Clash reports on the grad collections from Westminster, CSM and LCF.

Dubious though it might seem, graduate collections are akin to pre-collections: their dates loosely correspond, their audiences extend beyond press and buyers (the VV wealthy get up close and personal with the former while friends and family are offered a preview of the latter), and the venues for each vary, there’s no specified tent/space/courtyard/rulebook provided by either the BFC or Arcadia for one thing.

After that however, the correlation is lost thanks to two key components: money and creativity. Actually, scrap that – pre-collections are, increasingly, monied affairs provided to make a between season product (read: formerly plain/by a brand consumers know well), more exotic; BA graduates on the other hand are one man creative task forces offering you their heart on a sleeve, bearing unfamiliar names and a ton of debt. Probably.

In London at least, ‘the season’ kicked off in the middle of May with University of Westminster and concluded on Monday with London College of Fashion; Central Saint Martins followed the four-day Graduate Fashion Week event with a hump day show last week.

The aforementioned venues comprised of extensive sunlit campuses, moody car park vibes and a semi-outdoor situation off Shoreditch High Street – shoutout to the house of curiosities affair that followed LCF’s finale. Noted front row occupants came from Fashion East (naturally), MA course leaders (encouragingly) and alumni (cos, it’s nice to give back innit).

The ideas? A thorough assortment. Plenty riffed on contemporary notions – names like Craig Green and Marques ‘ Almeida were both scribbled in notes – but far from borrowing other designers handwriting the next crop are simply soaking up the landscape, just as has historically occurred.

Menswear in particular provided numerous rounds of internal applause; a product, surely, of the colossal playground the market is occupying in 2015 (London Collections: Men will enjoy it’s seventh season tomorrow, it’s second as a four day event). Yet to reach the heights of womenswear, in which sheer volume means designers can get lost, menswear continues to subscribe to the idea that style trumps trend; fabrics and trimmings likewise appeared of a higher quality predominantly.

Clash ones to be watching include Peckham boy Daniel Fletcher as well Hannah Donkin and Bianca Green who presented a skate-cum-sequin vibe (CSM), Westminster’s Lucy James and her mammoth coat options, and Jinwoong Bang’s toggle adorned sportswear at LCF.

Where menswear felt contemporary across the board, those designing for ladies endorsed a wider assortment of definitions; femininity, modernity and craft were all showcased with results that depicted a woman of no set age.

At CSM Hiroko Masano referenced cyclist attire via Dior’s New Look; at Westminster Caroline Day redefined Laura Ashley florals; LCF’s Nathalie Ballout and Billie Pingault toyed with social commentary sending girls out with free nipples and peace signs flicked forward.

The calibre of talent and quality of colleges in London has always been dear – CSM and LCF currently occupy the highest spaces on Fashionista’s Top 50 Fashion Schools In The World; Westminster is a respectable 14 – and the BA classes of 2015 confidently affirm such credentials.

Now imagine what they could achieve with the backing of a heavyweight fashion house come pre-season…

Words: Zoe Whitfield
Photos: CSM c/o the university, LCF by Roger Dean, Westminster by Simon Armstrong.

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