24 June 2012

Westminster Graduate Fashion Show

   Now I am afraid the writing of this blog post is a little overdue, due to my overwhelming commitments in my fashion design foundation course this past term. However I hope you all forgive me for both neglecting you (my lovely readers) and neglecting to report back from this very exciting graduate show, hosted by the University of Westminster. I was lucky enough to be invited to this showcase, after receiving my golden spotted ticket through the post rather unexpectedly. Now an envelope addressed to me always excites me, as the feeling of the unknown inside builds up the same kind of anticipation you felt as a kid when presented with a gift. So needless to say I was pretty excited when I open the envelope to see the invite. The show itself was held on the 24th May at the university's Ambika P3 gallery, where all the fashion elite queued in line to wait to see what the future of fashion held for them. And here is what it had in store ...
Hannah Duckworth
Previous work experience at Christopher Kane, Marios Schwab and Peter Pilotto.
   This collection was one that had been boasted by the university, after splashing it's photoshoot all over the invites and runway magazine - making it a highly anticipated show. The show featured the elliptical shape of next season very prominently, with the dolmen sleeves and pointed hat accessories. With the strong silhouette also came the stronger colour pallet, full of bright, blocked colours. Hannah describes the inspiration behind this project as the "balance of clean graphic lines, strong silhouette and experimental colour pallet. Adhering to my innate minimal aesthetics, with rigorous attention to cut, detail and manufacture I want to convey my idea of sleek power dressing...for strong intuitive women with a slight masculine edge".
Poppy Totman
Previous work experience at Felder Felder, Topshop and Clare Tough.
   White may be the colour of simplicity, but do not let this mislead you. The bold silhouettes and intricate surface details are the prominent features within this collection, which is designed for “A modern girl who is romantic yet autonomous” explains Poppy. As well as the use of next season’s elliptical shoulders, the collection adds the trend of contrasting textures – using delicate chiffons, waxed surfaces and of course the roped embellishments. Poppy explains that the collection was initially “inspired by the ‘Femme Fetale’ image throughout art and film, enchanting but dangerous women from pre-Raphaelite art and romantic poetry through to screen sirens of the 60s. The idea of the modern day version of this woman became the muse for my collection. In terms of textiles and shapes I looked at restrictive clothing built for purpose over design: corsetry, strait jackets, armoury, turning functions into adornment”.
Lucy Upsher
Previous work experience at Mary Katrantzou, Katie Eary, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, David David and Norton and Sons.
   Digital printing heaven. Katrantzou herself would be proud. This collection uses the digital prints cleverly to intertwine the embellished textures that runs continuously throughout the garments, using it to map out new contours and silhouettes within. Her project was “inspired by the strange and spectacular structures of the recent spider trees of Pakistan. I wanted to capture this almost explosive amalgamation of energy and intricacy” – of which she does well through the vibrancy and continuity of line. She goes on to explain that she “designs for women who look for excitement and fun from fashion, where the risk and drama of the clothing is unashamedly at the centre of its appeal”.
Daphne Stylianou
Previous work experience at Vasw Tranidou (Costume Designer), Emilio de la Morena and Vauxhall Fashion Scout intern.
   Daphne’s collection was really one of great intrigue. The purity of the white and femininity of the delicate lace, mixed with injections of fierce red was unlike any fashion collection I have seen for a while. Perhaps her experience at a costume design company inspired the edgy twist on her collection, but for me it was the cut that said it all. As you will be able to see in more detail in a blog post I will be doing very soon (about the graduates fashion designs and photography) you can see that some of the dresses (third photo down) have a built in hooded feature. Its little design details like this that really makes the collection so interesting. When asked she said that her designs are for “women that don’t exist in real life because it is less limiting that way” – a statement which could really reflect her experience with the more theatrical, but also a statement that I find close to my own heart! She also explained that this collection was inspired by “Bertolucci’s romantic depiction of a cultural revolution in the film The Dreamers supplies the nostalgic elements that interact with a more structured and contemporary evaluation of today’s cultural freedoms. The feminine fabrication and soft colour palette contrast with the intensity of volume and sharp shapes. One of the main features becomes the contrast of dark, thick and frayed wool with the draping of rigid, white lace”. This woollen texture and the cultural references are two key features that will also be prominent next season.
Meera Sharma
Previous work experience at Jonathan Saunders, Angles and Asiana Magazine.
   A great contrast to the previous collection on the catwalk, but one with no less impact! The strong colour choice, the strong silhouettes and the strong fabrics emphasise the running theme of power throughout this collection. Her use of contrasting fabric textures, weights and shine also fits perfectly with next season’s collections. Meera describes the collection in three words as being “Sexy, glamorous, superheroes” explaining that her collection “looks at the two layers to these powerful women who often live double lives. The cut outs and the contrast between the leathers, plastics and sheer fabrics represent this. Straps, too, play an important part in my collection. Just as the superhero changes her identity, the garments, which feature straps inside them, can be pulled to change their shapes and thus be styled in a variety of way … [for the] free spirited, fierce, sexy women who are not afraid to be themselves”.
