Every year, fashion graduates have the opportunity to show their collections during Graduate Style Week. It's a unique opportunity to put their work in front of key members of the fashion industry (including leading designers like Christopher Bailey).
The annual event is attended by more than 30 creative universities up and down the UK, from Glasgow andNottingham, to Plymouth and London.
This year’s graduates took a whimsical approach to gender, age and sustainability.
As well as showing their collections, graduates can find another cause for celebration with annual awards, including Vivienne Westwood's Sustainable and Ethical Award Sponsored by Levi's, the Hilary Alexander Trailblazer Award sponsored by Swarovski, and the Visionary Knitwear Award, as well as other categories.
LouisvuittonShop spoke to 2018's winners and here is what they had to say:
1) Aurélie Fontan, Edinburgh College of Art. Winner of the Dame Vivienne Westwood Sustainable & Ethical Award, M&S Womenswear Award and the Catwalk Textiles Award
I am a very hands-on designer and the whole collection started from the materials I was using. Being able to create and manufacture my textiles from scratch was an exciting process. Specifically, I have worked in a science lab (Ascus Art & Science) that is the only public-access lab in the UK, and they have kindly allowed me to develop my bio-textile, so that I was able to grow my own dress.
My collection, TENSEGRITY, is based on bio-mimicry, inspired by DNA structural patterns. Underpinning a strong sustainable angle.
One part of the collection originates from the work of Suzanne Lee, who was the first designer to grow her own fabric from Kombucha.
The design inspirations can be found in contemporary art installations and practitioners such as Jesus R Soto, Joseph Beuys, and Matthew Barney. The architect Ricardo Bofill who has built some very monumental, minimalist and intricate buildings surrounding where I live in Paris. Finally, I took inspiration from Mongolian daywear, as they have a very sustainable way of life, particularly making their apparel from natural resources found in their environment. Iris van Herpen is a designer who also influenced my work.
2) Rebecca Wilson, Arts University Bournemouth. Winner of the Christopher Bailey Gold Award
For me, the most enjoyable part was trying to recreate worn looking garments with new textiles techniques, and become able to develop and sample techniques to create my own unique look.
My main influences were two photographers. The first being August Sander, looking particularly at the way he captured working class people in early 20th century life, and the second being Horace Warner and the Spitalfields Nippers, a collection of rare photographs of London’s street kids in the 1901’s.
3) Evelyne Babin, University for the Creative Arts Epsom. Winner of the Hilary Alexander Trailblazer Award sponsored by Swarovski
From research, preparing the flowers to the actual 3D realisation it was so personal because of the small details, which I included as they described my homeland, working on this graduate collection was a platform to be able to freely explore my ideas which made every little thing so meaningful, as I am still so attach to each piece I have created.
My collection is based around two native dynasties in Tanzania The chagga (wachaga) people who live near Mount Kilimanjaro, where I was born; and the Swahili people in Zanzibar; where I worked before coming to UK. Through research I discovered the chagga people, used to use banana tree for all purposes in life, from food to material to creating houses and clothes before they were colonized so I decided to explore the use of the banana leaves in this same way. I was inspired to use the kanga materials from the Swahili people, also taking inspiration from their traditional silhouettes.
4) Fraser Miller, De Montfort University. Winner of the Visionary Knitwear Award
The main references that I explored for my collection were family album photographs from when my parents first got married, to Christmas 2010. My knit textures and patterns mostly came from the wall papers, curtains, tiles and sofas of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s decor in my family abode. Another influential contributor to my collection was my family’s heritage, from kilt wearing fisherman of Aberdeen to minimalistic Danish Scandinavians. I looked at the fisherman’s knots, cable jumpers and daily lifestyles, which all inspired me to use cords, fair Isle patterns and kilts.
5) Jacaranda Brain, Nottingham Trent University. Winner of the Visionary Knitwear Award
I just love knitwear, I am absolutely obsessed, and I am not afraid to admit it! For me the tradition and the actual practice of knitwear is fascinating and I love the history behind it! Since my first year at university, I have completed placements at Ruddington Hand-frame Knitters Museum and G.H.Hurt & Son, and have been knitting on their hand-frames. Hand-frames were the first knitting machine developed in the industry and some machines are 100 years old!
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