I have to admit that I really do love going to graduate shows and presentations. They are not always the most written about, but graduate collections are more about craft and creativity than practicality and commercialism, which in my eyes makes them a little special. Vauxhall Fashion Scout searched for the best graduates from over 300 collections shown at Graduate Fashion Week in June, and selected from the UK’s leading universities including Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion, Westminster University, Royal Acadamy of Art and Bath Spa.
There was a fabulous array of talent at the show, with designers from all different fashion disciplines. Shengwei Wang’s knitwear creations were a favourite of mine and it was obvious that Serena Gili’s skirts were causing a stir.
I spoke with Charlotte Helyar, who has just finished her MA from Central Saint Martins. “I specialise in screen printing, and I’m really inspired by animal graphics and traditional processes, so that was the starting point. I looked at 80′s album artwork, early i-D Magazine and Riot Grrrl fanzines.” Although this was her inspiration, the young Scottish designer took her imagery from 17th Century portraits and made them abstract through her means of collaging, making her own fanzine. Her choice of silhouette, reflects the idea of a blank canvas, and the finished garments look minimalistic, unique and thought-provoking. “They became almost clinical, in the end, and I like how that plays with the overly feminine imagery. It offsets it nicely, as there almost boyish in shape.”
I also caught up with Aisling Farrell at the presentation, who had utilised a rather unlikely material. Another Central Saint Martins graduate, Aisling stated that her initial inspiration was static electricity. “I started off using clear PVC, and I realised it reacted with thread, and sometimes it would make fabric do weird things, and so I thought I would harness that. So I started experimenting with different fabrics.” Other fabrics and materials Aisling used were chiffon, feathers and polystyrene balls. Her absence of colour palette was intentional she said. Having manipulated strong fabrics and materials, she had wanted to keep the colours to a minimal; these strong garments would have been oversaturated if colour was used in the wrong way. “When it came down to it, I was so drawn to everything that was white, because I had been avoiding colour for so long, and I think it really enhances the textural sensation of everything.”
Chloe Jones (Bath Spa)
Charlotte Helyar (Central Saint Martins)
Aisling Farrell (Central Saint Martins)
Serena Gili (Central Saint Martins)
Shengwei Wang (Central Saint Martins) & Aisling Farrell (Central Saint Martins)
Maia Bergman (London College of Fashion)
Adam Jamieson (Westminster University)