So, reigning champions (or at least winners of 2009 Gold Award) UCA Rochester took to the catwalks on Tuesday to show their wares in a bid to cling on to their title amongst the heavyweights we’d already seen at Graduate Fashion Week.
I’m very pleased to announce that they certainly put up a good fight. With a simple chandelier hung from the ceiling above the catwalk, the show began with a rather long romantic song – thank God too, because my guest was running late and he managed to sneak in during the song in the nick of time.
Live catwalk illustrations by Tom Gilbert
First up was Alexa Papavasileiou who presented a modest yet striking collection that packed a few discrete punches (okay, I’ll stop with the boxing metaphors now). Body-concious printed dresses with full-length sleeves wrapped models in organic suits, while drapes hung over the models creating flattering lines. The most interesting twist was the appearance of constructed stilettos which had a grungy, paper mache effect and gave this sleek collection an edgy twist.
Other escapades in weird and wonderful shoe design were brought to us by Lydia Vousvouni, whose deconstructed womenswear tailoring had a futuristic feel, teamed with crazy shoes that looked like art deco sculptures.
Lydia Vousvouni, illustrated by Abi Daker
Rebecca Watson in stark contrast dressed her models in very eery skeletal masks, bringing a little touch of death-glamour to the runway. The clothes in comparison were relatively simple, consisting of cropped-sleeve tops, two-tone leggings and some pretty neat tailoring.
More digital prints on the catwalk; this time in Emma Box’s structured collection. Micro-skirts and leggings in said prints were teamed with bolero-length jackets with exaggerated shoulders, giving models a dash of sex appeal and masses of style.
Digital prints again, from the Gareth-Pugh-esque Alex Oliver. Her models were transformed into futuristic creatures, with emphasis on shoulders (huge, huge shoulders). Catsuits or short dresses in a psychedelic print were teamed with leather jackets with scary spikes; the climax being a model with a Margiela-style eye covering as part of a hood. It was scary but sexy at the same time.
Alex Oliver, illustrated by Lesley Barnes
The first menswear collection from Rochester was that of Chelsea Bravo, whose models had the appearance of modern-day gladiators. Smock t-shirts with scoop necks emphasised muscular form and Chelsea’s palette of muted colours including sand, burgundy and blue had a sophisticated edge.
Vicky Jolly presented one of the most sophisticated collections I’ve seen this year. Her couturier-like craftsmanship created elegant dresses, with twists and turns in fabrics flattering the female form.
Vicky Jolly, illustrated by Alli Coate
Finally, after what felt like waiting for decades, Hallam Burchett ramped up the glamour factor to a big fat 10. Models sashayed and swished their hips to Donna Summer’s Bad Girls whilst wearing an all-green silky collection, embellished with dazzling crystals and accessorised with demi-gloves. Sod the tits or legs rule in Burchett’s short, short strapless dress and flaunt what you’ve got at the disco! This 1970s-inspired collection had the cuts and lines to make it contemporary, though.
More menswear now, from Anachee Sae Lee and Cherelle Reid. The former was a contemporary take on colloquial dressing and conjured up images of Sherlock Holmes, Oliver Twist, chimney sweeps and Victorian funeral directors all at the same time. High values in tailoring made this a tip-top collection, with fitted suits teamed with neck-bows and crisp shirts with bib detailing were accessorised with sleek shirt-armbands and porkpie hats.
Cherelle Reid, whilst employing similar tailoring elements, was an entirely different look. In a strong micro-collection worthy of a slot in any upmarket store come Autumn Winter 2010, models wore silky harem pants which tapered tightly, low-cut v-neck tops and formal jackets. The craftsmanship look exquisite, but the pecs were a bit much *fans brow*
In amidst a whole load of futuristic and structured collections at GFW this year, a welcome breath of fresh air came from show closer Carla Grima. Her magical Grecian-inspired collection was a burst of much-needed colour, and while it wasn’t a clangy hipster spectacle like some show finales, it was understated glamour at its best. Each dress created an illusionary effect as it hung effortlessly from the models, flattering their waif figures.
Having written this post-Gala Show, I now know that UCA Rochester didn’t manage to hold onto their crown as Gold Award winners for 2010. Amongst so much incredible talent, it’s so difficult to stand out. Nevertheless, each collection was incredibly strong, astonishingly creative, and never, ever boring.
Rochester, you’re all winners anyway.
- Oliver Spencer: London Collections: Men S/S 2015 Catwalk Review
- Oliver Spencer: London Fashion Week A/W 2012 Menswear Catwalk Review
- Graduate Fashion Week 2010: Northumbria
- Graduate Fashion Week 2010: Northbrook and Salford
- UCA Rochester: Graduate Fashion Week Catwalk Review