At the finale of Wednesday night’s Graduate Fashion Week Gala (itself the crowning jewel of Graduate Fashion Week’s four day showcase), the winner of The Christopher Bailey Gold Award – De Monfort University’s Hazel Symons – was showered, as is tradition, with gold confetti.
Elsewhere across grad season – as the end of May and beginning of June has come to signify amongst those seaching for the next big thing™ (ambassadors from Fashion East and the like were all sat ringside) – Central Saint Martins said an emotional farewell to BA Fashion Course Leader Willie Walters, following 24 years at the institution, and London College of Fashion played open house with the launch of #BA16; they even tapped Derek Ridgers for a public talk yesterday as part of the college’s first menswear day.
The nucleus of each affair however, remained the high volume of new talent on display: at University of Westminster this was coupled with notes of the graduates internships – French house Céline featured prominently – at LCF we were invited to find said talent on Instagram.
Below Clash shares nine of the designers who made us sit up and take note.
Philip Ellis, CSM: There was a reason Philip Ellis’s collection referenced Vetements in its XL goth meets floral aesthetic; the designer had previously played assistant at the label. An additional show of political conscience and nods to British subcultures saw Ellis go beyond the industry zeitgeist however, offering a contemporary take on protest and appropriation.
Alex Po, CSM: With rosy cheeks and hairstyles that borrowed from FROWer Grayson Perry, Po’s interpretation of the 70’s era Cali surf scene rode a fierce pastel wave, mixing balloon silhouettes with smart tailoring and a camp spirit.
Yuhan Wang, CSM: It was long before Wang took home the second prize of the night that her bedtime creations caused quite the internal stir at Clash. The flash of bold green silk alongside baby blue and white netting reinforced her knack for contrast, elsewhere expressed with the meeting of frisky confidence and teen sleepover club vibes.
Camilla Mecacci, CSM: With its use of texture, silhouette and strong casting, Camilla’s catwalk evoked a mood of the early noughties, and with it an attitude that rejected the obvious, advocating instead a relaxed, anti-try hard vibe: party clothes for women who do difficult but stand well back from fuss.
Gayane Arzumanova, Beth Wilson and Yui Jiang, LCF: On Monday the trio presented a fierce show that fell someway between early Gareth Pugh, mean spirited Disney characters, and the work of make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench: exaggerated silhouettes, oil paint textures and fantastic melted headpieces.
Sam Thompson and George Oxby, LCF: Winners of this season’s ‘Collection of the Year’ award, Thompson and Oxby’s aesthetic engaged with the current allure of oversized cloth, layering denim with heavy knits and man made textiles that culminated in a monster performance.
Leah White, Westminster: Striding out to the sounds of Fat White Family’s ‘Touch The Leather’, White’s collection was the sum of two parts: part nan’s curtains, part seductress. Appropriating a Michael van der Ham like appreciation of collaged fabrics, the designer mixed black PVC with baby pink velvet and red lace to maximum effect.
Pip Paz Howlett, Westminster: We don’t know Pip’s back story but post-show Instagram praise was high. And rightly so – Howlett produced a striking selection of summer menswear looks, coupling wide brim beach hats with tie-dye rubber all in ones.
Philip Luu, Westminster: Somewhere between haute couture and young girl fantasy, the creations of one time Chalayan intern Philip Luu sartorially aroused and excited. Fixated on tulle and satin, the designer’s frocks tread ground formally covered by Molly Goddard and Viktor & Rolf, with the addition of a new femininity.