Graduate Fashion Week 2012
This past weekend, after a miss start that had us following the bad directions of Londoners who appear to not know the difference between Earls Court & Olympia Exhibition Centres, The Upcoming made it to the 21st annual Graduate Fashion Week for the University of East London’s fashion show to catch the full graduate collections of the four student designers showcased in our GFW interview series.
UEL’s show was one of the most exciting, and well attended, shows at the event. Graduate designers Terri-Leigh Finnegan, Henry Marire, Helen Butcher and Tiffany Baron each culminated their four long hard years of student graft with triumphant collections that elicited strong crowd reaction. Terri’s voodoo-inspired collection is darkly ethereal and sexual. Henry will, no doubt, go on to big things; his military-inspired brand of menswear is particularly strong. Helen has an amazing eye for print and design as her collection showed with its stunning architectural prints. Tiffany is a technical-minded designer whose sporty collection is certainly eye-catching. Another notable young designer from UEL who showed their graduate collection is Rachel Mclean. Her collection was particularly strong, a romantic steam punk vision paying homage to fashion of days gone by.
We look forward to seeing more from these talented young graduates, the UEL show proved that this often overlooked University has a knack for churning out some very strong fashion design potentials. Post-show, the UEL GFW stand was swamped with well-wishers and industry people all eager to talk with the students from UEL, here is to hoping that this bodes well for their future careers in fashion. We chatted with a still shaky Terri-Leigh who admitted to breaking into tears at seeing her collection hit the catwalk, an emotional end to a hard four-year ride. We wish this talented young lady and her fellow UEL students all the deserved best for their futures.
The Upcoming were also invited to view the University of Central Lancashire’s Graduate collections show. Here too were some particularly amazing works on show, some of which I can only term as walking art due to the sheer intricacy and beauty of the students’ designs (in 2011 fashion design student Marissa Owen of UCLAN was declared overall winner at GFW in womenswear with her collection).
Inspired by the sheer volume of creative talent shown on the catwalks, we decided to check out the various GFW stands. Alongside international schools such as Istituto Marangoni and fashion schools out of the Netherlands and Berlin, universities from the length and breadth of Britain had set up shop to promote their students’ work and the courses available to future students.
We were not disappointed; the UK is clearly a hotbed of young talent. Two exceptional shoe design discoveries came from De Montfort University. Janina Alleyne’s “Exoskeleton” shoe collection is visually stunning. 3-D printed and modelled to her designs by “Inner-Leaf”; imagine slipping your foot into the skull of a dragon hatchling and you get the picture. Her fellow student Kimberly North is another talented young shoe designer who has created some amazing architecturally inspired footwear.
North or South, Graduate Fashion Week proved without a doubt that in terms of training and nurturing young fashion designers, the UK is one of the world’s major players (if not, the major player), producing some stellar young talents, not just restricted to its two best-known bastions of fashion schooling. The event far exceeded expectations and will henceforth be a must on the yearly fashion calendar.
Ian Michael Turner
Photos: Courtesy of Graduate Fashion Week and Ian Michael Turner