River Island’s Graduate Fashion Week is the place to find the designers of the future. The event, which takes place every year in June, has stalls from dozens of Universities and colleges across the country featuring the creme de la crème of future designers. From cage dresses to rope trousers to over-the-face dresses every student is desperate to stand out from the crowd and show off what they can do. And the results are impressive.
Looking through the portfolios of the students is awe-inspiring. The transition from scribbles and pictures ripped out of magazines to finished product is astonishing, the attention to detail astounding.
These are the future of fashion. The extravagant and out-there designs of the catwalk will be filtered their way through the fashion industry through photoshoots and catwalks and magazine clippings onto our backs. These are the Karl Lagerfield’s and Vivienne Westwood’s of the future. These are the results of blood, sweat and tears; an eye for design and a dream for something new and different. These are students who have put their all into something that they can now see hanging off a model in front of hundreds of people. Graduate Fashion Week is inspiring for everyone; the manifestation that if you think big and work hard you can create something completely original and unique.
The shoes were probably one of the most fascinating elements of the designs. How could anyone walk in something so beautifully crafted?!
We were lucky enough to get tickets for the International Show, which featured designers from six of the world’s biggest and best fashion institutes; Munich, Singapore, Saint Petersburg, Basel and Amsterdam. While each and every designer was different, certain threads of design flowed through design to design, country to country and some were absorbed into all the designs we saw on the catwalk.
First up was Munich and their designers Denise Nadince Pache, Wolfgang Jamach, Ramona Lehrer, Tina Elisabeth Reiter and Alexandra Fenzi.
Some of the most exciting pieces from this University included Romona Lehrer’s gorgeously tailored hourglasses suits in beautiful dove greys, Alexandra Fenzi’s gorgeous sportswear; gingham dresses under baseball jackets and plimsolls, and Jarnach’s beautifully voluminous skirts.
Germany’s contribution was full of interesting shapes and fascinating use of material, layering and a mainly neutral palette. The collections all had a sort of laid-back, European cool about them and a just-thrown-on effortlessness.
After Munich was the Lasalle College of Arts, Singapore, which featured Vicole Lang, Li Sang, Lidya Chrisfens and a designer known simply as ‘Linda’.
Highlights included Vicole Lang’s Gaga influenced corsets and bondage-style leather shoes, Li Sang’s gorgeous yellow and blue splashes on a monchrome colour scheme, Lidya Chrifen’s amazing use of rope for bikinis and trousers, and who can forget Linda’s over-the-face dress? Fascinating but terrifying!!
China was much more interested in making a statement. Balaclavas, rope bikini and colour splashes just added to the “wow”-factor. There was much more structure than the casually-cool Europeans. Singapore’s designs were much more put together, with pain-staking attention to detail. The shoes were also fantastic and the simple and few accessories let the outfits do the talking.
Following Singapore was SUTD Saint Petereburg featuring Vivia, Anna Sergunova, Anna Oleinik, Alena Tikhonova and Inna Dudina. Russian style was into heavy material and heavy, heavy layers. The Russians did interesting things with materials; gathered corsages in material, subtle but effect use of sorbet colours, interesting detail in material and like Linda, use of face coverings and masks.
Naturally in Saint Petersburg fashion is mainly about keeping warm, but the graduates have managed to make warmth and comfort look so stylish!! Their use of coloured tights is really fun and the heavy dresses still look beautiful and stylish. I love the heavy shoulders and gathered material. Anna Sergunova’s headgear looks stunning, although perhaps not quite wearable. I love the sort of knight-in-shining-around feel of it all. Interesting use of shapes and layering by both Inna Dudina (above) and Vivia. Alena Tikhonova also did an interesting take on a sort of space-man style, with lost of futuristic shapes and white, space-like suits.
Northwestern Switzerland were next to show off their new talent. Like Russia, there was an interesting use of heavy materials and layering. The designers featured were Niria, Nina Bollag, Verena Zeiler and Dominic Knecht.
Dominic Knecht had a fascinating use of materials with his bright primary colours and foam-like woven jackets which cannot be described!! Niria used interesting shapes to create gorgeous black silhouettes. Some of the pieces had an almost peasant-like feel; draping, embroidery detail and long dresses with leggings and tights.
Verena Zeiter’s collection was full of abstract print and very square shapes throughout her designs with bright orange platforms shoes. Her collection was full of big shoulders and bright colours.
Last but not least was AMFI- Amsterdam which presented an array of plastic masks, plastic leg warmers and bright bright colours. Floor Kolen was the forerunner in plastic, Roya Hesam featured lots of sheer and neatrals, Lana Lujnand used mainly men with longline jackets and silky suits and finally Sara Blomm finished the show with her warm sunset colours and drapey fabric.
Floor Kolen’s collection was very out-there, but very very fun. The creative talent was exceptional. While not exactly wearable the masks gave an interesting touch and I loved the use of what appeared to be knee-socks but then revealed themselves to be almost like plastic leg warmers attached to the socks!!
I also loved Roya Hesam’s taupe effortlessness; everything was totally beautiful and ultimately quite wearable. The neutral colours would be great for autumn.
Overall, the shows were absolutely fantastic. I learnt so much from the day. The students are so, so talented and so imaginative. I can’t wait to see the future of fashion, I’d better get mask-buying…
all photography by E. Fitzpatrick and C. Crowley