Last London Fashion Week, twenty finalists from undergraduate design degrees showcased their work in a catwalk finale at Freemasons Hall. Whittled down from hundreds of creative submissions across forty universities, this year’s finalists included three Central Saint Martins students: Anna Gigante, BA Fashion Design with Knitwear; Aqua Lixun Su and Nadia Wire Albrechtsen, both BA Textile Design.

For their 16th competition-year, fashion charity FAD collaborated with luxury Italian brand Missoni to develop a brief that asked students to build on their artistic skills and “design a mini-collection of two complementary outfits for Missoni Winter 2018.” They were asked to “draw inspiration from European artists” looking at “colour, space compositions and rhythm” and “take the Missoni approach.”

The three students had the opportunity to receive help and criticism from an expertise judging panel that included creative director at Missoni, Angela Missoni and Head of Creative Textile and Design research at Missoni, Liz Griffiths. “The competition has been really great, even though it’s been really stressful to create a small collection outside of my studies at CSM,” Danish-born Nadia Wire Albrechtsen explains.

The designers were not only able to promote their unique creative talents to a world of influencers, they also had the chance to learn and experiment with new techniques that they hadn’t before worked with at BA level. Textiles student Nadia says: “The best part of the design process for me was experimenting with knitting, it can go in so many directions. You come up with a cool technique, but you don’t know yet what it will turn out to be and that’s really exciting.”

Nadia, who named Missoni as her “all-time favourite knitwear brand,” focused her attention on “small details/trimmings and feminine silhouettes,” and developed intricate structures within her work. “I see my knits as a way to make 3D embellished manipulations on the body. For me, the most important thing about a garment is the textiles.” The textiles designer describes her work as “rich, warm, smooth and shiny.” Using research from the 1920’s Art Deco period, she looked at optical illusions for inspiration. “`The focus is on the trimmings and joinings, which are created with an interesting weaving/knitting technique that is inspired by bobbin lace patterns from Antwerp.”

Nadia titled her collection The unravelling illusion. “The surface will appear to have been ribbed, plushed and unravelled, but it is in fact an optical illusion,” she explains. Combining knitwear and weaving techniques, the designer describes her fabric in great detail: “soft wool and hairy mohair, rich velvets and bright elastic.” After graduating she hopes to bring her textile knowledge to Italy or Paris to work as a knitwear designer.