Amelia’s Magazine | Graduate Fashion Week 2010: The Gala Show Finale!

Shinsuke Mitsuoka

The world of fashion is notoriously fickle and grabbing the attentions of a fashion crowd for any extended period of time seems tricky. Catwalk shows do their best with an array of light shows and thumping soundtracks which could sometimes do with a warning.

Nottingham Trent have prepared it all for their outing at Graduate Fashion Week with glossy door staff, medications designer goody bags and even a rather trendy loitering DJ (wearing a somewhat dubious puffa jacket). They’re raring to go, remedy but there’s just one cog in the works; a serious lack of bums on seats. Well, there is of course the age old excuse of being fashionably late, but even the pinched smiles of women ferrying around have started to crumble.

All becomes clear as a dull thudding bass infiltrates the theatre and the sound barrier takes a bashing as the trill of hundreds of screaming girls hit the roof. Apparently Tinie Tempah is a big deal (and from the glimpse I got, genuinely teeny Tinie). He’s had all of one song, which luckily for Nottingham Trent, he dispatches quickly, and soon a bustle of activity swells at the theatre doors. If Tinie didn’t make them ‘Pass Out’ (see what I did there? Here all week folks…) then the efforts of Nottingham Trent’s 2010 graduates will surely do their best to stun the senses. 

Nottingham Trent has a clear passion for encouraging students to experiment with unique techniques and textures in knitwear, producing a modern and varied aesthetic across the course. Their catwalk show oscillates between detailed, intricate knitwear and sleek takes on womenswear with bursts of energy injected at intervals by the likes of Emma Dick, showcasing sharp, graphic prints of televisions and arrows just at home in a museum of Pop Art as the runway. Integrated hoods give the look a futuristic feel but there’s a touch of the retro about her two-tone body con jumpsuit with a classic 1960s palette contrast between red and black.

Nottingham Trent keeps the volume turned up with Claire Hartley’s cutaway knitted one pieces, exposing flashes of green, yellow and red for a futuristic sci-fi look. Hartley’s dedication to forward thinking stretches beyond the aesthetics as she hopes to generate a new innovative, zero waste policy in manufacturing to ensure the sustainability and evolution of the clothes. 

By now Tinie’s long forgotten as each model stalks down the catwalk to puffa DJ’s painfully hip soundtrack. Nikki Lowe dazzles with gold lamé suits complete with built-in gloves worthy of an evil Jackie Collins penned character, but flashlight necklaces add a distinctive disco feel caught somewhere between the 1970s and the 1990s.

Miranda Boucher’s collection is a dark and luxurious celebration of femininity with plush midnight blue coats and velveteen details just obscuring the model’s modesty.  

Emma Philpot’s knitwear seems to grow from the models bodies, twisting and turning upon itself and forming knots and twists likes a chunky chainmail, while Tiffany Williams continues the fairytale edge with her menswear collection in dark, brooding colours and heavy volume that weigh on the shoulders as a hulking, masculine presence. Backs reveal shimmers of gold thread intertwined, adding a lighter side to the depth of her work. 
Jenna Harvey’s dresses change at every turn as each layer of tiny fabric is double printed and loosely set so as it moves a new picture is revealed. At times it feels like 3D glasses are needed just to keep up with the transformation before your eyes.

Meanwhile, Phoebe Thirlwall’s beautiful knitwear dresses, inspired by the intricacies of the skin, show a level of workmanship that is breathtaking under the lights of the catwalk. Each ribbed layer clings to the models with hundreds of different levels working together. Her hard work has clearly not gone unnoticed as her work was also photographed by renowned artist Rankin, a stunning portrait duly displayed in grand terms at Earl’s Court.

Izabela Targosz’s equestrian turn on tailoring injects some more colour into Nottingham Trent’s show, with jackets made with horsehair pockets and backs adding a silky but quirky feel. Riding hats are the natural yet perfect accessory to a collection that shows an equal strength in its attention to detail for an upheaval of the British tailored look. 

Shinsuke Matsuoka’s work is saved for the final spot and with the breathtaking effect of the garments, it’s easy to see why. Bondage style zips snake across panels of black hi-shine material; the sound of the clothes are a foreboding presence in themselves, but as six outfits stand together the models are transformed into an unnervingly attractive chain gang from the future. I’m not sure if it was this effect or not, but my camera also spluttered its final breaths at this point, perhaps overwhelmed by the power of Matsuoka’s collection.

In any case, it proved a spectacular way to end things and is not something I can imagine being trumped by Tinie any day soon.

Images courtesy of

Nicola Roberts, cheapest illustrated by Jenny Robins

So it was time to wrap up what was a pretty crazy week in the form of the Graduate Fashion Week Gala Show. After making arrangements for a ticket a while ago, I was bemused to find that at the door there was no sign of said tickets.

Perhaps it had been taken by another contributor? Unlikely. ‘Are you sure you’re supposed to be at this (star-studded) show?’ ‘Yes’ I said, ‘that’s why I’m wearing a bow tie’.

