A few weeks ago, I got my grubby mitts on a pair of tickets for Graduate Fashion Week. Naturally, I started planning my outfit, practising my fashion chatter and daydreaming of all the fabulous clothes I was sure to see. Unfortunately, due to a busy work schedule and ridiculous train fares (sort it out National Rail – London is not the epicentre on the Universe, and nor is it the gateway to Heaven. Stop charging me so much to get there) I was unable to get my stylish self down to London. So I gave the tickets to my good friend Ellie of Pretty Much Penniless and here’s what she got up to…
When Jen emailed me last week, asking if I would like to attend Graduate Fashion Week as her plus one, I went a little weak at the knees. Not only would I get to look at lots of innovative, beautiful clothing but I would also get to meet up with one of my favourite bloggers – what was there to think about?! Then train tragedy struck- the curse of the last minute fare. Ridiculous train prices made it impossible for Jen to get to London. We were both absolutely gutted. But Jen, being the generous and lovely girl that she is, offered to send me both tickets by special delivery on one condition- that I report back and write a guest post here at A Little Bird Told Me! Pretty sweet deal right? Yes, I thought so too.
In their own words, Graduate Fashion Week ‘stages a static exhibition showcasing the work of some 50 universities across 52 courses, and approximately 22 university fashion shows. The prestigious Gala Show and Awards presentation takes place on the penultimate night.’ The aim of GFW is to promote and support today’s ‘young, creative innovators’ so that they can have a positive effect on the future of the UK’s creative industries and economy.
The whole exhibition is housed at Earls Court 2 and I’ll start by saying this place is huge. Imagine the Ideal Home Show, but instead of cleaning products and furniture there was fashion. Lots and lots of fashion.
I gave the other ticket to my friend Amy who writes for Wolf Whistle – she’s about to graduate from the London College of Fashion, so this exhibit was definitely her thing.
Each university had its own booth and they could showcase their students’ work any way they wished. Some were fantastical, with florescent dresses and elaborate, lust-worthy capes suspended from the ceiling while others were minimal, with only a couple most show stopping pieces on display.
Of course, I had my favourites.
Harriet Holling, graduate of The University of Westminster, talked us through her beautifully illustrated portfolio full of ethereal, tie-dyed pieces- a hippy ‘hazy dream’ as she puts it in the Westminster graduate magazine.
She explained how she was influenced by Woodstock and Shakespearian dream sequences, evident in her watercolour-stained lawn dresses and neatly pleated sheer fabrics.
Westminster really stood out for me. Flicking through their catalogue and reading that some of the graduates have completed work placements at the likes of Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, Ashish and Topshop didn’t surprise me. The magazine they have produced collating all of the students work is something I will keep alongside my Dazed & Confuseds and Vogues. The photo shoots looked nothing but professional and their students were all brilliant, accomplished illustrators- I want to cut the pretty ones out and stick them on my wall!
From the University of the West of England (i.e. Bristol) Vanessa Brownlie has produced a collection of ‘distorted, spontaneous, contoured’ pieces but which are infinitely more wearable than those words might indicate. Her illustrations look like the contour maps of Britain with the curved lines showing us valleys and slopes, but on her dresses they built shoulder volume and flared layers around the hips.
If I were to childishly put them all in order of my favourites, Liverpool’s John Moores School of Art & Design would be second. We were presented with some of the friendliest students and another excellent graduate fashion catalogue to take home and browse. Whilst we were both gushing over all the clothes on show, Amy started talking to some of the course tutor’s who kindly offered us tickets to their degree fashion show! Sadly, I had work commitments so couldn’t attend but I’m sure it was brilliant.
Inspired by an artist named Henry Darger (coincidently one of my favourite artists), Amie Price uses her own illustrations and drawings to screen-print her work. Intricate but distorted bears, birds, hedgehogs and wolves all make an appearance alongside beautiful velvet devore. I could see her clothes appearing on the racks in Topshop or Urban Outfitters as one of those limited collections that sell out in record time!
There were so many more graduates I adored and so many items I would love to have in my wardrobe, but alas, it had to come to an end.
For me, it confirmed that the UK’s reputation for producing some of fashion’s most cutting-edge talent is still firmly in place. My feet ached, but I left feeling uplifted, inspired and quite proud actually.