Thursday, 14 June 2012

Fetish, Fringing and Girl Power at Graduate Fashion Week

Manchester School of Art show
I have a confession to make (Alice Temperley and the boys at Meadham Kirchoff are going to be disappointed-it’s lucky we’re not on more familiar terms) but, quite honestly, a Graduate Fashion Week show can be just as good as a London Fashion Week one...provided you’re front-row.

So I finally made it to Earls Court yesterday and the future of British fashion design is really looking quite bright, a bit modernist in areas but with some sparkly spells and delicate detailing overall.

In between mediating crowds of wildly tottering fashionistas in their Jeffrey Campbells-pretty dangerous when you’re below them-I managed to make my way around all the fantastic exhibits. Whether it was fierce but exquisitely constructed heels at De Montford or the clash of classical portraiture and textile at UWE Bristol (who wouldn’t want the face of Mary Tudor staring up at them?), creativity was on full-power and ready to revitalise anyone’s love for design.

 There’ll be a separate post on the universities that really caught my eye but I was also lucky enough to be invited to a couple of the shows. As always, I’ve ruined any visual effects by attempting to capture the moment myself but hopefully you can get a feel of the experience. 

So this is the experience from the third row but Hoiyan Hung's pieces made an immediate impact at the Birmingham City Uni show.

The lemon and lace were a helpful warm up to the Aztec 80s attack on acid that was Jade Gilchrist's collection. Bright colours and crazy (MIC fans may say garish) graphic prints collided at top speed with South American details to produce street wear that seemed both retro and contemporary simultaneously. The oversized bomber was dangerously close to 90s shell suit territory but I LOVED it.

Chuck me a ghetto blaster and paint my face, I've joined Jade's tribe.

And if loud street wear isn't your thing, there was girly fetishism from James Whitehouse...

Courtesy of Disorder Magazine

Laser cutting and is that ruching I see in rubber? Whitehouse's pieces were whips at the prom, S&M meets evening glamour but he maintained elegance perfectly.

For the English heritage style lovers, Sophie McKeating's equestrian inspired collection combined androgynous tailoring with romantic hues and soft shapes. The attention to detail on the back of the long cape was so skilled (apologies I have no image) and made the collection.

Courtesy of

Beth Twigg took a similarly muted colour palette but gave us sports luxe in the most feminine, svelte style.

Metallic accessories added attitude that could only be matched by the soundtrack...

Which, in turn could only be matched by Lily Stodel's music; a cover remix of the Spice Girls which I'm still searching for all in vain. From the moment the first beat of 'Say You'll Be There' played, I was sitting on the edge of my seat and when a bright pink furry number hit the runway (the model looked like a female Cuppa Soup monster had found her), I was reliving my childhood. 

Time to spot Hilary Alexander
Image courtesy of

It seems this is the effect Stodel wanted as her collection was based on 'personal experiences, memories and inspirations during childhood'. Whilst the pieces played up the fun factor and prints resembled the innocent doodles of a dreamy pre-pubescent (dreaming about the Backstreet Boys no doubt), girl power reigned supreme

Pink metallic biker jackets toughened softly draping maxis and sharp collared shirts meant business.

Are you not completely in love with the oversized heart pockets on this jacket?

Based on the calibre at GFW, I've decided to start profiling some of the promising talent out there in a string of posts so there'll be more to come. Let's face it, Temperley and the Meadham Kirchoff boys are hardly going to berate me for my comments-they were gifted and undiscovered once too.

Next up will be highlights from the Manchester School of Art show, where I move from third row to first and sit opposite an idol.


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