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Tomorrow’s talent: the best of Graduate Fashion Week 2019

Brian mclysaght

Students joined the great and good of the fashion industry at Graduate Fashion Week to celebrate the best in up-and-coming talent.

Held on 2-5 June at the Old Truman Brewery, the event culminated in an impressive gala and awards show that highlighted the best of the best.

Guests for the event included former Burberry president and chief creative officer Christopher Bailey, while Dame Zandra Rhodes, rising star Richard Quinn and designer Christopher Raeburn were among the judges. 

Graduates impressed with their commitment and creativity, drawing inspiration from influences as diverse as ancient civilisation and outer space.

The talent was particularly strong from the Edinburgh College of Art – its students scooped several of the event’s top prizes.


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Brian McLysaght, Edinburgh College of Art

Christopher Bailey Collection of the Year Award 

Hilary Alexander Trailblazer Award

Conscious Design Award

The winner of three awards, including the overall Christopher Bailey Collection of the Year Award, Brian McLysaght impressed with an intricate menswear collection made predominantly from interlocking wooden tiles. Inspiration came from the decolonisation movements that swept across the globe during the 20th century, particularly the Swadeshi movement in India, which aimed to remove the British Empire from power. McLysaght looked to his native Ireland, reviving ancient visual languages that existed in the country before British colonialism. Delicate patterns were inspired by stone carvings and Neolithic tombs found across Ireland. The collection used organic materials including wood, leather and bone. His surprisingly delicate wood panelling appeared across wide-legged trousers, long-sleeved crop tops and shorts. Warm brown tones were accentuated with pops of azure. Designer and Christopher Bailey Collection of the Year Award judge Christopher Raeburn described McLysaght as a “stand-out winner”.

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Alexandra Fan, Edinburgh College of Art

Womenswear Award

Alexandra Fan’s striking space-age collection was inspired by life in her hometown of Chinese urban village Guizhou. Made from biodegradable latex, Fan’s pieces also drew on early 1920s flight suits, and she created her linear patterns by collecting people’s footprints. Block shades of yellow, green, blue and grey added to the functional feel of the collection. A particular favourite was Fan’s futuristic take on tailoring – a green latex suit with dramatically oversized shoulders.

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Greg Brears, Birmingham City University

Menswear Award

Heavy-duty panelling, buckles and multiple pockets added points of interest to this utilitarian collection of engineering-inspired workwear. The cohesive collection made use of a mustard yellow, brown and navy palette, and some pieces, such as navy trousers with suede panelling, came already worn and stained. Judges praised Brears’ “hard work and dedication”, adding that he had beaten strong competition in the menswear category this year.

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Hannah Stote, Bath Spa University

Catwalk Knitwear Award

This romantic womenswear collection showed off a range of different knitting techniques, experimenting with texture, form and volume. Designs had a soft, slightly distressed feel, amplified by a pastel-heavy colour palette of cream, soft purple and mint that added to the overall whimsical tone. Layering was key – Stote paired a sleek slip dress with a floor-length shaggy cream cardigan and piled knitwear on top of knitwear throughout her collection. She also built volume by layering different gauges of knit. Highlights included a yellow dress with trailing sleeves that was made from partially knitted loops woven through with a fluffier wool.

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Rosie Baird, Edinburgh College of Art

George Catwalk to Store Award

Rosie Baird’s womenswear collection took classic Scottish clothing and gave it a dramatic, haunting twist. Tartan underpinned many of Baird’s designs, including a voluminous hooded cape and blazers overset with a delicate Celtic print in emerald green. Chunky knitwear was dramatically cropped and adorned with tassels that glittered as models made their way down the catwalk. Baird also showed a flair for tailoring – cropped quilted jackets, complete with buttons featuring bagpipe players – were sharply cut. Other highlights included a multi-layered organza poncho with linear navy patterns on the edging, which was reminiscent of an insect’s wings.

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Ivy Lam, Savannah College of Art and Design, Hong Kong

International Fashion Award

Lam’s womenswear collection featured sportswear-inspired silhouettes, including tight leotards with cut-out details, crop tops and full-length bodysuits. Touches of vibrant sunshine yellow gave the collection a fresh, modern tone, as did the inclusion of inky tie-dye across key pieces. Lam played with unexpected combinations: a tailored blazer with denim detailing was worn over a yellow crop top and cycling shorts. Drapers’ eye was particularly drawn to a blue-and-white tie-dye bodysuit under a white trench coat with voluminous sleeves. Tailored trousers with billowing pleated sides, also in tie-dye, were another highlight.

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