LONDON — Graduate Fashion Week hosted a four-day event in East London where university students from across the U.K. showcased their work to members of the industry.
The organization partnered with 40 fashion and design schools across the country, including Manchester School of Art, University of the Creative Arts Epsom, Norwich University of the Arts and Istituto Marangoni. A series of catwalk shows took place throughout the four days while participating students were also given the opportunity to display their work in the event’s exhibition space.
Photographer Sarah Moon captured the work of nine students for the occasion, highlighting the diversity of aesthetics and cultural backgrounds within the student collective. Courtney Plumb’s collection named “Elevation — Part 06” was among the standouts in the photographic exhibition. Plumb, who studies at Birmingham City University, played with proportions and added exaggerated volumes to a series of black, pleated dresses using layers of tulle. “The idea that someone or something can be elevated, chosen or glorified was the basis of it all,” Plumb said.
This year’s event also marked Graduate Fashion Week’s 25th year anniversary, which was celebrated during an Awards Show on the final day.
The show was attended by Graduate Fashion Week’s newly appointed patron Dame Vivienne Westwood and Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, who is both a patron of the organization and an alumni. Bailey was the first winner of the Graduate Fashion Week Gold Award in 1991 and the organization also supported him by paying his scholarship at the Royal College of Art.
“I was not in a position to continue my studies, my family did not have that funding available and Graduate Fashion Week gave me a cause, by paying for my scholarship at the Royal College of Art, which completely changed the way I see design. So I owe everything to Graduate Fashion Week and now it’s our responsibility to give those same opportunities to the young talent coming out today,” Bailey said.
Other alumni include Giles Deacon, Julien Macdonald, Stella McCartney and Matthew Williamson.
This year the Gold Award — which includes a prize of 10,000 pounds or $14,200 — was renamed after the Burberry creative director and chief executive officer and he went on to present it to Hazel Symons of De Montfort University.
The judging panel of the award also included accessories designer Sophie Hulme, Fabio Piras, the director of Central Saint Martin’s MA Fashion course, as well as designers Giles Deacon and Gareth Pugh.
Symons’ presented four women’s wear looks in a black and white palette, which stood out for their loose, boyish silhouettes and raw feel, with pieces being put together with bolts instead of being traditionally sewn together, to resemble toiles.
Bailey stressed the level of difficulty of putting a collection together: “When you watch the collections presented on the catwalk, it can all seem very effortless. But I know both from my own experience and by working closely with the students, how intense the experience can be; you have to rely on so many people to lend you everything from shoes to makeup.”
Westwood, who sat amongst the audience to watch the show, expressed enthusiasm when Holly Borg’s collection made its way down the runway; the de Montfort student presented loose cropped pants, shirts and dresses in colorful, abstract prints resembling a child’s drawings.
Other award winners included Kendall Baker, who received the Matalan Visionary Knitwear Award for her innovative knitting techniques, often incorporating crocheted panels within PVC. “Kendall’s mix of crochet machine knitting and embroidery make for a directional take on men’s wear,” said Macdonald, who presented the award to the Nottingham Trent University student.
The Edinburgh School of Art’s Lorn Jean received the Boohoo.com Fashion innovation award as recognition for her mathematical approach to design.
This is the second year the e-tailer sponsors the event, hosting a series of Human Resources workshops for students. Carol Kane, the company’s joint ceo of the company, explained that Boohoo aims to utilize Graduate Fashion Week as a platform to spot and nurture new talent.