NJAL & Wallpaper* Magazine 2012 Graduate Directory

...we have once again partnered with the design bible to present the best fashion design graduates of the year!

by Maxwell McBride Peterson
Once a year we reflect on the past annum’s accomplishments and discoveries to try and highlight what made it so special. NOT JUST A LABEL has proudly partnered with Wallpaper* Magazine to pick the best fashion design graduates of 2012. After consulting thousands of graduates from all over the world, we boiled it down to ten talented individuals whose collections push the boundaries of contemporary fashion and continue to redefine how we approach the industry going into a new season and a new year. We haven’t consulted a fortune-teller or gazed into a crystal ball to see what 2013 has to offer but for 2012, these are our top ten...

Cosima Gadient | Institute for Fashion Design Basel
Already deviating from the traditional catwalk format, this Swiss based Institute for Fashion Design Basel graduate is opting for the more artistic approach. Casima Gadient debuted her collection by seating the models amongst the audience on raised chairs to engross the crowd in her presentation. By exploring the femme fatale manner, body language, attitude and presence, Gadient wanted to capture the mystery, fascination and danger of this strong independent character. Her collection of flattering hourglass dresses, paired with cinched bomber jackets and baseball style hats, evoke a sort of hyper-femininity meets strong masculine sportswear. Using lace, sheer tulle and floor length fringe to soften
these traditional sportswear pieces, Gadient’s simple colour spectrum of white, dip-dye canary yellows,
shimmering silver and dense blacks, take backseat to the technical draping, cuts and fluid silhouettes.

Jennifer Gadient | Institute for Fashion Design Basel
By playing with the visual qualities of fabrics, Swiss designer Jennifer Gadient who is a graduate of Institute for Fashion Design Basel, tries to evoke a mood or effect by using synthetic materials and structures. Using transparent, colourless or brown PVC, Gadient creates voluminous pieces by blowing air into the synthetic material and them moulding it into a certain shape. Her debut collection was mainly oversized sweaters, full body wraps and knee length shell coats. Using silk, velvet and synthetics, she is exploring the relationship between fashion that protects the body and conceals it from others. Translucent materials in hues of smoke, sit over browns, gold and beige to showcase a collection that both plays with your visual sensibilities and how we think fashion should be structured.

Craig Green | Central Saint Martins
This designer is certainly living up to his prestigious and bar-raising alma mater! Pushing menswear on a conceptual and physical level, this London based graduate of Central St. Martins, is gaining industry recognition amongst the likes of Walter Van Beirendonck and Henrik Vibskov. This past September marked Craig Green’s inaugural showing at London Fashion Week where he presented a collection that demonstrated his precise aesthetic – a kind of boyish imagination, meets a new-age tribal mysticism. Letting his designs speak independently, Green favours monochrome colours with a smattering of digital prints to compliment his precise, calculated tailoring. With a growing resume including accolades such as the L’Oreal Professionnel Creative Award, New Era XC Prize in 2010 and various collaborations – most recently with fellow Brit, Christopher Shannon, on his S/S 13 headpieces.

Yulia Kondranina | Central Saint Martins
This Central St. Martins graduate created a highly technical collection that focused on an architectural approach to femininity. Taking flat two-dimensional objects and transforming them into 3-D creations by wrapping fine viscose fringing around a structure, designer Yulia Kondranina, changes the body shape making her pieces static. This intricacy makes the Russian born designer’ pieces intoxicating to look at, and almost impossible to understand how they are built. Inspired by sportswear, her collection has a definite refined and elegant tone throughout with a touch of Gothic influences. Crisp whites and shadowy blacks allow the complex construction to shine through and create a sense of mysticism throughout this inaugural collection.

