What's the big idea?

...In 2011, Wallpaper* and NJAL partnered up to produce the prominent Graduate Fashion Directory

by Jemma Gray
Every December, Wallpaper* issues its renowned Graduate Directory which highlights the year’s best graduates from various creative arenas, including fashion, design and architecture. In 2011, NOT JUST A LABEL (NJAL) were proud to partner Wallpaper* to support them in their annual mission to handpick and celebrate the most promising fashion contingent. NJAL’s unsurpassed knowledge of the best design schools, in addition to being the most comprehensive global designer database in the world made us a natural choice for Wallpaper to collaborate with. Wallpaper* and NJAL began by selecting a shortlist of 50 graduates from 36 schools in 22 countries. With further research from both parties, 13 of the most outstanding graduates from 2011 were selected to be showcased in the magazine’s critical round-up of the year’s most promising talent.

NJAL has long been an enthusiast of the Wallpaper* graduate directory. Selecting the brightest fashion talent from around the globe is a responsibility that is close to both our hearts. We constantly update our ‘Best Of’ lists so that we are informed on who to select, feature and observe more closely. In addition, we have visited the majority of graduate shows this year, scouting talent from all corners of the globe. From Ljubljana, Antwerp and Mumbai to Nottingham Trent, we made it a priority to meet as many of our talented creatives in person, both to view their collections in the flesh and offer advice.

To build on our exciting partnership, we would like to introduce ‘The Wallpaper* Grads Shop’ which will be a subsection in our established NJAL shop. This will have a carefully selected collection of pieces from each designer featured in the Graduate Directory. Taken from the values of our online shop, we wanted to make these exclusive, emerging designer pieces available for everyone to own. We hope you enjoy our ethos of individuality as luxury as much as we do.

Now on to a congratulatory unveiling of those that made it all the way. Beginning close to home with the UK graduates, we first spotted Hannah Taylor from Ravensbourne at Graduate Fashion Week, where she wasn’t content with just winning the Pringle of Scotland Knitwear award, but was judged in the final 10 at the Gala show for the Gold Award for her passionate take on men's knitwear. It got her noticed by Burberry and she now works for their men's knitwear team.

In the capital, Saskia Schijen graduated from her Masters at The Royal College of Art (RCA) with a collection Inspired by Wolfgang Tillmans minimalism. Her deconstruction of the archetypal 90s white crop top and low slung denim classic was clever and captivating. Also from RCA, but this time from the exclusive Shoe Design MA (she was one of two in her year), Victoria Spruce harked back to the traditional shoe making skills learnt through her BA, while using the MA to install new cutting edge technologies to her repertoire. She wanted to create the illusion of one continuous line and having seen the collection, she achieved it to great effect.

At an equally well known independent show, Central Saint Martin's young disciple of fashion, Myrza de Muynck wowed us with her ‘Poverty de Luxe’ collection, which was a luxury overhaul of the classic gangster shell suit that got her noticed by Vogue. These sporty pieces have the best of both. While being inherently comfortable, the intricate beading and pastel shades elevate them to something you would be proud to be seen in. London College of Fashion’s contribution to the list comes in the form of native Romanian, Dinu Bodiciu. Dinu’s time spent working in costume design peaks through in his exquisite graduate pieces, full of inimitable headwear. The collection takes as a starting point the concept of the mirror stage in psychoanalysis - by playing with this perception Dinu gives his pieces a peculiar, unique quality of flatness.

Moving onto our neighbouring European schools, Daniel Hurlin from Institute Francais de La Mode boasts a diverse range of work experience including assisting Raf Simons and working on organic farms in Japan. He no doubt came back invigorated from his trip to complete his cinematic Menswear collection.

The legendary Fashion Academy in Antwerp has long had an undeniable track record of producing stars and this year was no different; they were one of two schools to have more than one pupil in our final 13. First off, Matthias Weber impressed us at the catwalk show. He had somehow created something refreshing, yet strangely proverbial; it was a tale told through textures with oversized cowboy hats, sportswear separates, knitted poncho coats, embroidered shorts and contrasting sole shoes. His juxtaposed vision undeniably worked and we think his shoes will be lusted after by Men and Women alike in the Grads Shop. Later in the show, we were treated to Niels Peeraer's ‘Guess Technology Isn’t Ready For Pancake Teleportation’, which closed the infamous three hour graduate show in an old Antwerpen ship carrier. He went on to win a host of prizes at the awards brunch the following morning, including the treasured MOMU award. His handmade tweed, silk tulle, wooden man heels and cow’s leather accessories created a fairytale of a boy preparing to marry his imaginary boyfriend. It had visual impact.

The second school to nurture two creatives to the final 13 was the great Universität Der Künste in Berlin. One of which, Julie Eilenberger succeeded in creating a fusion of history and futurism. Her ‘Naked As We Come’ collection included enveloping knitwear and finer layers cut away to reveal hidden textures and playful patterns. Our other gifted Berlinerin is Vivienne Appelius; having interned for Henrik Vibskov, Vivienne used the skills she had learnt to develop a graduate collection based on the premise of silence. In an extraordinary self-experiment, Vivienne set about isolating herself. The collection is a snapshot of moments captured through this unique spiritual journey and the outcome was a naive vulnerability within a strong sentiment.

Moving South to Italy, we warmly welcomed Aus Dem to the NJAL platform. Graduating from IUAV in Venice, he told us that two personalities met while he was studying and the outcome was this introspective outerwear collection.

Across the pond we were only too happy to scout a student from Parsons, a school we enjoy working with, by the name of Brian Suter Maury. His thigh high slits matched with sharp, geometrical blazers and overcoats was a nod to 90s Versace and resulted in a look that was part vampy skirt suits and very much a case of ‘Short Skirt, Long Jacket’.

And this leads me to the last, but by no means least alumni. Our Asian contingent is Nouio from Shih Chien University in Taiwan. This was a collection full of lively, functional 3D print designs. Instantly wearable, they balance quirk and practicality perfectly - we foresee them selling particularly well in the ‘Grad’s shop’.

NJAL is honoured to be working in partnership with such a prestigious publication to give designers exposure, facilitate growth and introduce them in to the design world. We hope you enjoy this fantastic collaboration between Wallpaper* and NJAL and find the outcome as exciting as we do.