Emma Box, find illustrated by Lesley Barnes
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.
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.
Anachee Sae Lee, illustrated by Abi Daker
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.
Danielle Reed, malady illustrated by Gabriel Ayala
The Central Lancashire show was an upbeat, approved patriotic affair. Models strutted down the catwalk to a stonking soundtrack provided by students from the performing arts department, and we waved collections along with the cute Union Jack flags left on each seat.
The clothes were a lot of fun too – with the standout students playing around with conventional British icons – from Beefeaters and Big Ben to British school uniforms.
Kirsty Stringfellow created interesting textures with her whimsical collection of knitted designs. Column dresses in thick, appliquéd floral cream ruched across the models’ chests like a curtain, and were adorned with sparkly crochet, printed lace and gold netting. Whilst some of the curtain-esque dresses seemed a little heavy, Stringfellow is clearly gifted at manipulating different textures – the fine-knit cream designs with intricate layers of ruffles were sheer romance.
Kirsty Stringfellow, illustrated by Zarina Liew
On the other end of the scale, Danielle Reed and Rachel Wolstenhome both had fun with a tough, urban take on sportswear. Reed paired white bobby socks with black Dr. Martens, black grommet-laced waistcoats with slouchy joggers and manipulated aertex fabric into loose jumpsuits. The effect was a strong collection of grunge-inspired sportswear, with PVC fabrics and a monochrome palette adding a gothic edge.
Danielle Reed, illustrated by Gabriel Ayala
Wolstenhome created the sole male collection on show, and her futuristic sportswear borrowed shapes and fabrics from a manner of sportswear, a mash up of scuba-esque one-pieces, foam hoods, and deconstructed jersey sweat pants, with cut-out holes and harem-style drapes and folds.
Rachel Wolstenholme, illustrated by Aniela Murphy
A special mention should also go to Sunny Kular for her attempt to spice up school uniforms with Indian elements. We loved seeing that boring grey fabric we remember from our school days twisted into sari shapes, ties and blazers in Ikat prints and jackets emblazoned with a ‘Ganesh’ school badge.
Sunny Kalar, illustrated by Donna McKenzie
But UCLAN’s strongest suits are clearly printed textiles, forming the basis of two of the most eye-catching collections.
Jessica Thompson’s surreal collection of printed designs was full of quirky, cartoonish imagery, manipulated onto a spectrum of designs, from fitted shift dresses to sporty anoraks. Everything demanded attention, from the Beefeater printed slip that made the model into a marching drummer, to the dreamy shifts emblazoned with chimps and birds.
Some images were distorted into unrecognisable shapes and quirky patterns, forcing a closer look. The final piece was a red, floor length printed mac, that looked like it was printed with moon craters – the coolest cover up for a rainy day.
Jessica Thompson, illustrated by Gemma Milly
Saving the best till last – Sara Wadsworth’s amazing printed collection chimed with the patriotic mood. The whole collection was crafted in chiffon, printed with British icons – the Union Jack, Big Ben the London Eye and what looked like parts of Trafalgar Square, all blown up, re-sized, and patterned across wisps of fabric.
Sara Wadsworth, illustrated by Abi Daker
Wadsworth let the prints do the talking, choosing almost sheer chiffon in muted shades of grey, white and occasional splashes of olives and teal. Bright yellow bras peeked out from beneath the designs, ranging from floor length kaftans to a Vivienne Westwood-esque draped dress, and a sweet smock top and short combo. Who would have thought our most touristy landmarks could be re-imagined into such wearable designs?
Images courtesy of catwalking.com
Categories ,Appliqué, ,Beefeaters, ,Big Ben, ,british, ,Central Lancs, ,Danielle Reed, ,Dr. Martens, ,Earls Court, ,Ganesh, ,Graduate Fashion Week 2010, ,India, ,Jessica Thompson, ,Kirsty Stringfellow, ,knitwear, ,london, ,london eye, ,menswear, ,print, ,PVC, ,Rachel Wolstenholme, ,Sara Wadsworth, ,School Uniform, ,Sportwear, ,Sunny Kular, ,textiles, ,Tourism, ,Trafalgar Square, ,UCLan, ,Union Jack, ,Vivienne Westwood, ,Womenswear