In the heart of the University of Westminster campus, we were summoned to take a front-row seat and scout the next graduate talent from a show featuring the work of their fifteen fashion design students. Established on the premise of incubating and promoting emerging and graduate designers, it would be an understatement to say the Fashion Crossover Team was excited for the burst of creativity that was about to take place. With high caliber-alumni such as Vivienne Westwood and Christopher Bailey it came as no surprise that every single designer was more than deserving of a spot on our platform through our Graduate Talent Programme.
Collections were informed by utopia, feminism and love. Most designers sourced inspiration from a happy place, resulting into 15 capsule-collections sparking joy in the eyes and souls of industry professionals and experts. The Westminster designers have their fingers on the pulse as they tackled issues such as female power, feelings of nostalgia and the celebration of love. Pushing the boundaries be it in shape, creativity, craftsmanship the University of Westminster was a show to be reckoned with. #COLOUR
LFW AW19 stood guarantee for diversity, colour - lots of it - and uncontested creativity. The graduate designers proved their rightful place in the fashion industry with their debut collections and followed suit by incorporating bright and bold colours, finally saying goodbye to black as the reigning fashion colour?
Kicking off the show was Georgia Fallon, bringing a fantasy world celebrating lesbian love to the runway. Her Dyke Sport debut collection is as unapologetic as the title inclines. Tight-fitting spandex onesies in bright colours and hand-printed psychedelic prints were sure to grab the attention and entice a sudden urge to sign up to the next aerobics class.
Further celebrating love, in all its cheesiness glory, is Bruna Ignatowska, crafting ethereal pastel pieces, putting the ruff in ruff puff and awakening an appetite for fashion.
Pastel made way for dashes of bright blue in Louisa Yung’s fetish-inspired collection. PVC-gowns were adorned with erotic illustrations, overthrowing the norm by portraying a submissive man instead of a female. Juxtapositioning vulgarity with innocence, the garments fused delicate lace with latex lavishness.
Building on the concept of female strength was Lidiia Pyshna’s sea of red collection. Referencing Hollywood-icons with the likes of Marlene Dietrich who rejected the norms. Red stands symbol for their strength, power yet equal vulnerability. These traits are reflected by blending leather with sheer mesh dresses, graced with hand-embroidered appliqués.
Sleek tailored looks balanced out the overwhelming bursts of colours, with Linda Zhuang leading the pack. Effortlessly blending structural tailored design with whimsical softness, pinstripe suiting was counteracted by luxurious off-white silks, adding a delicate feminine touch.
James Harjette showcased his meticulous tailoring skills with pragmatic and functional designs, drawing inspiration from workwear, military uniforms and the wild west. By incorporating vintage finds, utilising unique textile printing techniques and repurposing his fabrics he gives his collection a unique edge.
Strong shoulders, exaggerated crotch-cuffs, and male corsets stand signature for Eduardo Vegas’s sharply tailored debut collection. Inspired by Pink Floyd’s tunes, the young designer sends six threatening characters down the runway, introducing a new silhouette: the cropped blazer.
This wasn’t the only cropped coat making its debut on the runway. Jade Goodwin’s collection featured a cropped trench, detailed with a dramatic train, vest and re-assembled coat. Fusing old with new, etches dating back to the 1800s adorn her garments, for once celebrating masculinity, not femininity.
Treading on the dark side of love was Oscar Doak, with a collection informed by Robert Burns’s poetry and Scottish landscapes. The result? A sultry and dark collection, with hand-painted tartan on mesh fabrics giving the illusion of rainfall, while giving the Scottish frock an update.
Contrasting the crisp-cut tailoring were looks, ready to be on display in an art gallery. Paving the way were Emily Collier’s mesmerising architectural gowns. Bouncing down the runway with effortless grace were what looked like repurposed one-minute tents, finished with puffa-jacket hemlines. A crowd-favourite.
With the rise of the balaclavas and quirky hats, designer Isabel MacInnes kicked it up a notch with firmly structured exaggerated hoods. A collection bringing back the joy of childhood innocence.
Concluding the list is Glenn Wigham’s navel-inspired collection, complete with a lifebuoy. Fishnets were worn as tops and faded prints were emblazoned across structured garments. This camouflage collection epitomised the chaos of combat.
Some designers mesmerise, others shock but some manage to teleport their audience to a different era and time. Anna McKernan took us back to the colourful times of the seventies. Straight-legged jeans paired with colourful, clashing high-neck knits detailed with zips embodied the rebellious spirit of the 70s.
Annelise De Swart’s glamorous debut collection beamed us straight to the extravagant eighties. Sparkling relaxed-fitting two-pieces and immaculately draped dresses came down the runway exuding sheer elegance.
Closing the parade of new talent was Melissa Eakin with perhaps one of the strongest collections. Paying homage to her eccentric Guatemalan cowboy grandfather, her debut collection is a print- and colourmania of epic proportions. Tiny bralettes are layered over structured blazers and paired with crotchless trousers, cinching in at the waist. Ending the show on a slightly extravagant and offbeat note.
From bold colours, meticulously cut suiting and walks on the wild side, the Westminster University show did not disappoint. Honoured to observe such innovation and creativity, the future of these fashion designers looks bright and promising and are sure to be a perfect fit for our Graduate Talent Programme.
Words by Lupe Baeyens
Catwalk images Courtesy of University of Westminster