Annie Phillips
Previous work experience at Leeane Soki Mak, Meadham Kirchoff, Charles Anastase and Cassette Playa.
   The first word I see when I open the graduate’s magazine to Annie’s page is ‘GILF’ – the term is used in quite a tongue-in-cheek way to represent what her whole project is about. The collection shows inspiration from a bunch of fun-loving grandmas, who are living life to the full, no matter what the restraints. It opened at the show with a flamboyant grandma dancing and prancing down the catwalk to an eruption of cheers, sparked by the great contrast from the previous young and serious models. This energy really brought the collection to life with the right mood set. Annie describes her inspirations as coming from “The eccentric older woman with style and individuality, for example Iris Apfel, Edith Bele or Barbara Cartland, and how they enjoy dressing up for fun and playfulness as opposed to sex appeal. This collection aims to destroy idealised beauty and create an old charm by layering textures; Baroque and Zen, or patterns ethnic and contemporary and make them work together as though one of these fascinating women is wearing her life of fashion in an amusing, light and joyous way”. Some of her designs do have a slight Prada touch, and that does make me ponder if that could be a possible future for Annie to work for the design house, however her dream is naturally to have her own job, designing for “an uncompromising but never uptight nor fussy woman with a sense of humour – the look overall has a kind of ‘throwaway chic’ vibe. I design things I like and incorporate things that amuse me”.
Catherine Bell
Previous work experience at Hermione de Paula, Topshop Unique and Le Flux.
   This collections is formed of whites, texture and depth, to create a simple but very dramatic effect. Plus the white colour pallet and contrasting textures are very in keeping with next season’s trends. I particularly like the lined textures and chiffon overlays. Catherine describes the thought process behind her collection – “Taking inspiration from the bare white wild abyss of the Arctic, the beauty of the twenties and the structure of Inuit silhouettes, the collection hails the inner ethereal woman… [designing] for the woman that exudes femininity, keeps secrets and appreciates the little details in life”.
Nina Lee Lauritzen
Previous work experience at Alexander Wang, Mulberry, Chanel and Ann-Sofie Back/Cheap Monday.
   Strong in line, texture and geometric shapes. Once again the contrasting textures running through this collection makes it very fitting for next season’s trends, as well as adding some dramatic impact to the collection. Nina explains “my main inspiration is based on the Austrian painter Egon Schiele, whose twisted body shapes and expressive lines inspire the shapes and colours of my collection. I also looked at upholstering of furniture and applied these techniques to the body, which I then contrasted with the use of modern fabrics… [designed for] effortlessly chic women”. I can definitely see the use of expressive contour lines within her collection, which makes it extremely strong.
Charlotte Righton
Previous work experience at Liberty London and Meadham Kirchoff.
   Dainty florals, delicate chiffons and sorbet pastels; this was a collection that was not only the definition of spring, but also looked good enough to eat. The ultra-feminine garments would have the McQueen SS12 collection proud. Charlotte described her collection as being “inspired by the dusty humid colours of forgotten summers, heartache and longing, and girls who are fragile, unconventional and androgynous. The delicate beauty of dress in the early 20th century combined with the lurid explosion of nineties grunge culture. A tactile collection of luscious ruffles, ornate detailing and unusual fabric combinations…[designing for] romantics, who are awkward, unforgettable and nostalgic”.
James Burrow
Previous work experience at COS, Charlie Le Mindu, Stefan Orcheal Read and Todd Lynn.
   I may not be the most knowledgeable when it comes to menswear, but I do know that this collection is very innovative in the field – with its use of pattern cutting in particular; it uses lengthened shirts and caped cuts to give the collection an edge. James describes “The inspiration behind my collection is from Christian leaders in Eastern Countries. I also have a somewhat disturbing obsession with men in skirts, there’s something incredibly sexy about a guy who’s man enough to be dangerously effeminate”, he continues by telling us that his designs are for “not quite your average Joe, but certainly no super-man either”.
Ciara Ip
Previous work experience at Meadham Kirchoff, Hussein Chalayan and Gareth Pugh.
   ‘Theatrical’ would be a good word to describe Ciara’s collection, with its bold colours, contrasting lines and expressive movement when worn. With designs inspired by “Contrasts – tailoring, tulle, bitter brides and sinister schoolgirls” this collection even opened with a piece of menswear to contrast with the rest of it’s womenswear. Ciara also explained that she designs for “people who want to make a bit of a statement”; well this collection certainly did, with its long, flowing hems made from such luxurious chiffons.
Ashley Williams
Previous work experience at Fran Burns, Love Magazine, Arena Homme +, Nasir Mazhar, Jeremy Scott and Beat Magazine.
  I think this may have been one of my favourite collections, as it played to the animal loving girl that I am. Opening with the CUTEST puppy in the world was adorable bribery to get the audience into an immediate fun loving mood, with the uplifting, vintage styled garments continuing this on. I particularly loved the first outfit and third dress (of which I now really want to purchase too!!). Ashley describes the inspirations behind the project – “The initial inspiration was American oil tycoon heiresses and Texan divorcees. These ideas developed as I explored making my own prints and although some of the prints appear to look very different you can still link them to each other coherently through my muse of playful Americana” adding that when designing “I don’t design for anyone in particular but I would never make something that I wouldn’t want to wear”.
