African so as to make people that are interested in fashion designing to have a profound knowledge and improve their skills in fashion and textile designing outside the UK.

Name of Student: Julie Yeung

Name of University: University of Northumbria

Specialism: Womenswear

Inspiration behind the collection

“The Perfect Cutback” is about discretion, simplicity and refinement.  Based on the simple Japanese concept of cutting-in-one, garments are constructed from just one pattern piece, thereby minimising the number of seams and enhancing a sophisticated cleanliness.

Details on the collection

Focusing on soft, fluid forms through drapery, unusual darting and singular geometric shaped pieces of cloth, using pioneering cutting techniques without compromising on a beautifully wearable aesthetic.  Like the traditional kimono the attention is diverted away from the front of each garment, using the back of every piece as the main focal point in the design process, whilst asymmetry pays homage to traditional Japanese art.  Key features include whole laser-cut pieces, finishes such as magnetic closures and pocket bags sandwiched in-between fused layers of cloth, and couture-standard construction techniques to ensure the highest level of invisible luxury wear.  With a jewel-toned colour block palette, I have conducted extensive research into fabric morphing the finest soft handle cloth from Italy and the UK.

Career ambitions

I hope to start out as a junior designer for an established design house either in the UK or in Europe.  My goal is to work in Paris or Italy as the head designer of a high-profile company such as Balenciaga or Yves Saint Laurent.

Name of student:  Milly Jackson

Name of University: Nottingham Trent University

Specialism:  Womenswear

Inspiration behind the collection

My collection is inspired by the theme of escape and I was inspired by the bestselling novel Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  I’ve created two outfits using playful scale and illusory methods of construction.

Details on the collection

The fabrics are heavy wool flannel, velvet, brushed silk and there is hand made needle work detailing.  I’ve reworked animal, digital prints and the collection features very structured silhouettes such as exaggerated shoulders.

Career ambitions

I’m pretty open to what the next step is. I just know I want to be involved in the creative industries using my skills in fashion illustration and design.

Name of student: Joanna Louise Mandle

Name of University:  Manchester Metropolitan University

Specialism:  Womenswear

Inspiration behind the collection

My collection has been inspired by looking at flights of childhood imagination and post punk Britain, fusing innocent silhouettes of Victorian childrenwear with darker undertones inspired by the early Goth movement. On a personal level my work represents the irresistible charm of escaping bleak grey urban life into one on fantasy. My designs intend to delve back into the fun and frivolity of childhood whilst taking on a harder contemporary edge.

Details on the collection

Volume plays a key role throughout the collection; like children’s costume I wanted to play with the proportions on the body. The clothing has been embellished with bells, laser cut circles and bows to evoke the sense of fun behind the concept. The post punk undertones take the form of textured PVC, black velvets and polka dots, which are lifted with flashes of electric blue.

Career ambitions

After graduation ideally I would love to be doing a Masters in womenswear design, however until I can find the funding I aim to get as much work experience as I can to get my foot on the fashion ladder. In the future, I hope to be able to set up my own label, putting fun into fashion.

Name of Student: Kristina Kurkina

Name of University:  Kingston University

Specialism:  Womenswear

Inspiration behind the collection

The starting point was a mathematical fiction by Ian McEwan called ‘Solid Geometry’.  Following step-by-step instructions from an inherited dairy, a man folds a piece of paper and discovers a paper flower that when folded further eventually disappears into nothing.  The concept was to study the idea of transformation and artificiality of the flower. I find the idea of folding something until it changes into something else fascinating, so the garments in my womenswear collection have detachable elements, which totally change their appearance

Details on the collection

I made garments from a combination of rare vintage and high tech fabrics including silver lamé, digitally shaped rubber and metal velvet. The silhouette is very sculptural but created with softly curved lines. Main colours are a combination of matte and shiny greys, silver, whites and some blacks.

Career ambitions

I would love to work in a team or a company with great creative spirit and strong energy - one that never stops creating and leading others.  Eventually, though, I’d like to start my own label.

Name of student:  Charlotte Smith

Name of University:  University of East London

Specialism:  Womenswear

Inspiration behind the brand

The inspiration behind my final collection is women in Espionage in World War Two. Female spies used seduction to uncover secrets. Allies on the outside and enemies underneath, their sophisticated danger was admirably clever. My inspiration developed looking at all females at work within World War Two, enigma coding and fighter jets. I wanted to replicate these women with fun and colour in a unique style of workwear. 

Details on the collection

Key influences include parachute harnesses, World War Twouniforms and femme fatales. Details including airplane seatbelts, digital and screen print in fabrics of  silk, cotton drill, waxed cotton and sweatshirt have been chosen to reflect the designs with twists and drama.

Career ambition

I am ambitious to start my own business in my future career. I plan to start small and build on my experience. When on work placement at Courtaulds LTD UK, I gained so many new skills, which have in turn become my strengths including CAD design work and print design. I would love to start working as a freelance designer and work with brands to sell my prints and designs. I feel completing a fashion design degree with marketing has given me all the business planning and branding skills I need to achieve my aspirations.

Name of student:  Shaun Barker-Newton

Name of University:  University of Leeds

Specialism:  Womenswear

Inspiration behind the brand

For my final collection the inspiration came from the David Attenborough television series, which explored the deepest depths of the ocean, and the extraordinary creatures that live there. I was inspired by the variety of shapes and textures behind the creatures from the delicate and fluid shapes of jelly fish to the armour like bodies of crustaceans which went on to inspire the contrasting elements within the collection

Details on the collection

The silhouettes were influenced by the creatures with transparent bodies, which revealed their internal skeletons and organs. I interpreted this in to graphic, sporty neoprene garments with cut out and interwoven panels which were then encapsulated in transparent fabrics such as nylon organza, which looks completely transparent and recreates the movement found in jelly fish. The more aggressive creatures and textures inspired different treatments within the collection, including a ‘spiky’ dress constructed from around 3000 georgette squares. The neon colours were inspired by bioluminescent glows that the creatures give off, which reflect onto the transparent pieces highlighting the movement within them.

Career ambition

Now that I have completed my degree I am looking to work as a designer within the womenswear market, and in the future launch my own label.

Name of Student:  Sarka Chaloupkova

Name of University:  Northbrook College

Specialism:  Womenswear

Inspiration behind the brand

I took inspiration from menswear, in particular hobos and tramps in order to create a voluminous yet luxurious line, which would be comfortable, fun and pleasing to they eye as well as to the body.  Mix of my own lomographic photographs and contemporary drawings of birds and flowers.

Details on the collection

My design concept is based on biodegradability and reducing waste.  I do not believe in using synthetic fabrics for their durability unless they are designed for high performance purposes such as sport or work wear, therefore I decided to use materials such as organic cotton, organic silk, fair-trade and lambs wool hand-woven in India by a women’s co-operative.  All my garments are either vegetable dyed or dyed with AZO-free dyes and sewn up using second hand vintage cotton and silk threads and finished with shell or wooden buttons.  I chose digital printing technique, which is the most eco-friendly way of printing a material.  Some of my designs are reversible and are designed with freedom to styling, which gives the customer the choice of their own input.

Career ambition

After graduating I would like to gain more experience within the fashion industry and eventually set up my own label.

The event takes place from June 5-8 at Earl’s Court 2 in London.

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