Last Wednesday night I attended the Graduate Fashion Week finale Gala and Awards, a showcase of tomorrow’s rising design stars.
Before the Gala began there was a chance to wander around the exhibition and take a ‘behind the scene’ look at the portfolio work of 1200 fashion graduates. Allowing viewers to see the unique design aesthetic of the students and the explorative and developmental work that had led to the production of their final collections.
As the show began it was clear to see that the students had brought an army of supporters to the audience (Northumbria University took the lead for cheering the loudest). As a fashion textiles student myself, I could fully immerse myself in the emotion that the graduates must have been feeling as they showcased their work to the fashion industry to be critiqued for the very first time.
The energy and synergy displayed in the collections were unparalleled, a highlight of the show was Caitlin Charles-Jones’ knitwear collection from Kingston University. Caitlin used a vivid, acid colour palette that focused on attention to detail through the use of metallic thread and crystals intertwined in the knit. Her collection merited the prestigious Knitwear Prize, which was shared with Manchester graduate Jousianne Propp, and presented to them by Canadian designer and knitwear extraordinaire Mark Fast.
Traditional techniques of craftsmanship combined with digital technology was the basis for the aesthetics of many of the graduates collections. Xiaoping Huang’s futuristic collection combined graphic prints in child like colours with details inspired by a slinky toy. Huang was the well deserved winner of the Zandra Rhodes Textiles Award, presented by Mary Katrantzou and Daisy Lowe.
The finale and climax of the evening was the announcement of this years winner of the coveted Gold Award, the GFW collection of the year. The award was presented by Suzy Menkes (fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune), Daphne Guinness (long standing fashion muse), and Fiona Lambert (director of George). This years winner was Chloe Jones, a graduate from Bath Spa University who’s ecclesiastical inspired collection combined a sports utilitarian aesthetic with touches of detailed surface embellishment.