Florence And The Graduates: Week 2

…fresh talent at CSM, Winchester, RCA, Middlesex and the University of Ljubljana

by Florence Massey
The shows have picked up the pace and are in full swing, making for a very busy Week Two of graduate reports. In my second column charting the graduate shows, London is the focus with a welcome contrast provided by the student showcase at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Many tried and tested trends were resonant in the collections with strong digital prints, tie dye, LEDs and structure conscious pieces all making regular appearances. However, there was a selection of stand out statement pieces, styles and looks that myself and the NOT JUST A LABEL team can’t help but get very excited about.

On Tuesday evening, at York Hall in Bethnal Green, 45 young designers presented the fruits of their months of labour to an eager, attentive crowd full of high rollers from the industry. This was of course the seminal Central Saint Martins graduate collective.

To honour a staggering history of catapulting designers head first into the industry and charter the developments of one of the most prestigious fashion colleges in the world, a film at the beginning of the night depicted the CSM story from its inception 79 years ago until today. This being the last show coming out of the venue before it moves to Kings Cross later this year, the film was poignant and moving. Overall, only a handful of students decided to produce conceptual pieces with many opting for more commercial looks; one such conceptual student was Crimson Rose O’Shea, who closed the evening with some real showpieces finished off with colour block clashing and sweet wrapper headbands.

Prizes were awarded to Flaminia Saccucci, who won the L’Oreal Professionel Young Talent Award with Nicholas Aburn taking first runner up accolade. Saccucci’s collection triumphed (and here’s something I never thought I’d write) with rubberised dresses, handpainted with flowers and toughened up with tyre marks. The expected heavy media attention and high profile alumni presenting the awards (this year Sarah Burton and Meadham Kirchoff obliged) was as ever of a very high standard.

The Winchester School of Art show followed on Wednesday evening at The Old Truman Brewery. Particular stand out clothes came from Laura Griffith who showed a summer Riviera-inspired tropical collection with baggy jumpsuits and paradise prints. For the menswear Felicity Thomas created strong knitwear looks in creams and dark blues, and Chiao Wang toughened up the proceedings with heavy duty dark leather outwear and strong buckle details.

The Royal College of Art held a great show with lots of wearable (not a dirty word) collections to wow us. In particular, the knitwear designs prevailed with Hannah Taylor’s mens chunky jumpers and jumpsuits really making an impact. On the opposite side of the scale, Sayaka Kamakura’s evening wear exuded simple sophistication with heavy sequinned dresses over delicate skirts. There were so many accomplished and professional collections within the one show but three notable mentions are: Calum Harvey, who deftly mastered tweed suits, Abnit Nijjar, who created colour block womenswear and Josefine Jarzombek, who was another definitive menswear contender.

On the same day, the Middlesex University show at The Old Truman Brewery was a mix of mens, womens, knit and sportswear. Abigail Lee presented a stand out collection of draped silk trousers, exaggerated black hats and shaggy style felt-mix jumpers. Jylle Navarro created a five-look menswear collection of bright knits, in different yarns and stitches: pop pink harnesses and lime green balaclavas. Lastly, Sally Kite’s womenswear collection competently mixed leather and fur fringing in smart skater style skirts and dresses, together with more casual tie dye patterning on trousers and tops.

For our final run-down of the week, we head down to Slovenia, to the end of year show for the University of Ljubljana, which took place yesterday in a converted cinema. Sustainability was emphasised with a project about recycling consumer products, such as wires, and cans. With BA and MA students showing on the same evening, the talent on show was wide ranging and full of promise. Prominent students included Kristina Lovko, with pieces of draped structured black silk and floaty chiffon and Peter Movrin, with dark knight inspired menswear – long laser cut leather coats, paired with silk underskirts, grey tone raw leather pieces and accessorised with knitted head pieces and balaclavas in a modern attack on medieval attire.

There is undoubtedly a huge hit and miss nature to graduate shows, but this can also ring true of established, on-schedule collections. The merit of making the effort to attend final presentations is evident in this report; the sheer joy at discovering something fresh and exciting nestled in a show featuring twenty odd designs is always an unrivalled thrill.