After a few quick radio calls, I was allowed in. Into Earl’s Court, that is – not into the champagne drinks reception. ‘Sponsors only’ was the reply when I asked if I could have a quick drinkie. ‘Sponsors only my eye’ I thought, as I recognised half the people in the fashionably-roped off bar area.

So I waited patiently at the entrance to the theatre. And waited.

And waited.

‘We’ll get you in,’ I was told. ‘Before it actually starts?’ I thought to myself.

As I waited I was entertained by a lovely student called April who could see my blood boiling – stood a little distance away to avoid the steam coming out of my ears. ‘After all I’ve bloody done this week,’ I thought to myself, and then said aloud to April, who quickly excused herself.

Finally I was allowed inside and ushered into a press seat, and, true to form at these events, there were three seats either side of me that remained empty. ‘Typical!’ I thought to myself, and then thought I really should stop thinking to myself so much.

With a few whoops and a whizz, the Gala Show kicked off in fabulous fashion, with Britain’s Got Talent champions Diversity. Fun. Next, Caryn Franklin, resplendent as ever, arrived on stage. It was a whistle-stop tour through the non-catwalk-based awards, including those for fashion marketing and promotion. I was pleased to see Northumbria added a few more to their metaphorical mantelpiece.

A host of celebs had turned up, and from my seat I could spot front-row regular Erin O’Connor (who later presented an award), Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud fame (who has quickly swapped pop for paps, Fashion Week regular that she is). I even brushed past her on my way to the loo, and she is genuinely gorgeous in real life.

Another Nicola Roberts, illustrated by Antonia Parker

It’s always great to see the wonderful Hilary Alexander (who I had the pleasure of sitting next to at the Northumbria Show) who presented mature student Ellen Devall with the ‘First Word’ Journalism Award, because it left her ‘wanting to know more.’

Hilary Alexander, illustrated by Amy Martino

Another of my favourite spots was Barbara Hulanicki, who was here to present the Textile Award to Natalie Murray from Northumbria University. She’s utterly bonkers but gosh what a woman.

Barbara Hulanicki, illustrated by Abi Daker

Onto the main event – the Gala Show(case). I was thrilled to see many of the graduates we’d already talked about on the website appearing in this Best of the Best-style show, including Naomi New from Northumbria (one of my personal favourites from GFW as a whole) and Northbrook’s Rhea Fields.

The staging for this was incredible, and justified the ghastly white sheet that hung in the background for the first part of the show. It burst down to reveal a scaffolding set, where models pouted, lights flashed, and the music roared.

So, the winners then. With the inclusion of the International Show this year, it was great to see them honoured with an award, which must have been a great end to a fantastic week for International Students. The winner, Roya Hesam from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute won over the judges with her minimalist collection.

Pretty soon afterwards, out popped everybody’s favourite glamorous granny, Zandra Rhodes, to present her Textiles Award.

Zandra Rhodes, illustrated by Paul Shinn

The competition was fierce here – all were fantastic – but it was Anna Lee’s literally fierce collection of big cat prints that triumphed.

Dylan Jones, editor of GQ Magazine, presented Thomas Crisp of Ravensbourne with the marvellous Menswear prize, owing to his sleek, sophisticated tailoring.

Dylan Jones, illustrated by June Chanpoomidole

Rhea Fields (yay!) from Northbrook college won the womenswear award for her covetable collection and unique use of materials, presented by Mark Eley of Eley Kishimoto.

Mark Eley, illustrated by Lisa Billvik

So, the moment we’d all waited for (and in my case queued, sweated and been reduced to tears for) was the River Island Gold Award. God knows how the likes of River Island design director Naomi Dominique, Lorraine Candy of Elle and Kim Jones chose the winner, but it was down to fellow judge Alberta Ferretti to present the award.

Alberta Ferretti, illustrated by Paolo Caravello

And the winner was…

…Rebecca Thompson from Manchester Met! Thoroughly deserved for her inspirational collection. Alberta Ferretti proclaimed that Rebecca had triumphed because of her ‘unusual and interesting combination of fabrics and for the contemporary feeling of her collection’.

As the ticker tape covered Rebecca and her models, I thought to myself,’What a freakin’ fabulous week.’

Categories ,Alberta Ferretti, ,Amsterdam Fashion Institute, ,Anna Lee, ,Awards, ,Big cats, ,Britain’s Got Talent, ,Caryn Franklin, ,Diversity, ,Dylan Jones, ,Earls Court, ,Elle Magazine, ,Erin O’ Connor, ,Fashion Week, ,Gala Show, ,GFW, ,girls aloud, ,Gold Award, ,Graduate Fashion Week 2010, ,International Show, ,Kim Jones, ,london, ,Lorraine Candy, ,Manchester Metropolitan University, ,menswear, ,models, ,Naomi Dominique, ,Naomi New, ,Nicola Roberts, ,Northbrook College, ,Northumbria, ,Rebecca Thompson, ,Rhea Fields, ,River Island, ,Roya Hesam, ,Textiles Award, ,Ticker Tape, ,Womenswear, ,Zandra Rhodes

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