Hiroaki Kanai | Royal College of Art
While being no stranger to fashion, this Osaka born currently London based designer is playing with volumes, shapes and one-colour outfits to change our perception of menswear. After studying fashion in The Netherlands, Hiroaki Kanai is a Royal College of Art graduate with first-hand industry experience. A yearlong internship for Haider Ackermann during his studies clearly left its mark as we saw in Kanai’s London Fashion Week S/S 13 runway show. A mixture of proportions including cinched jackets, highwaisted cropped trousers and voluminous sleeves were the crux of his collection that subtle shades of whites, creams, blacks and greys with the occasional burnt orange, rich violet and electric blue. This is futuristic menswear at it’s finest.

Ryan Mercer | Royal College of Art
A bold sense of colour, clever use of fabrics, textures and complex detailing makes Canadian Ryan Mercer’s womenswear collection stand a head above the rest. Initially drawn to fashion by the tactile quality of designing and constructing garments, Mercer’s approach to fashion comes from a yearning for a unique approach, which drove him to complete his Masters at The Royal College of Art. By choosing a narrow field of fabrics, he restricted his designs and forced his collection to maintain a strong focus and direction. Panelled leather crop tops and pencil skirts of lamb and snakeskin held together by leather cord, eyelets and lace add depth and structure to the perimeter of most garments. Coupled with a unique sense of colour blocking asymmetrical bands of neon yellow, deep orange and alabaster white strips, sometimes laser etched, helped to open doors for a blossoming talent.

Jie Liang | London College of Fashion
With a graduate collection titled “Paper, Ink, Poetry” it is easy to see that London based designer, Jie Liang, has drawn from paper craft to create a rich collection rooted in interfacing surface textures. Using a limited palette of blacks and blues, this London College of Fashion graduate explored the creative possibilities of innovative man-made fabrics through layered looks. Cropped and pleated jackets, sheer knee-length shirts and shrouding head scarves were staples of her collection including some pieces that had been laser-cut in abstract patterns, which fascinated the eye and added depth to the garment. Her avant-garde shapes will change perceptions of menswear with a focus on durability and function, which invites the viewer to take a closer look.

Aina Beck | Parsons The New School for Design
Taking this born and bred designer from the rugged west coast of Norway, to the chaotic streets of New York has only refined her minimalist intrinsic style. Debuting her Spring/Summer 2013 collection this year at New York Fashion Week, designer Aina Beck drew her inspiration from the pioneering work of 1960s American animator John Whitney and Jim Henson’s eccentric early sketches. Her fascination with geometry and kaleidoscopic prints led to a collection that includes oversized printed knitwear, foiled colour-shifting patterns and sheer floor length tulle dresses covered in asymmetrical shapes. This Parsons Masters graduate has secured internships with Diane von Furstenberg and Philip Lim while planning on a launching her own brand.

Lucia Cuba | Parsons The New School for Design
While many fashion professionals come from diverse backgrounds one does not always suspect a social scientist to be a rising fashion talent but Lucia Cuba, a Lima to New York transplant, is just that! Completing a MFA in Fashion and Society at Parsons, Cuba has rooted her debut collection Articulo 6 into a genuine social issue. This activist social project was created to raise awareness about forced governmental sterilizations in Peru. Using fragments of victim’s testimonies, political speeches, legal documents and research papers, the designer has literally wrapped the wearer in her concept. With silhouettes inspired by traditional Andean polleras – skirts – Cuba has embroidered these fragments onto cotton twill and canvas using a palette of maroon, sun-kissed yellow, creams and black to create fashion rooted in social action.

Manon Kundig | Antwerp Royal Academy of Art
Naming her debut collection after a bird that often steals rubbish to make its nest, Swiss designer Manon Kundig appropriated the same philosophy to create her Bowerbird collection. By using Google images and other digital trash, she painstakingly created digital prints that resemble vibrant Rorschach tests. By blending bits and pieces together – a flower here, a cats face there – Kundig has created a menswear label that blurs the line between androgyny and otherworldly. Cropped tailored trousers, soft shoulder unstructured jackets and a host of scarves adorned with a rainbow of colours on fabrics like silk were fringed with faux-fur, sequins, synthetics and lace to create a cacophony of textures, colours and images that allure and intrigue. She represents a talent and a threat to what we see as fashion today.