Alexandra McGrady
Previous work experience at Proenza Schouler, Alexander McQueen and Agent Provocateur.
  Once again, menswear is not my forte, however that does not mean it does not intrigue me, in fact, in some ways, it intrigues me more, as its an area of fashion that I know less of. The thing that intrigued me most about this designer – who had previously fulfilled work experience at a design house that I truly admire (McQueen) – was the use of such strong cut within the garments. Alexandra explains that “Miners and workmen from North East England inspired my collection. I grew up in Newcastle Upon Tyne where the mining and shipbuilding industries were central to the identity of the city and its people. My main focus for the collection was to look at the heritage of the North East and create modern clothes, whilst keeping traditional elements… [designing] for a confident, modern man, aware of his surroundings and interested in culture”.
Claire Barrow
Previous work experience at Claire Barrow (starting up her own label and in doing so working with/for UK Vogue, i-D, Dazed and Confused, V, Elle, Arena Homme +, Dust, Underground Shoes, Joseph and Rihanna).
  Now you may recognise this graduates name, as she has not only designed for Rihanna on both her ‘Loud’ tour and ‘Talk That Talk’ Album back cover, but has also succeeded in launching international collection in London and New York with Joseph in their flagship stores. This collection was none the less dramatic; she explains “The collection, featuring garments completely made from acrylic paint, pays homage to the mistresses of the surrealist movement and their sexual encounters with the famous male artists of the 1920s. Using menswear staples as a starting point, the collection is a concoction of unisex garments inspired by art and delivered with my DIY aesthetics… I [also] want every collection to bare my soul as if I am creating my first album”.
Xenab Lone
Previous work experience at Alexander Wang and Richard Nicoll.
  You may of gathered by now that I am obsessed with the cut and lines within garments, so this collection (although not fiercely tailored like I normally go for) really says something to me with its bold and powerful silhouettes. Xenab explains “My collection was conceived when I went to an exhibition of the Neo-Concretist artist Lygia Pape. I have always had a fascination for the simplistic line qualities that she uses in her work, which are juxtaposed with heavy opaque blocks of colour. I wanted to create a silhouette that would also echo this. I like the idea of feminising traditionally masculine shapes and wanted to create a structural formation around the female form. Tailored pieces that include heavy cashmere bonded with neoprene overcoats and structured shoe leather dresses with the sports luxury ideal in mind, form the basis of this collection… designed for a woman who embodies dominance and strength, a woman who wears minimal, timeless pieces with a contemporary fashion forward slant”.
Aiden Weaver
Previous work experience at Gallery 4, Alexander McQueen – McQ and House of Holland.
   This was another collection that stood out for me and of course that had absolutely nothing to do with the male Adonises underneath. It did in fact have to do with Aiden’s use of transparencies and use of depth within the layerings and textures. Aiden explains “Durability, functionality and protection are central to the needs of a rock climber’s attire. I was drawn to the air of severity and masculinity provided by such essential clothing to the male athlete in the field. In juxtaposition to this relationship between garment and body I used elements of a classic sportswear silhouette in my design aesthetic. Inspired by the physical extremity of the sport the use of bold graphical colours result in a high-end desirable menswear range… full of attitude and masculine radiation”.
Adam Jamieson
Previous work experience at That’s Not Fair, Graeme Armour, Katie Hillier, Matthew Williamson and Alexander McQueen.
   You can definitely see the learning curve Adam has been through from working at highly acclaimed design houses like Williamson and McQueen, as his collection had to be one of the most extreme and elaborate within the show, taking next season’s texture trend to the extreme. He explains “I have been inspired by excessive gift wrapping, Christmas and sweet wrappers, rammed through a paper shredder… I design for a fun, sassy and outgoing woman who has an experimental style”.
And who did I spy when taking the photographs of the collections, only Central Saint Martin's Willie Walters (bottom left) talent spotting from the new graduate's collections.
Jessica Walsh
Previous work experience at Marc Jacobs, J. W. Anderson, Victor & Rolf and Meadham Kirchoff.
   The final collection to be shown on the catwalk was a large collection of mens and womenswear, with a sharp colour pallet, rich embellishments and strong cuts and silhouettes. Jessica explains “Couples, menswear and womenswear design with research that references androgynous feelings with undertones of religious dress and illusion. Embellishments and prints define the mood and tone of the collection with leathers, printed organza and beaded jersey… for men and women without stereotypes, and for those that get bored easily”.
And that's a wrap. This post has taken 6days 14hours and about 32minuites to complete (with write ups, research and editing) so I hope you enjoyed it and got a taster for the talent coming out of Westminster.


  1. great post. I am loving the collection esp the white ones are my fav!!


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  4. Fab post Sally, I will be showing this to the A2 group at college, both to inspire them from a design perspective and introduce new designers for their research books, but also to show them how they should be writing about fashion. Well done, hope everything else is going as well for you.