PIA STANCHINA

...Central Saint Martins' understated?

by Dara Lang
Would Galliano and McQueen, who are amongst Central Saint Martins most exciting British designers, receive such great success if it wasn’t for their graduate show? Nevertheless, how much exposure do the other courses in the school receive in comparison to what’s become, London’s most talked about graduate show? Central Saint Martins is infamously known for celebrating the end of each year with a graduate fashion show that marks their leading students, who present eccentric and innovative collection. However what we fail to realize is that those students at the school who do not make it into the final show are not as exposed as those who show their collections at the annual event. In addition to the school’s graduate show, which was held in East London, an exhibition is held for a week, which displays all the students' work in no better place than in the school itself.

NJAL went out to hunt down Central Saint Martins' secret cupboard at a private view of their exhibition to uncover the mysterious talents that lie beneath the high profile graduate fashion show. I was invited by Pia Stanchina, a Fashion Design and Marketing student who freshly finished her final collection and kindly talked me through her final masterpiece.

Her six outfit collection (two pieces in each outfit) was inspired by the Cyclamen flower and the concept of metamorphosis, from the bud brimming with nectar, to the unfolding of petals, to the fall of the corolla. This notion of metamorphosis of such a flower is linked to looking at women in different stages of their lives, thus bringing us to the evolution of a woman. Made entirely from sustainable fabrics, Pia composed a very delightful, feminine and organic collection of Haute Couture organza tops, shaped in blue flower petals. The idea seemed quite simple, but as Pia talked me through her process I realized how much time and effort it took to produce such delicate pieces of work. This was achieved by scanning a cyclamen flower, adjusting the colours using Photoshop and then digitally printing them onto the fabric. Along with her flower petal tops, Pia also created organic white cotton trousers which are designed in both a tight and loose fit, inspired by men's suit trousers.

The result is beautiful, as I carried on chatting to Pia, many people walked pass by her stall, to stop and admire her work. I briefly looked at the other students work in the room and realized Pia’s work stood out the most because of her soft, feminine and ultra sophisticated flair. Unlike many graduate students who presented their final work in very loud and outlandish style, which in many occasions worked to attract people’s attention, Pia’s genteel and elegant approach is what successfully distinguished her from her fellow pupils.

Now that Pia is finished at Central Saint Martins, her career is on the cusp flourishing. She has already caught interest from Womens Wear Daily to use samples of her collection for a summer fashion and footwear supplement. Other plans include travelling to her roots in India and starting her own company with other innovative new designers.

Leaving Central Saint Martins, I realized how evident it was, the school certainly does hold talented and promising designers. However, what interests me here is whether a student such as Pia, who produced such an exquisite collection, will receive as much media attention as opposed to a student who showed their collection at the Graduate fashion show? Does an exhibition help a student get noticed in the industry as much as a fashion show?

I do hope that Pia’s plans to travel to India, Pia’s great experience in the industry (including working alongside Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera only to name a few) and her sustainable approach to fashion will undoubtedly give her a head start into the making of Pia Stanchina.