Graduate Fashion Week is the world’s leading event for fashion graduates, representing the future of creative design talent. Taking place in June, before the design college’s reveal their grad shows, it is a chance for over 1,000 graduates to present their work. The event featured 22 catwalk shows, a large exhibition in Earls Court 2, and over 40 universities, each taking part in the acclaimed Gala Award Show. This years show was high on textile-talent, which is a transition from the vast amounts of knitwear collections that are usually found at GFW.
The winner of the most coveted prize, the George Gold Award, which includes a life-changing £20,000, was won by Lauren Smith from Edinburgh College of Art. Although her inspiration was fairly basic – the physical object and the relationship you have with a sketch book – she made the biggest impression from a simple source. Intricate embroidery is inspired by scribbles and oversized paper clips are made out of acrylic.
One of the strongest textile designs came from Josephine Pettman, Ravensbourne, who opened the show with a Girl/Grrrl power collection and also made it to the final Gala. From the outset the designs one expects a sickly sweet affair of kittens and girl power and cutesy things.Yet exploited designs come at you in the form of Medusa heads, flies in cupcakes and gory images.
Chen Yu Wang from Ravensbourne presented a memorable collection of knitwear, combined with hand drawn illustrations. Her textiles and magical drawings tell the story of leaving her protective family in Taiwan and coming to live in the UK.
The Stuart Peters Visionary Knitwear Award was taken by Thea Sanders from Nottingham Trent University. Not only was the collection technically accomplished, but was also aesthetically appealing, commercially viable and filled with imagination. The multiple weaving and knitting methods used were inspired by floral Islamic tile designs that clashed with traditional British patterns. Described as: “Interesting and competent technique, a very good colour palette cleverly combines craftsmanship & fashion employing innovation with tapestry a combination of Chloe meets Marni.” – Judge, Adam Jones
The Zandra Rhodes Textile Award went to Northampton University’s Kirandeep Bassan, with her brightly coloured womenswear collection. The bold primary colours gave a modern art effect, along with the abstract paint-stroke effects. Fabric-wise, the silhouettes depicted billowing silks, which were draped and layered with an artistic flair.